"If you have to work more, you should get paid more," the president said, surrounded by salaried workers while signing the memo in the East Room at the White House.
The memo directs Secretary of Labor Tom Perez to modernize regulations governing overtime pay to cut out so-called "white collar" exemptions in which employers could deny overtime to workers making more than a minimum of $455 a week.
Perez will consult with employers and employees in order to come up with new rules, Obama said.
Below, the president's full memo to Secretary Perez:
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF LABOR
SUBJECT: Updating and Modernizing Overtime Regulations
The Fair Labor Standards Act (the "Act"), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., provides basic rights and wage protections for American workers, including Federal minimum wage and overtime requirements. Most workers covered under the Act must receive overtime pay of at least 1.5 times their regular pay rate for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week.
However, regulations regarding exemptions from the Act's overtime requirement, particularly for executive, administrative, and professional employees (often referred to as "white collar" exemptions) have not kept up with our modern economy. Because these regulations are outdated, millions of Americans lack the protections of overtime and even the right to the minimum wage.
Therefore, I hereby direct you to propose revisions to modernize and streamline the existing overtime regulations. In doing so, you shall consider how the regulations could be revised to update existing protections consistent with the intent of the Act; address the changing nature of the workplace; and simplify the regulations to make them easier for both workers and businesses to understand and apply.
This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect the authority granted by law to a department or agency, or the head thereof.
You are hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.