Overtime Rule Would Apply to Federal Workers Under OPM Proposal

By Louis C. LaBrecque

Nov. 18 — A Labor Department final rule expanding overtime eligibility to those earning up to $47,476 per year would apply to federal employees under a proposed rule issued by the Office of Personnel Management.

The annual salary level required for exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime provisions under the OPM’s current regulations is $23,660. The OPM rule, issued Nov. 18, would revise the agency’s regulations under the FLSA by raising the annual salary threshold to $47,476.

The proposed OPM rule also would provide “for future automatic updates to that level consistent with the automatic updating mechanism utilized in DOL’s FLSA regulations,” the agency said. The provisions updating the salary non-exemption level and calling for future automatic updates would “harmonize” the OPM’s FLSA regulations with the final rule the Labor Department issued on May 23, the OPM said.

The Labor Department rule as of now is scheduled to take effect Dec. 1, although it has been challenged in court by a coalition of business groups and a group of 21 states. The lawsuits were consolidated by a federal judge on Oct. 19.

About 20 Percent May Be Affected

There are about 2.1 million federal executive branch employees, including about 1.8 million full-time, permanent employees.

About 20 percent of the non-seasonal permanent federal workforce earned between $20,000 and $50,000 in fiscal year 2015, Mallory Barg Bulman, research and evaluation director at the Partnership for Public Service, a Washington-based nonprofit, told Bloomberg BNA on Nov. 18.

This amounts to roughly 365,000 employees, Bulman said, citing figures from the OPM’s personnel database.

By agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs potentially would be most affected by the OPM proposed rule, she said. About 113,000 VA employees earned between $20,000 and $50,000 in FY 2015, Bulman said.

The Army had about 52,000 employees earning between $20,000 and $50,000, and the Department of Homeland Security had about 38,000 employees with annual salaries in that range, Bulman said.

She noted, however, that many federal workers receive overtime based on their job classifications, regardless of their salaries.

Trump May Seek to Repeal FLSA Rule Next Year

President-elect Donald Trump may seek to dismantle the DOL rule once he takes office in January, possibly by instituting a different salary threshold.

But doing so will require additional rulemaking, which will take time. And any new rule could be subject to new court challenges.

Comments on the proposed overtime rule are due within 30 days of its scheduled publication in the Nov. 21 Federal Register, the OPM said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Louis C. LaBrecque in Washington at llabrecque@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com

For More Information

Text of the proposed rule is available at http://src.bna.com/ka6.

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