John O'Connor, VP, Associate Publisher, Editorial Director

The Labor Department just sent a new overtime proposal to the White House for consideration. That’s a good sign that the rest of us may soon get a peek.

Long-term care businesses and staff are going to watch the developments closely, as the proposal might make more workers extra-pay eligible. While that would be welcome news for employees, it would also increase the costs of running what is often a margin-thin business.

In a sense, Labor officials now find themselves playing “Beat the Clock.”

If they don’t issue rules before the 2020 elections and a Democrat takes the White House, the decidedly anti-business proposal that was struck down in 2016 could be reinstated. Should that happen, anyone who makes less than $913 a week would be eligible for overtime pay. Before you break out the calculator, that works out to $22.82 per hour (based on a 40-hour workweek).

The struck-down proposal also called for an adjustment every three years. The measure was halted from being implemented in 2016 by a federal judge, following strong opposition by business groups. A revamped rule has essentially been in the works ever since.

It’s probably a safe bet that this new proposal will be a more business-friendly than its predecessor. But we won’t know the full details until, well, we know the full details.

Regardless, here’s a bold prediction: Neither side will be thrilled by what the Federal Register presents. Labor groups will charge that employees are being abused. For their part, business groups will likely insist that they are the real victims here.

My sense is that both sides will have arguments that play well to their respective bases, while doing little to appease opponents.

But here’s the thing: It may be in the best interest of businesses to swallow hard and grudgingly accept what’s proposed, or something close to it. For unless Donald Trump becomes a two-term president, operators may discover they passed up a pretty good deal.

John O’Connor is McKnight’s Editorial Director.