As we previously reported, the Department of Labor has now issued its long-anticipated final overtime exemption rules for white collar workers. In addition, the DOL published more detailed guidance for higher education institutions (.pdf) seeking to comply with the new obligations. As expected, the compensation adjustments mandated by the new rules require substantial effort to balance college and university budgetary constraints, workforce morale concerns, and legal compliance obligations in the next several months.
The DOL estimates that the new rule will result in approximately 35% of all current full-time, salaried workers being eligible for overtime based on their salary level alone. At the same time, increasing so many positions’ salaries to meet the new $47,476 threshold creates substantial concerns with salary compression on campus for positions already above that threshold. To address such concerns and to minimize the need to comply with future increases of the FLSA salary threshold, many institutions of higher education are likely to seek to convert positions to non-exempt status; at the same time, they will need to address employee-morale concerns related to such a conversion and diligently manage the number of hours or methods of compensating for overtime wherever possible for budgetary reasons.
As schools determine the best approach for seeking to adjust to the new rules, the guidance issued yesterday as well as a white paper that we prepared earlier this year offer ample advice specific to higher education institutional needs and concerns. Examples of key components of the guidance include the following: