Senate Bill Seeks to Reduce Tech Workers’ Overtime Rights

A bill introduced in the United States Senate seeks to limit technology workers' rights to receive overtime pay for logging more than 40 hours in a single work week.

The bill, called the "Computer Professionals Update Act," was introduced by North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan. It would amend the federal Fair Labor Standards Act to expand the categories of workers who do not qualify for automatic overtime pay.

The bills' supporters - who are mostly large technology firms like IBM and Intel - say the move is necessary to prevent technology jobs from being shipped overseas.

Its detractors, though, see it as an attempt to squeeze free labor out of an already overstretched workforce.

If passed, the bill would limit overtime eligibility for computer workers who perform duties such as computer security or configuring, integrating or debugging computer systems. Overtime eligibility is already limited for systems analysts and programs who earn a weekly salary of at least $455 or an hourly wage of at least $27.63.

Employers can choose to voluntarily offer overtime pay when it is not required by federal law.

At this point, it is still unclear exactly how many workers would be affected by the change. More than 3 million Americans are employed in computer-related occupations, including more than 400,000 in California.

Tech Companies Facing Overtime Violation Lawsuits

The proposal comes at the same time that many technology employers are being punished for worker misclassification and overtime violations.

This past fall, a group of California employees secured a $35 million settlement from Oracle; the workers had claimed that Oracle was wrongfully denying overtime pay. A number of other major companies, including IBM and Bank of America, have also had to pay multi-million dollar settlements to technology employees in recent years.

Every worker is entitled to fair compensation as guaranteed by both state and federal law. If you suspect your wage and hour or overtime rights are being violated, talk to a California employment law attorney who can help you understand your options.