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Department of Labor publishes final rule on overtime pay

By Brianna Liestman

On May 18, President Barack Obama and Labor Secretary Tom Perez announced the publication of the Department of Labor’s final rule updating the overtime regulations.

The final rule focuses primarily on updating the salary and compensation levels needed for executive, administrative and professional workers to be exempt. Specifically, the final rule:

  • Sets the standard salary level at the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region, currently the South ($913 per week; $47,476 annually for a full-year worker);
  • Sets the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees (HCE) subject to a minimal duties test to the annual equivalent of the 90th percentile of full-time salaried workers nationally ($134,004); and
  • Establishes a mechanism for automatically updating the salary and compensation levels every three years to maintain the levels at the above percentiles and to ensure that they continue to provide useful and effective tests for exemption.

Additionally, the final rule amends the salary basis test to allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level.

The new standard salary level is below the $50,400 that the Obama administration announced in its proposal last June, but twice the current level of $23,660 a year, which has been unchanged for more than a decade.

The effective date of the final rule is Dec. 1, 2016. The initial increases to the standard salary level (from $455 to $913 per week) and the HCE total annual compensation requirement (from $100,000 to $134,004 per year) will be effective on that date. Future automatic updates to those thresholds will occur every three years, beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

Although the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has reviewed and approved the final rule, the document has not yet been published in the Federal Register. The final rule that appears in the Federal Register may contain minor formatting differences in accordance with Office of the Federal Register publication requirements. The OMB-approved version is being provided as a convenience to the public.

The Department of Labor website will be updated with the Federal Register’s published version when it becomes available.

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