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Megan McArdle

Regulation? Great Idea. For Someone Else.

An overtime expansion tells workers that bureaucrats know better.
Did he ask whether the manager wants to punch a clock?

Did he ask whether the manager wants to punch a clock?

Photographer: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

So the Obama administration is proposing to change the rules about which employees are exempt from overtime, more than doubling the salary threshold to over $50,000 a year. This is probably not going to lead to that much extra money in workers' pockets if it goes into effect. What it is going to lead to is a huge amount of compliance hassle, as employers have to start tracking the work hours of previously exempt employees.

Meanwhile, those workers can expect to find their productivity much more strictly monitored in order to force their work into the 40-hour limit. If you make $50,000 a year and you're used to being able to duck out for a coffee or make personal phone calls from work because you can always come in a few minutes early or stay a few minutes late, you should probably be prepared for the possibility that this will be curtailed.