DES MOINES – An estimated 16,000 Iowans will lose wages this year after Republican lawmakers and Governor Reynolds made significant changes to overtime pay last session.
According to a bulletin released by Iowa Democrats, nurses, social workers, and public defenders are among the 3,000 Iowans who will no longer be paid overtime while an additional 13,000 state employees will see their overtime pay reduced this year.
Nurses at state institutions have been particularly hard hit by the overtime changes. Nurses are often scheduled for mandatory overtime to ensure that necessary staffing levels are met and patients receive the best care possible. If nurses leave their shifts prior to their replacement, they lose their licenses.
More than 21 percent of the positions no longer receiving overtime are at the Department of Human Services (DHS), raising questions about how the agency will keep Iowa’s vulnerable populations like seniors and children safe. Overall, DHS has lost 700 positions over the last several years.
Critics of the overtime changes say it’s unfair for Iowans to work overtime without compensation and will also make it harder to recruit and retain qualified individuals to work in critical positions with lower wages. In light of recent starvation deaths of two foster children, others expressed concerns about huge caseload sizes for social workers who will now be forced to work overtime without pay.
In comments to the press this week, Governor Kim Reynolds minimized the overtime pay changes and said it would have a “relatively small impact.”