House Speaker Paul Ryan 'Committed to Fighting' New Overtime Rule

PHOTO: US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan addresses his weekly briefing after meeting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Capitol Hill, May 12, 2016, in Washington.AFP/Getty Images
US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan addresses his weekly briefing after meeting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Capitol Hill, May 12, 2016, in Washington.

House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized the Labor Department's new rule that allows more Americans to receive overtime pay, saying the regulation "hurts the very people it alleges to help."

Under the new rules finalized today, those who earn a salary of less than $47,476 a year will automatically qualify for overtime pay of time-and-a-half if they work more than 40 hours a week. Previously, those who earned more than $23,660 were exempt from overtime pay. The new rules will affect 4.2 million workers in the U.S. when they go into effect starting Dec. 1.

“This regulation hurts the very people it alleges to help. Who is hurt most? Students, non-profit employees, and people starting a new career," Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said in a statement today.

"By mandating overtime pay at a much higher salary threshold, many small businesses and non-profits will simply be unable to afford skilled workers and be forced to eliminate salaried positions, complete with benefits, altogether. For the sake of his own political legacy, President Obama is rushing through regulations -- like the overtime rule -- that will cause people to lose their livelihoods. We are committed to fighting this rule and the many others that would be an absolute disaster for our economy," Ryan added.

Ryan isn't the only critic of the law. Rob Nichols, president and CEO of the American Bankers Association, said the new rules "will be harmful to bank employees and the banks who employ them, and, as usual, smaller banks will be hit the hardest."

Nichols said bank workers, "especially those at small banks and branches where a handful of employees wear many hats, will face reduced opportunity and flexibility in the workplace."

Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator for the National Employment Law Project, said the new rules don't require employers to reduce career opportunities and flexibility. Conti dismissed the notion that the new rules will cause workers to “lose their livelihood,” as Ryan states. If demand for a product or service leads employees to work overtime, then the market should be able to compensate workers accordingly, she argued.

"An employer that needs to take away responsibilities and opportunities from workers is a bad employer," Conti said. "Nothing in the overtime rules require people to take away responsibilities. A good employer should always be looking for ways to continue progression of their work."

Conti called that view by some employers "more than short sighted."

"It’s counterproductive," she said. "The only thing they will do is drive that person away to somewhere they can get those opportunities."