Labor Day 2015 – Make It Count!

Happy Monday Everyone! Today is Labor Day, the official day to remember the contributions that the American worker has made to the growth and development of our country. You, however, may know Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer, the start of the NFL season, and the last day when it is acceptable to wear white. Labor Day however, is much more than just grilling out back or heading out for some retail therapy, this year…the focus is really on the state of our workforce.

Although Labor Day is usually the one day of the year set aside for celebrating the contributions of millions of American workers both past and present, we have seen a lot of focus on the state of the American workforce throughout the course of the past year. From being a front and center topic in the primary races for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations, to state initiatives to raise the minimum wage, to the signing of an executive order by President Obama today that will give certain federal contractors access to up to seven days of paid leave every year.

Regrettably, the U.S. is one of the few countries in the world that does not have legislation for paid family leave. According to a 2014 report from the UN International Labour Organization, 185 countries provided paid maternity leave. Only three countries don’t: Oman, Papua New Guinea, and the United States. Seventy-eight of those countries also provide paternity leave.

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One of the biggest proposed changes to benefit the American workforce is coming from the Department of Labor and its proposed rule change on overtime. The rules that establish which workers are exempt from overtime pay haven’t kept up with the cost of living. Today, certain professionals and managers are exempt from overtime if they make more than $23,660 a year and perform specific duties. The current overtime threshold is less than the poverty threshold for a family of four. If the proposed changes to the overtime rule are adopted, the salary threshold for exemption to overtime is projected to be about $50,440 at the time of implementation.

You can imagine that many businesses, business organizations (including SHRM) are up in arms about the proposed rule change. Yet, regardless of what conservative voices may say…this change makes sense and its about time that businesses are held accountable to providing fair wages to their workers.

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Whichever way you decide to celebrate Labor Day, whether with family and friends enjoying some time grilling in the back yard or with some shopping, make the most of today’s real meaning. Use this link to connect with a White House initiative where you can share how you or someone you know stepped up in your workplace to push for a change, whatever your issue may be — from better wages to workplace fairness to greater equality. It’s time we all took a stand for a better tomorrow.

Happy Labor Day!

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