by Danielle Zaychik of the National Center for Policy Analysis
Recently the White House updated Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime regulations, raising the threshold at which salaried employees are exempt from overtime pay, effective December 1, 2016. Salaried employees making up to $913 per week ($47,476 annually) will qualify for overtime compensation at one-and-a-half times their normal pay. This is a significant increase from the previous $455 per week ($23,660 annually) exemption level. The FLSA also defines the job duties of employees who are exempt from overtime pay. The “duties test” exempts employees who are executive, professional or administrative and also work independently, exercising their own judgment without close supervision. This remained unchanged.
The administration predicts the new rule will put $12 billion in the pockets of 4.2 million newly eligible employees over 10 years. The new rule will cost the restaurant and retail industries alone over $2 billion annually. It is inevitable that businesses will make changes to their compensation model to offset these costs.
An Oxford Economics case study of the restaurant and retail industry outlined three possible ways employers may offset increased costs: lowering hourly wages, cutting benefits and bonuses, and reducing workers’ hours.