PREPARING FOR THE HEAT: How the Department of Labor is Spicing Things Up
By: Alyssa Peters, Attorney Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP
Summer clothes are not the only things we should be pulling out and dusting off. It is the season of changes; changes in the weather and changes in employment laws. Take out those old wage and hour policies and get them into shape for the new wage and hour regulations that were finalized today.
As you know, last year, the Department of Labor published proposed regulatory changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”): the finalized version of which was just published. Pursuant to President Obama’s push to increase the number of American workers that are entitled to overtime, the Department of Labor rule has raised the minimum salary for exempt workers from $23,600.00 a year to $47,476.00 a year ($913 a week). Meaning, if an employee currently falls under one of the “white collar” exemptions, but makes less than $47,476.00 a year, their exemption is in jeopardy. Employers have until December 1, 2016 to shore up their policies and make sure they are in compliance with the new regulations.
Develop a plan on how to deal with the changes. Increase salaries? Reduce work hours? There are a lot of choices coming up. One thing all employers should do is gather up policies and make sure that you have good practices in place for non-exempt employees because there might be a lot more employees that will be fitting in that non-exempt bucket in a few months.
“What do you mean—‘gather up our policies and make sure we have good practices’—our practice is legal. We simply pay our non-exempt employees for all hours worked and time and a half for all hours over 40.”
Good. But, there are a lot of nuances in the law that can be tricky in determining what activities constitute “working” time. For example, do you realize that in some instances, travel time is considered “compensable working time” for employees? Under the FLSA, normal travel from home to work is not work time. However, “if an employee who has gone home after completing his day’s work is subsequently called out at night to travel a substantial distance to perform an emergency job for one of his employer’s customers, all time spent on such travel is working time.” 29 C.F.R. 785.36.
Such nuances are hard to get a handle on. Now is a good time to have your handbook and policies updated to make sure your practices are compliant. If your policies are up to date, and practices are compliant, the regulatory changes will be a little less challenging. We are happy to help you review your policies and/or brainstorm ideas on how to deal with changes that are coming.
Make plans to attend our informational Lunch & Learn on Tuesday, June 7th at the Chamber.
If you cannot make it to the presentation and have questions or are interested in policy reviews, contact Alyssa Peters with Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP at 478-750-8600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.