I have posted before on the USDOL’s initiative to revise (think: narrow) the FLSA white collar overtime exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This initiative will be at the top of the list of regulations and legislation that I will be watching in 2015. This watchful waiting may come to naught, however, as the gridlock in Congress makes it difficult to imagine that the “liberal” changes sought will be enacted.
In March 2014, President Obama directed the Secretary of Labor to “modernize and streamline” the existing FLSA overtime regulations. The President opined that because these regulations were supposedly “outdated,” (although only six years old) millions of workers were not overtime eligible.
A notice of proposed rulemaking is due to come out in February. Following the release, employers and, most importantly, employer organizations, will have the chance to comment (think: criticize) the proposals. It seems, however, that the rule will not be finalized in 2015. The major concern of employers is that a loosening of these rules will certainly generate another flood of lawsuits.
It does appear that one component of the proposed revisions is raising the minimum salary threshold (now set at $455 per week). Another possible revision is fixing a definitive percentage of time that an employee must perform exempt tasks in order to qualify for the exemption. Now, the concept of “primary duty” is somewhat amorphous although it is ostensibly set at 51% of the work performed must be exempt work.
Maybe, just maybe, drawing brighter lines would be beneficial. My experience is that employers (almost universally) want to comply with the law and making exemption decisions often is difficult because of the grayness involved in determining who is and is not exempt. If employers could make these decisions with greater certainty and perhaps end up classifying more people as non-exempt, they could adjust the compensation of these newly deemed non-exempt workers so the employer’s labor costs would not necessarily need to increase.
Maybe that is a win/win scenario.
To be continued….