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January 10, 2005
Hubbub Softens over New OT Rules

Nearly five months after new overtime-exemption rules went into effect, the controversy over the rules seems to have subsided.

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"We are simply not seeing any great outcry against the new regulations, either from employers or employees," says Susan Prince, legal editor of BLR's HR Manager's Legal Reporter. "Since other regulations like FMLA continue to produce an avalanche of reader questions, it seems like the overtime changes are a nonevent."

Prince says that while the battle over the new overtime-exemption rules of the Fair Labor Standards Act may have eased, the Labor Department is busy enforcing the rules, and therefore, employers must ensure that they are in compliance with the new rules.

"Eligible workers have to be paid overtime, period," Prince says. "You cannot make everyone work extra hours and then just order them pizza. Employers also have to be wary of hidden liabilities. If workers have been denied legitimate overtime in the past, the fines and settlements could be catastrophic."

In fiscal year 2004, the Labor Department collected $196.7 million in back wages for 288,296 workers.

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