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Government/Politics

Law to change Ohio's rules on overtime pay for commuting, checking messages coming in July

Traffic on freeway - credit SNB.JPG
Statehouse News Bureau
Traffic on a Columbus freeway. The new overtime rules law would exempt businesses from paying overtime to hourly workers for commuting or traveling to jobsites from home.

The Republican-backed law passed along party lines in the House and Senate, and was signed by Gov. Mike DeWine this week.

A new law takes effect in Ohio in July that exempts businesses from being required to pay hourly workers overtime for commuting, checking work messages or other activities beyond the employee’s regular work schedule.

The law was signed Wednesday by Gov. Mike DeWine, after the Senate agreed to changes made by the House last week.

Republicans including the law’s joint sponsor Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) said the law prevents lawsuits by clarifying rules for working more than 40 hours in a week.

"Employees will have a clear indication of what directives employers have regarding overtime work, and they must be explicit," said Brenner. "And employers will know what they will have to do regarding overtime payments for work that is not requested."

Employers won’t have to pay for small periods of time beyond the employee’s scheduled working hours, unless the employer requests those activities. But Democrats including Rep. Kent Smith said it opens the door to wage theft.

“Overtime pay protections are not a handout. This is earned money," Smith said, noting that a study showed 67% of all Ohio jobs pay less than $40,000 a year. "This is about basic economic fairness."

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce was among those pushing the law, saying it is a "Top 10 priority bill", since more hourly employees became eligible for overtime while working at home or remotely during the pandemic.

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