News Council attends DOL Overtime Listening Session

The U.S. Department of Labor held a listening session in Providence, R.I. on September 24 to gather views on the white collar exemption regulations that would determine how overtime is paid and to which employees.

Nearly 100 people attended the session, including Providers’ Council Vice President of Public Policy & Development Bill Yelenak, and about 20 speakers provided comments. The sessions, which were also being held in Georgia, Washington, Missouri and Colorado this fall, follow the DOL’s efforts in 2016 to update the Overtime Final Rule and increase the salary threshold to exempt individuals from overtime from $23,660 to $47,476. The change was halted by a court order.

Multiple speakers noted that the salary threshold should be moved from $23,660, though there was little consensus around what the new threshold should be. One speaker suggested $32,000, while several speakers noted they preferred the $47,476 originally proposed by the Department of Labor two years ago. Many also noted they felt the duties test for Executive, Administrative or Professional (EAP) employees should remain unchanged.

Another issue that was discussed by many speakers was the issue of employee morale. Some felt that by moving employees from exempt to hourly, it would decrease employee morale – they wouldn’t feel as if they were still a part of the organization’s managerial staff and have a voice at the table. Others argued that they would still feel a large a part of the company, and their paycheck would increase substantially as a result of being able to earn overtime. Attendees also debated whether or not the Department of Labor had the authority to index the salary threshold to wage growth, cost of living indexes or some other measure.

Representatives from the Department of Labor noted they received 240,000 responses to the Request for Information (RFI) they published on July 26, 2017, and the listening sessions represented another opportunity for members of the public to give input regarding any changes that should be made to the regulations.

In November 2016, a U.S. District Court judge issued a nationwide order temporarily enjoining enforcement of the Final Rule. The Department of Labor filed a notice of appeal in October 2017 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, asking them to stay the appeal in light of the Department’s pending rulemaking to update the salary requirement. That appeal is still pending, and representatives from DOL noted at the September 24 listening sessions that they could not discuss it further.

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