Work in IT? Bill would have you say goodbye to OT.
A new bill by a North Carolina senator that proposes eliminating overtime pay for certain IT workers has garnered virtually no support from constituents who lambast the act for treating IT professionals unfairly.
The Computer Professionals Update Act, which amends provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, would exempt IT professionals who make at least $26.73 hourly from the overtime payment requirement. IT professionals in this case are defined as those whose duties relate to “computers, information systems, components, networks, software, hardware, databases, security, Internet, intranet or websites,” whether it is analysts, programmers, engineers, designers or developers, according to the bill.
The CPU Act (get it? CPU?) was submitted by Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and four co-sponsors and is now pending in the Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. But constituents are far from embracing it with open arms, to say the least: On OpenCongress.org, a nonpartisan online resource that promotes civic engagement, none of the 30 users who had voted on the proposal supported it.
“This bill does nothing more than enslave an already underpaid and overworked group of people, allowing corporate heads to keep their IT workers on-call 24/7, while not requiring any monetary compensation,” Marilyn Brown wrote to her New York representative on OpenCongress.org.
“This is a bill that protects the very people that caused their own problem,” she continued. “If they had enough people on staff, they wouldn't have anyone working overtime. … This is grotesque.”
James Harris Jr. questioned the fairness in eliminating overtime pay and how it would affect the overall economic climate: “I don't understand why you would support a bill that eliminates overtime for time worked,” he wrote. “Doesn't this expose workers to working overtime without pay? What's the protection to prevent the exploitation of this employer advantage? What's the loss income and loss tax revenue? How do those losses impact the economy?"
Robert Bregin also chimed in on the fairness issue, saying it’s only reasonable he gets compensated for the work hours he puts in. “If my company is trying to put out some new software and meet some absurd release date that is only possible by everyone working OT, then I should be compensated for that time,” he noted. “By passing this addendum, you are allowing my employer to be able to force me to work overtime just because I am salaried.”
And Drew Zarn pointed out the irony in amending the Fair Labor Act to include what he perceived was unfair behavior. “This bill wrongly targets a single subset of workers who are often required to work overtime/irregular hours as part of their job duties,” he commented. “It goes against the name of the ‘Fair Labor Standards Act’ to specifically permit worker-unfriendly behavior toward IT workers.”
The bill “doesn’t outright ban these workers from making overtime for hours past 40; it just means that companies that employ them are exempted from the overtime payment requirement,” said Tushar Nene on BlogCritics.org.
“But all said and done, that doesn’t make it any better,” he added. “Given the current cost-cutting measures that are in effect across industries in the United States, do you have trust that a company will still pay overtime if they’re not legally obliged to?”
Do you agree with the comments on OpenCongress.org? Do you think this proposal would ever get passed? And if it did, how would it affect you? Please share your comments.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Dec 06, 2011 at 12:19 PM