the federal government has proposed new overtime rules that could boost your paycheck

Last week, the federal government announced a big proposed change to the rules that govern who must receive overtime pay.

If it becomes law, your employer would be required to pay you overtime (time and a half for all hours over 40 that you work in a week) unless you earn at least $55,068 annually – a big increase (54%!) from the current threshold of $35,568. That means employers would have to either track and limit the number of hours a large pool of people can work or start paying them overtime … or raise their salaries to the new threshold.

In addition, the proposal includes automatic updates to this salary threshold every three years based on wage data.

Keep in mind that the proposed change is not a sure thing and will face plenty of challenges from business lobbyists, and we’ve seen this kind of proposal defeated in the past. In fact, in 2016, the federal government announced it was raising the minimum salary for overtime exemption, and a judge blocked it the day before it was scheduled to take effect … and it stayed on hold until 2020, when it finally went into effect but at a lower salary level. So at this point there’s no knowing whether it will happen or what the final number will be. Currently the proposal is open for public comment for 60 days.

{ 173 comments… read them below }

  1. J*

    In case anyone in academia isn’t aware: universities are one of the groups very aggressively fighting this. If you work in higher ed and would benefit from the change, I really encourage you to leave public comments.

    This is definitely tough on public institutions that have seen state funding plummet, but privates are going to lay claim to that hardship as well.

    1. prof lightswitch*

      do you know if grad student research and teaching assistants would remain an exception to these rules? my guess would be yes but I would welcome someone with greater knowledge weighing in.

      1. Agree*

        I would expect so as well as the other classifications that are currently exempt. How do you determine their schedules when they vary day to date, week to week? Although if they want to give my daughter who is a college coach a raise to the new limit she’ll take it.

        1. TK*

          Full-time coaches in higher ed are usually exempt by default regardless of salary, under the same rationale as teachers at all levels are.

      2. Nesprin*

        Yeah, grad students and postdocs are typically considered “not workers” even though the work grad students and postdocs do is work. There’s lots of fun tricks like claiming that grad students are hired hourly to work 19 hours a week but aren’t eligible for overtime.

        1. fueled by coffee*

          They’ll just do the thing where they count the fake tuition remittance for PhD students as “income” to bring them up above the $55K threshold.

      3. Lulu*

        It probably depends a lot on the state laws and the university’s interpretation of those laws. In Washington, there is an exception to the minimum salary for exempt status for teachers (defined as something like a significant portion of job duties are teaching), which leaves people like post docs, research faculty, or librarians in a grey area. As the minimum salary has increased rapidly, these categories have suddenly needed to be paid much more, unless their institution decides to define their duties as “significantly teaching.” So even if the state laws are remaining as they were with these ill-defined areas, the institutional interpretations might codify that these categories do remain exceptions. Other institutions might have already interpreted the law in this way, so it’s not a change.

      4. Lost academic*

        Most places give “stipends,” and “tuition waivers” which are not salary. Postdocs, maybe, but in some places they’re also considered a type of trainee.

      5. J*

        I would guess generally no, for the reasons others have described. However – it may be different for unionized grad students (IIRC, both Duke and NYU tried to invalidate their students’ unions on the grounds that the students were “not workers,” and in both cases the courts found that they are, in fact, employees).

        And just a note to clarify for everyone: as others have noted, teachers are generally exempted from overtime rules, so these changes would mostly affect other support staff (who do important work and unpaid overtime and deserve to get paid, imo).

      6. Beth*

        I’m assuming yes–to stop that, we’d have to win the bigger fight to acknowledge that grad student workers are in fact workers, at least during the hours where they’re doing the teaching/research assisting/etc that they’re getting paid for.

        For those who have never worked in this system–when I was in a PhD program, grad TAs were on 20 hr/week teaching contracts, and in return got paid a quarterly ‘stipend’ that came to about $2k a month and also fee remission (for tuition, and also for various non-optional student fees like for printing, library use, campus gym use, etc). The university was very insistent that we not be called ’employees’ and our income not be called ‘wages’, even though it was explicitly tied to those 20 hrs/week of teaching that we were contracted with our departments to perform. They got a lot of benefit (like dodging legal wage protections!) from being able to argue that we were ‘students’ and not workers, and all of that money was ‘funding’ rather than compensation.

    2. Ex YMCA employee*

      The YMCA is also fighting this. During the Obama administration’s attempt, they (as in the CEO Kevin Washington’s office) issued an 8 page white paper opp listing reasons such as “we couldn’t afford to have employees in some of our locations at this price” and “having to go back to using a timeclock would hurt managers’ self-esteem.”

      I worked for the YMCA for 8 years, across three different associations, and I was regularly expected to work off the clock, purchase my own office supplies, denied health insurance despite working the correct number of hours to qualify, etc. Employees that were terminated or had their hours seriously reduced were often told to quit or fired under false pretenses so the association would not have to pay unemployment. We regularly had employees who were homeless and/or receiving Medicaid, SNAP, etc., due to their low pay.

    3. HYSucks*

      Yep! I worked at a private university in 2016 and had to submit a massive portfolio of information to explain why them paying me more money was cheaper for them than paying me overtime. It was only approved because I helped with study abroad and literally was working 24/7 at times. I was the only person I knew who got approved for the new rate. I did get to “keep” my new salary when the judge ordered a stay. However, they counted it as just a normal raise given out of the kindness of their hearts when I got promoted the next year when they denied a pay increase because, and I quote, “you already get paid enough.”

      1. J*

        My institution did something similar when a state law raised our overtime exemption minimum to something like $55k/year (so we’re already acting under this new rule, essentially, and surprise – the university has not declared bankruptcy). They bumped everybody who was exempt but under $55k up to that amount exactly. To me, that’s a tacit acknowledgement that you are getting a LOT of unpaid overtime out of people.

    4. JelloStapler*

      When the FSLA act tried to go into effect a few years ago all it did was screw up people’s pay and benefits, because regardless of what happens- Universities will do all they can to not pay you more but still expect you to do more work than you can.

    5. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      I believe it – I work in academia and there are oodles of salaried staff that fall well below this threshold. My guess is they will just say that nobody is allowed to work over time. And bunches of people will anyway and just not report it because people are their own worst enemy

      1. Anon for this*

        That is exactly what will happen. I am living this right now at $1000 under the threshold. It would be cheaper to bump my salary than pay me overtime but there is “no overtime” allowed and I am expected to adjust my hours to accommodate extra work on a certain day. What I used to do is work 24/7 during the busy times and less during the non-busy and I felt fairly compensated. My boss has so far been flexible in up to about a half hour a week/2 hours on busy weeks, but I am still doing a bunch of “thinking and planning” unpaid because it needs to get done and I can’t really control my brain. Oh, and keeping up with email.

          1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

            The job duties thing has always been so confusing to me.

            Does someone who does customer support for a software company meet the duties test for exemption? Or do they need to be paid overtime regardless of salary?

            1. B*

              Unfortunately, it can be quite fact-specific and really depends on the specific duties of your job, but as a general matter I would think that is a job that likely should be non-exempt, i.e. they would be entitled to overtime.

              1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

                The job in question (not my own) is essentially a work from home call center job. They take chats, phone calls, and web submissions from folks having issues using the software. They help them resolve the issues. “here’s how you pull that report” or “this is how you add a user”

                As part of this, they are required to be “on-call” for a week every few months. This means that on top of their regular 40-hour week, they are also on duty from business close to business open. If a call comes in at 1:30 in the morning, they have to assess if it is an urgent issue or not, then deal with it if urgent or notify that someone will get back during regular business hours. They are not paid for any of this time.

                They have to respond to calls within 30 min, so they are limited in what they can do during those on-call weeks.

        1. But what to call me?*

          No overtime allowed is always just a *lovely* condition in jobs with a big planning/prepping component. Sure, they can say you’re only allowed to work a certain number of hours per week, but if the core duties of the job take up most of that time and the only way to perform the job to an acceptable standard is to spend extra time outside of 40 hours planning and preparing for it, employers are unlikely to reduce those core duties to give you more plan/prep time within those 40 hours. They just expect you to magically be more efficient, as if you weren’t already motivated to do that if it was possible.

          This comment inspired by thinking about how many teachers I know who would fall under a $55,000 salary cutoff, but from comments above I have learned that it wouldn’t apply to teachers anyway. Wouldn’t want to pay the people responsible for educating our children enough money to make it practical to actually stay in the field, after all.

  2. Sharkie*

    I am sorry if this is a stupid question- but does this apply to salaried employees as well? Also if someone makes $41,000 a year but gets bonuses that put them over the $55,068 threshold does that count? I am so confused.

    1. Stoney Lonesome*

      I don’t know the answer to your second question, but the answer to the first is yes, it does apply to salaried employees. There are basically two categories of employees in the eyes of the federal government – exempt (from overtime) and non-exempt. Exempt is what we refer to as salaried. This law would mean that no one making under $55,000 would be able to classified as exempt anymore.

      When the law changed the last time I was a salaried employee making under the threshold. My position was changed to hourly.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        The same thing happened to me! And they tried (unsuccessfully) to cut my pay. They did end up cutting my benefits.

        I found a new job with better pay and benefits, because that was the last straw for me.

      2. Lost academic*

        People say and assume that exempt = salaried and vice versa but you can definitely be salaried and non exempt. My junior staff are. the way my old firm was planning to handle this was to increase the lowest salaries to the threshold. I also expect a lot of places to just refuse overtime or pressure staff to not report it. looking at you, USPTO …

        1. I forget my handle*

          yeah, at Old Job I was salaried, non-exempt.

          Its a uncommon but neat category to be in. I was guaranteed an annual wage of $X for working 40 hours a week, and got to earn time-an-a-half for all hours worked over 40.

      3. Ray B Purchase*

        This happened to my husband as well and unfortunately his salary was realllllly close to the threshold and didn’t ever require OT and he ended up having to be at work for more hours to match his previous salary because the company based his hourly rate on a 40hr week when he’d previously had a 9-5 schedule with an hour lunch (so when he had a salary they scheduled him to actually work 35 hrs a week but once he was hourly he had to actually work 40 to make the same amount).

        1. Fretting*

          Not exactly the same, but this is what I’m worried about for me– I rarely work overtime but have a ton of flexibility (we can have up to 2 hours flex time (non PTO) for appointments that we don’t have to make up, if I don’t hit 40 hours one week I can work a little longer the next week, or conversely, duck out a little early if I’ve worked extra hours the week before). I got switched from salaried to hourly the last time one of these went into effect and lost all the flexibility I’d had before, and HATED it. We weren’t allowed to work overtime, so then the people who were still exempt sometimes had to take on extra work from the hourly people to meet deadlines. I’ve never been happier than when I got switched back. I’m hesitant to fight/root against this too much because I know there are a LOT of exploited exempt people, but this would be a nightmare for me. If only we could opt out :(

          1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

            Yeah, this happened to me, and I didn’t get to switch back. The only flexibility I have now is within a single week, which sucks. I used to be able to flex through the month.. I miss being able to do 4 10 hour days one week and then taking a day off the next, or even 2 weeks of 10 hour days and then getting 2 1/2 days off the next.

            As a staff employee, it was really helpful in December when our campus would be hyper busy for finals/graduation, then closed. Now I have to use PTO time for those closure days (even though I can’t come in to work), and finals/graduation week is much more hectic because we’re not allowed to work OT.

            1. higheredadmin*

              This. All of our employees under this threshold are already hourly, and with their hours based on a 35-hour work week (so if they work five extra hours they don’t hit overtime until hour six). However, the benefits, vacation time and flexibility are WAY worse for hourly staff – folks in those positions are always looking for exempt roles, even if the pay increase is marginal.

            2. TK*

              I too work on a campus that has a mandated closure over the holidays (always just 3 days, though) and requires staff using PTO. It’s a dumb system but at least it applies to all staff. What a horrible situation where you’re some are allowed to flex and not use PTO but some aren’t.

          2. Ray B Purchase*

            I certainly can’t be against it because as you said, there are too many exploited workers that need OT pay. So instead I’m happy to place blame solely on the companies that are taking a law meant to fight exploitation on some workers and using it to exploit other workers!!!

    2. goducks*

      It means that you can’t be salaried exempt unless you earn at least the 55k salary. You can be salaried non-exempt, but they have to pay OT for any hours over 40 a week.
      As for the bonus, unless the bonus is guaranteed, and relatively small (in the 2016 version of this it bonuses couldn’t count for more than 10% of comp)–not subject to any criteria which could mean you miss it, but guaranteed 100% you get it no matter what–it wouldn’t count. And even guaranteed might not, depending on specific wording and on things like if they pay a prorated amount if you leave mid-year. So functionally, no, bonuses don’t count.

      1. Not my real name*

        You can be salaried, but you can’t be exempt. I’ve been classified as salaried non-exempt in the past and it was pretty much the best of both worlds.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          How does salaried non-exempt work? I’ve always found that confusing.

          I make more than the threshold and now I’m sitting here hoping they don’t change me to salaried. It would be nice to not have to worry about making up time if I have to go to a doc appointment, but if I don’t get paid for overtime, I’m not working any!

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            You get the same paycheck every week for all hours up to 40, but over 40 you have to get paid overtime. It’s actually not that complicated! But it does confuse people.

          2. Lost academic*

            At my firm, we pay time and a half for all billable hours over 40 in a week. Not all hours so that’s not comparable to most places, but we log time billed to clients and overhead codes so it’s added to the base salary.

          3. TK*

            Regardless of what you make, you can’t be changed to exempt if your job duties don’t change. Salaried non-exempt rarely works in the employer’s favor, so it’s unlikely you’d be changed to that as a result of the proposed law change.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Well… “can’t”. Realistically a lot of people are misclassified as exempt.

              But you can fight it!

          4. Oryx*

            Salaried non-exempt means being classified as non-exempt and therefore eligible for overtime but for the purposes of payroll you get a salary. When I was salary non-exempt I still tracked hours for overtime reasons, but if I was slightly under 40 it wasn’t a huge deal nor did it change my pay.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Thanks! I probably wouldn’t qualify for exempt bc I have no supervisory duties but I had no clue how the other worked.
              I’m hourly now so I was just wondering. We do have billable and overhead time, and I have to track everything (my dyscalculia hates it). It seems like it would be easier if I just got paid the same for everything and then only had to log the billable stuff.

    3. Eric*

      Currently, up to 10% of the threshold can be met via nondiscretionary bonuses, commissions, etc.
      I don’t see anything in the proposal that would change that.

    4. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      Also dumb question: is that gross or net? I am salaried exempt and make way under that, either way, but I’ve always wondered and haven’t found a straight answer when looking into. (BTW: I assume gross, but assuming gets me into trouble sometimes, that’s why I’m asking.)

      1. Anne Shirley*

        Also not a dumb question. It’s at the federal level, so gross wages–before state taxes and everything else get taken out.

        1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

          Oh, the federal level part makes a lot of sense- I wish any of the resources I looked at before would have just outright said that (maybe others have that down and it’s implicit, but…).

    5. Anne Shirley*

      Not a stupid question at all. (I still have to pause at terms like exempt and non-exempt. They seem unnecessarily confusing.) It’s a safe bet that a lot of employers don’t completely get it either. I can practically hear “Oh, Jane is salaried at $35,000 so this doesn’t apply.”

  3. fhqwhgads*

    The updates based on wage data are a super important part of this so it doesn’t stagnate for another decade or three.

  4. Something Wicked This Way Comes*

    That comes out to about $26 per hour. I worked at a company where there many were salaried employees who made about $40K per year and were expected to work at least 45 hours per week. That’s about $19 per hour if they worked 40 hours and $17 if they worked 45. I’m sure there are lots of folks in the same position. I cannot imagine corporate America going along with this $55K threshold.

    1. Former Retail Lifer*

      I worked at a retail chain that had to change some salaried manager positions to hourly as a result of a lawsuit. We were scheduled for 45 hours each week while salaried. When it switched to hourly, we were still scheduled at 45. Someone did the hourly and overtime math to make sure what we made hourly was about the same as what we took home on salary (with OT included in that total, not in addition). They made sure that, assuming we actually worked all 45 hours, we weren’t taking a paycut but we also weren’t making anything more. And the store manager had to monitor payroll and try to ensure we didn’t get much extra OT.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Once upon a lifetime ago – I worked as a store assistant manager, my first “salaried” job. The benefits were decent (but this was back in the day where “100% employer paid health care that didn’t suck” was the norm, not the exception, even in retail), but man, my salary equated to $12 an hour….supposedly that’s a few dimes over $21 an hour now. Still, I was constantly a paycheck away from the brink, and that $12 an hour assumed 40 hours a week. It was just over the original threshold, I think. And correcting that $21 and change back out, the threshold is over that, which is likely a good thing.

        Sure there will be hand wringing. But you know, when I was a little kid (Gen X here), one salary was enough to make it and maybe take a vacation once in a while. Nothing grand, but everything has outpaced the raise in wages. Maybe just maybe…this needs to be “norm” again. Either that, or we need to normalize some slightly less traditional households. Either way, nothing’s working currently, hopefully this will help correct that!

    2. House On The Rock*

      Or, as mentioned above, academia. Staff positions in higher ed are notoriously low-paying with quite high experience/education requirements. It’s not uncommon to see job postings at my large, public university (in a high cost of living area) asking for 10+ years experience, at least a Master’s Degree, and paying in the mid $50s.

      1. TK*

        I am a tenure-track faculty member, a 2nd year assistant professor, at a mid-sized public university in a rural area. My currently salary is literally a couple hundred dollars below the new threshold. There are definitely tenure-track faculty here who make less than I do, and any non-tenure-track faculty definitely do.

        I’m a librarian, not teaching faculty, so my work is much more office-based, but for teaching faculty it would be absurd for them to be non-exempt. For that matter, the same thing goes for elementary and secondary school teachers, many of whom in the US make less than the new salary test number. It’s simply not a field where that’s possible. I can’t see this holding up unless significant exemptions are made.

        1. TK*

          OK, nevermind, I see the salary tests for exemptions don’t apply to teachers at any level. So teaching faculty and elementary/secondary teachers are not going to be an issue.

    3. B*

      To be exempt from OT, employees must make over the salary threshold AND meet all of the other requirements of a specific exemption. There is a good chance that even under the current lower salary threshold, those $40k/year employees should have been paid overtime.

    4. Antilles*

      I suspect what’ll happen is similar to the 2016-2020 thing, where the threshold settles on a number that’s lower than the initial request but still an increase.

      As for how Corporate America is going to cope, when the last increase happened, there were basically four ways of handling it from employers:
      1.) More money, either by just paying the OT or increasing the base salary of people just below the threshold to meet it so you don’t have to deal with OT.
      2.) Switch formerly salaried people to hourly in a way that the numbers work out the same after accounting for the five hours of OT.
      3.) We previously expected 45 hours but we’ve re-evaluated some things so you can mostly finish in 40. Weird coincidence that we realized those meetings/tasks were pointless exactly when we’d have to pay OT for them, huh?
      4.) We still expect 45 hours worth of productivity and don’t approve OT so figure out a way to do it in 40.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Based on my experience, my vote is on #4.

        Maaaaybe a touch of #1, but only to bring up a few salaries that are very close to the cutoff. Everyone else is to restrict their hours but maintain the same level of output. And if they’re made sooo miserable by their managers that they work off the clock just to survive their workload, well that’s their business and entirely their choice. Their managers will be totally shocked to learn that they worked off the clock, shocked I tell you! /s

        (Highlighting the heavy sarcasm tag in case it’s missed.)

    5. ferrina*

      This was me for a long time. I was making about 42k and working 50-60 hrs/wk. I got no bonuses or additional compensation- my VP literally told me “you’re salaried so it doesn’t matter how many hours you work.”
      She made at least 150k. She may have been appropriately compensated for extra hours, but I sure wasn’t. She also liked to use me as a stop-gap for any open role in that department. She assigned me the work that should have gone to a specialist with a degree, and directly told me to fill in for my department head when she left the position open for over a year (at least 6 months of that was her not updating the job description- I know because I was the one responsible for reminding her).

      I’m a fan of this proposed law.

  5. Sam*

    The “progressive” non-profit I worked for in the early 2010s were among the most vocal opponents of the 2016 change, claiming it would be impossible for them to operate (maybe they shouldn’t). I’m sure they’ll oppose this one too.

    At that time I worked 80 hours per week for $28k/year.

    They also regularly union bust so you know…

    I hope to god this one goes through to protect people from predatory jobs like the one I had.

    Fund for the Public Interest and PIRG and its affiliates if anyone is wondering. Ward all the idealistic young people in your life away from them.

    1. Justin*

      I ran away from them after an interview. I call this the “altruistic shield,” the sheen of doing good allowing abuses, exploitation, and -isms to be ignored. (I wrote an academic article about it, I don’t just “call it” that for fun, lol.)

      1. fueled by coffee*

        OMG same! Left mid-phone interview as a 21-year-old college senior when the recruiter was reminiscing about how much “fun” it was to spend 11 hour workdays saving the honeybees or whatever, and got annoyed with me for asking about salary.

        I ended up working for Americorps for a year, which is also exploitative and underpaid, but at least by definition the 1700 hour/year requirement for Americorps sticks pretty closely to a 40-ish hour work week, although making up time for taking days off was a pain.

        (Relatedly, though, I found it extremely difficult to get a foot in the nonprofit door *without* doing one of these fellowship-type things for a year – “entry level” nonprofit jobs I applied to would direct me to their VISTA applications, and I think a lot about how this results in a nonprofit workforce that can afford to take the financial hit as new grads).

        1. MountainAir*

          Same story here! Bailed out on PIRG after they kind of made me squirm during the interview process. I also did VISTA and while I wound up with a pretty dysfunctional NGO, I got some good life lessons out of the experience and lived in a LCOL community where the poverty-level salary was livable. Barely – I certainly wasn’t putting any money aside – but I could pay rent and buy food. That’s different now when I look at COL there vs. VISTA stipends.

          I do think it’s insane that we have a national service program that expects its participants to go on food stamps — or at least it was the case then. Like, how to apply for food stamps was part of our orientation conversation. Seems like you should just raise the wages and fund fewer positions?!

          1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

            Haha, yes. My husband just got a job through Americorps regular (not VISTA) and the job paperwork include info on SNAP benefits.

          2. Sam*

            Y’all were so much smarter than me. My parents, who I still went to for career advice at that stage, were correctly like “you need to bail on this what the actual eff is this” after like three days. I stayed for a year.

        2. Stoney Lonesome*

          I am also in the nonprofit world. It has become my new favorite thing to do at conferences to bring up your last point during any conversation about DEIJ. People don’t like it.

          1. Justin*

            I found a corner of nonprofits that pays very well (community development financial institutions, though I’m still an educator) and I am staying right here after 3 previous jobs that barely paid.

        3. Sloanicota*

          Man I had to disconnect from the Americorps position – which I had thought was a real job – when they explained how they help all their people apply for whatever food stamps they’re eligible for. It took me a while but I got a real job instead.

      2. Sam*

        That is precisely what they do. I was a “Director” and was taught to script almost all of my conversations to ensure maximum compliance and minimal questioning of the working conditions. And my managers did the same thing for me. Awful. So glad I got out of there and have a normal nonprofit job now (just average drama and problems instead of existential ones lmao)

    2. Marty Jangles*

      Thank you for naming them, as my first question was “who are they and how can I not support them”

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      80 hours is disgraceful, very damaging for health, non-existent work-life balance.

      Every non-profit was ANTI-progressive / oppressive if they lobbied to keep their employees working long extra hours for low wages.
      It irritates the hell out of me when non-profits trample the rights of their workers all in the name of their “good cause”, no better than the worst private companies.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I’ve seen plenty of liberal-coded organizations fight against unionization with all the bloodlust of the pinkerton detective agency.

    4. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Ugh I street canvassed for them at 19 because I was super desperate. Do not recommend.

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        Yep. I lasted just a few weeks, then quit and got a job at a car wash. Outdoors, in the summer, in Florida. Still better than FPIRG.

    5. Lost academic*

      I worked there for a few years and had a very different and extremely positive experience. However all nonprofits have a problem with pay and hours and the nature of work.

      1. Lisa Simpson*

        A friend of mine worked for three different state PIRGs and by the end, his finances and mental health were completely trashed. I would get him on here to tell horror stories, but I think he may have actual, medically diagnosed PTSD from it.

    6. Emby*

      yep. was a canvas director for one of the affiliates. worked 80 hours/week for 6 months. got paid about $24k/year because the magic number was $23.6k. they lobbied so hard against the raises, and will again i’m sure. worst job i’ve ever held.

    7. Drago Cucina*

      This is in line with my first thought, ‘You cannot volunteer to do your job.’

      In non-profit world there is always pressure to volunteer off the clock.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      I kind of like the idea of this happening at the state level. States with low cost of living are used as the excuse for not changing it at the federal level, which isn’t fair to the workers in areas with high cost of living.

    2. Starbuck*

      Yes, and it’s great and was long overdue! I am actually very grateful for the switch from salaried to hourly – overall I work fewer hours, but when overtime is needed I get the pay boost. It makes employers be very considered in what they ask you to do over 40 hours. And for all the complaining ahead of time, I haven’t really heard of many negatives. That plus our pay transparency law for job postings is a pretty rad combo. I hope it spreads.

  6. R*

    I really encourage people to comment on this! But before you do, make sure you understand what types of comments are most likely to be impactful in agency decision-making (there are specific legal requirements of what agencies can/can’t consider), so you don’t waste your time and maximize the chance that your input will be considered. There’s a helpful guide (video and written) at regulationroom dot org /learn/what-effective-commenting

  7. Ansteve*

    I’ve alway wondered what the rationale behind exempt classification. I was told it’s because roles are so vital to an organization and OT would be too expensive. How can a role be so vital to require an exemption? I really think OT pay should be mandatory for all roles unless you are getting profit sharing or some other form of extra compensation.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      “so vital to an organization and OT would be too expensive.”

      This explanation bothers me. Basically, the employee should sacrifice so that the organization can live? Why can’t the CEO take a pay cut instead?

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      It’s “professional” jobs and original envisioned as “take some, give some” where the 50 hour weeks are mostly canceled out by 30 hour weeks.

      What it’s evolved into is a flat-rate fee for unlimited access to an employee’s time and should probably be outlawed at this point.

      1. B*

        That plus the salary you’re paid is supposed to be high enough to compensate for having to work longer hours in a managerial role and, presumably, as a bona fide professional/administrative/etc. worker, you have enough bargaining power not to get exploited. All of these assumptions are of course extremely outdated at best.

        1. Starbuck*

          Totally. Places like restaurants and retail serious abuse this with their managerial positions, it shouldn’t be legal to only be making $35k a year but required to do unlimited free overtime. Even $55k is not enough for that IMO. Twice that, maybe.

      2. TK*

        There are always going to need to be exceptions for jobs where hours are both highly variable and work has to be self-directed to a large extent. One of the best examples is surely teachers, who are exempt by default regardless of salary.

        1. metadata minion*

          Or we could pay teachers what they’re worth and actually give them enough time to do their jobs within a reasonable workday.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      My understanding is the intent is more about the type of work and that the nature of said work may mean a non-regular work day. Salaried employees work until the work is done. The premise is that the compensation itself factors in that occasional 50+ hour week.

      The reality (imo) is there are companies that abuse the heck out of it. Yes the compensation is high but when you divide out by per hour cost its peanuts. Looking at you finance.

      The real real answer is capitalism.

    4. doreen*

      The concept is not completely crazy and the rationales include everything that was mentioned – the compensation was set knowing the person would usually work more than 40 hours in a week , other jobs require 30 hours some weeks and 60 hours other weeks, some jobs still allow the flexibility of leaving a couple of hours early without using vacation or making up the hours in the same pay period. The problem is the way the exempt classification has been abused. Because the salary is so low, it’s worthwhile for employers to try to classify jobs as exempt even if they don’t really meet the duties test – like the fast food assistant/shift manager who is in charge for a a particular shift but doesn’t make hiring or firing decisions and who does the same work as the hourly employees for most of the shift.

      The thing that I don’t understand is that employers can’t dock an exempt employee for one hour’s pay if they only work 39 hours but it’s just fine to deduct from their PTO for that hour.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        PTO basically only exists in the employer’s handbook and records. There are no laws governing it. That’s why the employer is pretty much forced to let the employee go to -1 hours in your scenario and work their way back up to zero before scheduling more PTO.

        1. doreen*

          Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I understand there aren’t any laws governing it – I guess what I don’t understand is why there aren’t any laws that prevent exempt employees from being treated as hourly in just that one way. Because that’s really what it is – if I work one hour less, my employer can take my PTO to make up for that hour hour, but if I work 41 hours, they don’t have to give me anything for it. Not extra pay, not time off.

          1. TK*

            Legally speaking, PTO has nothing to do with pay and is just an optional benefit offered by employers. So legally speaking, they’re not treating anyone as hourly, because PTO has nothing to do with anything legal. PTO has no legal “value.” Yes, it has the same effect, but the law is not going to recognize that.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            The law on this is only concerned with pay. As long as you are being paid for that time (and you are, with PTO), that satisfies the requirements. It doesn’t get into anything beyond that.

    5. Beth*

      In theory, it’s for high-level knowledge-based workers. In theory, it makes sense for hours to be more flexible at that level–their workload flexes based on business needs, and it’s nice for everyone involved if their compensation relatively predictable (nice for the business for payroll planning, nice for the employee for budget planning), and upper level employees are supposed to be highly compensated enough that the bargain makes sense for them. In theory, this is also the kind of work where you might start running into questions like “I was thinking about how to close this sale in the shower, during lunch today I kept finding myself thinking about options for where we should take this product line next, is that work time now even though I wasn’t at work and was doing personal stuff?” and it makes sense to just be like “ok we will just set this up so no one feels the need to nitpick a time sheet”.

      In practice, in defining who’s eligible to be exempt, the salary levels are too low and the kinds of work allowed are too vague. And there’s way too little enforcement. So employers take advantage of a lot of people. It would be better if exempt status was limited to a pretty narrow subset of people–I feel like the realistic salary level for that should be over $100k, for example, and businesses should just have to accept paying overtime for most of their employees.

    6. Ni*

      As a physician who works well over 40 hours a week, because I would have to submit a timesheet of the time I spend charting to get that overtime or be pressured to write my notes faster and compromise patient care in other areas . .

      1. TK*

        Exactly, jobs like yours are the reason there have to be exemptions. Physicians, lawyers, and teachers at all levels are specifically exempt regardless of pay- which is completely logical given the nature of the work.

  8. Paris Geller*

    Good. I make more than the minimum now (though not much more), and I feel my current job is fair. At my last job, I started out at 32k in 2018 salaried exempt. I definitely felt taken advantage of, and they definitely weren’t super happy about having to raise everyone’s wages in 202o when the law took effect. It was one of many, many reasons I job searched and left in 2021.

    1. Starbuck*

      Yeah, I started working at $30k salaried and that was bogus. I was definitely NOT making enough to justify them taking up so dang much of my time. I think even twice that is not really enough, tbh.

  9. Query*

    Sort of an adjacent question.

    I was an employee who was hourly until I got raises that put me over the salary threshold and so they switched me to salaried. I prefer being salaried because I rarely work 40hrs a week and never any overtime, and when I was hourly I had to clock in/out and find ways to look busy. Meanwhile I had a lot more freedom salaried.

    But I just realized this year my salary fell below the threshold again, but they haven’t switched me back to hourly. Do I need to bring this up if going back to hourly has no benefits to me? I don’t think they’re going to give me a big enough raise to keep me at the threshold and I don’t want to go back to having my time tracked all the time and fake looking busy for a full 40 hrs a week.

    1. B*

      You can still be salaried, not hourly, but you are not exempt from the overtime laws. Being paid on a salary basis is necessary to be exempt from overtime, but is not sufficient: you are only exempt if that salary exceeds the threshold AND your other job duties qualify you for a specific exemption under the FLSA. Your employer is legally obligated to pay you overtime for hours over 40, which means they are legally obligated to track your time, even if you are salaried. These are the employer’s obligations, and if they are not doing them they are violating the law, irrespective of any understanding they may have with you individually.

    2. doreen*

      There’s tracking time and there’s tracking time. Your employer will have to keep track in some way of how many hours a week you work so that they know if you have worked more than 40 hours in one week but it doesn’t have to go further than that. There isn’t a requirement that your employer have you actually clock in and out , a record that consists of the number of hours worked each day is good enough.

  10. Salsa Your Face*

    I remember my absolute devastation when the 2016 was blocked the day before it went into affect. I had been woefully underpaid for years at a job that required extensive travel, but at least I was hourly for the first few years and earned a lot of overtime. Then they stuck the word “manager” in my title, gave me one new responsibility to justify it, and put me on salary. That 2016 law would have forced them to either give me a huge raise or put me back on hourly, either of which would have had roughly the same effect. I made sure the owner of the company knew that *I* knew about the law, too. I sobbed when the judge’s decision made the news.

    Thankfully I got out of there a year later and have since doubled my salary, but I’m hopeful that this time it will go through for all of the people still stuck in similarly shitty situations.

    1. Nicosloanica*

      I too remember how brutal it was last time when the decision got blocked at the last minute. Although my company had implemented some changes in anticipation of the law, and to their credit, they didn’t walk back the raises/promotions they had already implemented; let’s hope this proposal has at least a similar effect.

      1. Starbuck*

        I was glad to be in a state where they took that failure as initiative to put their own law into place that bumped the threshold up even higher (Washington). Everyone should have that benefit though, I’m sad for everyone who is still working so much and making so little.

  11. Woulds*

    This would be such a win for so many folks!

    Selfishly, I’m a bit sad because it could screw me over. But I know I’m probably the exception. (My position should be salaried/exempt, and it’s been vaguely promised. Where I work that would be a net plus, including extra benefits. But my salary is on the cusp, and could fall under depending on what those every 3 year threshold adjustments are. I’m just so freaking sick of holding the sole responsibility for some very high stakes work, but also being asked to limit or expand my work to exactly 40 hours a week regardless of what projects I’m holding and having to literally use a timeclock as if the exact minutes I start and stop for the day are more important than the actual work I’m doing. /rant)

    Rant aside, I hope this passes. So many people need it.

    1. Nicosloanica*

      Yeah selfishly I’m irked that these things aren’t keeping up with me (I made just over 35K last time this came up, and slightly over 55K now) but big picture I’m glad other people won’t have to go through all the BS I went through when I was coming up.

  12. Lucy P*

    I wonder how this will play-out for hourly workers that should be making over the threshold but are not. For example, Ron is paid $27/hr and thus should make over $56k/year. He decides (with proper approval) to take a few weeks off without pay because he wants to hike the Appalachian Trail. Now he makes less than the threshold amount. Does he then qualify for OT in the weeks that he works late?

    1. doreen*

      The proposed rule sets a weekly number and the $56K is a full year equivalent , so it seems that taking weeks or months off unpaid won’t matter as long as the weekly salary is $1059 or more. Which is actually slightly strange – because if the person works 6 months at $1059/week and takes the other six months off unpaid they will earn almost exactly the same someone who earns $530/week working 20 hours – but the part-time person won’t be exempt.

      Significant proposed revisions include increasing the standard salary level to the 35th percentile of weekly earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region (currently the South)—$1,059 per week ($55,068 annually for a
      full-year worker)

  13. ConstantlyComic*

    I got very excited reading this until I remembered that I work for local government and thus will probably still be receiving comp time in place of overtime even if it does pass.

  14. RedinSC*

    This still would have little to no effect in CA because CA’s rules around over time are that to be exempt you have to be earning twice minimum wage already, which, at $15+/hour means you have to be earning over $62K/year already.

    BUT I think it’s a really good move forward for the rest of the country that is still laboring under the really really love federal minimum wage of $7.xx

    Hope it passes.

    1. LuckyClover*

      I need to do some more research but I believe there actually is an important impact on CA – the UC and CSU system are currently exempt from that rule. Attempts to pass a constitutional amendment to rectify that for the UC (ACA 6) are ongoing… and receiving pushback.

      I need to look into it more – but the rule being federal could possibly really help rectify this issue.

      1. JR*

        Interesting about UC/CSU!

        I also think that if California, with 10% of the US population and the, what, 4th largest economy in the world can do this, and the economy didn’t grind to a halt, it is a good indicator that the whole country can do it.

        One interesting nuance of the CA rule is the salary minimum doesn’t care if you’re part time. I have employees that make over 2x minimum wage, but work less than full time. I’m pretty sure they’d pass the rest of the exempt test (they work very autonomously, etc). Is the proposed federal law similar, or does it prorate for part-time employees?

        1. TK*

          The federal salary level test has never distinguished between part-time and full-time; it’s always just been a set number. There are plenty of part-time exempt employees. With raising the salary level, there will probably be many fewer. But the test is based only on pay, not anything related to full-time status.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It’s unlikely to affect that at all since government employees (which includes state university employees) are handled differently (it’s why state university employees can get comp time rather than overtime).

        1. LuckyClover*

          Ugh that is disappointing. I understood the exemption from state labor rules but was really hoping a federal rule would impact things differently. Thanks for your insight!

          I really struggle to understand how govt. work gets exempt from labor laws instituted by… the govt…

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There are no exemptions for employer size (if your employer told you that, they were wrong).

      There IS an exemption for nonprofits that have less than $500,000 per year in business revenue. However, even if your organization isn’t covered under that provision, individual employees at nonprofits are covered under the law if they engage in interstate commerce in the course of their work, which includes making out-of-state phone calls, receiving or sending interstate mail or email, and ordering or receiving goods from an out-of-state supplier. As a result, most nonprofit employees are covered.

  15. leeapeea*

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the public comment clock has started on this yet? I believe it’s still pending publication on the Federal Register, at which time the 60-day comment window opens.

    1. leeapeea*

      Wrt the text, I not only appreciate the increased threshold but ALSO the automatic updating mechanism that ties the threshold to current earnings data.

    1. Starbuck*

      As ever, this is a US-based blog so you can assume that as the default unless it’s specified otherwise.

    2. metadata minion*

      If you hover over the link, you can see that it’s to a US government website, and Alison almost never comments on employment law in other countries because she’s not versed in it.

  16. Behavior Observer*

    I own my own consulting business and pay myself about 48k…would this impact small businesses like myself? If so, I will need to change myself to an hourly employee (or salaried non-exempt) or put more hours into working that business versus my other PT job.

    1. Starbuck*

      If you own the business, who is going to report you for an OT violation and sue for back pay? I don’t think you need to worry, based on how these things are enforced.

  17. DJ*

    Let’s hope they do get this through. So many entry level jobs have been abolished because they can add these duties to those earning over the threshold. It will force employers to recreate these jobs giving ppl a foot in the door

  18. Silverose*

    Also keep in mind, some states – like California – already have a higher salary rate set for exempt status to avoid overtime pay than the federal rate. Some of us enjoyed getting that pay bump at the start of the year when the CA increase happened so our employer’s could avoid OT.

  19. Ava*

    I’m curious now– i am hourly, make 18/hr (so total above the current threshold), but when i work over 40 hr a week i get time and a half. is my employer doing that voluntarily or are the rules different for hourly? or a state rule (NY)?

    1. Alex*

      In order to be classified as exempt, several conditions need to be met. You can be classified as non-exempt at many different pay scales (I make about 35 an hour and am still classified as non-exempt). Your employer is following the law.

  20. YrLocalLibrarian*

    I support this in theory, but it will harm my small-medium sized, nonprofit, public library. Our wages are competitive but our professional librarians (all newer in their career) are paid under this threshold and it’s not feasible to increase salaries by several thousand on a short timeline. My professionals will need to be moved to hourly which will dramatically decrease the amount of flexibility autonomy they have over their own schedules. Wish there were exemptions for nonprofits under 25 employees!

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Great flexibility and hourly can work perfectly well so long as there are accurate time records, preferably automated electronically:

      I badged in & out (R&D centres). We had a 35-hr week and each day any extra or minus minutes went on our comp account. Any day we could choose to work 4 hours minimum up to max 9.5hrs, breaks of our choosing, any time 6am – 7 pm so long as we got the work & meetings done.
      The comp balance just had to stay within minus 40 – plus 80, barring exceptional circs.

        1. TK*

          Only if it’s comp time for working over 40 hours. If they normally only worked 35 hours, it was just a perk of the employer (and probably just 1:1 rather than 1:1.5). If they went over 40 hours/week and got overtime instead of comp time, that would be illegal.

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        and a badging/time recording system can be v affordable – before FinalJob I was at an agency with only 6-8 of us and we had such a system. The electronic gate was also a useful security measure for our computers etc

      2. YrLocalLibrarian*

        Right now these employees are scheduled for 40 hour weeks with paid hour-long lunches. If I transition to unpaid breaks that will be more feasible, but will also vegetatively impact our part-time staff who are getting paid breaks as well.

        1. TK*

          Hourly, non-exempt staff get paid lunch breaks? While a nice perk, that’s very unusual. Even counting lunches in “hours worked” for salaried exempt people is unusual. I would describe your salaried librarians as only working 35 hours/week.

    2. Alex*

      Why would this affect anyone’s schedule? Unless they work over 40 hours (and I can’t imagine that librarians typically do?) it won’t actually affect their pay. They can still be paid their same salary–they will just need to be paid for overtime hours.

      1. YrLocalLibrarian*

        They have a 40 hour workweek that includes paid hour-long lunches. It’s not unusual for them to clock more than 40 hours. I can of course shorten shifts or transition to unpaid lunches.

        1. B*

          I suppose I just don’t think this should be an insurmountable problem for employers, even small non-profit employers, with a modicum of creative thinking. All it means is that people making less than a still fairly modest salary don’t have to work more than 40 hours a week without compensation. Surely it’s an added expense but no different than, say, electric rates going up.

          1. YrLocalLibrarian*

            Sure. I didn’t say it was insurmountable. I said it would negatively impact some of our staff and limit the flexibility they currently have. If I could single-handedly increase our tax funding or write grants that would fund operations rather than require additional projects I would absolutely do that. Do I wish librarianship as a field wasn’t devalued as a traditionally female industry? Yes I do!
            As I originally stated I support this change in general, but it’s not a net positive for every org and employee out there, that’s all I’m saying.

    3. TK*

      A public library is a government employer and I’m pretty sure (I am not a lawyer) can use comp time in place of overtime. Still has to be at 1.5x, but that’s probably your best solution.

  21. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    Ah, different rules about pay period (in Europe) – maybe gives us more flexibility. We can choose to use our comp time months or years later

    1. TK*

      In the US, comp time in place of overtime is illegal for private (i.e., non-governmental) employers. The idea is that it stops employers from giving comp time in place of overtime pay but then never allowing employees to actually use that comp time. You can’t get around paying someone more. That’s what the person you meant to reply to was getting at. Curiously, public employers can use comp time in place of overtime (it still has to be time and a half though).

      I think it’s actually within the same week; anytime a non-exempt person works over 40 hours they have to get overtime, regardless of the length of the pay period.

  22. Anon for a Reason*

    I wonder how this would impact my situation. I work in a part-time, professional capacity. I get paid the same every week regardless of how many hours I put in. Some weeks I work more (though very rarely over 40 hours) and some weeks I don’t work hardly at all. I do not fill out a timesheet. I’m 100% remote and only my immediate supervisor knows when I’m working and when I’m not. It’s been an arrangement agreeable to all parties.

    I make high 40’s for the current arrangement. If this goes through, is my employer obligated to raise my salary to $55K? To be honest, that would suck for me because I’m sure that my employer will want more hours for their money that I don’t want to give. Of course, by the time any regulations become law, I may be making $55K for the part-time arrangement due to salary and COLA increases.

    1. TK*

      This should only affect you if you work over 40 hours/week, in which case you’d have to get overtime pay. You’d become salaried non-exempt, which is unusual but not unheard of.

      Since you said it’s very rare you work over 40 hours, my guess would be your employer will mandate you NEVER work over 40, or set up an approval process if you need to do so.

      If this goes through, this will happen for a lot of people- I supervise one full-time employee who makes mid-40s, but almost never works over 40 hours. I’ll probably be told she’s simply never allowed to go over 40.

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