“Together, we urge fellow nonprofit donors, employees, leaders, and board members to join us in supporting a path to restore overtime rights that will serve our larger missions and benefit the long-term health of our staff, our organizations, and the communities we serve.”
— An open letter from nonprofit supporters, staff, and leaders —
We support mission-driven nonprofit organizations. We support restoring overtime rights.
We are supporters of mission-driven nonprofit organizations. Some of us contribute our labor as employees. Some of us contribute our dollars. Some of us contribute our time as volunteers. And some of us are able to do all three.
While we may play different roles in different parts of the nonprofit sector, we all strongly support Washington state’s effort to restore overtime rights to hundreds of thousands of salaried employees, including front-line restaurant and retail managers, office and clerical workers, and many who work long hours for low pay at nonprofit organizations.
Restoring overtime rights will help our organizations carry out our larger missions. Employers will have a number of options in response to an updated threshold: limiting their employees’ work hours, raising salaries above the threshold, or simply paying overtime for overtime hours. This change will mean more people with time to spend with their families, invest in their communities, and volunteer for nonprofits, and it will mean more money for those workers to afford the basics, contribute to the economy, and support our missions.
Further, for nonprofit employers in particular, requiring employees’ time be taken into consideration will help restore work-life balance, which means less turnover, less burnout, and higher productivity. Our organizations’ capacity to carry out our missions should not depend on employees putting in extra hours without extra pay — it’s not equitable, it’s not sustainable, and it’s not in line with our values.
Together, we urge fellow nonprofit donors, employees, leaders, and board members to join us in supporting a path to restore overtime rights that will serve our larger missions and benefit the long-term health of our staff, our organizations, and the communities we serve:
The state should move without delay on rulemaking to restore the 40-hour workweek by updating the threshold for overtime exemption. This will ensure workers in our state are fairly compensated for their time — including nonprofit workers. Just like other employers, nonprofit employers too often use salaried classifications as a way to justify long hours in exchange for low pay. But getting a salary didn’t always mean putting in unpaid hours: in the 1970s, the last time these rules were updated, more than 60% of salaried workers got overtime pay when they worked overtime hours. Now less than 10% do — and it’s time we brought that number back into balance.
The threshold for overtime exemption should be set at the highest level the state is considering, a level calculated at 2.5 times what a full-time minimum wage worker would be paid. This would mean all employees who are paid less than 2.5 times the minimum wage would receive time-and-a-half pay if they work overtime hours. This updated threshold would be well in line with historical norms: from the 1930s to the 1970s when the rules were last updated, the threshold for overtime exemption was set at levels between 2.5 times and 3.5 times the minimum wage, or more.
We appreciate that a phase-in is appropriate. Because our state rules have fallen so far behind economic reality in the forty-plus years since they were last updated, we support a multi-step phase-in to the higher threshold. A phase-in will provide a valuable adjustment period for employers, and will allow time for nonprofits in particular to adapt over the course of multiple budget and grant cycles.
We firmly believe we cannot build a strong economy — or a strong nonprofit sector — on low salaries, unpaid work, high turnover, and a race to the bottom on compensation. By supporting the current effort to raise standards on a statewide basis, we can together reset expectations about unpaid work across our sector and our entire economy, and ensure that all employers respect workers’ time. In the long run, we’ll all be the better for it.