Labor Department Fails to Extend Comment Period on Proposed White Collar Regulations
There will be no extension of the original 60-day period for commenting on the U.S. Labor Department's proposals and requests relating to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act's Section 13(a)(1) exemptions. On August 31, 2015, U.S. Wage and Hour Administrator David Weil notified members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
In a March 13, 2014, memorandum, President Barack Obama directed the Department of Labor (DOL) to “modify,” “streamline” and “simplify” the federal regulations regarding exemptions to overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Administration's goal was to increase the number of workers eligible for overtime, especially workers from the hospitality and retail industries.
On June 30, 2015, the DOL announced the highly anticipated proposed changes to the overtime regulation. Although there was much speculation about the DOL attempting to simplify the job duties test for overtime exemption, they made no such changes. Instead, the department proposed an increase in the salary level required for exemption to overtime from $455/week ($23,660/year) to $970/week ($50,440/year) for 2016. The DOL also increased the salary level for highly compensated individuals from $100,000/year to $122,148/year. Additionally, the DOL indicated that they intend to include a mechanism to update automatically the salary level annually through a percentage tied to the Consumer Price Index. Although the DOL made no changes to the job duties test required for exemption, there is still a possibility that a future change could be proposed, since the department asked for comments on such changes.
End of the Comment Period
On August 31, 2015, the DOL reported to the House and Senate that it would not extend the 60-day public comment period for the proposed regulations, stating 60 days was sufficient to “produce a quality regulation” when coupled with the feedback received from the Department's outreach sessions conducted prior to proposing the rule. Dr. Weil's letter to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce takes the position that the 60-day period is sufficient due in part to what he described as “an extensive outreach program, conducting listening sessions” undertaken in connection with the initiative. Weil also stated that “past experience” supports his view of not extending the deadline for comments.
As a result, the comment period ended on Friday, September 4, 2015. This was the last chance for employers or other interested parties to make comments to be considered by the DOL, which could have affected the final rules.
While it is tough to predict when the DOL will publish its final rule, many believe it will happen in early 2016. Employers will likely be required to be in compliance as of the effective date of the rule, which can range anywhere from 30 to 120 days after the final rule is published. The administration has been very vocal about its desire to see this change in the law implemented quickly, so industry experts expect a short compliance period of less than 120 days.
Have Questions about White Collar Exemptions – Overtime ?
Should you have questions about the USDOL's proposed rule regarding white collar exemptions or overtime in general, don't hesitate to contact leading California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley. Call and speak to an experienced California lawyer toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us via email.