I work in direct care as a salaried manager of an adult group home. I regularly worked more than 100 hours in any given two-week pay period without getting paid any overtime.
That would change under the plan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced to protect Michigan employees from working excessive hours by qualifying more salaried workers for overtime.
On salary, we make a fixed amount of money, but there is no limit to the amount of time an employer can make us work. Employers benefit tremendously from this, but we can never earn more from our hard work.
With the outrageous amount of hours I put in, I saved the organization I worked for thousands of dollars. Hours I spent doing everything from actual direct care like toileting clients or handling meds, to management duties like keeping our building up to fire code or preparing documents for our funding.
Not only have I missed out on the financial benefits of being paid for my hours worked, I have also missed precious time with my family and friends.
I frequently lost holidays because of short staffing, without extra compensation. I did not have time to do the things we love as a family, like camping, boating or hiking, or even making breakfast together. This is time I will never get back.
If I break down my hours worked into a per hour rate, I frequently brought home less per hour than my hourly staff.
At one point when we were dangerously understaffed, I put in so many hours I was actually making less than federal minimum wage — less than $7.25 per hour. This is below the state’s poverty level. My non-exempt staff was making nearly twice that, and I was their supervisor.
So tell me, what is the benefit of being salaried? If more salaried workers become eligible for overtime benefits this would improve the lives of many. If everyone qualified for overtime, employers would have a financial incentive to encourage lower paid, hourly employees to cover more overtime hours, giving me time with my family back and giving those employees more income.
This change is long overdue.
Due to the stress that has been placed on my family and my health from working so many excessive hours, I have left the organization I worked for and the field I so dearly love and appreciate.
I have seen multiple managers come and go over the last three years.
Companies are burning people out. Had this change come sooner, this field would not have lost another top quality manager. I would not have left my career, and I would feel more appreciated by my employer for my dedication to my staff and clients I serve.
If the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity follows through with Gov. Whitmer’s proposal to protect salaried workers’ time, I would be able to stay in the field I love without sacrificing precious time with my family.