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Question: What should employers do to prepare for the January 1, 2020, effective date of new DOL white collar exemptions?

Answer: On September 24, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a final rule to update and revise Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) white collar exemptions by raising the salary level for an exemption from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $684 per week ($35,568 annually), among other changes. This is up slightly from the amount published in the proposed rule on March 7, 2019.

Here’s how to prepare for the January 1, 2020 effective date:

  • Analyze cost impacts. You can begin to determine which employees are classified as exempt and earn $35,568 per year or less. Estimate the increased costs of either increasing their salaries to $35,568 per year or reclassifying the employees as nonexempt and paying overtime when they work more than 40 hours per week (or overtime hours worked based on your state’s overtime laws). Again, hold off on any actual changes until the proposal becomes effective.
  • Review job descriptions. Take a look at your organization’s job descriptions to ensure that they are accurate for the work that the employees actually perform. Update as needed. Review the classifications as exempt or nonexempt based on the “job duties test” as defined by the DOL.
  • Forecast overtime. Talk with the impacted employees and their managers to get an estimate of how much overtime per week they actually work.
  • Review your overtime policies. While employers must pay overtime per federal and state laws even if the overtime is not authorized, employers can limit the amount of overtime allowed and provide disciplinary action to employees who fail to follow policy.
  • Measure productivity. Now that some exempt employees may be reclassified as nonexempt, ensure that the extra hours worked result in measurable productivity. Many exempt employees did not track hours worked previously and may have worked longer hours when not absolutely necessary. Since that time will now be compensable time, employers should ensure that the overtime is warranted based on business demand.
  • Review meal and rest break rules. Those employees who will be reclassified as nonexempt will be required to comply with state or company mandated meal and rest break requirements.
  • Review employee communications regarding policies, the enforcement of such policies, and how you will communicate these changes to those employees who will be affected by the change in status.

Learn More

Our April 16, 2019, webinar features wage and hour experts explaining what employers need to know and do to be compliant with the new white collar exemption regulations. It’s now available to ThinkHR customers for on-demand viewing. (Log into your ThinkHR account before clicking the link.) Read more coverage on the proposal on our blog and subscribe at the box on right to be notified when we post new articles.