On June 10, 2015, the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a hearing entitled “Reviewing the Rules and Regulations Implementing Federal Wage and Hour Standards.” In their opening statements, both the Chairman and Ranking Member expressed their party’s concerns and hopes for the Department of Labor’s forthcoming updated overtime rules. Chairman Walberg (R-OH-07) expressed concern that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lacks clarity and is overly complex, which has led to confusion and unnecessary litigation for employers. Ranking Member Wilson (D-FL) voiced her hopes that by expanding the number of employee’s eligible for overtime pay, the regulations will reduce income inequality, give workers greater protection, and help to strengthen the middle class. Wilson and other subcommittee Democrats talked about the need for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 862 / H.R. 1619) and the Raise the Wage Act (S. 1150/ H.R. 2150).
All three Republican witnesses at the hearing, represented private employers and talked about the challenges they faced in their jobs due to the FLSA. The witnesses discussed the need to update FLSA to better reflect modern workplace norms, such as telecommuting or job classifications, and to provide employers with a less proscriptive regulatory regime. Seth Harris, former Acting Secretary of Labor and the Democratic witness, declared there is a wage crisis in America that is diminishing America’s middle class and as a result is hurting our economic growth. Harris expressed his hopes that the new overtime regulations will strengthen the middle class and ameliorate the wage crisis.
No representatives from the DOL were present at the hearing, so no specifics about the impending overtime rules were given. The proposed overtime rules are expected to be released at the end of June.