The Labor Department has published final rules governing the eligibility for
overtime in the Federal
Register. The department says employers have until August 23, 2004, to bring
their companies into compliance with the new regulations.
The new rules cover the white-collar exemptions of the Fair Labor Standards
Act. The rules raise the salary threshold below which employees are generally
guaranteed overtime to $23,660, up from the $8,060 under current rules and up
from the $21,000 proposed in the initial draft of the rules.
The new rules also create an exemption for "highly compensated" employees
who customarily and regularly perform any one or more of the exempt duties or
responsibilities of an executive, administrative, or professional employee.
The threshold for this exemption is $100,000, up from the $65,000 threshold
proposed in March 2003.
The new rules also state that police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and
other so-called "first responders" are entitled to overtime pay. When
the Labor Department announced its proposal in March 2003, there was no such
language and some of these workers were concerned that their right to overtime
was in jeopardy.
Democrats and labor groups say they continue to oppose the rules even though
the Bush administration scaled back its plan after receiving heavy criticism.
They contend too many workers will lose overtime pay.
In general, business groups have supported the changes. Employers contend the
rules clarify who is eligible for overtime and will reduce
the number of lawsuits over overtime.