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New Overtime Law is Confusing Some, But Improvement Could Be on the Horizon


Employers in Virginia now have new requirements for paying overtime. And, lawmakers are already considering ways to improve the new law.

Earlier this year, lawmakers passed the Virginia Overtime Wage Act. It was introduced by Delegate Mike Mullin, a Democrat from Newport News. He intended the bill as a way to allow people to sue for overtime in state courts as opposed to federal courts; making the whole process easier and cheaper. But local governments across Virginia are concerned the new law prevents them from awarding comp time instead of wages for overtime.

"Well you get a dozen lawyers into a room, and you're probably going to get about two dozen opinions," Mullin says. "What I can tell you is that I want to make sure that this bill does exactly what we were intending it to do, and we're working to make sure that that happens."

Legal expert Rich Kelsey says sometimes laws are received in ways that weren't intended.

"As a drafting proposition, it's an easy fix -- that localities have the option to either pay compensatory time or cash. That's not a complicated procedure," Kelsey explains. "The complication comes up with if he makes this change does he actually then invite some form of opposition that he didn't have before?"

Mullin says the 2022 General Assembly session is a long way off, and he'll be consulting with stakeholders to see what kind of changes -- if any -- are necessary.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.