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Employment Law Update: Changes to Overtime Regulations and Exemptions Coming Soon!



The required overtime regulations regarding salary minimums for exemption take effect January 1, 2020.


The salary minimum for exemption as an executive, administrative, or professional employee will jump from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to $684 per week ($35,568 per year). The increase—the first in 15 years—is slightly higher than the threshold proposed back in March ($679 per week, or $35,308 per year).Up to 10% of the salary minimum can be satisfied through non-discretionary bonuses, incentives, and/or commissions that are paid annually or more frequently. Employers can make a “catch up” payment at the end of the year (or within one period after the end of employment, if employment ends mid-year) to bring an employee up to the $684-per-week minimum. This effectively brings the weekly salary minimum down to $611.10 (provided there’s a later payment of bonuses, commissions, or incentives covering the final 10% of the minimum salary).


Employees must always meet both the salary minimum and the duties test to be considered exempt from overtime. The threshold for exemption as a “highly compensated employee” will see a modest increase from $100,000 to $107,432 in total annual compensation. That’s much lower than the $147,414 threshold in the proposed rule, but it likely won’t matter to employers in states that don’t recognize this particular exemption for state law wage claims.

The new rule will take effect on January 1, 2020. Employers with employees whose compensation will be affected by the new rule have some immediate planning to do within the next month. The questions for those employers to answer include:


Will you raise salaries of exempt workers to the new minimums? Or will you reclassify them to overtime-eligible or non-exempt? Will you take advantage of your right under the new rule to use non-discretionary bonuses, commissions, or other incentive compensation as a credit toward the new salary threshold? Does your workweek coincide with the effective date of the new rule (a Wednesday), or does it begin, for example, on the Sunday or Monday before the change? If so, are you prepared to pay your exempt employees at least $684 for the work week in which January 1 falls? If you will reclassify some employees to overtime-eligible: What are your communication plans? Are your colleagues in Human Resources, payroll, benefits, and elsewhere prepared for the change in classification? Are you ready to manage the potential overtime costs? Do your supervisors understand what kinds of hours are considered “hours worked” (g., certain travel time, time spent working from home or remotely, etc.)? When will you start counting “hours worked” if January 1 falls in the middle of your workweek? Have you considered the alternatives to paying reclassified employees on an hourly basis?


HR Choice is available to help you navigate these changes, so please reach out on Email or call your HR Choice Consultant or contact susan@hrchoice.com today if you wish to discuss how we might help you.

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