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How Ohio’s new overtime law impacts hourly workers

Legal experts say there is one significant change under the new law regarding class actions for overtime violations.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Beginning this summer, there will be new rules for hourly workers in Ohio when it comes to overtime pay. A new law defines when you can and can’t clock that overtime.

Legal experts say one significant change under the new law is now hourly workers will have to opt-in -- with written consent -- if they want to join a case for unpaid wages. Local wage and hour attorneys have different takes on that.

Senate Bill 47, as signed into law, prohibits opt-out class actions for overtime violations.

“That's a really big deal because workers may not want to opt-in for a variety of reasons. Like they're scared of retaliation, a class action lets them join the case without having to opt-in,” said Andrew Biller from Biller & Kimble, LLC. "And this law takes that option away. For workers claiming unpaid overtime."

Others say it streamlines the litigation process.

“We won't be looking at hybrid lawsuits anymore, we will only be looking at an opt-in format, which is what is done in the federal courts,” said Sara Jodka,  a member at Dickinson Wright in Columbus.

The law also exempts employers from paying overtime for your commute to and from a worksite and performing certain "activities" that require "insubstantial" or "insignificant periods of time" outside work hours.

What does that mean for an hourly worker?

“I think, if we're talking about that portion, there is not a gigantic change for hourly workers, because tasks that their employer asks them to do, those are still going to be compensable, just like they would be under the prior version of the law. So I don't think that there's going to be huge change there,” explained Biller.

"One thing as a litigator, I can tell you is I've never had a lawsuit under just Ohio law, based on any of the de minimis or the traveling to and from a principal place of work provisions that this law now kind of clears up and says that you can't sue under this,” said Jodka.

While some say this is needed clarification, others say there is no benefit for hourly workers.

The bottom line: make sure you're on the same page as your boss.

"This is an excellent time for conversation between the employee and the employer,” said Darius Burnette, president of Payroll Vault of Carroll.

The new rules take effect July 6.

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