Modernizing Overtime Rules in Colorado

It’s simple: Workers should be paid for the hours they work. However, many salaried workers who work overtime miss out on valuable compensation when those hours are unpaid. Changing current overtime rules in Colorado to ensure these workers are accurately paid for the hours they work over 40 a week would boost their earnings, address the financial squeeze Coloradans face today, and help create a better work-life balance for many workers.

Related: Visit the Bell’s Overtime Hub — One-Stop Shop for the Latest News & Resources

To explore the benefits of modernizing overtime rules in Colorado, the Bell Policy Center released new research showing the impact an updated salary threshold would have on various demographics categories, including gender, age, parent status, educational attainment, occupation, and industry. Using the 1975 threshold adjusted to 2017 dollars, the report uses $1,036 per week ($53,872 annually), and the research shows the greatest share of Colorado workers who would benefit are women, Hispanic workers, mothers, those with some college education, those aged 16-29, office and administrative support workers, and those employed by the manufacturing industry. Overall, the report says modernization of overtime rules would result in boosted pay for 327,739 salaried workers in Colorado.

overtime rules in coloradoGovernor Can Act on Modernizing Overtime Rules in Colorado

Although the Obama administration took action to adjust the threshold in 2016, it was controversially struck down by a court in Texas. According to the report, the Obama-era update would’ve helped 250,000 Colorado salaried workers automatically qualify for overtime pay, added more than $517,000 per week in the pockets of mostly middle class workers, and boosted the state’s economy, but President Trump has yet to revisit the issue.

Only 7.7 percent of Coloradans are automatically eligible for overtime pay today, but the report points out that Colorado doesn’t have to wait on the White House to act. Instead, Colorado can ensure overtime rights on its own, either through legislation or a rule set by the governor. The latter was done recently by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.

The report’s reminder about governor action is well-timed, as Colorado gubernatorial candidates are gearing up for this year’s election and will undoubtedly be pressed on the issue of wage stagnation across the state. This report offers the necessary information to engage in a productive conversation about how Colorado can address the needs of workers, especially as the state moves toward a new economy powered by the future of work.

“The current overtime rules contradict the purpose of the Fair Labor Standards Act, squeeze family budgets, and limit Colorado’s overall economic growth,” says Rich Jones, director of policy and research at the Bell Policy Center and one of the report’s authors. “Colorado policymakers — especially candidates for governor — should discuss and consider ways to update our overtime rules and allow hardworking Coloradans to earn their fair share.”

Read the full report below.