the overtime pay law may finally change

Back in 2016, the federal government announced it was making major changes to who is eligible for overtime pay. Currently, if you earn less than $23,660, you must receive overtime pay (time and a half) for any hours over 40 that you work in a week. In 2016, the Department of Labor announced it was raising that threshold to $

Now, the Department of Labor has proposed a salary threshold — lower than the previous proposal but still higher than the current one: $35,308.

If the new rule goes into effect (which observers seem to think is likely), then if you earn less than $35,308 annually, your employer will be legally required to pay you overtime (time and a half) when you work over 40 hours in a week.

To fully understand the change, you need to know that the federal government divides all workers into two categories: exempt workers, who are not required to receive overtime pay, and nonexempt workers, who must receive overtime pay. The exempt category is reserved for employees who perform relatively high-level executive or professional work, outside sales employees and a few other narrowly defined categories. Currently, you need to earn at least $23,660 a year to be considered exempt (in addition to meeting that duties test) – but the new law would raise that to $35,308.

If you’re in the group affected — i.e., people who currently earn between $23,660 and $35,307 a year —  your employer might increase your salary to the new threshold of $35,308 in order to keep you exempt and avoid having to pay you overtime. This is the most likely option if you’re already very close to the new salary threshold. Or, your employer might prohibit you from working over 40 hours in a week or require you to get advance approval for any overtime. They might even reduce your base hourly wage in order to account for the overtime pay you’ll receive, thus keeping your overall annual compensation the same. Or they might change nothing and just need to pay you overtime.

If you’re in the group of people affected by this, it might also change how much flexibility your employer offers you. For example, if you’re currently able to work 35 hours this week when work is slow and work 50 hours next week when demands are higher, you might not be allowed to do that anymore, since your employer will have to pay overtime for those extra 10 hours the second week.

Two other interesting pieces of the proposed change:

  • Right now, if you don’t meet the duties test to be exempt but you earn at least $100,000 a year, you’re in a class called “highly compensated employees” and can be exempt from overtime pay. The new rule would increase that minimum salary requirement to $147,414 per year.
  • Non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) that are paid at least annually can be used to satisfy up to 10% of the minimum salary requirement.

You can read the full proposed rule here.

{ 170 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte*

    Oh, I’d missed that this was coming; interesting. I think employers will be a lot cagier in planning for the change this round.

    1. Paige*

      My employer shifted a bunch of people from exempt to non-exempt, and bumped a few people’s salaries to keep them exempt in the lead up to the change, and then just didn’t change anything back when the new rule didn’t go into effect. Which I guess works out, because they won’t have to do anything to make sure they comply this time around.

      I’m still kinda pissed because it means I don’t get to float my hours over a couple weeks anymore since they shifted me to non-exempt (and we are def. not approved for overtime). That was a major perk to me. Oh well.

      1. TiffanyAching*

        My company also went with that strategy; we spent so much time and effort rearranging the budget and moving people to non-exempt/bumping their pay and delivering the messaging to employees, that we didn’t want to undo it all just in case a new adjustment was proposed. While $23,660 has remained the legal minimum salary for exemption, we used $47,476 as our “internal” minimum.

      2. Kelsi*

        Same with mine. Most folks were switched to non-exempt and we went from a 35-hour week to a 37.5 hour week (nonprofit, doncha know). We didn’t switch back with the last-minute hold, so I’m guessing there won’t be any extra work to be in compliance here.

    2. MoopySwarpet*

      We increased our exempt people during their review process leading up to the change, if they were under the threshold. We don’t currently have anyone exempt and making less than $50k so we’re good, but we would probably would have waited until it was final and given them a 2 stage bump if we had known. They were all really close to the threshold anyway so it wasn’t that big of a deal. There were a couple people who would not have received that percentage of increase had the law not been changing, though.

  2. elemenohp*

    Does non-discretionary bonuses mean bonuses that don’t require you to meet performance goals (or similar) to receive?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Good question. Generally it means “bonuses that are written into your agreement with your employer and can’t be taken back” — so I’d guess that it excludes bonuses tied to performance since there’s room for subjectivity there. But it might depend on how the agreement is written (I’m not sure).

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Seems like you could have very objective performance goals, though. Sell $X worth of units, achieve Y% accuracy, etc.

          1. Natalie*

            I’m assuming they’re using the same definition of discretionary bonus that’s used elsewhere in the act to determine what bonuses are included when calculating someone’s regular rate of pay. If that’s accurate, “discretionary bonus” is interpreted very narrowly:

            “both the fact that payment is to be made and the amount of the payment are determined at the sole discretion of the employer at or near the end of the period and not pursuant to any prior contract, agreement, or promise causing the employee to expect such payments regularly” (29 CFR § 778.211)

        1. Team Lead*

          My husband is not in sales, but he is guaranteed a set % of his salary as an annual bonus with the option for an additional % if the company meets certain goals. I’m assuming something like this is the difference?

    1. Book Lover*

      I’m curious how many internships and residencies pay little enough to be impacted regardless. I was paid more than the minimum threshold almost two decades ago.

    2. Tara S.*

      Medical is one of the fields that are automatically exempt.

      “An employee holding a valid license or certificate permitting the practice of law or medicine is exempt if the employee is actually engaged in such a practice. An employee who holds the requisite academic degree for the general practice of medicine is also exempt if he or she is engaged in an internship or resident program for the profession. The salary and salary basis requirements do not apply to bona fide practitioners of law or medicine.”

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There are a few fields that are automatically exempt, including doctors, teachers, and lawyers (“the learned professions” exemption).

      1. JeanB in NC*

        I’m actually having trouble with the “teacher” thing – I work at a small private school that takes in kids from 18 months to 8th grade. I have no problem classifying the teachers in grade 1 to 8 as exempt but what about the ones who teach primary, which includes pre-school and kindergarten? (I’m pretty sure the toddler teachers are non-exempt.) I am HR here (I’m the bookkeeper) so there’s no one else I can ask.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Pre and K don’t require licenses, right? If no license, they’re not a teacher in regards to the exemption law from how I read it.

          Talk to a professional in your area who knows the laws regardless. If they’re resting these decisions on a bookkeeper/HR role, they’re already in the danger zone of doing things incorrectly. It costs less to spring for $250 lawyer consult than getting dinged with fines, interest and back pay if you misclassify employees

          1. JeanB in NC*

            Yeah, I should definitely find an employment lawyer to run things like this by. Our current lawyer is not.

          2. Kimmybear*

            In many states, teachers for private schools don’t require licenses at all, regardless of grade. I agree that I would definitely get a lawyer’s input. (And if your school won’t spring for a lawyer, get your supervisor’s directions in writing :) )

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              No license requirements. I just gasped out loud. I know better than to be shocked by much these days but that was a swerve that scares and upsets me. Private schools aren’t cheap, I always expect more but then I know many aren’t rooting education in much more than faith based dealings so…argh. I need to lay down.

              1. fposte*

                That’s pretty standard and long-standing—licenses are a state-level requirement that apply only to schools in the public system. Different states also have different requirements for licensure.

                The wording for the teacher exemption is that “any employee with a primary duty of teaching, tutoring, instructing or lecturing in the activity of imparting knowledge and who is employed and engaged in this activity as a teacher in an educational establishment by which the employee is employed” is exempt; licensing isn’t a factor. Pre-K teachers may be included as long as they’re doing actual teaching; the DOL says: “It should be noted that, although a preschools may engage in some educational activities, preschool employees whose primary duty is to care for the physical needs for the facility’s children would ordinarily not meet the requirements for exception as teachers under the applicable regulations.”

                1. JeanB in NC*

                  Yes, I’ve read that before. It’s kind of difficult because we have mixed=level classes – our primary classes include Pre-k and K, so I can’t differentiate between teachers & non-teachers.

                2. fposte*

                  @Jean–It’s not about the levels, it’s about what they’re doing with the kids. Are they operating more as classroom assistants, who shepherd the kids, take them to bathroom, and keep them from harm? Or do they have lesson plans and skills goals?

                3. JeanB in NC*

                  That’s a good question about the lesson plans. I will ask the program director about that.

              2. Parenthetically*

                I don’t have a license in my state, and I taught in a prestigious, demanding private school for ten years. I was a damn good teacher and it’s a damn good school. I and several other teachers there have masters-level (or higher) degrees in our subject areas. Lack of licensure doesn’t automatically mean incompetent to teach, or solely interested in religious indoctrination.

              3. JeanB in NC*

                Ours is a Montessori school and they are required to be Montessori trained. I do think all the grade level teachers have an actual teaching degree in addition.

              4. doreen*

                The fact that private school teachers don’t need licenses really tells you nothing- sure, there are private schools that will hire anyone with a college degree and the right religions to teach – but my daughter’s private high school had a few math and science Ph.D. s teaching there.

                1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

                  “there are private schools that will hire anyone with a college degree and the right religions to teach”

                  When I was a kid, a friend of my mom’s told her that private schools have better education than public schools. I have a feeling the friend meant something like Montessori or similar, and NOT the run of the mill local Catholic school that my not only non-Catholic but non-RELIGOUS parents then enrolled us in. Because the teachers there just plain SUCKED, a fact I was aware of even at that tender young age (I went there for 1st and part of 2nd grade.) Teachers (not nuns) were mean and/or incompetent, lessons were as lightweight as cotton candy, and every single one managed to somehow weave religion into it. After reading what I read above,I would not at all be surprised to find out that most or all of the teachers there at the time (and for at least awhile afterwards) did not have a teaching license, or that if they did, they had been drummed out of the public school system and could no longer work anywhere that gave even the tiniest crap about who they hired. Because while I had some public school teachers who were real “characters”, (including an alcoholic HS drama teacher and an English period teacher in grade school who as I got older I realized must have suffered from some sort of serious mental illness) I never again encountered anything like the wretched hive of scum and villainy and crap teaching like that Catholic school.

              5. thankful for AAM.*

                I have a masters in history and taught at a local private high school for a while. I did not have a license and could not get one. I think I had great qualifications though.

                To get licensed in my state requires me to have a bachelor’s degree in teaching (I don’t, just a BA in sociology/psychology AND a BA in history AND an MA in history) or have a job in a school that is certified as an observing school (something like that, mine was not) or have a conditional job in a public school. I could not get a job in a public school bc there were so many certified teachers bc they had a BA in education that they could not justify the time and expense to hire me conditionally, observe me for two years while I took a few credits in teaching.

                I think my masters in history made me much more qualified to teach high school history than a recent grad with a BA in education. But I was not and had no real path to certification.

                1. Zillah*

                  I want to push back on this a little.

                  Teaching is not just about having the knowledge. It’s about conveying it. Your master’s in history probably meant that you did know more about what you were teaching than that recent grad, but you almost certainly knew less about conveying it. That doesn’t mean that you were bad at it, but it does mean that calling yourself “much more qualified” is really dismissive and inaccurate.

                2. Starbuck*

                  Having a degree means you’re knowledgeable about a subject, but it’s no guarantee of any sort of teaching skill, especially with younger students. If you say you’re an effective educator, I’m happy to believe you, but remembering my time in college I can say that there are plenty of phds out there who are very smart but absolutely terrible educators. Teaching is its own specific skill that takes time and practice (and ideally training) to be good at.

              6. JustaTech*

                It really depends on the state. I know Washington is upping the license requirements for early-childhood ed (daycare through pre-school), even for in-home care. So licensing depends on not only what kind of school you’re working in but what state you’re in (and maybe also who is paying).

          3. Liane*

            In my state, if it’s a public school (I don’t know about charter or private), Pre-K and K teachers have to have a teaching certificate, or be in one of the traditional or non-traditional programs to obtain a permanent certificate.

      2. OperaArt*

        Except California which has one more test to see if physicians and computer professionals can be considered exempt. In 2019, computer professionals must make more than $45.41 per hour, $7,883.62 per month, and $94,603.25 per year to be considered exempt. Physicians must make more than $$82.72 per hour.

          1. BigSky Admin*

            I’m so excited that WA is following CA’s example and is going to release new wage rules this month. They’re tying exemption to percentage of the state minimum wage. During the comment period they were considering anywhere between 1.5-3x. For example if the state minimum wage is $12 and the percentage they go with is 1.5, you would have to earn at least $18/hour to be exempt. Within the last couple years the state also automated increases in the minimum wage annually based on inflation so the new rules will no longer become horribly out of date!

          1. Starbuck*

            Your employer should be the one freaking out, because they are the ones who need to fix the problem! I hope you get the compensation/schedule you have a right to.

    4. Artemesia*

      Residents are very well paid; well above these threshholds. Interns are probably also above threshhold. They do hard long hours but the days when they were also plunged into poverty while doing it are long past.

    5. Anon Y’All*

      Even if it did apply, which it doesn’t because A) the government treats trainees different than employees and residents are trainees B) medicine as a profession is exempt: average salaries for interns are 50+K and 10-20K higher in high COLAs. Well above the threshold. And the salaries increase (marginally) which each year of training. Since medicine is exempt, it doesn’t matter that the salary is for 80 hours a week not 40.

  3. Tara S.*

    I’m surprised that they seemed to keep the 40 hour work period part in. A lot of problems we were briefed on previously stemmed from not being able to float hours between two weeks, like not being able to work late Friday and then take fewer hours Monday. That part’s still going to cause a lot of headaches.

      1. Tara S.*

        Huh. You are correct, it was already based on 40 hours, not 80. Not sure why my public university made such a fuss about that part last time this law was up, they made it sound like a change but apparently it is not.

        1. hbc*

          I’m guessing that a lot of the people who were going to move from non-exempt to exempt at your university were people who had the freedom to move that kind of stuff around and not have it affect their jobs. Whereas the people already in non-exempt pay range were predominately shift workers–you can’t just leave the cafeteria or book store understaffed on Friday and make up for it another day.

          I wish there was a way to do a “balance within 2 business days at employee request” kind of exemption, but I know that would be heartily abused by some managers and businesses.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Many people in admin positions at my university are able, in theory, to balance the work load to leave on Friday and make it up on Monday, but the non-exempt rule still applies so that we have to make up any missed hours during the same week. I do wish I could float a couple of hours between Friday and Monday sometimes.

    1. Paige*

      If they had to move a bunch of people from exempt (and thus able to float hours) to non-exempt (not able to float hours), it makes sense they’d frame that part as being the major headache of the change. It’s what they had to do at my campus, and it annoyed a LOT of people (including myself) who were being moved from exempt to non-exempt. It was a major loss of flexibility in scheduling for those whose status got changed.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        It seems more aggravating when, workload-wise, you could float the hours, but due to classification as non-exempt, simply aren’t allowed to.

    2. spcepickle*

      I work 9s, so my two week total is 90 hours, but I get every other Friday off. My office gets away with this by saying my work week ends 4 hours after my working Friday starts.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Shady. But yes, it’s all about your defined pay periods, not the days. I’ve never seen someone split a day mid-day like that. I’m suspicious that is actually acceptable.

        1. fposte*

          As long as it’s consistent across weeks and uniform across employee, it’s kosher. DOL says the workweek may begin on any day of the week and any hour of the day. (Again, this is federal; states may have their own limitations.)

  4. Antilles*

    If the new rule goes into effect (which observers seem to think is likely)
    Can you provide a link to these ‘observers’? Or some information why they think this one is likely to stand given that (a) the previous rule was blocked by the courts and (b) the post-election Department of Labor didn’t seem like they were exactly going to the mat trying to defend the pay increases.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The 9,000 employment law blogs I scan seem to think it’s likely. I’ll try to go back later and find specific links.

      The post-election Dept of Labor that didn’t defend the last one is the same Dept of Labor that proposed this one. People generally agree the threshold needs to change (it hasn’t been updated since 2004), but the issue with the last one was the huge jump, without phasing it in over time.

  5. Polymer Phil*

    I knew of a company where it was nearly impossible to get approved for overtime, but anyone who didn’t get their work done got punished. The result was that everyone clocked out after eight hours and continued working off-the-clock for another hour or so.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Yes, sadly this is how I’ve actually seen it work in practice (although I understand the Department of Labor laws can’t fix everything). Everybody below the threshold is told they must not ever exceed 40 hours or there will be consequences. But they’re also expected to get everything done or they’ll be fired. The result is that the extra work goes “underground.” I guess that’s still better than being told they’re expected to work 60 hours and no complaining :P

      1. Team Lead*

        So what do you do when staff stays even after you have informed them it’s illegal and you don’t support it? I am more of a team lead and not a supervisor with any real power. My supervisor is aware they do this, but doesn’t really care. His take is more of a shrug, “it’s on them. They are choosing to stay, I’m not making them.”

        I really don’t like it for 1) I know it’s illegal and 2) we can’t properly asses if they are being given to much work for a 4o hour week if they are doing work off the clock. I can’t argue for an additional person when my higher ups see the works being done fine as is.

        1. CatCat*

          You could report it to your state’s labor department.

          But if those with authority in the company have decided to allow it, there’s not much otherwise for you to really do here.

        2. Life is good*

          Yes, I’ve wondered about this very thing. I was a manager and would talk myself blue telling my employees not to stay late on their own time or come in on Saturday to “get caught up” since I’d have to then pay them for the overtime. I ended up just working 16 hour days myself doing production work just to keep them caught up. Sadly, I was exempt and making under $50k, so was tickled when that threshold was to be put in place, then bummed when it was put on hold. Needless to say, I couldn’t sustain the horrid hours and found a much better gig. I’ve been told by former peers that it is still the same at that company….”get this mountain of work done, but don’t work overtime, ever – you figure it out”.

        3. Emily K*

          Your supervisor is wrong – it’s not “on them” legally speaking. It is up to him to ensure that employees are not illegally working off the clock…simply not asking them to but then looking the other way when they do it “on their own” would not be a valid defense if the company was charged with failure to pay employees for their labor.

          First, Supervisor is obligated to ensure that his team is paid for any work he has knowledge of them doing. That he didn’t authorize some of their work doesn’t get the company out of its legal obligation to pay employees for their work.

          Secondly, if the company doesn’t want to have to keep paying employees for their overtime, Supervisor needs to use the tools in his supervisor belt to make it clear that employees cannot perform unpaid labor. This can be anything from directly telling them to stop doing it immediately, to disciplining those who disregard his instructions, to putting controls in place that would make it difficult/impossible for employees to work unpaid overtime, like computer logins or VPN connections that expire after 8 hours, or systems that can’t be accessed outside of certain hours of the day by non-exempt staff without special authorization.

          Assigning more than 40 hours’ worth of work while not allowing overtime, and consequently punishing employees who don’t work unpaid overtime, is a violation of labor law. The company doesn’t have to be explicitly saying “you must work unpaid overtime” if that’s the implicit message being communicated because there’s no other option that doesn’t get the employees in trouble. Courts have put the onus on employers, not employees, to ensure that employees are paid for all hours worked, to avoid exactly this kind of end-run around labor laws.

        4. NotAnotherManager!*

          My HR department takes uncompensated OT very seriously because it could get us in big, big trouble in our jurisdiction. If we had people who were working late without clocking it, we would speak with them just like we would about any other situation in which an employee was not following their supervisor’s instructions; HOWEVER, we’re also not trying to get around paying OT nor are we punishing people for not being able to fit more than 40 hours worth of work in 40 hours. If HR found out my staff was working unpaid OT, I would also be counseled on that.

        5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It’s difficult to do anything about it unless you’re ready and able to be let go for it. Ideally they’d follow the law and not retaliate but they’re already showing they’re above the law in terms of OT.

          You can alert Labor and Industries and let them know you’re scared of retaliation. They don’t drop names of their sources but in these cases they’re going to need proof, you’ll need people who will testify that their not paid but are working OT.

        6. Beatrice*

          I tell my people that it’s Very Important to me that they get paid for every single minute of work that they do, and they are absolutely to stay clocked in for ALL of their working time, without exception. My tone tells them that I mean it, and I bring it up without fail anytime there’s any question about irregular work hour needs.

          If there’s no overtime allowed, then I make sure they are leaving on time and communicating with me about priorities so the right things get left undone in a pinch. If we’re unable to get all our work done without overtime, I make sure my leaders know what’s not getting done and why, and I’m ready to tell them roughly, in terms of overtime or additional hands, what it will take to change what’s not being done.

      2. JSPA*

        I noticed in a tire store bathroom a notice that overtime must be approved; overtime will not as a rule be approved; hours worked overtime will be paid; but an employee working unapproved overtime will be subject to disciplinary actions as per chapter and verse of the handbook. Might have been on the same sheet, that all work must be completed and stations tidied. Not knowing the chapter and verse, I can’t be sure it set up a catch-22, but…is this normal?

    2. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      My office is kind of like this. It’s not everybody, but a number of people set alarms at 9 and 5 to clock in and out, even though they’re at the office earlier and staying later. And we have an open floor plan, so there’s no chance HR isn’t aware.

      1. Jilly*

        HR may be aware it is happening. And they may be aware that it is unethical. However, you would be surprised how many HR people don’t realize that it is illegal.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          True. There are people within every profession out there that don’t know their jobs or who are willing to play the “ignorance is bliss” card.

          These HR people also fall into the same trap we all do. They want a job…they need to pay their bills…and working for these kind of businesses pay the bills so they stay around :(

        2. Starbuck*

          Funny how often their intuitive understanding of this functions perfectly fine in the opposite direction, though.

    3. irene adler*

      Yep- In some places there’s quite a bit of peer pressure to put in those extra, unpaid, hours. So everybody does this.

      1. FuzzFrogs*

        Just found out this past week that this is an unspoken expectation in my sister’s industry. She admitted to fudging her timesheet and was legitimately surprised when I freaked out in response to this. (The cherry on top is that she is currently working for a state government, and her previous jobs have been Federal.)

      2. Tobias Funke*

        I thought this was totally normal and that I was a bad, lazy slacker for not liking it until I worked for myself.

    4. RMNPgirl*

      The employers are taking a huge risk. If someone reports and the DOL investigates and determines they were violating the law the company will be subject to not only paying employees their lost wages but also huge fines. I have on call staff that are non-exempt who sometimes take phone calls/check email while on call without coming in. They are supposed to report this time to get paid for it, since there’s no time clock at home to use, but I’ve had them not report it before. I’ve had to hound them about it and they always say “oh it’s only 5 minutes” and my HR said to tell them that 5 minutes could cause us to lose a lot more money than 5 minutes of overtime pay.

      1. AntsOnMyTable*

        In general it doesn’t seem like they are taking that huge of a risk. From the comments here, and what I have seen in the real world, it seems like it happens a lot. And nothing happens to the companies. If you are in a situation that like it is probably because you need the job and can’t easily get another one so you aren’t going to risk losing it by reporting. My sister worked for a convenience store company that did eventually get in trouble for not doing OT for managers and essentially requiring 50-60 hr weeks when they were in theory suppose to be roughly around 40. They had to change their practices (managers were now working 5 days instead of 6) but there is no way the consequences were worse than the decades of free labor that they essentially got.

    5. Goya de la Mancha*

      Sooooo many places do this.

      Managers tell you go go home, so if you stay, they can claim that you were there of your own free will. So they figure they either don’t have to pay you overtime (which they still have to, if you mark it down on your clock), or they can reprimand/fire you for not listening to your manager. Super awesome way to retain good employees don’t ya think?! *eye roll*

      At my current employer we don’t even have time cards! We have “work hours” that are the same Monday-Friday. We are not salaried (those in my position anyway) and are just paid for a set amount of time every week (which does not equal the minimum 40 hours we are here, but I digress). It does also mean that one could leave early frequently without penalty if their boss was willing to work with them on that.

      1. Emily K*

        Managers tell you go go home, so if you stay, they can claim that you were there of your own free will. So they figure they either don’t have to pay you overtime (which they still have to, if you mark it down on your clock), or they can reprimand/fire you for not listening to your manager.

        I can’t tell from your parenthetical if they are paying overtime when it’s marked down or not, but to be clear:

        1) Employees cannot legally waive their right to be paid for their work. It doesn’t matter if it was their “own free will” – the onus is on the employer to ensure that all employees are paid for all hours worked. If the manager tells an employee to go home, they can’t just throw up their hands and abdicate responsibility for whether the employee continues to work or not.

        2) If an employee keeps working overtime after being told not to, incurring the company costs that they haven’t budgeted for, then of course you should be reprimanded, up to and including firing if you have repeatedly defied your employer’s instructions not to work overtime. Any time you ignore/defy your manager or employer’s instructions you should expect to be reprimanded, particularly if what you’re doing is either costing the company money or putting them in violation of the law.

        3) If managers are telling employees to go home, but it’s more of a wink-wink “unless you waaaanted to stay on the down-low” and the employees are in fact expected to stay, then in the eyes of the law, that is exactly the same as being told to work unpaid. Courts don’t just look at written policies to the letter, they look at what is actually going on and how a reasonable employee would interpret the message they’re getting about work expectations.

        1. Goya de la Mancha*

          Most (like 98%) of the people who work overtime don’t put it down at all, which hurts us all. There’s been a push to actually report your hours worked (even if they buck paying the overtime) and it seems to be gaining a little momentum.

          It might be illegal, but nothing will happen if there isn’t record that it happened and/or the person requesting puts up a fuss. For most of the people in our company (and many others) those extra hours of pay are not worth losing our jobs over.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        I would be fired for allowing employees under my supervision to work uncompensated OT. I know that a lot of places are not like that, but I’m on the hook for my employees doing things that could expose us to a DOL investigation or backpay w/ penalties. We talk about it on Day 1 of orientation – they’re not doing me a favor by not submitting the time, instead, they’re creating a big risk for us, and it’s very important that we pay them for all time worked.

        Does your jurisdiction not require that nonexempt employees keep time cards? We have to have them available for local DOL inspection at any time for a certain period of years.

        1. Goya de la Mancha*

          Where as our managers are flat out told not to approve overtime.

          I’m pretty sure time cards are a requirement, but I don’t know how our company gets around it because I’ve worked here 10 years and never filled out a time card here.

          1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            I have worked places where the timecards are sliced after they’re submitted. So let’s say I get to work at 3:50 to have my class area set up and ready for 4, and then at 8 the class ends and I spend 30 minutes locking up. I’m punched in for 3:50-8:30 but my boss slices off those 40 minutes and pays me 4-8.

            Happens *all* the time.

            1. Starbuck*

              I don’t know what “slicing” really means but that sounds like blatant timecard fraud and wage theft to me. Your employer is allowed to round your punches (within 15 minute increments) up or down (has to even out, not advantage the employer every time) but not to shift your time and cut it in the manner you’re describing. If you have any records to substantiate this, it’s worth reporting.

              1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

                Why are they even allowed to round it? Why not be required to pay an employee for *every minute* that they worked?

                I might be more OK with this if the rounding was in 5 minute increments, so it’s more accurate (on both employers & employees sides) but 15 (or even 10) minutes seems WAY too large an amount to be possible to add or cut.

          2. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

            WOW.

            In that case, if there are no time cards, and I am only being paid for 8 hours of daily work no matter how many hours I am there, then (after reporting them to the DoL of course, and immediately started looking for another job) I would work exactly 8 hours every day and if they complained I would merely state over & over that it’s illegal for people to work off the clock. Until they either 1. Paid me or 2. Fired me.
            Screw all of that. I’d rather be on unemployment than letting some 2 bit jerks take advantage of me.

            1. TardyTardis*

              But employers got used to getting away with it about 10 years ago, and in some parts of the country, those problems never left. You have to live in a place where there are more jobs to find for that to work, and if your boss says you were fired for cause (they can always make something up) you lose unemployment, too.

      3. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        If a manager tells me to go home, then I’m going to take them at face value and *go home*, how in the world can they possibly use that against me? “We are writing you up because we told you to leave, and YOU DID IT!”
        If they want me to stay and work, I’m happy to do it, but I’m not clocking out until my work is finished (and if I’ve already clocked out when they make the request, I’m clocking back in before I start working again.)
        I’ve never had an experience like that, but I also live in CA, and have *always* gotten overtime pay when I worked over 40 hours per week at any non-exempt jobs (one place it was actually anything over 34 hours, which was full time/the maximum possible hours for that particular position.) I am also someone with a non-spectrum disability that has some similar areas of social dysfunction. So quite honestly, if I was in a position where an employer was trying to infer or imply that I should stay and work off the clock, I wouldn’t even GET IT. If they got annoyed because I kept working without clocked out (or clocked back in before getting back to work) I’d be SO confused! I could see myself trying to gently explain that I need to be on the clock to get paid for my work, or that it’s illegal for me not to, or even just being so astonished that I point blank asked them why are they were getting upset because I did the totally normal and expected thing of clocking in to work?!? It would not even OCCUR to me that they would expect me to work without getting paid! They’d have to practically spell it out before I’d understand what they wanted, no joke.
        Now, if I’d heard through the work grapevine that this was normal and expected at this business? I would be aghast. I’d most likely start looking for another job immediately. And until then, I’d play dumb as a stump and act exactly the same way as described above, except this time I’d be doing it on purpose and expressly for the reason of making them say exactly what they wanted in real words. I’m too damn stubborn to give them the satisfaction of me having to figure out that they want dirty work done as well as being expected to help them do it. And then I’d still only work on the clock, LOL. (And I would escalate until I found someone who would take it seriously, even if that meant DoL.)
        As shitty as getting fired might be, I’d rather take that chance by standing up for myself and my principles than swallow illegal and abusive behavior from some shitty manager/supervisor/employer. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d lost something by being true to myself (or the last) and it’s something I will NEVER regret doing.

    6. Polymer Phil*

      Follow-up to my first comment – after the company was acquired, the new management changed the majority of white-collar professional employees from salaried to hourly. Most of the people involved hadn’t worked for an hourly wage since high school / college summer jobs, which made it easier to create an expectation of unpaid overtime. I suspect that people familiar with punching a clock would have raised hell if asked to do this.
      Another effect of this policy was that everyone felt like they’d been demoted. I don’t know of any other company that pays degreed professionals an hourly wage (except for consultants and temps), although Où est la bibliothèque did mention being paid hourly in an office.

      1. xarcady*

        I had a job once, in a small family-owned company, where everyone was paid hourly–even though everyone except the receptionist had degrees and was working at “professional” jobs. We all worked a standard 35 hour week, and got paid for it, but the owners want any overtime to be paid at time and a half.

        When I questioned this, I learned that you don’t have to classify employees as exempt if you don’t want to. You can pay them hourly and pay them overtime–if that’s what the company wants to do.

        I worked a lot of 60-80 hours weeks at that job. And had the paychecks to match.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Paralegals are nonexempt per federal DOL guidance. All the ones I’ve supervised have a minimum of a bachelors, and more than a few have also had a master’s degree.

      3. Silence Will Fall*

        I work in IT and everyone in my department including people with “senior” in their titles are hourly. The only exception is the director.

        My company puts a strong emphasis on work/life balance. About 25 years ago, they started having everyone fill out time cards and realized that because many people were exempt, they were putting in more than 40 hours on a regular basis.

        So, they put their money where there mouth is and transitioned everyone’s salary to hour based on working 40 hours a week and staffed up so that overtime would not be a regular reality. They also instituted a flexibility policy. Do you have an appointment Wednesday? It’s no problem to work through lunch, stay late, etc. (within the same week) to make up the time. Don’t want to make up the time? No problem! Take advantage of the generous PTO available. Do you want to work from 6-3p? As long as your role doesn’t involve coverage and your director approves? No problem!

        It was weird for me making a lateral move into hourly pay, but a few years in, I’m so happy I did! And this is not aimed at Polymer Phil, but rather a broad observation, I think our conversations about work would be much more productive/less fraught if we stopped equating hourly wages with low-level/unskilled work.

  6. EOsoko*

    How are different classified companies that may not have to abide by these rules affected, such as S-corps, employee owned organizations, etc? Apologies for the very open question – employment law is not something I stay privvy to.

    1. Natalie*

      The FLSA applies to S corps, cooperatives, and sole proprietorships equally as much as it does to C corps. The law was written to apply very broadly, other than the specific exemptions that are written into it. None of the exemptions are predicated on the method of incorporation the business chose.

      Establishments who’s only regular employees are immediate family members are exempt, the that would apply regardless of how the business is legally organized.

      1. just a random teacher*

        Wouldn’t sole proprietorships would automatically be exempt, since their only possible employee is the owner? Not necessarily specifically called out as exempted within the law about exempt/non-exempt, but more exempt as an artifact of the interaction between the regs for the two things.

        1. Natalie*

          Sole props can absolutely have employees. They’re limited to one owner, not one worker.

  7. Daring Greatly*

    Grabbing the popcorn for this one. My company made a huge to-do of transitioning employees to the new threshold before the ruling was finalized and it screwed over a lot of people (my position, for instance lost 5 vacation days because it went from being exempt to non-exempt). I’m curious to see how they handle it this time knowing the transition was so strenuous last time.

    Any idea how long this would take to go into effect?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There’s a 60-day public comment period, after which they’ll release the final rule, and will likely have the effective date be some months after that, in order to give employers time to adjust.

  8. StressedButOkay*

    I wonder how many people had their ‘raises’ pulled when the ruling was put on hold? I was one of the lucky ones in that my company made sure to immediately make it clear that they were honoring my pay raise regardless of the ruling not going through.

    1. KGB*

      From my experience a lot of companies moved employees to hourly and paid them the overtime because it was cheaper than $47000+ on salary and it required the employees to work overtime to be paid overtime. Also if they went on vacation a lot of times they only received 40 hours of vacation and not the overtime so it was better for employee to change them to hourly. When the law was placed on hold most did not move employees back to salaried positions.

    2. BurnOutCandidate*

      The way it worked for me…

      In 2016 I was moved from salary to hourly, and my hourly rate X 40 hours was below my salary in 2013, but I was allowed to work unlimited overtime. This made it financially stupid to take sick time or vacation time, or even only work 40 hours a week.

      In 2017, I was moved from hourly back to salary (the company wanted to cut expenses, and the regulation hadn’t gone into effect), so my salary pre-hourly was reinstated and a slight pay raise given. Effectively, though, it worked out to a 4% paycut when I compared my 2017 gross pay (hourly with overtime) with my 2018 gross pay (straight salary). Weirdly, the only thing that made that manageable was the revised tax withholding tables of the tax cut bill; the lower withholding kept my paycheck in 2018 usually within 20-25 dollars of what it was in 2017.

    1. Balex*

      Curious to know this as well – I’m guessing roles like Personal Assistants maybe? I’m at a salary near 6 figures in research and most of my duties do not allow for any discretion or independent judgement as I work under a PhD who makes all of those decisions.

    2. Paige*

      From the phrasing above, it looks like the qualification for “highly compensated employees” is literally just the $amount you make.

      1. Balex*

        Oh right! Skimmed too fast – I guess I mean I’m curious what are some examples of jobs that have a high salary but are non-exempt? Do these exist?

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Very experienced paralegals – if you want them to put in 18 hours days at trial, you need the OT, plus they don’t meet DOL guidelines for exemption.

    3. Natalie*

      Pretty much anything that’s not manual labor:

      “Highly compensated employees performing office or non-manual work and paid total annual compensation of
      $100,000 or more (which must include at least $455* per week paid on a salary or fee basis) are exempt from
      the FLSA if they customarily and regularly perform at least one of the duties of an exempt executive, administrative or professional employee identified in the standard tests for exemption.

      “Blue Collar Workers
      The exemptions provided by FLSA Section 13(a)(1) apply only to “white collar” employees who meet the
      salary and duties tests set forth in the Part 541 regulations. The exemptions do not apply to manual laborers or
      other “blue collar” workers who perform work involving repetitive operations with their hands, physical skill
      and energy. FLSA-covered, non-management employees in production, maintenance, construction and similar
      occupations such as carpenters, electricians, mechanics, plumbers, iron workers, craftsmen, operating engineers, longshoremen, construction workers and laborers are entitled to minimum wage and overtime premium pay under the FLSA, and are not exempt under the Part 541 regulations no matter how highly paid they might be.”

      (Source link in reply)

    4. Anon Y’All*

      Another example of highly compensated but often hourly non-exempt are advanced practice nurses (CRNAs, NPs, nurse midwives) or physician assistants.

      CRNAs where I work are hourly and get overtime but are paid more than $100,000.

  9. NotAMadScientist*

    Anyone know if/how this applies to grad students? The overwhelming majority make under 25k a year, but their tuition is waived by the school and schools get around a lot of the things by claiming the 20k+/year tuition waiver as part of the students income…

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They’re currently exempt and will remain exempt. (I’m not sure if that’s because of the teaching exemption or because of the educational relationship they’re in with the university, but I suspect the latter).

      1. Tara S.*

        I’m pretty sure it’s the educational relationship. My university/a lobby for universities tried to make the argument last time that Post Docs should also fall under this “educational relationship” exemption, but that did not fly, and apparently made it so Post-Docs were specifically address as falling under the overtime rules.

    2. Reba*

      It varies, because different universities have different strategies for assistantship employment. Although universities could not run without them, many do not consider their folks on fellowships/stipends to be employees. When I was a grad student with various assistantships, my status was that of a “student performing certain duties on the campus.” They did have limits and guides on the hours I could work for others, but I think this was more policy than law.

      So in many (most?) cases the level of the student’s income, whether it includes tuition or not, might not be relevant to the overtime regulation because they either aren’t an employee OR they would be exempt based on the “learned professions” category. There are exceptions, however, as some universities have different statuses for different kinds of assistantships based on the duties performed. For example, working in a lab would mean employee while serving as a research assistant would not.

      This is at the core of the still-ongoing drive to unionize graduate assistants at Columbia, where the NLRB ruled them to be employees in 2016, but the university and the organizers have only just begun to bargain. (States can choose to allow grad students to unionize; my spouse was in a union as a TA in California.)

      1. Flower*

        wait… what’s the difference between “working in a lab” and being a “research assistant”? As far I’m aware, they’re the exact same thing.

        1. JustaTech*

          It depends on what you’re doing and if you’re getting educational credits for it.
          An RA is doing research and will expect to get their name on the paper published from their research. They’re learning how to do research so it’s part of their education.

          “Working in a lab” usually means scut work (running the autoclave, filling tip boxes, making media or buffers, washing glassware, etc). Then the student isn’t really *learning* anything, and wouldn’t expect to get their name on any papers published out of that lab.

          I worked in a university lab where the undergrads who were getting class credit weren’t *allowed* to fill the tip boxes, because then they weren’t learning. (They could be real snobs about it to the kids who were getting paid.)

    3. Another PhD student*

      I had a brief, shining moment of hope that I was going to get a nice, big raise so my university doesn’t have to pay me overtime, but I googled a bit and it looks like grad students are exempt (because of course we are):

      “Graduate Teaching Assistants. Graduate teaching assistants whose primary duty is teaching are
      exempt. Because they qualify for the teacher exemption, they are not subject to the salary basis and
      salary level tests.
      Research Assistants. Generally, an educational relationship exists when a graduate or undergraduate
      student performs research under a faculty member’s supervision while obtaining a degree. Under
      these circumstances, the Department would not assert that an employment relationship exists with
      either the school or any grantor funding the student’s research. This is true even though the student
      may receive a stipend for performing the research.”

      (not sure exactly what the rules are around links – I got this from the US DoL Fact Sheet 17S).

      1. Flower*

        I was going to paste the same bit of info. It’s never clear to me if I’m a full time student or an employee, and sometimes it seems to vary based on who’s asking or which context. I guess the DoL considers us students. (Graduate Research Assistant)

    4. catsaway*

      Also grad student stipends are not from full time work (usually). Where I went to grad school the stipend was $26,000 but that was based on a ~.45 FTE, not 1.0.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Although one weird part of the law is that it doesn’t prorate the salary threshold for part-time employees. (Although it’s moot for grad students anyway.)

  10. AnonyMousse*

    My grand boss transitioned everyone on staff to nonexempt to avoid meeting the new exempt threshold under NY state labor laws. That in addition to no cost of living raises left a sour taste in my mouth. We work at a legal aid where everyone including the non-lawyer staff member makes the same $50,000. It’s beyond demoralizing to see that a legal director with 9 years of experience make the same as a law clerk who wasn’t even barred until recently. Cheap bosses will always find a way to work their employees to the bones. Turnover is high but there will always be another lamb led to the slaughter.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Sadly there are businesses who will always operate like this. Within the law but fully taking advantage of those who are in a spot that they just need a job, any job. You want to believe that it’s only service industry or labor jobs but no, it’s everywhere and all businesses.

      I hope you get out of there soon.

  11. ZK*

    Or they could do what my husband’s employer did to him just before the old law was supposed to take effect. They let him go. Then, when that was put on hold, they conveniently had a non-salaried position open and would he come back. We were desperate, so he went back. (Despite our misgivings about the way he was treated, it’s worked out and he’s been promoted twice in the last year and has a completely different boss. He is now salaried, again, but this time he’s over the threshold, so it’s all good for us)

  12. Leah*

    Is this part of a phasing in process? Are we likely to eventually see the threshold increase to the $47k mark? Or is this seen as the final increase in the near future?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s designed to be reviewed and increased periodically, but there’s nothing in the law that requires them to do that on any particular schedule. This is not part of an intentional path to the earlier $47K number though.

  13. Lily Rowan*

    This is only marginally related, but I finally found out how people at my (unionized) job get official comp time — it’s for hours worked in between 35 and 40! Their standard work week is 35 hours, they get paid overtime above 40 hours, but in between they have the option to bank comp time.

  14. Goya de la Mancha*

    Good Luck everyone, there’s still too many companies out there for people making over that amount that won’t pay out on overtime.

  15. jstarr*

    God I hope this goes better than last time. My company borked the entire thing during the holidays and people missed paychecks.

  16. Anonymous Employee*

    So this may be a dumb question, but is $35,308 gross or take-home or does that matter? I’m thinking because it’s “salary” it’s gross pay. I currently make $52 over that limit (gross pay) and classified as non-exempt. I think if Grand Boss could classify me at exempt, I’ll be working a lot of “extra” hours. I am assistant to the executive director, but probably should have the title office manager.

        1. CJM*

          I’m curious what you mean by office manager. Do you manage at least two other admins? That might make a difference

  17. That Girl From Quinn's House*

    The employer I was working for when the rule came up for vote a few years back handled this by writing a white paper to the Department of Labor, saying that, essentially, “It’s not fair for our managers in low cost-of-living areas to be compensated more relative to their peers in expensive cities,” and “Making staff go from being salaried to punching a clock will lower their self-esteem.”

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m forever grossed out by the idea that “punching a clock” lowers self esteem. This is such a nasty mentality that continues to divide workers into fake hierarchy and inflated ego.

      I was salaried/exempt for one year and it was utter hell being used for unlimited hours. If you broke down my 60 hr weeks, I was being paid $16 an hour. Nope, I’m happy to punch a clock and get paid for every minute that I’m doing work. So many people are taken advantage of and given false “warm fuzzies” by the whole “oh you don’t even have to adhere to a schedule and you don’t punch a clock!” falsehood. Barf barf barf!

      Meanwhile skilled trades are making so much more than the office folks who are caught up in that silly nonsensical way of thinking.

      I mean I totally def see the “logic” of billion dollar companies and their cry for “Fairness” and the feelings of their under compensated workforce L-O-L /sarcasm

      1. Midwest writer*

        I may have one of the few salaried jobs that explicitly allowed us to work less than 40 hours in slower weeks, knowing that some of our busy weeks were REALLY, REALLY busy. So when that law was initially being reviewed a few years ago, punching a clock would have lost me some tangible benefits, in that I would have had to put in a minimum of 40 hours every week.

      2. Life is good*

        Agreed that punching a clock is not one bit demoralizing. What’s demoralizing is working your ass off and being paid an effective hourly rate less than your reports because of the hours required to complete your salaried job.

        1. MostCake*

          Our new salaried exempt coordinator has been complaining about this lately and I don’t blame him! All of us clock punchers get paid for every minute we are at work, and pretty well at an average of $30 an hour, but he has to jump in and cover any shift if someone calls in or equipment fails, and then he ends up earning less than the lowest paid clock puncher. I totally get it, as for years I was salaried and expected to crunch hard when the chips were down, which was nearly always. But now I’ve been so called on the clock for ten years, I will never have it any other way and I scoff at anyone who looks down on the clock punchers!

      3. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        My husband works many, MANY long (and hard) hours and the reason he doesn’t complain (much) is because of those big, fat overtime checks he ends up getting. I don’t think he’d be nearly as cool with it if he was exempt, unless he was making a LOT more than he currently does.

  18. CJM*

    A former employer of mine has been in violation of OT laws for 20 years or so. It doesn’t affect me, as I was legitimately exempt.

    If I report them to the DOL, how far can they go back. Also, since people worked a ton of overtime during tax season but didn’t keep track because they weren’t getting ot pay, how could the hours be proven?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      2-3 years is the statues of limitations for OT lawsuits but it depends drastically, if they’re found to have been doing this for much longer, who knows what the labor board will do.

      Just getting them caught up in an audit may fix them in the end and it’s worth just blowing the whistle, even if it doesn’t turn up any back-pay for anyone in particular.

      I’m not familiar with OT infractions but I know if you’re caught with unpaid wages for prevailing wage jobs, they will rack you over the coals and get the back pay for everyone involved.

  19. Phil*

    Don’t try the unpaid overtime thing here in The Great State Of California. The Department Of Labor takes this stuff really seriously and not only will you pay the wages and fines you may end up in The Greybar Hotel.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      If they could, they’d literally drag you out into the parking lot and nail you to a cross. Not that they care about employees, mind you, but they do love to exert their authority. (It still happens, though. California was where one very large retail company got sued for actually locking employees into the stores to force them to work unpaid overtime.)

      1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        I never knew how good we had it here employment-wise until I started reading AAM.

  20. Midwest writer*

    This would have been really good news for me at the job I left in November. I was earning about $33,000 and salaried, happily not tracking my hours at all. That $47,000 was much too high of a reach, but I bet my company would have gladly bumped me up to this new threshold just to save everyone the headache of tracking hours and OT. But when I changed jobs, I got a hefty pay raise that puts me well over the $35,508 mark, so this won’t apply to me now, regardless.
    I am curious though, and please feel free to ignore if this is too far afield, but at my first job out of college (2003-05), when we worked OT, our hourly wage went down per hour. Was that ever a legal thing? The ship has long sailed, but I didn’t know enough at the time to push back, and moved on within a few years.

    1. Natalie*

      No, that was not legal. Overtime has to be paid at time and a half of whatever the employee’s “regular rate of pay” is, which includes things like non-discretionary bonuses and shift differentials.

  21. Lindsa*

    Sorry if this is a silly question, but does this apply to small businesses? My mother works in a small law firm as a paralegal (2 lawyers, 2 admin, and herself.) Do all these rules only apply to businesses that have to follow the FLSA and have a certain number of employees?

  22. ... cats and dogs*

    Thank you so much for providing this type of information! A true community service.

  23. TheBurg*

    So how could this potentially affect low-paid salary employees? I’m a teacher at a teeny-tiny private school making just over the current threshold (so about 10k less than the proposed new threshold) and am wondering what will come of this for me and other teachers in a similar position if this law passes.

  24. JelloStapler*

    Unless you work in higher ed when they will do all they can to avoid paying you extra. They went through with it last time then when it was stopped, kept the exempt/non-exempt in place at the $47K line. The problem here is that exempt and non-exempt accrue vacation and benefits at different rates (which is something we have been trying to change- but our President is clueless). This should be interesting.

  25. Idgie*

    Huh. Now I’m wondering if some employers might be more willing to consider changing the status of their employees to exempt, since the salary cutoff for the overtime stuff is lower. I know there are disadvantages, but I am in a position where exempt employees earn *a lot* more PTO than non-exempt employees, but in most cases don’t actually work more hours than the rest of us do. I would leap at the opportunity to change my status for the extra PTO, and my salary is below the $47,000 and above the $35,000. It would also be nice to not have to stress over what time I need to leave to not go over 40, or whether I will need to make up a half hour here and there to get up to 40 if I have an appointment or something out of the office one day. Because in the end, as a non-exempt employee I feel a little nickle and dimed about stuff that exempt employees don’t think twice about, and if we’re all getting our work done anyway…

    1. Idgie*

      To clarify, I realize the cutoff isn’t lower than before. Just lower than it was going to be.

  26. EmmaBird*

    When this first came around in 2016 I was due to get a small but substantial raise (~$2k) to get bumped over the $47k marker since I was working a crazy amount of overtime. They backed out of that and I didn’t get a merit or COL increase at all that year. I felt a lot of anger that year since it was clear they were prepared to find the $2k somewhere. Took me a couple years but I leveraged the hard work I was doing in that job to a $62k/year job where I work almost no overtime. Just thought I’d put that out there as a story of encouragement for anyone that’s near that cutoff and feeling as ripped off as I did.

  27. Madtown Maven*

    I have a question that is related to the 2016 almost-but-then-rescinded update, and computer help desk staff. I am not a programmer or analyst. I work in Wisconsin.

    My status was moved from salaried/exempt to salaried/non-exempt at the end of 2016. In 2017, I was regularly paid for overtime hours. In 2018, I my status was moved back to salaried/exempt — with no explanation. The loss of the regular overtime wages was significant.

    I don’t know whether my employer’s changing my status back and forth is legal, and I haven’t been able to figure out the details of the ‘computer worker’ law. Does anyone have advice specific to this issue? Thanks!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They can move you to exempt like that if they are paying you the legal amount. It sounds like they changed you to non-exempt only because they assumed the new legistlature was going to pass, they hung out to see if it would ever get out of the stalemate and then when they were comfortable seeing it wasn’t going to proceed, they rolled you back to exempt status.

      It’s cruddy they didn’t tell you at least, that’s the decent thing to do but I’m sure they did it to minimize the amount of pushback they’d receive.

      So yes, it’s most likely legal unless you are misclassified which is possible. Do you have autonomy? The main factors are the ability to make decisions, have a level of autonomy and not be doing manual labor.

  28. tinyhipsterboy*

    I feel like a lot of the responses to this will be solely to prohibit anyone from working over 40 hours (or, in the case of truly awful employers, attempting to force employees to work overtime without logging it). At least, that’s how it’s worked in my previous jobs that paid overtime as time-and-a-half: they never actually wanted to do it. It’s pretty common in non-exempt positions, I think?

  29. Anita Brayke*

    The last time the government discussed the overtime laws, in 2016 or so, I put together a lovely proposal for my boss presenting what I had been doing, things that had improved because of my work, etc., and asked him for a raise to the new minimum new threshold for salaried employees (I was salaried). At the time I worked, at the very least, 50 hours per week in the office, and in addition was on call after hours every two weeks for a full week, 24/7. I often received calls after hours and had to stop my family time to find replacements for people who were calling off work. This happened often, and literally around the clock, so it also interrupted my sleep. My job was to schedule people for teapot assembly projects, and our pay scale was quite low. It was difficult to successfully fill the projects anyway, and then we had to deal with bosses who wanted us to stop scheduling people whenever they annoyed the bosses, which further narrowed our teapot assembly pool. During a Major National Event, we had supervisors who took on many more teapot assembly projects than we could accommodate, and so we worked from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., 7 days per week for three months straight trying (unsuccessfully) to cover jobs. Meanwhile, I was salaried at $33,448.00 per year, the equivalent of the $16.10/hr I agreed to when I started with the company part-time, 2 years before. Since then, I had also taken on a vast majority of the HR duties, because no one else was doing them, and my boss asked me to. When I presented the owner of the company (that is who granted raises) with my request, he stated that he was “not going to let the government tell him how to run his business,” and he couldn’t give me that amount. He said he’d get back to me. He and his brother, also part owner of the company, took 5 months to respond with a much smaller number. At that point, I figured I had “done my time” there, and quickly found another job. A friend worked there long before I did, when the company started. The friend stated that when he worked there, the company refused to pay overtime for non-exempt employees. I hope to be able to see the karma sandwich this company has to eat one day!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m so glad you got out of that hellhole!

      I had one boisterous loud conservative boss/owner at one point but even he followed the frigging laws. He complained about it and muttered plenty to me [his EA at the time] but I just smiled and knew that he was just a lot of hot air in the end [loved him despite his opposite beliefs from mine etc]. I still chuckle about how he thought #45 was going to take office and simply abolish the labor departments [I mean, of course he’s trying to wind the clock back in so many ways but he was talking about pretty much just steamrollering and locking down each state’s labor department, we’re in a deeply blue area, good luck].

      When people refuse to follow the laws, they are never to be trusted and should never be given your service, they’re crooks, nothing good comes from working your tail off for pennies when we live in a world where there’s much better opportunities, don’t be loyal to scumbags, etc etc!!

      1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        It makes me shudder to think that there are so many employers who *want* to go back to the Bad Old Days of zero labor regulations. Those are people who will always put the ‘bottom line’ ahead of actual human beings.

  30. Chriama*

    My understanding was that the proposedz pay increase last time, while indexed to inflation, didn’t account for cost of living across the country. Why couldn’t the DOL tie it to average state income instead of making it a national number?

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