The Department of Labor is considering raising the minimum wage an employee must earn to be considered an overtime exempt employee. If the proposed rules raise the wage threshold as expected, millions of workers who thus far have been exempt from overtime pay could be eligible.
The federal law that controls overtime rules in Georgia and the rest of the United States is called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA requires employers to pay employees an overtime wage of 1.5 times the employee’s normal salary for each hour in excess of 40 the employee works in a seven-day workweek.
However, the FLSA exempts many types of employees from the overtime mandate. This means that employers are not legally required to pay these overtime-exempt employees the time-and-a-half overtime wage. Whether an employee is exempt or nonexempt is determined by the primary duties of her job. The employer does not determine whether the employee is exempt or nonexempt.
Some common job duties that render a worker exempt from overtime are those that are executive, administrative, or professional in nature. This usually includes teachers, professors, lawyers, accountants, and secretaries/administrative assistants. There are also exemptions for computer professionals, outside salespeople, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders.
Employees must also earn a minimum normal wage in order to be classified as exempt from overtime pay requirements. Currently, an employee’s regular wage must be $455 per week (about $23,660 annually) or more for the employee to be exempt from overtime. If the employee makes less than $455 per week, she cannot be classified as exempt.
According to CNN, the upcoming rule proposal would raise the minimum an exempt employee must make to somewhere between $800 and $1,000 per week, or about $42,000 to $52,000 per year. This could make millions of employees suddenly eligible for overtime.
These proposed rules would certainly be controversial, with workers’ rights groups generally in favor of the changes and many business groups opposing them. The changes would not need to be approved by Congress, since the Department of Labor has the power to promulgate the rule change on its own. However, the rule change has not been proposed yet, which is the first step in the process. After being proposed, the rules would be open for public comment and then possibly amended or changed before going into effect. This process can take from several months to more than a year to occur.
Regardless of whether these changes go into effect, Georgia employers are still required to abide by the current FLSA and other overtime regulations. If your employer has wrongly determined that you do not qualify for overtime, you have a right to seek back overtime pay. The Atlanta unpaid overtime attorneys at Parks, Chesin & Walbert can help you recover the wages that you have worked hard to earn. To schedule a free case evaluation, call 404-873-8048.
Employer That Edited Overtime Records Liable for FLSA Violations, February 4, 2015