Despite receiving a staggering number of comments in the last week of the comment period alone, the DOL has opted not to extend the comment period for its proposed changes to the FLSA’s “white collar” overtime exemption rules.
The agency was flooded with comments — roughly a quarter of a million — from employers looking to get their two cents in on the proposed rule changes. In the last week alone, the DOL received 50,000 comments.
But even with that flurry of last-minute activity, the DOL reported to the House and Senate that it would not extend the 60-day public comment period.
It said the standard 60-day period — combined with its outreach efforts prior to the proposal being published — was enough to “produce a quality regulation.”
The problem, as you might expect, is not everyone agrees with that statement. Also not surprising is the fact that a significant number of the comments criticized the proposed rule, particularly the new salary threshold.
One of the top complaints: The increased salary threshold fails to take into account the specific circumstances of different industries and regions — a flaw former DOL administrator-turned-attorney Tammy McCutchen pointed out while testifying before the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections shortly after the proposal was made public.
Under the DOL’s proposed rule changes, employees must earn $970 per week or $50,440 per year, figures based on the 40th percentile of weekly wages for full-time salaried workers, to be exempt from overtime. McCutchen said this would have a disproportionate impact on states with a lower cost of living. She said this would even dwarf the thresholds already established in high-cost-of-living states like California ($37,440) and New York ($34,124).
The current threshold is $455 per week or $23,660 per year.
Based on the DOL’s refusal to extend the comment period, employers should still plan on the new overtime rules taking effect as soon as early 2016.