CHICAGO – As new federal overtime rules go into effect today, stripping away overtime pay for millions of workers across the country, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today sent a letter to U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Elain Chao reiterating that legislation he signed this spring will ensure that 375,000 workers in Illinois will not lose their overtime rights.
“The Fair Labor Standards Act guaranteed the right to compensation equaling time and a half for every hour worked beyond the normal 40-hour week. A person who is willing to work hard -- and then is willing to work even harder by working longer hours -- ought to be rewarded for his or her initiative, not punished,” Gov. Blagojevich wrote. “Illinois law protects overtime pay for these workers. We intend to keep it that way.
“The United States Department of Labor should know that Illinois law will continue to protect Illinois workers, even when the federal Department of Labor decides not to.”
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act that was originally adopted in 1938, most workers were guaranteed the right to compensation equaling time and a half for every hour worked beyond the normal 40-hour workweek.
The new U.S. Department of Labor rules redefine the three job classifications that are exempt from overtime pay. More workers would be classified as “professional,” “administrative,” or “executive,” and as a result, an estimated 375,000 Illinois workers would no longer qualify for overtime compensation.
In response, the Governor signed a new law in April that rejects the federal changes and keeps the former job classification definitions in place, preserving overtime rights for Illinois workers who currently qualify.
The new Illinois law also raises the overtime eligibility level so that most employees who make less than $455 a week, or $23,660 a year, will be entitled to overtime pay. The previous limit of $155 a week, or $8,060 a year, had been unchanged since 1975.