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Washington State OKs Some of the Nation’s Toughest OT Rules

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SEATTLE — Washington state is adopting some of the nation’s most aggressive overtime rules, restoring protections for hundreds of thousands of salaried workers and taking what supporters say is a crucial step toward rebuilding the middle class.

The Department of Labor and Industries finalized the rules Wednesday and will phase them in by 2028. By that time, salaried workers making up to about $83,400 a year will be entitled to time-and-a-half pay if they work more than 40 hours per week.

Workers making more than that could also get overtime unless they are certain types of professionals — such as those with higher degrees — or unless they are truly managers or executives, as demonstrated by their ability to  and fire, direct other people’s work or make significant business decisions.

Many job categories will be affected, including shift managers at restaurants and retail establishments, office managers, some medical workers and other white-collar staff, officials said.

“We need to make sure the middle class shares in our state’s prosperity,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a news release. “Overtime protections ensure workers are fairly compensated when they work more than 40 hours in a given week — time that would otherwise be spent with their families and in their communities.”

Employees who are paid hourly have long been entitled to overtime. But salaried workers have generally been entitled to it only if they make less than a certain amount: about $23,660 under federal law, or more where state laws are more generous.

Those thresholds may have worked decades ago, when they meant that nearly two-thirds of salaried workers nationally were covered by overtime protections. But after a recession in the 1970s, lawmakers largely stopped updating them. Washington’s has been stuck at $13,000 since 1976.

As people’s salaries rose with inflation, they found themselves no longer eligible for overtime. Businesses have also been able to convert hourly workers into salaried ones who make just more than the threshold as a way to avoid  additional staff or paying overtime.

In other cases, workers have been classified as managers when their actual duties more closely resemble those of hourly workers, officials said.

By some estimates, as few as 7% of salaried workers across the country are now entitled to overtime.

The federal government and several states, including California, New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Michigan and Massachusetts, have recently updated or started to update their overtime rules, but none have adopted a target threshold as high as Washington’s, said Paul Sonn, state policy program director with the National Employment Law Project.

The rules adopted by the Trump administration will raise the threshold to cover workers making up to $35,308 a year — a significant cut from the $47,000 limit proposed by the Obama administration.

“The overtime threshold is to the middle class as the minimum wage is to low-wage work,” said Nick Hanauer, a Seattle venture capitalist whose think-tank , Civic Ventures, advocates for progressive economic policies. “It is the indispensable labour protection for middle class people.”

Business groups in Washington have agreed that the state’s rules needed to be updated, but they criticized the plans as drastic. The Association of Washington Business, warned when the proposed rules came out in June that they would be a shock to many businesses and that they could particularly hurt nonprofits.

The organization warned that many businesses might convert salaried workers to hourly ones, reducing scheduling flexibility.

After hearing extensive public comment, the department added two years to the phase-in period. The threshold will increase incrementally until it reaches 2.5 times the minimum wage — about $83,400 — by 2028. The rules will phase in more slowly for businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

The department estimates that by the time they are fully implemented, the new rules will give overtime protections to about 260,000 workers who don’t have them and strengthen overtime protections for about 235,000 others. Affected workers will also become eligible for sick leave and retaliation protections.

At a news conference Wednesday, Labor and Industries Director Joel Sacks gave an example of one type of worker who will be protected : a shift manager who makes $40,000 a year but is expected to work 60 hours a week.

Under the new rules, that worker will be paid overtime for the additional hours, or the business will need to  additional staff.

“It’s fair, it’s right and it’s long overdue,” Sacks said.

Among those who might be helped is Victor Duran, a co-manager of a sports apparel store south of Seattle. He said he makes about $52,000 a year and doesn’t get overtime, but is required to work at least 45 hours per week — and up to 60 during the holidays.

“We say bye to the family at the beginning of the season and say we’ll see them after Christmas,” Duran said.

Business

RetailMeNot’s Five to Buy in February

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RetailMeNot's Five to Buy in February
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The wintry temps may make you cold, but February deals are sure to warm your heart. It’s not only a great time to shower your valentine with roses and gifts, but it’s a great time to make other smart and timely purchases as well.

The shopping and trends expert for RetailMeNot, Sara Skirboll, agrees. “With the biggest football game of the year, Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day on the horizon, retailers will offer tremendous savings on a variety of categories — from TVs and TV dinners to all of your Valentine’s Day needs.

1. Play Cupid

With Valentine’s Day this month, shoppers might be struggling to find the right present that symbolizes their love. You can never go wrong with a customized gift made especially for them. This month, shoppers looking to go the extra mile for their loved one will save an average of 40% on items like personalized photo albums, picture frames, wall art and more. You name it, they make it — and just because it’s customized doesn’t mean it will break the bank. Turn to retailers like Shutterfly who is offering a RetailMeNot exclusive for 28% off your regular priced purchase.

2. Ding-Dong Deals

While some might make dinner reservations at the fanciest restaurant in town, many will opt to eat at home. Those who do can take advantage of special promotions and discounts. In fact, diners can save an average of 30% off all month long, so be sure to search the food delivery deals from RetailMeNot. Right now, DoorDash is offering 25% off your first purchase and Postmates is offering $15 delivery credit for existing users.

3. Flower Power

Everything’s coming up roses! According to a recent RetailMeNot survey, 46% of shoppers plan to buy flowers for Valentine’s Day this year, up from 34% in 2019. Many florists will be offering promotions and discounts to help shoppers prepare for the holiday. This year, retailers like 1800Flowers are having up to 40% off flowers & gifts and FTD is offering a RetailMeNot exclusive offer for 20% off sitewide.

4. Get Your Game On

Attention sports fans: Discounts on electronics are not strictly reserved for Black Friday! In fact, February is the second-cheapest time of year to buy a new TV. With the big game right around the corner and March Madness close behind, manufacturers will use those big-time events to highlight big savings on big-screen sets. Another reason for the markdowns is that new models will be released next month, so retailers will be looking to make room for new inventory. Shoppers in the market for a new TV should head to Samsung where they can get 10% cash back with RetailMeNot, and Best Buy where they can find up to 64% off clearance items.

5. Meet Your (Price) Match

Life can easily get in the way of finding “the one,” but online dating sites and convenient mobile apps are here to help. Those looking for love are in luck: Dating sites can offer up to 75% off enrollment fees to encourage singles to put themselves out there. Dating sites like eHarmony are offering 35% off all subscriptions and OkCupid is offering free membership.

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Arts

Shutterstock Announced as Official Photographer of the 2020 EE British Academy Film Awards

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shutterstock 2020 EE British Academy Film Awards
Shutterstock Announced as Official Photographer of the 2020 EE British Academy Film Awards (Photo: PR Newswire)

Shutterstock, Inc., a leading global technology company offering a creative platform for high-quality content, tools and services, today announced that it has been renewed as the official photographer of the 2020 EE British Academy Film Awards, which recognizes the very best in film over the past year. As the official photographer of the show on Sunday, February 2nd, Shutterstock’s on-site entertainment photographers, editors and engineering team will deliver exclusive high-quality images from the event at the Royal Albert Hall in London to the world in less than one minute from the image being taken.

Shutterstock’s editorial team captures, edits and distributes celebrity portraits and candid images leveraging proprietary software optimized for speed to market. As the moments from the red carpet, inside the awards show, and at the after-parties are captured, Shutterstock’s team makes lightning-fast crops and edits and transmits them directly to the desks of photo editors, writers and media. This speed-to-market empowers Shutterstock’s editorial customers to keep up with today’s fast news cycle to quickly deliver their news stories.

“We are pleased to continue our long-standing relationship with BAFTA, an arts charity whose purpose of celebrating and supporting the best work and talent in film, games and television is closely aligned with Shutterstock’s,” said Candice Murray, Vice President of Editorial at Shutterstock. “As a company whose passion is rooted in creativity, it is always an honor to be selected to shoot and share these unique moments recognizing the industry’s top creatives from around the world at the BAFTAs.”

“Shutterstock is best equipped to provide the world’s media with high-quality images of our awards ceremonies and year-round program through their advanced creative platform,” said Claire Rees, Photography Director for British Academy of Film and Television Arts. “Our partnership has grown over the years and as Shutterstock’s technology and service continue to evolve, we continue to see greater results in amplifying the mission of BAFTA around the world.”

Shutterstock’s annual partnership with BAFTA, a world-leading independent arts charity, originated in 2013 and includes editorial photography coverage of the Television Craft Awards, Games Awards, Television Awards, Young Game Designers Competition, Scotland Awards, Cymru Awards and Children’s Awards.

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Business

Amazon Profits Surge as Investment in Faster Shipping Pays Off

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Amazon Profits Surge as Investment in Faster Shipping Pays Off
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By Dominic Rushe

Amazon’s massive investment in faster shipping paid off for the tech company over the Christmas holidays with record sales and four times as many customers taking advantage of its free one-day shipping offer over the shopping season compared with last year.

Amazon is spending billions making one-day shipping the default for its Prime members and the gamble helped drive its revenues up over $87bn for the final quarter of 2019, or $29bn a month, compared with $72.4bn in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Profits increased to $3.3bn in the fourth quarter, up from $3bn in the same period last year, after a fall of 25% from July to September due to its costly shipping investments. Amazon’s shares shot up over 10% in after-hours trading.

“We’ve made Prime delivery faster – the number of items delivered to US customers with Prime’s free one-day and same-day delivery more than quadrupled this quarter compared to last year,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO.

Amazon’s bumper Christmas – the best in its history – came as other retailers including Target, Macy’s and JC Penney have reported lower sales.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), its cloud computing business, reported revenues of $9.9bn for the quarter, up 34% from the year-ago period.

Amazon also gave an update on its number of Prime subscribers, who pay an annual fee for faster shipping and access to free content on its streaming media services. Bezos said the company now has over 150 million paid Prime members around the world, up from 100 million last April.

Amazon’s share price has lagged its tech giant peers in recent months as investors have worried about its spending. The latest results push the company back into the exclusive club of tech companies now valued at over $1tn including Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft.

Copyright © 2020 theguardian.com. All rights reserved.

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