Labor Department Puts Out Call for Comments on Overtime Rule


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Efforts by the Labor Department to revise the pending overtime rule got a big push this week after the agency said it would start accepting comments on the initiative, which remains on hold in federal court.

The Wage and Hour Division said July 25 it would accept comments on the final rule until Sept. 24. The division is seeking information on salary levels, inflation adjustments, the standard duties test, and highly compensated employees. The division also wants to know about employers who may have increased salaries in 2016 in anticipation of the rule taking effect Dec. 1.

Under the Obama-administration rule, workers earning less than $47,500 a year would be paid wages at time and one-half hours after working more than 40 hours in a week, an increase from the annual threshold of $23,660.  The Trump administration told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the FifthCircuit in June that it would not issue a new rule until after the court affirms that the agency has the authority to use an employee's salary as a basis for determining overtime eligibility.

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has been busy in reshaping the Labor Department. In addition to seeking comments on overtime requirements, he pulled two Obama-era administrator interpretation letters and started a campaign to promote apprenticeship programs.

The department also reinstated opinion letters instead of administrator’s interpretations. Opinion letters were a Wage and Hour Division mainstay for more than 70 years until March 2010, when the Obama administration changed the policy. During a seven-year span, the division responded to requests for guidance by referring to statutes, regulations, interpretations, and relevant cases, but without an analysis of the facts that were presented.

As part of the renewed policy, a webpage with resources for employers and workers was established by the division. Resources for employers include access to a regulatory library, industry-specific information, bulletins, forms, and posters. There also is a link for employers to request an opinion letter.

Comments on the overtime rule may also be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov or by mail at Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington D.C. 20210