Business lobbysists, accusing the Labor Department of sidestepping President Carter's anti-inflation program, are protesting a proposed rule they say could force employers to boost wages for low-paid managers and supervisors by as much as 46 percent.
But the Labor Department denies the proposal is inflationary or that employers would be forced to give sizable wage increases to an estimated 1 1/2 million workers who would be affected.
Categories of employes affected could include fast-food restaurant managers, excutive assistants, personnel directors, cook supervisors, credit managers and low-paid professionals.
Under current rules, salaries executives or administrative employes must receive at least $155 a week to be exempt from federal wage laws, which required them to receive overtime pay at time-and-a-half for work beyond 40 hours a wek.
The department wants to raise the exemption minimum to $225 a week, a 46 percent increase.
For professional employes, the department has proposed raising the minimum weekly salary for exemption from overtime pay from $170 tp $250, a 47 percent increase.
The department said the increase is needed because current salary levels have not been changed in three years and "no longer provide basic minimum safeguards and protection for the economic position or low-paid executive, administrative and professional employes."
Industry officials, however, disagree.
"These increases are the largest over such a short period of years in the history" of the department regulations, the American Hotel and Motel Association said last week at a public hearing.
"There is no sound basis for these increases," the association said, adding that the "resulting inflationary impact on the economy will be substantial."