Andrea Obzerova/

Big Changes in Overtime Pay, Maternity Leave and More

A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.

Last week, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus tripled maternity leave for women in the Navy and Marine Corps from 6 weeks to 18 weeks.

“Meaningful maternity leave when it matters most is one of the best ways that we can support the women who serve our county. This flexibility is an investment in our people and our Services, and a safeguard against losing skilled service members,” Mabus said.

The Defense Department allows the service secretaries to designate additional “convalescent leave” in excess of 30 days, authority Mabus exercised in expanding time off for mothers. The new policy, effective immediately, applies retroactively to any woman who has been authorized maternity leave following the birth of a child since the beginning of the year. According to the Navy: “A mother does not need to take all of her leave at once; however, she is only entitled to the use of this type of leave within one year of her child’s birth.”

Also last week, President Obama announced he was taking executive action to make more lower-income, white-collar workers eligible for overtime compensation. The initiative, once finalized, could benefit hundreds of thousands of federal employees.

According to data from the Office of Personnel Management, there are about 365,000 feds earning between $30,000 and $50,000 annually and working executive, administrative or professional jobs. No one in those groups previously was eligible for overtime compensation. Under a proposed new rule from the Labor Department, they all would qualify for the bonus pay for extra work by 2016. The new rule would raise the annual salary threshold for employees entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act from $23,660 to $47,892.

The American Federation of Government Employees has called on OPM to issue guidance instructing agencies to make this change.

Not all employees will have to wait for the initiative to start receiving overtime pay. Thousands of State Department employees have begun receiving overtime checks under a $40 million settlement last fall over claims State violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Washington Post reported.

Among the 4,400 beneficiaries of the settlement, five will receive checks of more than $100,000 each, according to the Post.

While some feds worry about overtime, service members worry about getting paid, given how lawmakers are using the Defense budget as leverage in a partisan dispute over federal spending caps. The White House has threatened to veto the defense authorization bill Congressional Republicans expect to pass this month, an act Republicans say would prevent troops from getting paid.

President Obama says that won’t happen: “Our men and women are going to get paid,” he said. “And if you'll note that I've now been president for 6.5 years and we've had some wrangling with Congress in the past. Our service members haven't missed a paycheck.” 

And finally, the good folks at the Thrift Savings Plan have some sound advice for everyone: Save, save, save. Make the miracle of compounding work for you:  

(Image via Andrea Obzerova/