The idea that salaried employees should regularly work in excess of 40 hours is absurd and needs to be abolished.
In the 1990s, I was salaried and I was not expected to regularly work more than 40 hours, though I was expected to be available if needed, and take comp time off later. But this has changed, and as the system is set up now, competition almost forces employers to hire as few workers as possible and work them as many hours as possible. It is primarily the high cost of benefits (mostly health care, which is required for most employers) that creates such a strong incentive to have fewer employees. Requiring overtime would significantly offset this harmful incentive, thus allowing employers to hire the employees they actually need without incurring extra costs.
Laws are not the only solution, but everyone benefits from having more workers working fewer hours. Workers get more free time. More people get jobs. The economy benefits as more people can spend money to at least pay for their lives. As it is now, some people earn more than they need (but at a cost of never having free time) while others have to rely on charity or welfare because they can not earn enough. This problem applies even to people who earn very good money — they don't have any time to enjoy it, or do anything else, or be with friends or family or contribute to the community.
And the employer benefits too. People who have to work long hours become measurably less productive, as well as making more mistakes and being less happy in their work. They burn out quicker, leading to expensive turnover. None of this is good for the employer. If the structural incentives to have as few workers as possible were removed, employers would want to add more workers for all these reasons. And employers who sell things also understand the benefits of more people having jobs.
More people working and spending money, and not relying on charity or welfare, strengthens the community and makes everyone feel part of the community. More business activity means more jobs, more spending, and rising prosperity.
Requiring overtime pay is one of the ways to reverse the structural advantage employers now gain by keeping as few employees as possible, and working them maximum hours.
As for being salaried, yes it worked fine for me. But to be honest, I did not know anything about salaried work. I had been hourly all my life. Then they made me head of my department and I became salaried, but no one told me what it meant. I just continued to work 8 hours a day as I always had — if I had to work longer one day I could take comp time later. I continued to do this when I was salaried.
But expectations seem to have changed over the years, and structurally, salaried workers have no legal protection from abusive bosses. I have a relative who is salaried and is expected to work very long hours. He says this is normal for all salaried people now and he does not know how I got away with only working 40 hours. He’s expected to work 50 or 60 hours at times (and 40 hours even when the workload is lighter.)
Regardless of his job or how much he gets paid, he deserves to be treated like a human. All workers deserve to be treated with respect.”
— Larry Lawton, Aberdeen