WASHINGTON — Seeking to influence workers' incomes where possible, President Barack Obama signed a presidential memorandum Thursday directing the Labor Department to devise new overtime rules that would make more workers eligible for time-and-a-half pay for their extra hours of work.
The memorandum was one of the most far-reaching executive actions taken by the president this year. The rules would be aimed at salaried workers who make more than $455 a week and those who are ineligible for overtime because they are designated as management even though their supervisory duties are minimal.
"Unfortunately, today millions of Americans aren't getting the extra pay they deserve," Obama said during a White House ceremony attended by workers and employers.
The memorandum does not specify what the rules or new salary thresholds should be, leaving the rulemaking to the Labor Department. A proposed rule is not expected until the fall.
The memo underscores Obama's pledge to bypass Congress when necessary and act on his own on economic initiatives. For instance, even as he calls for Congress to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, he has taken executive action to increase the wage for federal contractors.
Advocates of new overtime regulations say millions of workers could benefit. Critics say it could overburden companies and cost jobs.
Deal on restoring unemployment benefits: Bipartisan Senate bargainers struck a compromise Thursday renewing expired jobless benefits for five months for more than 2 million Americans who have been out of work the longest.
Approval of the $9.7 billion measure by the Democratic-led Senate seemed likely when it returns in late March from a weeklong recess. That would throw the issue into the Republican-run House, where its fate seemed uncertain.