During the month of September, the Department of Labor will be holding a series of “Listening Sessions” throughout the country in order to hear public comments about planned changes to the overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
On this blog, we have followed the long and winding path of the years-long efforts to update the FLSA’s overtime rules (see our posts on the subject here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). To recap, in 2014, the Obama Administration set out to overhaul the overtime rules, and, after nearly two years, issued a set of final regulations, which were to have gone into effect on December 1, 2016. Among other things, these regulations would have increased the minimum salary threshold for exempt workers from $455 per week to $913. This change would have dramatically increased the number of workers who would be classified as non-exempt, and therefore eligible to earn overtime pay. However, after President Trump’s election, and just days before the regulations were to take effect, a federal court issued an injunction halting the changes. After almost a year of litigation and uncertainty, the Trump Administration finally abandoned the Obama Administration’s regulations and went back to the drawing board and started the entire rulemaking process over from scratch.
These listening sessions are one of the last steps before the DOL issues its new proposed rules, which are expected early next year. If that schedule holds, the new overtime rules would likely go into effect sometime in 2020.
It is likely that, at these listening sessions, the DOL will hear from employers and other stakeholders that, while the salary threshold (which was last updated in 2004) should be increased, the change should not be as dramatic as the increase proposed by the Obama Administration. Also, employers would like to have at least some of the bonuses and commissions paid to employees counted toward the salary threshold. Finally, many employers are wary of proposals to include automatic future increases to the wage threshold, and would prefer to have them done periodically through the rulemaking process.
The only New England area listening session will be held in Providence, Rhode Island on September 24. Admission is free, but advance registration is required.