5. Minimum Wage, Overtime & Other Labor Pay Policies

Minimum Wagenormaldistributioncurve

The minimum wage should be set at a level at which a single individual, working full time (2,080 hours per year), is able to fund a lifestyle right at an expense point at the negative 1 standard deviation of the estimated reasonable cost of living for a single person averaged throughout the county of residence. This cost of living would include all the essentials such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical, taxes and miscellaneous.

Overtime Completely Voluntary & Based on 40-Hour Workweek

No company should be able to force an employee to work overtime. Employers could offer incentives for them to work overtime, but should never fire them or penalize them for refusing to work overtime. Overtime pay should be based on the total weekly hours worked, not on the total daily hours worked.

Employee Overtime Availability Agreements With Employers

Employees could enter into certain agreements with their employers in advance to work overtime for a specified number of hours per month, per quarter, etc., so that the employer could be guaranteed a certain extra amount of dependable labor to get through rare, unexpected labor bottlenecks. For example, an employee could schedule days of the week that overtime labor could be requested by the employer, such as Monday through Wednesday, except for the second Tuesday of the month. Employees would be required to remember which days they have permitted for possible overtime labor to be requested, because if the employee is called but cannot perform that overtime on that day, maybe some penalty system could be devised, such as perhaps the requirement of  2 hours of free labor at some time in the future for every one hour of overtime labor requested.  The employee should retain the right to change the days which they choose to be available for overtime work at any time prior to being called upon to perform that overtime work.

Employee Bidding for Overtime Work

The employer should retain the right to choose whomever they want to fulfill overtime labor requirements. But to prevent potential employee grumblings about who got picked and who didn’t, perhaps some sort of bidding system could be set up, either at the time of the labor shortage or preferably in advance, so that the prices paid for overtime would tend to reflect and better match the desire to work with the need. Bids by employees for the price of overtime work in the future could be set for a weekly or monthly basis, and maybe statistical data for past years could be studied to help determine the price by studying the employees’ desire to work with the need. Because the federal minimum payment regulations for overtime work stands at 1.5 times that wage rate, that may be the starting point for the bidding. Workers could bid progressively lower until no worker outbids another. Conversely, if no worker chooses to work overtime at the starting bid of 1.5 times wages, then the employer may increase overtime pay until someone accepts.

Overtime Pay or Equivalent Time Off

Since the federal minimum overtime compensation is 1.5 times the regular pay rate, employees should be given the option of either overtime pay for overtime work or, instead of payment, could be compensated instead with equivalent time off in the future at that same ratio. In other words, for every hour of overtime worked, the employee should be able to choose to take one and a half hours of regular work off in the future. This should only be an option granted by choice of the employer and employees should never be forced to take this option.

Maternity/Paternity Leave

Governments should never require employers to provide paid maternity/paternity leave, but should require employers to guarantee their employee’s previous position upon their return from leave. Employers which employ more than 56 (measured as the total of all employees across all work sites run by that employer) should be required to provide unpaid maternity and paternity leave for a full 56 weeks so parents have a higher likelihood of celebrating the first anniversary before having to go back to work. Employers with 55 employees would be required to provide a full 55 weeks of unpaid leave. Employers with 54 employees would be required to provide 54 weeks, employers with 53 should provide 53 weeks, etc., all the way down to employers with 12 who should be required to provide 12 weeks. Employers with 11 or fewer employees would not be required to provide any leave time and the employer would be free to dismiss and replace such employees, if so desired.

This leave time should be allowed to be taken either all at once or spread out over time. Employees would naturally need to consult and negotiate with their employers so that an agreeable schedule is worked out for both parties. However, employers should be required to make ‘great efforts’ to accommodate an employee who prefers to take such leave time spread out over more time. For example, fathers may want to take 3 days a week off, or the first month after the birth off and then work only 2 days a week after that for the next 2 months and then work for 4 days a week for the next 4 months. Or, perhaps mothers and fathers may want to work out an alternating schedule of some sort so that the baby will always have one parent at home, for example one week on and one week off for each of them.


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