Bill Would Change Overtime Rules for Lower-Wage Workers

Overtime pay is the subject of another legislative debate pitting employees against businesses.

Lawmakers are working a bill that critics say undermines the standard eight-hour work day and gives employers incentive to not pay overtime. Supporters say it will give workers a more flexible schedule and the chance to make more money.

The bill could reshape work schedules in some of Las Vegas’ paramount industries: hospitality and retail.

The law affects those who make $12.38 an hour or less without health insurance or $10.88 an hour or less with it.

Those with collectively bargained contracts would not be affected, and employees who work more than 40 hours a week would still be eligible for overtime pay.

The areas of debate are bound in two sections of the bill and have employee activists and businesses arguing how low-wage earners can make the most money.

One part exempts businesses from having to pay overtime to employees working more than eight hours in a day. Another part removes a provision that requires a 24-hour recess between eight-hour shifts.

Among the business interests supporting the bill are restaurant owners, the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce and Retail Association of Nevada.

Nevada is the only state requiring a recess period between shifts.

Business interests say removing the requirement will give workers the ability to arrange better schedules. They cited multiple examples where, under current law, employees couldn’t work night and morning shifts back to back. With the new law, they could, creating an opportunity to make more money.

Supporters say the bill will also provide scheduling flexibility for employees and employers.

“That allows the employer to help accommodate employee needs and creates a better relationship between the two,” said Paul Moradkhan, vice president of government affairs for the Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Groups who turned out to opposed the measure were largely from organized labor. They say the bill would allow employers to stack workers’ shifts — four 10-hour days — without having to pay them overtime.

“It incentives employers of low-wage, hourly workers to have longer days and shorter weeks, so workers are doing more work per day and never getting to the 40-hour week cap. That means there’s no longer a premium on work done after eight hours,” said Yvanna Cancela, political director for Culinary Workers Union Local 226.

Opponents also said the bill could create dangerous workplace environments.

“As you work people more hours, there are more and more accidents,” said Danny Thompson, executive secretary treasurer of the Nevada AFL-CIO.

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