A U.S. Department of Labor proposal to expand the number of lower-paid salaried employees eligible for overtime could be a boon to 3.6 million people now denied a perk enjoyed by their hourly co-workers.

But the proposed rule released last Wednesday is already sending employers scrambling to determine how to respond. Potential strategies range from demoting salaried workers to hourly status (and possibly derailing their career-advancement opportunities) to boosting pay above the higher threshold to keep some workers exempt from mandatory overtime.

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