Overtime Changes Could Upend Publishing Industry Norms


Changes to overtime laws could have a big impact the way the publishing industry pays staff. Salaried employees earning less than $47,476 a year will be entitled to overtime pay at a rate of one and a half times their base pay beginning December 1, 2016. This change could have major implications for the publishing industry where low pay and long hours have been the norm for years. Consider literary powerhouse Wylie Agency, which represents authors like Salman Rushdie, Hilton Als, Martin Amis, Colum McCann, among others. Assistants at the agency earn salaries in the $30,000 range and routinely worked fifty to sixty hours according to the New York Times, and Andrew Wylie, who runs the agency, seems blissfully ignorant to labor laws:

Andrew Wylie, who runs the agency, said he would consider paying time and a half if he asked junior staff members to work overtime, but not if they worked long hours of their own volition. “What am I supposed to do, sit at the door with a stopwatch?” he said. “I’m not going to do that.”

Unfortunately for Wylie, the Department of Labor is pretty clear: “Employees must be paid for work ‘suffered or permitted’ by the employer even if the employer does not specifically authorize the work.”

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →