US DOL Seeks Input on Overtime Rule

by Amelia J. Holstrom

President Trump’s administration has finally taken some action on the Obama-era Department of Labor Overtime Rule.  Since inauguration day, employers nationwide have wondered what would become of the controversial overtime rule.   To recap: the rule, which more than doubled the salary threshold for exempt employees from $455 per week to $913 per week, was halted by a federal court in Texas in November 2016.  Thereafter, the United States Department of Labor under President Obama’s administration filed an appeal of the court’s decision.  After President Trump was sworn in, the DOL sought multiple extensions in which to file a brief in the appeal, but it had not done anything to indicate what the new administration’s position would be on the rule.  That changed on June 30, 2017, when the administration filed a brief with the appeals court arguing that, although some increase in the salary threshold was warranted, the increase under the Obama-era rule would be too burdensome for businesses.   The DOL also informed the court that it would seek public input on the matter.

After filing the brief, the administration published a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register on July 26, 2017.  An RFI is an optional process that can be used by government agencies when drafting rules to seek input from those who may be impacted by the rule.  The RFI, which outlines the history of the salary threshold, seeks public comment on several specific questions.  Those questions include: whether adjusting the salary level for inflation would be an appropriate basis or if some other method would be appropriate; whether the regulations should contain multiple salary levels and if so, how those should be set (for example, by employer size or census region); whether different salary thresholds should be set for each exemption and what impact that would have on employers and employees; whether the salary threshold set by the Obama-era administration eclipsed the duties set forth in the duties tests; and to what extent employers raised salaries in 2016 to comply with the Obama-era rule.

Employers who are interested in commenting on the rule should do so.  Comments must be submitted by September 25, 2017, electronically at www.regulations.gov or via mail at Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor, Room S-3502, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210.

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