U.S. Labor Department Continues its Review of White Collar Overtime Pay Rules

As we approach the two-year mark since amended regulations for white collar overtime pay were set to go into effect under the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Labor continues to collect information anew as part of its reevaluation of the rules under Donald Trump. Later in October, the Department will hold what’s it’s calling a “listening session” in Washington, D.C. It is seeking input on several questions, including:

  • What is the appropriate salary level (or range of salary levels) above which the overtime exemptions for bona fide executive, administrative, or professional employees may apply?
  • What benefits and costs to employees and employers might accompany an increased salary level?
  • Should the Department more regularly update the standard salary level and the total-annual-compensation level for highly compensated employees?

It’s unclear whether or when new white-collar regulations will take effect. Following a review process that lasted more than two years and included hundreds of thousands of public comments, the Department of Labor planned to implement new regulations on December 1, 2016. The changes would have required that, if white-collar workers were to be exempt from overtime pay requirements, they earn at least $913 per week, roughly $47,000 annually, rather than the $455/week the rules now require. Highly paid workers in this category would have become exempt only if they earned $134,000 per year, up from the current $100,000. And the Department would have added an automatic updating mechanism to address inflation.

The Department’s plans were altered just after the November 2016 election of Mr. Trump when a Texas court blocked implementation of the Department’s new regulations. The Trump administration accepted the decision without substantive challenge after the Obama administration defended it for a time. The Department began its current review about a year ago.