a round-up: social class at work, instant reactions, and more on overtime pay

Three interesting things that have come across my radar recently —

• Someone shared this article in the comments recently — it’s a pretty great look at how social class plays out at work, and specifically about the ways that it can be tough to adjust to white collar environments when you grew up in a blue collar family.

• I really loved this piece about why you shouldn’t instantly react to new ideas. “Man, give it five minutes” is going to stick with me.

• Business groups are lobbying the White House and Congress for changes to the proposed new rules on overtime pay that we talked about last week. (If you missed it, the Department of Labor has proposed a change that means you’d have to be paid a minimum salary of $50,440 in order to be exempt from overtime pay requirements — a big increase from the current threshold of $23,600.) Additionally, several legislators have introduced a bill in Congress that would block the current proposal from taking effect and require the Department of Labor to do a deeper analysis of the impact that the changes would have on small businesses, nonprofits, regional economies, local governments, academic institutions, and others, as well as on workplace flexibility, before proceeding. I have no sense of whether this bill has any chance of going anywhere, but thought people would be interested.

{ 160 comments… read them below }

  1. justsomeone

    That “give it five minutes” article is great! I’ve been struggling with the same kind of instant-reactions as the author of that one. I like the idea of letting an idea percolate in the brain before deciding how to feel about it. I’ve been applying this to music lately and it makes sense to try to apply it to work situations too. (Do I really hate that song because I hate the song, or is it because it’s doing something new and I am reacting to the newness badly just because it’s new?)

    1. NoPantsFridays

      Lol, I have the opposite problem with new things (moreso ideas than songs etc) where I get overexcited/overenthusiastic and agree immediately, “It will be great! Nothing can possibly go wrong ever! Why wouldn’t it work? I don’t see why we can’t do this!” etc. Yet of course in reality there are reasons. Lol.

  2. esra

    I liked this quote from an employment lawyer in the Inc. article by EvilHRLady:

    “Employees like being exempt. They like the flexibility of not having to track their hours. They like the flexibility that comes with a salary that compensates an employee for all hours worked in a week, whether it’s 30 hours this week, or 65 hours next week, or 47 hours the week after.”

    If anyone has worked a salary job where your boss was totes cool with you working free OT AND also having 30 hour weeks to balance it out, I would honestly be interested to hear it.

    1. Parfait

      Raising hand. I don’t have to charge PTO as long as I’ve worked 5 hours. If it’s 4 hours, I have to charge a half day to PTO.

      Nobody has ever ever ever sneered or said a word when I leave early. I stay late when the situation warrants it. I work at home in the evening or on the weekend if the situation warrants it. Most of the time, the situation doesn’t warrant it.
      Our office is a ghost town by 6pm. Generally, there’s only 1 or 2 people still there.

      1. OfficePrincess

        Same here. Weeks that are under 40 hours aren’t common, and we have a couple months where I just plan on 50, but my boss has no issues with taking a few hours here and there if I’m not feeling well or have an appointment. I’m not set up to fully work from home, but there are some things I can do, and my boss always tells me I’m crazy if I work on anything from home. But sometimes it’s nice to work on reports or slides without the fluorescent lights or constant noise from the forklifts out on the floor. More often than not, my boss is the one telling me to go home. As long as everything is covered, he has no issue with me heading out early (and sometimes tells a couple of us to come meet up at the bar on slow Friday afternoons).

      2. esra

        Nice. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories (and worked some, although it sounds like Canada in general is better), but I’ve never heard from anyone who can actually take shorter weeks without getting static.

          1. esra

            I’m very big on results-driven workflow, so I would love working somewhere that actually worked that way.

            I tried to screen for it at this place, but it turns out a couple of the execs and HR are big on butt in seats, in a super passive-aggressive “Golly, we shouldn’t have to tell you to love your jobs like we do.” way.

        1. doreen

          Almost. I had to work a certain number of hours- but it was per 4 week timesheet, not per week. As long as it was 150 hours over those 4 weeks it was fine for it to be two 50 hour weeks and two 25 hour weeks.

      3. SystemsLady

        Even with my manager fully on board with treating us like exempt employees and the president not having any problems with it, we still get sneered at for getting “free” time off by people in other departments :/. So I’m jealous.

        Actually, even some of my colleagues (who could totally do this if they talked to our manager or volunteered to work extra bad shifts) sneer at those who use that flexibility.

        1. SystemsLady

          For the record, most of the other departments are non-exempt. There is one that has a mix of both types of employees, but their manager isn’t as good about extending them that flexibility (partially because they’re understaffed and we’re not, I’m sure).

      4. Doriana Gray

        You just described my workplace, except we’re a ghost town by 4:30 – most everyone, except me and my manager (the 8:15-8:30 arrivals), comes in at 7:30. And we don’t have to charge PTO for three hours out of the office, but we are expected to flex that time and make it up on some other day(s).

      5. Elizabeth West

        I could easily do this–often, my morning will be busy with stuff people sent me the night before–and while they may work from home and be emailing at 7:45, I don’t usually do that. When I’m caught up, I’m almost always left with nothing to do.

        Except for yesterday, when I thought I was going to get to bail at 12:30 and burn a little hourly PTO before year end and then got the document from Hell. >_<

    2. RedBlueGreenYellow

      That describes my boss pretty well. In fact, if she doesn’t think we’ve been taking enough short days to balance the long days (or if there have been some long weeks stretching on for a while), she will ask us to take some comp time off to refresh. (And it is comp time — it doesn’t come out of our PTO balance.)

      1. Doriana Gray

        My Senior VP kicks us out most Fridays at 3. He knows our workloads are heavy, the job is stressful, and many of us work longer than 40 hours most weeks, so he’s like, “Go home. The work will still be here Monday.”

      2. Koko

        Same with this too. When I’ve been pulling a lot of very long hours for a big event/deadline, my boss usually urges me to take the day after the event/deadline off without charging PTO. I still usually do a tiny bit of work on those days (maybe half an hour’s worth) just to keep things moving but I mostly enjoy the free day off.

    3. Greengirl

      My current boss lets us do that but the thing is because our work load is so high, it rarely evens out. Frankly, if she didn’t let us occasionally take time off without charging it to PTO the job would become unmanageable because there are times when we work 12 days straight without a day off or 14 hour days. I’m going to be honest as well, my coworkers and I at this point would prefer the over time. It’s hard to pay the bills on our current salary and because of our hours, it’s difficult to find a second job that can be fit in around this one.

    4. SystemsLady

      My old boss wasn’t – he clearly realized it was technically him not scheduling us that caused < 30 hour weeks, but would still grumble about people who didn't have things to do behind their backs.

      My current boss is, but I'm realizing very quickly he is very, very much in the minority. In both this industry in many others.

      Both of them did/do OT bonuses paying us (x1 rate…) for extra, un-comped hours every once in a while, though my old boss didn't count travel time (which makes up a significant amount of our over 40s) and was kind of flighty, for lack of a better term, about doing them.

    5. Sophia Brooks

      I have this. I actually work much closer to an average of 40 hours per week as a salaried employee than when I was hourly and having to clock out and keep working to finish my job.

    6. Just Another Techie

      I actually do. Right now. During crunch times it’s all hands on deck and sometimes that means 60 or 70 hour weeks or working on weekends. During non-crunch times, as long as you get your tasks done and show up for meetings, no one cares if you take a long lunch or skip out early or spend half the morning running errands. And in the few weeks after a big push to get a product out the door, when we’re all frazzled and fried, our bosses encourage us to take it slow, take off a bit early, they make sure not to immediately assign us something hugely stressful to work on next.

    7. neverjaunty

      I think the kicker here is the “….or 65 hours next week”. I’m sure a lot of folks (as shown by the comments) have worked jobs where the normal week was around 40 hours, occasionally a little more, and so a 30-hour week might be no big deal, but I’m finding it hard to believe there are many jobs where the workload is 65 hours as often as it is 30 hours AND the bosses are regularly cool with those shorter hours.

      Or maybe it’s an industry thing?

      1. esra

        That’s what threw me. Because really, if 40 is the norm and people are working extra 25 hours, shouldn’t they be able to take 15 hour weeks? Or is it okay for them to take like, three 30 hour weeks in a row?

        Everywhere I’ve worked with salary, they are a-ok with you working 30mins-a couple hours overtime every day and on weekends, but heaven forfend you want a shorter week or to leave early to make up for it the other way.

      2. SystemsLady

        The perfect exempt situation in my industry would be more like average 40ish for a long time, end up with 70-90 hour weeks in spurts, then get comp time/freedom to work < 40 once that storm's died down. Rinse repeat. Varying 30 to 65 consistently would definitely be nice, though :).

        1. neverjaunty

          I believe you! I’m just suspicious that it’s more than the exception to the rule, especially in the private sector.

      3. Cat

        Yeah, it might be an industry thing. Back when I was a salaried lawyer (instead of an equity partner), there was the odd week where I worked less than 40 hours, and nobody gave me trouble over it. But I was well paid – several times the current and well over twice the proposed threshold.

        Our paralegals and administrative assistants make about what the proposed threshold is but we still pay them overtime and I’d feel horrible if we didn’t. Granted, we’re in a high cost-of-living area.

      4. Hallo

        I work for a small manufacturer and our hours work like this.

        December-April is high sales time, so you have all hands on deck for 60-70 hours a week. June-September is practically dead, so we all work 20-30 hour weeks. It just doesn’t make sense to keep people here when there’s nothing to do.

        The wholesalers and vendors we work with have just about the same schedule. (so it’s not just us being a weird small business)

      5. Honeybee

        It definitely doesn’t happen AS often as the longer weeks, but there are some weeks when I do get down closer to 35 hours and nobody seems to mind. We operate on a results basis – my manager isn’t even here all the hours I’m here (she’s physically in the office more like 8-4 and I’m typically here from 10-6 or 7 so she really has no way of knowing whether I’m working a full 8 hours or not). We can also work from home whenever we want – within reason – and again, it’s results-oriented. Your manager might never even check in with you on a WFH day.

    8. Rana

      Well, from the “academia is different” files, that was definitely how it worked there. There were some weeks where it was just an all-hours slog, and others that were as light as your efficiency allowed. I actually had a bit of an adjustment when I shifted to a 9-5 position, because before, if I found a way to get my tasks accomplished early, or if I spent several days working long hours, my reward was the freedom to spend that time on other things. When I was an hourly employee, sometimes that efficiency generated more interesting work, but far more often it just led to long days without much to do. I had to relearn how to be efficient once I started working for myself.

    9. LBK

      I have one now. One of my core responsibilities relates to monthly compensation, so the first half of my month is extremely top heavy in terms of hours and then once payroll is submitted mid-month, it cuts down dramatically. I don’t usually get all the way down to 30 hours, but there are weeks when I come close.

      Everyone in my department works varied schedules so there isn’t really a culture of watching other people’s hours. I know the people who leave at 3 showed up 2 hours before me, and they know when I come in at 9 that I’ll be there for 2 hours after them.

    10. AyBeeCee

      Sort of? My boss doesn’t like the time to be offset too much, so if I miss a few hours during the week but make them up on Saturday/Sunday then that’s okay. If I work overtime for a big project on Monday/Tuesday, leaving early on Friday isn’t a big deal as long as there’s still someone in my group to take requests during business hours (which there almost always is).

    11. Mrs. Psmith

      I have that kind of setup now (salaried, exempt). I work in the news business and regularly have weeks where I will need to stay longer to meet pressing deadlines, then others where it is slow and I’m welcome to take comp time off without using PTO. This is very much the norm for my company for salaried positions (and has been for years), and there are still a number of people who are non-exempt in the newsroom so they do earn OT. Sure, the fluctuations aren’t as extreme as in the example, but the principle is the same.

    12. DMC

      Here! Here! Some weeks are longer, some are shorter, but I love having the flexibility to leave early for a doctor’s appointment or to meet a repairperson without being dinged. We sometimes also take a long lunch (often with the boss, so it’s not like we’re flaking), and it’s all cool because there are other times when we’re staying late and answering emails at night. I also love being able to leave early if I have an appointment and then log on from home to do some work later that evening. It does give me flexibility.

    13. hermit crab

      We’re allowed to do whatever we want (well, I mean, whatever works for our team, manager, workload, etc.) within a pay period. So as long as your timesheet has a total of 80 hours for a two-week pay period, you’re good. When I started we got paid monthly, with four- or five-week pay periods, and it was fairly easy to accumulate enough hours to swing a day or two off sans PTO at the end of the month.

    14. Just A Girl

      My current employer’s employee guidebook specifically lays out a 40 hour work week for exempt employees and states that employees may be required to work more hours.

      These laws are important for the same reason that minimum wage laws are important. Some employees may not LIKE minimum wage laws, either, but they exist to protect people who can’t afford to work for free.

    15. BeenThere

      Current job, it’s more extreme though, I have 80 hr weeks followed by you can take two weeks of vacation off the books.. and everything in between :)

      I love it, I’m treated like a real adult.

      1. Electron whisperer

        UK contingent here, but my boss basically does not care what we do as long as the work gets done, I think I am above the proposed threshold but comparing salaries between countries with such different cost bases is hard.

        40 Hours nominal, but come in early, come in late, leave early, leave late, work from home, whatever, as long as the design work gets done he does not really care in the least. The fact that the man spends a significant amount of his time many time zones away helps….. (Once in a blue moon you end up needing to pull a weekender, no biggie take a few days off once the pressure is off, nobody is going to moan).

        The down side, such as it is, is that you do need to produce the goods, not a problem for an experienced engineer, but this place is not a good gig for newly minted graduates.

        I would hate the whole, no more then 40 hours without having to claim overtime by law thing, what a pain in the tail when you need another half an hour or so to get to a sane stopping place, better just to do it and come in at 0930 or so sometime.

        Agree totally about being treated like an adult.

        The UK does not really do exempt vs non exempt in the US sense, but the general shape of our employment law is quite different anyway, kind of ‘Right to work’, but not ‘At will’, and almost everyone gets an employment contract that specifies all the boring details about overtime and such.

        Of course we have the EU ‘Working time directive’, so at least in theory nobody is forced to do more then a 48 hour week (You can opt out, but it is YOUR and not the companies decision).

        Regards, Dan.

    16. Flex work

      I worked in a salary position where oevery month or so i would need to put in a lot of overtime.
      One week i would go from 40 hours regular to 80 or higher. Had a chat with my boss about it and we worked out that after i worked one of those weeks i could either take a few days off or work a reduced schedule for the next few weeks to balance it out.
      Worked great, but of course that came from a mutual point of trust and a desire to balance stuff out.

    17. Melissa

      It’s somewhat(?) common in public accounting. You’re expected to bust out like 60-80 hour weeks during busy season, but–and this assumes you have one–during slow season you can work closer to 30-35 hours without getting flak.

    18. Vicki

      “If anyone has worked a salary job where your boss was totes cool with you working free OT AND also having 30 hour weeks to balance it out, I would honestly be interested to hear it.”

      Yeah. anyone who claims to like the “flexibility that comes with a salary that compensates an employee for all hours worked in a week, whether it’s 30 hours this week, or 65 hours next week, or 47 hours the week after.” didn’t do the math. You just worked an average of 47+ hours per week and the 65 is going to be a lot more common than the 30. (Really? You think you can work 30 hours in a week and the boss won;t notice and say something about it??)

      No. What I have learned in 30 years is that most managers, directors, and VPs of an exempt workforce really love the idea of unpaid hours. In my second job, I was told “many people put in 60 hours a week here”. (I didn’t).

      As a contractor, I like the freedom of doing 37 hours this week, 43 hours next week and balancing that on the time sheets. But the longer I’ve worked in “Corporate America”, the more I’ve realized that “exempt” status is cheating most Individual Contributors out of either pay or time. (It’s a bit worse for me because I’m in the computer worker area, and we have a very special “exemption” of our own…)

    19. Koko

      Yep, I have this kind of job. A full-time workweek for us is 35 hours because an hour paid lunch is built into every day, which means you can show up late or take off early if you skip lunch or work through lunch. We can only take PTO in half-day (3.5 hours) increments, so nobody charges PTO unless they’re going to be missing at least 3 hours. As long as you are getting your work done, anything less than that is just a perk of being exempt.

      We don’t do timesheets or clocking in or anything. You just have to file for PTO when you take it, otherwise payroll will assume your check is coming entirely from wages. Most days I probably do 6-7 hours in the office and an hour at home. (I especially like to do a little in the morning from home and wait til rush hour has died down before going in.) Some weeks I don’t work at home at all, and other weeks I work at home a lot to make up for not having been in the office as much for whatever reason. And a few weeks of the year we’re busy enough that I’m just working a lot.

    20. Mel Mel

      Down in front! I am the editor of a regional magazine. The week before we go to press, we work easily 60 hours. However, the week after, we might work 25, then 35, then 45, then it’s press week again.

      Everyone in the office, excluding the receptionist/bookkeeper, works a truly flexible schedule. We have never missed a deadline, so there is no reason to change anything.

  3. AMG

    I really appreciated the first article re social class. In fact, I bought the book that the author wrote. I see so much of myself in the book from how I grew up to now, and how it still impacts my thoughts.

    1. AyBeeCee

      That article actually makes a lot of sense about why my husband has a hard time dealing with corporate life sometimes. He used to work for an administrative branch of the fire department and even though the position itself required a bachelor’s degree there were a lot more blue collar types in that workplace than his current job. The bit about anger definite struck home too.

    2. Cat like that

      That article really hit home for me. My father was an auto mechanic and my mother was a construction worker. And I’m a project manager at a software company. I’ve never felt 100% comfortable in my white-collar jobs, and I think my blue-collar upbringing does have something to do with it (I’ve even contemplated transitioning into blue-collar work). I identify a lot with the Straddlers mentioned in the article so I would probably enjoy the book and learn from it.

    3. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under A.A., B.S.

      That article was EYE OPENING. Holy crap. My dad was a telephone repairman for “Ma Bell.” My mom worked in various jobs, as a waitress, and then later as a Real Estate Agent and eventually in an office. But my view of how the working world works was largely influenced by my dad. Wow. I’m totally buying this book.

    4. Charlotte Collins

      My dad was in a skilled trade and my mom worked in an office (both came from working class backgrounds). I realize how lucky I was to be exposed to both the blue collar and the white collar world. (We were solidly middle class, but I was definitely expected to be independent and self sufficient.)

      The hand-shaking thing got me, though. I’ve seen both my parents shake hands with other people and never considered it an upper class or white collar only thing. But it was also part of Mass, so it never seemed odd to me… (Perhaps it’s regional, too?)

      1. Donna

        I was going to say the same thing–if you grew up Catholic, you know how to shake hands. If nothing else, church was my lesson in manners for one hour each Sunday.

        1. Chinook

          Not only church but also Girl Guides (Girl Scouts). Of course, that was using the left hand instead of the right, but I very quickly learned to sport Scouters/Guides by the pause before they moved to shake hands. I guess that was the first time I experienced code shifting?

      2. Fifi Ocrburg

        I don’t buy the whole hand shaking part. Her mother didn’t salute anyone, and did the author never watch a movie or TV show and saw people shaking hands?

        1. Elliot

          Agreed. My father was a janitor and my mother worked in a prison, we weren’t even Catholic and I knew how to shake hands before puberty.

          Even during high school, when interviewing for minimum wage fast food jobs, the interview would always start with a handshake.

          1. Charlotte Collins

            Oh! And my grandmother, who definitely comes from a working class ethic background, also shakes hands.

            I also realized this weekend (because I went to a concert) that my parents also knew proper concert etiquette. (Part of this might be that they both came from families where music was very important. Most of my mother’s family was expected to learn an instrument or sing.) But my parents also taught me proper bar etiquette, too!

    5. Doriana Gray

      I liked it too. It shed some light for me on why it is my mother’s professional career in a white-collar industry seems to have stalled – she doesn’t know, and never learned, how to play the office politics game. She’s been in white-collar jobs practically my whole life, but she grew up with blue-collar parents (grandfather was a trucker and grandmother was a housewife, then nurse’s aide, but only after getting divorced – grandpa wouldn’t let her work). My mom is too damn blunt for her own good, something I’m trying to work on myself, and she’s prone to anger. She has no problem letting her boss have it when she feels taken advantage of and disrespected (and she often is – the woman she works for is widely hated in their office because of her nasty behavior towards her subordinates).

      Meanwhile, I’ve made some minor gaffs in the workplace over the years, but yet my career continues to climb. I’m still working on my comfort level with networking, but I seem to have naturally intuited how to get along with the decision makers in my company to the point where many of them bend over backwards to help me or recommend me for advancement/development opportunities. It’s strange how that happened given how my mom operates.

      1. Fifi Ocrburg

        But being blunt isn’t necessarily blue collar or lower class. Think of Katherine eHepburn characters. Lower class people are more likely to be deferential to authority figures, not less.

        1. Doriana Gray

          No, but like the author of the piece stated, it can be perceived that way in the workplace because a lot of workplaces, especially corporate ones, encourage repression of emotions. The WASP way is to be deferential (I see this a lot in my very WASPy workplace) – anyone who breaks from that is considered to be “rough around the edges” which is code for low class. And my mother’s workplace is the same way.

        2. Elliot

          I wonder if the trouble she find runs into with being blunt is actually gender bias. Speaking bluntly is usually viewed negatively in women, yet often positively in men.

          1. Doriana Gray

            Maybe. But my mother also has a habit of veering from blunt to flat out rude, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s that that causes the issue (my brother and I have called her on this several times).

    6. Honeybee

      It really resonated with me too. My father was a bus driver and my mother was a stay-at-home mom who went into nursing when I was 16. My conception of work was uniforms and time clocks and hourly pay; I work a white-collar job now and some of the conventions baffle me. There’s another coworker on my team who comes from a working-class background and sometimes we just talk about how weird the things we do are.

    7. Soupspoon McGee

      I thought it was just me, until my stepson said, “I hate that you grew up poor! It made you weird!” He’d just read about the culture of poverty (I don’t throw things away in case we need them some day; I hate to “waste” money). This article is another eye-opener. My dad worked nights at a sawmill, while my mom cleaned houses; when I got older, my dad got an office job. Both of my parents were involved in the community, and as one of the commenters said, I grew up Catholic, so at least I knew about shaking hands. But I still, at age 40+, do not get office politics. I did not get, until this article, that those politics were how places run, rather than the idiosyncrasies of my weird workplaces. A mentor once told me that I have no poker face, and if I think an idea is stupid, it’s all over my face, even if I say nothing and think I’m being clever. I think a lot of that is the journey between classes.

    8. Mike C.

      Oh my god, I’m a Straddler. I’m usually incredibly cynical about business culture think pieces, but this really goes into a lot of what I was feeling going from a high school in the poor part of town to a private engineering school and then into the workplace.

      I think the only reason I’m doing well there is because there’s a huge mixture of blue and white collar culture that I can do my nerdy data stuff without having to worry so much about the soft skills.

      Also, I think that perspective explains why I keep wanting people to stand up for themselves (and have found success in that) when it’s the furthest thing from the minds of many others.

    9. Granite

      Me too. My dad’s family was Ivy League, but he worked an assembly line. Mom’s family was working class, until her generation of teachers and similar moving into middle class. So brother and I are more straddlers.

    10. Faith

      What I didn’t like about the book became evident as I went through it. It assumed that everyone white collar was actually earning upper-middle to upper class salaries. I don’t equate white collar with astronomical incomes per se.

      1. Charlotte Collins

        True. And I grew up in a blue collar home, but we were comfortably middle class. (My parents had grown up in families with more struggle.)

        Also, I do wonder how much regionalism is at play here. I grew up in the suburbs of a city known for and proud of its blue collar heritage. (I’m also from the Midwest, and the coasts are seen as being full of “snobby” and “fake” people by a lot of Midwesterners. This isn’t my view, but it is prevalent.)

      2. Dust Bunny

        ^^This.

        I guess I’m a semi-straddler: My mother’s background is blue collar and my dad’s is white collar but without money or significant connections. They’re well-educated but no access to the “country club set” or whatever people who write these article seem to picture when they say “white collar”. Dentists in small towns, professors at insignificant colleges, that kind of thing. My father has a Ph.D. and worked in an engineering-type field but was never management-level (partly by choice; he wanted to stay in his technical field) and money was pretty tight until the last decade or so of his career (30+ years with the same huge, wealthy, corporation). Working for a corporation is not always the same thing as being a “corporate type”; there are a lot of positions that are not on the ladder to CEO.

        I have a job that requires a B.A. and pays in the low 30k’s, before taxes, including my medical insurance. So, yeah–culturally white-collar but definitely not rolling in dough and influence.

        My mother, who was the one who grew up in the blunt blue-collar family, admits she wouldn’t have been good at office politics, but also frames this as, you don’t always get to indulge your first impulse. I don’t think she regarded the need for tact as “fake” the way a lot of these blue- vs. white-collar articles seem to, so much as, sometimes you have to cool off before you respond to something. She worked for her dad, who was a “bark first and ask questions later” type, and she resented it because she felt like she never had any recourse. Once he’d said his piece, he considered the matter closed and didn’t want to hear from his subordinates about it. I don’t think being blunt always clears the air as much as people want to think it does.

  4. Susie

    I printed out the article “Give it five minutes” to remind myself to take a breath, listen and marinate before I tell people they are stupid. :)

  5. ZSD

    Did anyone else read the question about whether you ever saw your parents shake hands and think, “Well sure, at church”?

    1. NGL

      Yes! Our Sunday morning service would always have a short break where you were to turn and greet people seated around you. I definitely remember my dad shaking hands in that context (I can’t remember if my mom did…she must have, but usually she’s a hugger. But she wouldn’t have hugged a stranger if she were sitting next to a visitor at church…). But any other context? Nope. (Dad was a blue collar worker for his entire career, Mom was stay-at-home or retail)

      Somewhere along the line I did pick it up though. I was a precocious kid, and my parents did drill it into my head from day 1 that I wasn’t going to have their careers, so somewhere I picked up that these skills that weren’t natural to me were things I had to learn.

      1. Kelly L.

        I learned a lot of things from novels–especially historical fiction about people who were way richer than I was. It was usually set far enough in the past that I had to sift out, later, what wasn’t relevant anymore. (Handshakes, yes! Dance cards, no!)

        1. NGL

          Oooh, yeah, I bet that’s where I got a lot of it, now that you mention it (I lamented the loss of dance cards when I realized they weren’t a thing.)

        2. Doriana Gray

          I learned a lot of things from novels

          I think this just answered my mystery above – I learned how to navigate the corporate world because I was a voracious reader. Not just books, but newspapers and magazines too. I also really loved reading about successful people growing up. Biographies tended to give me something to aspire to.

    2. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under A.A., B.S.

      I thought “Well yeah when my dad bought a pick up…”

      1. Charlotte Collins

        Yes! Handshakes were also when you bought a big-ticket item! There might have been some handshaking involved when my parents bought a microwave (or “radar range).

        Also, I was taught that they were part of a job interview or when you made an agreement with someone. And they were done at weddings and funerals.

    3. Hurricane Wakeen

      Yeah, that was my thought. But I’m also not sure I can come up with a time outside church when my parents would have shaken hands. I’m suddenly glad I got into fencing as a kid, because it meant I shook hands with people every day (albeit using my left hand). I wonder if I would have ever gotten comfortable with it otherwise.

          1. Dweali

            I remember one time in junior high we had just moved towns so I was at a new school and going around with an acquaintance who was introducing me to one of their friends…well dude put his hand out I guess to do some sort of cool high-five dance thing…me? I shook his hand…the WTF look they shared..and yes Catholic school from K-6

    4. Turtle Candle

      Hah! Yes. Handshaking happened at Passing the Peace, and sometimes at coffee-and-donuts afterwards. And the one place where you could brag/complain was “Joys and Concerns” (or, if it wasn’t Joys and Concerns-level, then bible study/prayer group)–it was the place where bite your tongue/don’t brag/mustn’t grumble wasn’t as strictly enforced. It was like church was a strange alternate world where the rules were slightly different.

    5. Elizabeth West

      My dad is/was very active in the community–Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, etc.–where I grew up, so coupled with the Catholic thing, I saw a lot of handshaking growing up.

  6. ARKD

    I misread “If you missed it, the Department of Labor has proposed a change that means you’d have to be paid a minimum salary of $50,440 in order to be exempt from overtime pay requirements ” as “everyone has to now make $50k minimum
    but it was just dreams

    1. Mazzy

      Evilhrlady actually wrote a good piece on this, mocking congress members for their “tears” at their new rules hurting their own staffs.

  7. Mike C.

    I can’t imagine the bill going anywhere important. The president would veto it, and wage measures have been mixed to popular across several states of varying political leanings in the past few years. The investigation thing is likely nothing more than a smoke screen – after all, when in recent years has Congress changed their mind against their party after an investigation?

    The thing those politicians will have to answer is this: why should someone working 70 hours a week be allowed a salary of only $23,600? That’s a difficult question to answer.

    1. neverjaunty

      The investigation thing is a stall. After all, what kind of person would be against getting more information?

          1. neverjaunty

            Because keeping one’s mouth shut about potential problems and then bringing them up only after the fact is a great way to throw a spanner in the works.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Eh, in this case I think it’s likely to make the objections less effective — it sounds so close to a done deal that they’re not helping themselves by waiting so long (unless their goal isn’t really to stop it but just to look like they tried to, which I suspect is what it’s really about).

              1. Mike C.

                That’s my impression as well. It’s an election year, so members of the House are going to be mostly at home raising funds, being seen and campaigning. Writing a quick bill or co-sponsoring a bill like this is easy.

                I honestly doubt it will even make the Sunday political talk shows.

            2. hermit crab

              In my field (dealing with environmental permitting), as a petitioner you basically only have legal standing to challenge a decision if you brought up your issue during the public comment period. Guess those rules don’t apply in this case/to Congress :)

    2. SystemsLady

      IANAL so I don’t know if this would actually be possible: I wish there were a good way to increase the minimum for the employers that take exempt classification and get an average of 60-80 hours a week out of employees, but not/less so for the employers that apply exempt classification as it was arguably originally intended (hours vary both high and low).

      1. StarGeezer

        $23,660/yr working 40 hr/wk is an equivalent hourly rate $11.38/hr. I can’t see why anyone working for that nominal hourly rate should be required to work 10-20 hours of unpaid overtime. If a business can’t survive unless it can pay its “managers” $7-8/hr, then perhaps it needs to rethink its business model.

      2. Natalie

        But the threshold increase is how it was originally intended – it’s a long overdo inflation adjustment to bring the threshold to the same buying power it was the last time it was raised (in the 70s). This was only ever meant to apply to people at what would now be a $50K annual income.

        1. Boop

          Agreed – the exemption is supposed to apply to someone who makes at least the minimum AND has job duties that are of significance to the operation of the business and may require additional hours during the week. This isn’t about being required to work unpaid overtime, it’s about treating the employees who perform these important functions with the flexibility they need to get the job done.

          If my job is screwing in widgets on an assembly line, I probably don’t have the kind of responsibilities that require working more than 40 hours per week, and my salary probably reflects that. Overtime should definitely be paid. But if my job is to be the CEO, working more than 40 hours a week is just a part of my job sometimes, and my salary reflects THAT. Unfortunately, the fact that the minimum salary is so low means that employers can get away with working these “essential functions” employees way more than 40 hours per week while not paying them overtime and/or at a wage that reflects their contributions.

        2. Lois

          And isn’t one of the changes they’ve proposed that there would be regular, automated adjustments going forward? That would be nice.

  8. Kay

    GovTrack gives those bills a low probability of being passed. 7% for the Senate, and 8% for the House. Links to follow in a comment. So…we’ll see?

      1. Hellanon

        This is already law of the land in California, at a slightly lower threshold. As you say though, CA is different…

  9. Mazzy

    The social class one hit home for me much more than any discussion on gender that has gone on here. I notice the sense of entitlement and over-the-top use of fad business lingo and fakeness during networking (unlike what the article suggests, I do see some colleagues being fake during networking) and needing hand-holding all helping people from better socioeconomic situations get ahead at work, while I just remain the person who does things.

    I was taught that being anything less than sincere was a faux pas, and to dumb-down my speech so as not to sound pretentious….

    1. Soupspoon McGee

      Yes! I was taught the same thing, and I really struggle with networking as I’ve seen it done in my workplaces. I can be a perfectly civil, charming person, but I don’t really keep in touch with people I don’t want to hang out with for the express purpose of networking. I thought I was just socially inept in that arena, but I feel better now :-).

      I would just like to work with straightforward, practical people (who are also smart and nice).

    2. matcha123

      I am not good at networking. When I tried to do as my peers did during my time in school, I got a very clear message that what I was doing was out of line. It was so frustrating and confusing.
      That experience has stuck with me and I don’t feel like I’m allowed to be anything but perfect if I ask for something. But, when I look around, I see people who are obviously flawed getting good deals and it just brings me back to elementary or middle school.

      When I do get into a good place with a new person, I tend to mess it up because I can’t maintain the facade long enough.

      I feel like a total flake writing someone or asking someone to help me with something or to give me something. It feels pushy and entitled. What sucks is when you try to ask those people for help in the same way they relied on you, they act like you’ve asked them something scandalous.

      1. Jenny Next

        “. . . when you try to ask those people for help in the same way they relied on you, they act like you’ve asked them something scandalous.”

        That’s because they already have you pegged as being a member of the servant class. Favors are supposed to flow upward, not downward. I’ve now reached the point where I put those people on my “do not help” list (or “wait two weeks before responding” list), and move on.

        My former job was very enjoyable until several this type of person ended up in control of our unit. Fortunately, I have been able to land in the “paid by the hour technical consultant” role. Now that I’ve read this article, I’m going to feel a lot less guilty about the amount of money some of them want to throw at me for actually knowing how to do something.

  10. AtrociousPink

    Wow on the Social Class in the Office article! So much there that I’ve been seeing and trying to put my finger on for years. (I even got my braces at age 38, when I could afford to pay for them myself!) Thanks so much for sharing that one. I’ll definitely be reading more at that blog.

  11. Master Bean Counter

    I appreciate the social class one. My husband is very, very blue collar. I’m moving up and now I’m very white collar where work is done by meetings and a 40 work week is only a guideline. It blows his mind that I have no problem putting 45-50 hours in a week and working through lunch. He thinks I’m giving them my time. I know I’m not because if I were doing this job by the hour I wouldn’t make the money that I do. The fact that they voluntarily give me money for my cell phone and my home internet clued me into the fact that odd hours were going to happen. But at least I can do most of those odd hours at home.

  12. Chriama

    Maybe I’m too white-collar but some of the stuff in that social class article kind of ticked me off. I think that transitioning from blue collar to white collar probably comes with a lot of culture shock, but there was something like a sense of contempt in the article for all white collar norms that kind of ticks me off. Being polite doesn’t have to mean being fake, and you can disagree with someone in a respectful manner. Both cultures can swing towards the extreme but both extremes suck.

    1. Jeanne

      If you’re not used to it, it can come across as fake even when it’s not intentionally meant that way because it’s just so far from what you’re conditioned to as normal.

      1. Hazel

        It’s not that it ‘comes across’ as fake, it’s that it IS fake. When there is a problem that is impacting operations, regardless of type or ‘level’, it needs addressed, period. It doesn’t matter if it is that a competitor is targeting a certain consumer demographic more effectively than your firm, a series of accounting errors, an overly ‘soft’ manager that lets his/her people spend half the day on Facebook or playing with their cell phones rather than working, or even that the second toilet from the left in the 3rd floor men’s bathroom is mostly nonfunctional, it needs addressed in an effective, efficient way that leaves no room for misunderstandings and that actually solves the problem. A company shouldn’t have to be threatened with a lawsuit or faced with bankruptcy in order to get people to stop mealy-mouthing, soft-peddling, and ignoring the elephant in the room. Recognizing the problem and taking effective action is what solves problems. All the fancy double-talk and fake ‘friendship’ in the world never solved anything, it just creates more problems, usually in the form of inefficiency, misunderstandings, and interpersonal drama.

        I’m white collar, but of blue collar roots and proud of it. Moreover, I absolutely refuse to turn my back on my values. This makes finding a job much harder, because a lot of interviewing committees will sense the belief in personal responsibility, the honesty, the integrity, the work ethic, the passion I put into what I do — in a word, the REALNESS — and be put off by it. I’ve always found it hilarious — in most white collar environments, a lot of people give lip service to efficacy, integrity and personal authenticity, but they are actually put off when dealing with someone who has those traits. (And then they go back to Facebook, screwing around on their cell phones all day, making shoddy excuses as to why their work isn’t done, and whining about ‘work-life balance’ whenever their boss has the ‘nerve’ to actually expect them to spend most of their time at the office WORKING than they do gossiping or attending to personal matters.) But why would I dampen that down? To better equip me to get a job working 40+ hours a week around a type of person I don’t even like, let alone respect? Tapeworms and leeches that grow legs and learn how to talk are still parasites, full stop.

        My advice is, DON’T try to turn into a selfish, entitled, integrity-free little POS who isn’t worth the bullet it would take to put them down, in order to ‘fit in’ with that crowd. There are places, both in the private sector and in the public sector, where people of substance actually call the shots, rather than the mincing, ineffectual, and generally worthless. Work in those places that actually have a HEALTHY office culture, not in the places where the liars, drama-whores, weasels, mealy-mouths, and buck passers call the institutional shots. You’ll be a LOT happier, and you’ll go a lot further too, because those people aren’t seemingly allergic to intelligence, clear communication, and hard work.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian

      It irritated me for the opposite reason. I come from a blue-collar, working-class background, but my parents weren’t unaware of social norms! I was raised by my grandparents, and they were both career EMTs. My mom and my dad each worked briefly as EMTs but ultimately didn’t stick with it. My dad was a carpenter and my mom has had all sorts of low-level service jobs (nursing assistant, cafeteria worker, school janitor, selling produce from her truck on the side of the road). Granted, my parents were pretty rough around the edges socially and probably would have been out of place in a white-collar setting, but my grandparents were more polished and would not have been out of place at all. The article seemed to paint all blue-collar people with the same brush.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        When I say “my parents”, I really mean my grandparents more so than my mom and dad. My grandparents adopted and raised me from when I was eight years old. I thought the above paragraph might be confusing after realizing that I refer to both my parents and my grandparents as “my parents”.

      2. pope suburban

        Yeah, I felt that there was a lot of nuance missing. My dad’s family is full of educated people who all worked blue-collar jobs during the summers/to get through school/to save for school. There was never any question of looking down on anyone, for any job. You were supposed to treat the janitor with the same level of respect and decency as the bank president. Also, you were supposed to be gracious and do as the Romans do when in Rome, be that at your first professional job or your first job as a fry cook. Granted, they were from a small town where all classes mixed pretty well (My aunts and uncles all worked on neighbors’ farms, or for local companies), but still. I think there is a lot more bleed-over than the author of that piece thinks. I also think that most people will adapt to a new job or milieu once they’ve gotten a chance to process all that new information. Reading about this static, divided world was really weird to me.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          My grandpa came from a family of sharecroppers and my grandma was from one of the prominent families in town. She was engaged to a suitable young man and my grandpa was away in the army. When he heard of her engagement, he went AWOL and came home. They were secretly married and my grandma sent back all the furniture that her fiance had shipped home from his job in California. Her parents like to have died when they found out that she’d married into such a low family and had broken the heart of the other young man.

          My point is, people come from all different situations, and the lines between the classes aren’t so hard and fast.

        2. Editor

          There is another divide that doesn’t get talked about much, and that is the rural-urban split. Although my parents were white collar, I have a lot of the blue collar attributes mentioned in the Bullish posting, and I think it is because having parents who were economically white collar in a farming community meant they did not have typical white collar work environments. I have a lot of trouble navigating office politics, and after reading that blog post, I understand why.

          1. Elizabeth West

            This comment makes sense to me. I grew up solidly middle class in a very small farming town, but the office stuff was / is difficult for me too. I don’t think the white collar environment there is the same. I honestly can’t remember meeting many people who went to work in a suit or even a tie unless they worked in a bank or the courthouse. And the people I knew who did were very down-to-earth.

      3. Honeybee

        I don’t think the goal was to say that people who work blue-collar jobs are unaware of social norms. The point is that the norms in blue-collar jobs are different from the norms in white collar ones, and the social capital you need to move around in those spaces are different.

      4. Chinook

        “Granted, my parents were pretty rough around the edges socially and probably would have been out of place in a white-collar setting, but my grandparents were more polished and would not have been out of place at all.”

        I have to agree with you. My grandparents grew up in blue collar surroundings, as did my parents, and none of them ever had an issue looking polished in a white collar world when it was required. From an early age, I was brought to the theatre even though it meant a 3 hour drive and staying with the grandparents when we went. Mom ended up on provincial and national committees where no one would have ever guessed her blue collar roots. Dad showed a little more discomfort when “hobnobbing” with white collar types, but learned to adapt.

        Part of me wonders if comes from the church tradition. Once you learn to treat the president of your college as an equal for one hour a week, it kind of is hard to look at him in awe when you have to sit down next to him and share a meal (something which classmates in the university the college was part of just couldn’t get over, that I would often share a meal with THE DEAN at a communal table and chat about sports or the weather).

    3. Clever Name

      Me too! I come from a very white collar background, and I can’t help but wonder if the us v them chip on the shoulder attitude holds people back. But I acknowledge that I may be biased because of my birth-class.

      1. matcha123

        I don’t really agree. I think that many bosses of part-time or other blue-collar jobs see themselves as against the people they are in charge of. Certainly there are great bosses and supervisors who want to the best for their staff.
        But, even when I worked part-time in a upper-middle-class city, the supervisors had open contempt for the part-time staff and a very us vs. them attitude.

        I disagreed that, say, shaking hands was a sign of white collar culture, but I could understand the frustration at being expected to conform to a set of rules that basically have nothing to do with being polite and everything to do with being fake and playing the game.

    4. Mike C.

      It’s the prioritization of politeness to the point of interfering with results that comes across as fake.

      The examples about not telling your boss that something isn’t going to work is a big example. To my mind, the wasted time, money and resources are much, much worse than the shame your boss might feel. Now that doesn’t mean you should be a jerk about it, but it does mean you should speak up. The contempt comes seemingly having to play an expensive game rather that get the job done.

      And networking, holy cow don’t get me started on that mess.

      1. Security SemiPro

        I just finished coaching someone in “How to Tell Your Boss They’re Being an Idiot” which I consider a vital advanced skill for a white collar knowledge worker. I get paid to be smart. My boss needs to know when I think they are making a bad move. Both boss and employee have a part to play there.

      2. R2D2

        I think part of it is that people from working class backgrounds assume that the reason management is well-paid is because they are more productive than the workers, because that is a world we would all like to live in.

        Sort of like a horse assuming that the reason their rider gets to be the rider has nothing to do with the bit and the crop, and must be because the rider is an even faster runner than the horse — maybe saving their energy for an important race or something. That if only the horse runs a little faster, proves their worth, they’ll get to be the rider next time, rather than the current rider’s son. :)

  13. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under A.A., B.S.

    I feel like that social class article just lit like a thousand lightbulbs in my head.

  14. Boop

    I’d like to see AAM’s thoughts on the proposed minimum salary increase. Most of the pieces I’ve read are obviously coming from a place of bias – using the facts to support a pre-determined thesis, instead of really trying to follow the facts and figures to an answer in reality.

    I’m in favor because it would constitute a pay increase for me!

    My colleague also brought up an interesting point about one of the drawbacks I have seen mentioned – employers reclassifying jobs to no longer be exempt so they can get out of increasing the pay. Unfortunately, this is fairly short-sighted and will cost more in the end, because that will mean that the work of the job that qualified it as exempt is no longer being performed, and the employer will have to hire a second employee (at the minimum salary!) to do those functions that qualify the job as exempt. So they will have to have two employees where previously they had one, which is far more expensive than just raising the salary for one employee.

    1. Anon for This One

      This is what my employer has done in anticipation of the change. So, far it’s led to a lot of dissatisfaction and people looking for new jobs. (There are significant differences in the benefits for exempt and non-exempt staff aside from pay. In addition, we have two classes of hourly staff that also have different benefit structures.)

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      I think the current threshold of $23,600 is way too low, but I don’t know if the proposed new number makes sense or not. It feels somewhat high to me, but I’m not an economist and I don’t feel equipped to really opine on that. But aside from the specific number itself, though, my thoughts are:

      * I wonder why it shouldn’t be in some way pegged to cost of living; $50K in an area with low cost of living is very different from $50K in NYC.

      * This kind of increase should be phased in over time, rather than doubled all at once. Doubling it is going to be really going to be hard for lots of organizations, including small businesses and many nonprofits, that built their operations around the rules they were given. Many nonprofits are going to have cut programs and/or staff because of how large the change is. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen, but it should be phased in to address that hardship.

      * I don’t think the exempt/non-exempt regulations make a whole lot of sense in today’s workplace anyway. They were designed at a time when work looked very different (late 1930s, when they were largely intended to address abuses of factory and other industrial workers). They don’t account for the ways work has changed (and the huge increase in knowledge workers and the value professionals increasingly place on schedule flexibility). I don’t know what they should look like now; I just know that they were designed when the differences between the two categories tended to be a lot clearer and the way people worked was very different.

      1. AcademiaNut

        The fundamental problem with the exempt status is that, legally, the only limit on an employers demands regarding hours is that the pay per hour not drop below minimum wage – there is otherwise no limit on the number of hours in a week, hours in a day, or number of days worked in a row without a break.

        When the economy is bad, there’s less incentive for an exploitative (or desperate) employer to treat their employees well, because the employees have fewer options. And when profits or funding are down, there’s a strong incentive to decrease staff, and demand more work from the employees that are left, and a tendency to come to regard this as the new normal, as a lot of people have found over the last decade.

        I think the salary boundary between exempt and non exempt does need to be adjusted with time, at the very least. A $22,000 salary does not mean what it did when the limit was first introduced. Practically, it will be below minimum wage for someone in an area with a $15 minimum wage. And the ‘manager’ loophole for things like fast food employees needs to be shut down.

        I’m not sure how you’d go about crafting legislation that would retain the potential flexibility of exempt class, but rein in the worst abuses, like mandatory 70 hour work weeks, 7 day work weeks, or being expected to be essentially on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Or the employers who expect as many hours as are needed to finish the work, but also demand butts in seats from 9-6 every day, and PTO for any absences.

        1. Elysian

          Your pay can drop below the minimum wage if you’re exempt. You are, quite literally, exempt from the minimum wage – it does not apply. But because there’s a salary threshold, that usually doesn’t happen – but if you worked enough hours it certainly would, and it would be totally legal.

      2. Boop

        Thank you for your thoughts.

        Tying the minimum wage to a locality would certainly be sensible. I live in an a city with exorbitant cost of living, $50k would mean I could *probably* pay all my bills every month. But if I lived somewhere with a lower cost of living, $50K would mean a lot more. However, I understand the difficulties they would face in trying to “personalize” the minimum wage by location – what criteria would they use? How finely parsed would the locations be set – by state, city, county, street?

        Definitely, doubling the amount all at once is pretty crazy. I thought it was a terrible idea when I first heard it, since it would but a major strain on some organizations. By phasing it in, the companies would be able to better plan their financial projections.

        This will be very interesting to watch!

      3. Lois

        I read an article somewhere (can’t remember) that quoted a guy saying that non-profits don’t have to comply with FLSA. News to me!

  15. HRKey

    My mom had something similar to “give it five minutes”. She would say, “Do you want my reaction or my response? If you want my response you’ll have to wait, but my reaction is X.” That’s always stuck with me. I often find myself saying, “…but that’s just my reaction, not my response.” Just today I was discussing a problem with my employee and stopped myself because I could see I was reacting and not responding. It really does just take five minutes (usually less) to change from a reaction to a response.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian

      That gives me some insight into my husband.

      He always has a knee-jerk overreaction to bad or unexpected news and is convinced that the worst-case scenario is inevitable and won’t hear anyone who tries to say otherwise. He makes an ass of himself and then, usually the next day, when he is back in control of his emotions, he goes around and sheepishly apologizes for how he acted before. He then gives his true response, which is always sensitive and thoughtfully considered.

      I always wonder, when he always has to go around sheepishly apologizing for his reactions, why doesn’t he remember that the next time and not say things that he will later want not to have said.

  16. SirTechSpec

    Totally unimpressed by all the hand-wringing over the new overtime rules. For every employee who actually gets the “flexibility” to work less after working more, I bet there’s a dozen who are consistently working 50 hours a week or more and not getting paid for it. We fought hard for the 40-hour workweek, and it’s time to bring it back. If you’ve got 120 hours a week of work to do, you need to hire three people to do it, unless they’re in-demand, highly-paid professionals who actually have a reasonable degree of control over where they work and so could be said to be doing the extra voluntarily. (As someone in that latter category, I know enough folks who aren’t to know that for them, jobs don’t grow on trees.)

    There are a variety of companies that will become slightly less profitable, which bothers me not at all. There are probably some small businesses that were really marginal that will now have to scramble a bit, which is too bad and one argument for phasing this in more slowly, but having delayed it this long I don’t think more delays would be positive overall. And if you really need to keep your current number of employees working overtime, just lower their base salary until it works out the same. If you can’t do that because it would violate minimum wage laws, maybe you shouldn’t have built a business that depends on paying your employees poverty wages. Good news: businesses that want to pay their employees fairly will no longer have to compete in this one way against businesses that don’t. (At least, to the extent that labor laws are enforced at all to begin with.)

    Also, I see a few people complaining that they won’t be able to e.g. go to the doctor during the work week anymore. There’s no reason that needs to be true. Companies can still set policies allowing you to do whatever (e.g. claim short absences during the day as paid time) if they want, especially if you’re salaried (you CAN be salaried nonexempt). Even if you’re hourly, depending on the state, as long as you make up the time within the same week or two there’s no problem. If you become non-exempt and your employer starts penalizing you for occasional appointments, that’s their decision, not the law.

    1. SirTechSpec

      Likewise if they stop allowing you to work from home; if they trusted you before, there’s no good reason for them to stop now.

      1. Turtle Candle

        Yes: I’m non-exempt hourly and I work from home and have a flexible schedule. It can be done, if you trust your employees. It’s not a gimme that everyone would lose flexibility; that’s only the case if they think that employees will take a mile if given an inch. (And even so, if you think that Employee A would take advantage of your flexibility, but Employee B would be fine, there’s no reason that you can’t let Employee B have flexibility but not Employee A–“oh gosh we trust you but if we let you do it then we HAVE to let Sally the Slacker do it” is either misinformed or a dodge.)

        1. Rebecca

          And thus you have nailed my manager’s thinking! “Because everyone can’t be trusted to work from home, no one is allowed to work from home”. I just want to work a few days from home a month to avoid my commute and be able to go do things on a weekday evening once in a while. My thought is, if you’ve hired people you can’t trust to work without standing over them in the office, that’s your problem, not mine.

          1. Mike C.

            Yeah, that’s some kindergarten level crap. Nothing better than being punished for something you didn’t screw up in the first place.

    2. Greggles

      There’s a lot more to flexibility than meets the eye. My flexibility looks like work 6-745am take kid to school, back home for an 830-930 conference call. 930-11emails/ other admin tasks. 11-1 lunch 1-3 conference calls. 325 pick up kid from school. 345 back to work til 530, then answer a few emails in the evening, and do some things for the west coast customers. When I went hourly I then had to track every minute of what I am doing. OT? Get it all the time, but over a certain amount I have to justify it. Being except was much nice too because I could move hours from week to week, now I just plain work more.

    3. Mike C.

      Get out of my head! :p

      I think they’re allowed a little bit of whining because the change is happening all at once, but the vast majority of situations were really abusive.

    4. Anon This Time

      SirTechSpec nailed it right the head. Plenty of not-for profits have been mismanaged taking advantage of their workers, being top-heavy pay scale wise while working their minions to death. This will force them to get realistic with their workforces and manpower hours.

  17. Mimmy

    I don’t fully understand all of the implications of the proposed threshold increase, but it sure sounds like they’re making an awfully big leap without fully considering the impacts. I’ve read before how nonprofits funded largely by Medicaid are upset over this proposal. If anything, the increase should be implemented over a period of time, not all at once. A 113% increase right away is too much of a change. I’m all for modernizing labor & wage laws, but honestly, I hope the new bill passes.

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