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COLUMBIA - Millions more American workers will be eligible for overtime pay under a new federal ruling starting Dec.1. Mid-Missouri business owners shared their thoughts on the potential impact.

The new rules double the annual salary threshold of overtime pay for salaried workers from $23,660 to nearly $47,500.

Several mid-Missouri area employers said the rule is well-intended, but they worry about the unintended consequences.

"It decreases stability that salary offers managers where some company might have to switch from salaried to hourly employees," said Richard Walls, owner of the Heidelberg.

Walls is a member of the mid-Missouri chapter of the Missouri Restaurant Association

"Restaurants operate on very thin margins, so anytime you increase the cost, you're gonna have to increase the price of the food delivered, the price of food served, or you have to decrease the hours worked," Walls said.

He said it's also going to be very hard to calculate the working hours for some of the employees, such as those who work from home.

Matt McCormick, president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, agreed with Walls.

"We'd really got to take a look at even our own staffing, is how do we juggle that schedule now that we don't have everybody work over 40 hours a week," McCormick said.

He said the impact would be bigger on small businesses.

"A lot of time, large businesses might have an entire HR department or resources to use. So it's really looking at our small businesses and the struggles are gonna be there, and what they're gonna have to walk through to figure out," McCormick said.

The chamber currently has more than 1,100 members, and about 88 percent are small businesses.

The CEO of Pulse Medical Staffing Dan Lantham said he's supportive of the new overtime rules.

"I think it's a very good thing for employees from the standpoint where they are gonna make more money when they do work overtime hours. They're taking time away from families, friends and your life to work overtime hours. So you should be compensated for that," Lantham said.

Lantham had been a service worker for decades before establishing his company. He said overtime payment has always been very important to him.

But he said implementing the new rule is not going to be easy.

"I think it's just gonna slow growth on some of those companies. And that's kind of hard to mid-Missouri because we're usually economically impacted from those changes," Lantham said.

McCormick said the chamber has started to discuss how to cope with the new rule. He suggested other small businesses do the same.

"We might even go back to people have to clock in and clock back out, which a number of people have not done for a very long time," he said.

McCormick said business owners are welcome to consult the chamber if they need help with the new overtime pay rule.