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More workers could be excluded from overtime pay

South Florida employees are provided wage and overtime rights are under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. This federal law requires employers to pay overtime, equal to the rate of one and one-half times regular hourly pay, to employees for each hour worked in excess of 40 hours.

However, there are some employees who are exempt from overtime pay. Generally, these are highly skilled workers, such as doctors and lawyers. However, sometimes employers misclassify their employees as exempt, and now the computer industry is backing legislation that would to revise U.S. labor laws to limit overtime rights for more professionals.

In 1990, certain high-tech computer professionals were added to the list of workers excluded from overtime protection. Computer workers who perform duties such as systems analysis and programming, earning at least $455 per week or $27.63 per hour, are currently not entitled to overtime pay.

A bill that was introduced last fall would exempt more computer professionals from being paid time-and-a-half for overtime hours. These would be those who do work such as securing, configuring, integrating and debugging computer systems.

It is not yet clear how many American workers that change would effect, but more than 3 million people do work in computer-related jobs in the U.S.

The companies that support the reforms have argued that they are necessary to keep jobs in the U.S. This is because employers can hire workers to do the work overseas for a fraction of the price.

However, opponents argue that they have a right to be paid for overtime.

The bill is likely to be discussed by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions before any action is taken.

Source: McClatchy Newspapers, "Overtime bill pits needs of high-tech employers vs. workers," Franco Ordonez, Feb. 7, 2012

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