Employers concerned about minimum wage, overtime and other liability from the Proposed Salary Threshold Rule (“Proposal”) that if adopted will increase the minimum salary for the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) “white collar” overtime exemption from $23,660 annually to $35,308 annually. If adopted as proposed, the Proposal overnight will disqualify a million plus currently salaried workers to hourly employees that their employers will be required to pay minimum wage and overtime under the FLSA. Businesses concerned about the Proposal or other burdensome minimum wage or overtime requirements under the FLSA need to tell the Labor Department about these rules burdensome effects on business.
Proposal To Raise Minimum Salary For Overtime Exemption
The Labor Department Proposal if adopted will increase to $679 per week the minimum amount that an employer must pay an employee to treat that employee as exempt from the minimum wage or overtime rules of the FLSA regardless of the role or position of the employee. This means that an additional million plus employees overnight no longer would qualify to be paid as salaried rather than hourly employees. The Proposal
Under currently enforced FLSA rules, employers generally must treat any employee earning less than $455 per week ($23,660 annually) as a non-exempt employee. This generally means that the employer must pay the employee at least minimum wage for regular time and must pay overtime to the worker for any hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week.
The Labor Department set the minimum weekly earnings level of $455 per week in 2004. The Proposal if adopted will increase the minimum required earnings an employee must earn to qualify for exemption from minimum wage and overtime rules more than $124 per week to $679 per week (equivalent to $35,308 per year).
The Department also is asking for public comment on the Proposal’s language for periodic review to update the salary threshold. An update would continue to require notice-and-comment rule making rather than calling for automatic adjustments to the salary threshold for inflation.
Speak Up About Proposal & Other FLSA Burdens On Business
Businesses concerned about Proposal to increase the salary threshold or other burdensome FLSA rules or enforcement policies should seize the opportunity to provide feedback.
To start with, businesses should submit comments about the Proposed Rule electronically at www.regulations.gov as soon as possible before the 60-day comment period runs in mid-May.
Additionally, concerned businesses also should consider participating in events like the Small Business Roundtables that the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) Office of Advocacy plans to host to discuss the Proposal to hear directly from small businesses about the impact of the proposed rule. Currently SBA plans to host three roundtables:
- Thursday April 4, 2019 – 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm (EDT) at the University of South Florida Port Tampa Bay, Building 1101 Channelside Dr., Suite 210, Tampa, FL 33602;
- Thursday April 11, 2019 – 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm (EDT) at the SBA Headquarters, Eisenhower Room B 409 Third Street SW, Washington, DC 20416 (Call-in option available); and
- Tuesday April 30, 2019 – 9:00 am – 11:00 am (CDT) at the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce 451 Government St., Mobile, Alabama 36602
Interested parties must RSVP to Janis.Reyes@sba.gov to participate. Note that while SBA reports that SBA has invited Labor Department staff, the Labor Department has not confirmed its acceptance of these invitations yet. Also, because comments expressed during these roundtables do not take the place of submitting written comments to the regulatory docket, concerned businesses should also still comment on the Proposal. However adverse feedback from business expressed at this meeting could help to motivate SBA to express opposition or other negative feedback on the Proposal.
Other Defensive Actions To Minimize FLSA Exposures
Whether or not the Proposal takes effect, all U.S. businesses will want to strengthen their existing practices for classifying and compensating workers under existing Federal and state wage and hour laws, tighten contracting and other compliance oversight in relation to outsourced services, weigh options to clean up exposure areas, review insurance coverages and consider other options to minimize their potential liability under applicable wages and hour laws. Conducting this analysis within the scope of attorney-client privilege is important because the analysis and discussions are highly sensitive both as potential evidence for wage and hour and other legal purposes. Consequently, businesses and their leaders generally will want to arrange for this work to be protected to the extent by attorney-client privilege, work product and other evidentiary protections against discovery by Department, employees or others for FLSA or other workforce enforcement actions.
As a part of this process, businesses and their leaders generally should plan to:
- Review subcontractor, temporary, lease employee, independent contractor and other outsourced labor and services relationship for potential risk of worker reclassification and tighten contracting and other procedures;
- Audit the position of each employee currently classified as exempt to assess its continued sustainability and to develop documentation justifying that characterization;
- Audit characterization of workers obtained from staffing, employee leasing, independent contractor and other arrangements and implement contractual and other oversight arrangements to minimize risks that these relationships could create if workers are recharacterized as employed by the employer receiving these services;
- Review the characterization of on-call and other time demands placed on employees to confirm that all compensable time is properly identified, tracked, documented, compensated and reported;
- If the employer hires any individuals under age 18, audit and implement appropriate procedures to ensure its ability to demonstrate compliance with all applicable FLSA child labor rules;
- If the employer is a government contractor or subcontractor or otherwise performs any services on projects funded with federal or state funds, evaluate the applicability and fulfillment of any special wage, fringe benefit, recordkeeping or other government contracting wage and hour requirements;
- If the employer hires foreign agricultural or other workers subject to special conditions and requirements, to review compliance with those special requirements;
- Review and tighten existing practices for tracking compensible hours and paying non-exempt employees for compliance with applicable regulations and to identify opportunities to minimize costs and liabilities arising out of the regulatory mandates;
- If the employer uses leased, temporary, or other outsourced labor, evaluate contractual, process and other options to support the employer’s ability cost effectively to respond to an audit, investigation or enforcement action by the Labor Department or private litigants and if necessary, obtain indemnification or other recovery in the event the employer incurs liability due to the use or practices of the outsourced labor supplier;
- If the audit raises questions about the appropriateness of the classification of an employee as exempt, self-initiation of proper corrective action after consultation with qualified legal counsel;
- Review and document all workers classified as exempt;
- Review of existing documentation and record keeping practices for hourly employees;
- Evaluate potential exposures under other employment, labor, tax or related laws or contracts that might be impacted by the findings or actions taken in response to those findings;
- Explore available options and alternatives for calculating required wage payments to non-exempt employees and assessing and resolving other concerns;
- Identify and calculate other employee benefit, tax or other corrections and associated costs and procedures that may be required as a result of findings or corrective actions resulting from their redress;
- Re-engineer work rules, policies, contracts and practices to minimize costs and liabilities as appropriate in light of the regulations and enforcement exposures;
- Explore insurance, indemnification and other options for mitigating risks and associated investigation and defense costs; and
- Consider self-correction within the new PAID Program or otherwise.
If you need more information or have questions, contact the author, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.
About The Author
Recognized by her peers as a Martindale-Hubble “AV-Preeminent” (Top 1%) and “Top Rated Lawyer” with special recognition LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell® as “LEGAL LEADER™ Texas Top Rated Lawyer” in Health Care Law and Labor and Employment Law; as among the “Best Lawyers In Dallas” for her work in the fields of “Labor & Employment,” “Tax: Erisa & Employee Benefits,” “Health Care” and “Business and Commercial Law” by D Magazine, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer is a practicing attorney board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and management consultant, author, public policy advocate and lecturer widely known for management work, coaching, teachings, and publications.
Ms. Stamer works with businesses and their management, employee benefit plans, governments and other organizations deal with all aspects of human resources and workforce, internal controls and regulatory compliance, change management and other performance and operations management and compliance. Her day-to-day work encompasses both labor and employment issues, as well as independent contractor, outsourcing, employee leasing, management services and other nontraditional service relationships. She supports her clients both on a real-time, “on demand” basis and with longer term basis to deal with all aspects for workforce and human resources management, including, recruitment, hiring, firing, compensation and benefits, promotion, discipline, compliance, trade secret and confidentiality, noncompetition, privacy and data security, safety, daily performance and operations management, emerging crises, strategic planning, process improvement and change management, investigations, defending litigation, audits, investigations or other enforcement challenges, government affairs and public policy.
The author of the “Texas Payday Act,” and numerous other highly regarded publications on wage and hour and other human resources, employee benefits and compensation publications, Ms. Stamer is well-known for her 30 years of extensive wage and hour, compensation and other management advice and representation of restaurant and other hospitality, health, insurance, financial services, technology, energy, manufacturing, retail, governmental and other domestic and international businesses of all types and sizes.
A Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel, the American Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation, Ms. Stamer also shares her thought leadership, experience and advocacy on these and other concerns by her service as a management consultant, business coach and consultant and policy strategist as well through her leadership participation in professional and civic organizations such her involvement as the Vice Chair of the North Texas Healthcare Compliance Association; Executive Director of the Coalition on Responsible Health Policy and its PROJECT COPE: Coalition on Patient Empowerment; former Board President of the early childhood development intervention agency, The Richardson Development Center for Children; former Gulf Coast TEGE Council Exempt Organization Coordinator; a founding Board Member and past President of the Alliance for Healthcare Excellence; former board member and Vice President of the Managed Care Association; past Board Member and Board Compliance Committee Chair for the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas; a member and policy adviser to the National Physicians’ Council for Healthcare Policy; current Vice Chair of the ABA Tort & Insurance Practice Section Employee Benefits Committee; current Vice Chair of Policy for the Life Sciences Committee of the ABA International Section; Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section; ABA Real Property Probate and Trust (RPTE) Section former Employee Benefits Group Chair, immediate past RPTE Representative to ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits Council Representative, and Defined Contribution Committee Co-Chair, past Welfare Benefit Committee Chair and current Employee Benefits Group Fiduciary Responsibility Committee Co-Chair, Substantive and Group Committee member, Membership Committee member and RPTE Representative to the ABA Health Law Coordinating Council; past Chair of the Dallas Bar Association Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Committee; a former member of the Board of Directors, Treasurer, Member and Continuing Education Chair of the Southwest Benefits Association and others.
Ms. Stamer also is a widely published author, highly popular lecturer, and serial symposia chair, who publishes and speaks extensively on human resources, labor and employment, employee benefits, compensation, occupational safety and health, and other leadership, performance, regulatory and operational risk management, public policy and community service concerns for the American Bar Association, ALI-ABA, American Health Lawyers, Society of Human Resources Professionals, the Southwest Benefits Association, the Society of Employee Benefits Administrators, the American Law Institute, Lexis-Nexis, Atlantic Information Services, The Bureau of National Affairs (BNA), InsuranceThoughtLeaders.com, Benefits Magazine, Employee Benefit News, Texas CEO Magazine, HealthLeaders, the HCCA, ISSA, HIMSS, Modern Healthcare, Managed Healthcare, Institute of Internal Auditors, Society of CPAs, Business Insurance, Employee Benefits News, World At Work, Benefits Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, and many other symposia and publications. She also has served as an Editorial Advisory Board Member for human resources, employee benefit and other management focused publications of BNA, HR.com, Employee Benefit News, InsuranceThoughtLeadership.com and many other prominent publications and speaks and conducts training for a broad range of professional organizations and for clients on the Advisory Boards of InsuranceThoughtLeadership.com, HR.com, Employee Benefit News, and many other publications.
Want to know more? See here for details about the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, e-mail her here or telephone Ms. Stamer at (469) 767-8872.
About Solutions Law Press, Inc.™
Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ provides human resources and employee benefit and other business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other coaching, tools and other resources, training and education on leadership, governance, human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ resources here including:
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