Although it is still unclear when the U.S. Department of Labor will finalize the proposed rules revising the white collar exemptions to overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act, earlier this month a group of bipartisan members of Congress signed off on a letter to the Secretary of Labor, expressing “serious concern” over the proposed rules.
The February 9, 2016 letter, signed by 108 members of Congress, asserts that the proposed rule will adversely affect employers, including small businesses, as a result of its modification to the “salary test” portion of the exemption analysis. Currently, employers must pay overtime to employees who make less than $23,660 per year, whether they are paid on an hourly or salary basis. The proposed rule increases the salary threshold to $50,440 per year, which, according to the letter, would result in approximately 5 million employees becoming immediately eligible for overtime pay. The letter also states that the increased threshold ignores the “geographic diversity of our country,” insofar as the purchasing power of a dollar varies both regionally, and between rural and urban areas.
The proposed rules focus on the salary test, and the letter raises concern over possible changes to the “duties test” portion of the exemption analysis. Because no specific changes to the duties test are included in the proposed rules, the letter asks that the public be given an opportunity to comment on any proposed changes prior to their enactment.
Even if the Department of Labor finalizes the rules this year, which is more than likely to happen, whether the rules remain in force will likely depend on the outcome of the upcoming presidential election.