While the DOL's proposals will be open for public comment for several months, and the agency's final regulations won't go into effect until sometime next year, here are some of the most important takeaways:
- More Workers Eligible: In 2016, expect the salary threshold for employees eligible for overtime to increase. The overtime exemption will apply to employees who earn more than $50,440, compared the current level of $23,660. The weekly wage breakdown comes to $970 a week, up from its current level of $455 a week. The change in the exemption level means up to six million new workers will now be eligible for overtime pay, which is equivalent to one-and-a-half times hourly pay for time worked beyond 40 hours per week.
- More Highly Paid Workers Qualify: The DOL also plans to increase the exemption level for some highly compensated employees to $122,148 from its current threshold of $100,000. While that may seem extraordinarily high, a small percentage of workers earning such salaries are not managers or executives, and have no direct input in running a business. The category could, for example, include workers in a secretarial or executive assistant capacity.
- Ongoing Overtime Updates: The Labor Department plans to make regular adjustments to overtime salary exemptions going forward. Since 1938, when overtime rules were first put into place under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the DOL has updated salary levels only seven times. The last time salary levels were updated for overtime was 2004, and before that, 1975. The exact method for making the adjustments has yet to be determined, but it could be pegged to the 40th percentile of weekly full-time earnings nationally for the majority of workers, or inflation, the DOL says.
And one more thing: You can expect your costs to go up. The DOL estimates employees will pull in up to $1.3 billion more in pay per year as a result of the changes.