Overtime rules changing

Published 8:46 am Tuesday, September 6, 2016

New federal overtime regulations will take effect this December, largely affecting the way businesses will have to consider the schedules of salaried workers.

The new rule will raise the bar for overtime exemption to $47,467, over twice the current threshold of $23,660.

The rules will affect more than 4 million Americans according to the Associated Press (AP) and the White House estimates that the rule will raise pay by $1.2 billion over the next ten years.

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Kathy Sauer, president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, said that the changes are needed to prevent abuse, but will also provide obstacles for small businesses.

“I understand where they’re coming from, because we do not want to overwork employees,” Sauer said. “Some people abused it to where people were working many, many, many hours. Suddenly you have people not spending any quality time at home and the fell obligated to fulfill that mission.”

But the change will not be an easy one to make for business that rely on employees having more flexible hours.

“The other side of that, though, is that some have to have more flexible hours,” Sauer said. “It’s going to change the way salaried people have to account for their time. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s going to be hard to start accounting for that.”

The changes will change the way Sauer and some of her employees handle things like conventions and events held after hours, as she said that the time was never counted before. Hours didn’t matter as long as the job got done.

“Even if you take a phone call on the weekend, it’s my understanding that it will have to be tracked,” Sauer said.

“Sometimes I’ll go into work on the weekends to get a head start and that doesn’t bother me, but now I’d be restricted from doing it.”

Another potential issue with the new regulation that Sauer pointed out is that the salary threshold doesn’t account for differences in cost of living.

“We have lower salaries in Alabama because we have a lower cost of living,” Sauer said.

“It will get you just as far, but this threshold doesn’t account for that. This will hit our mid-managers and even some of our managers.”

The rule takes effect on December 1. The threshold has not been raised since 2004 and now covers only 7 percent of workers, according to AP. Labor Secretary Tom Perez said that the raise will lift that number to 35 percent.