NAICU Washington Update

Department of Labor Holds Listening Session on Overtime, Senate Rejects Weil Nomination

April 01, 2022

This was a busy week for the Wage and Hour division of the Department of Labor (DOL).  In response to a request from the higher education community, representatives from the division held a listening session to hear their concerns in anticipation of a proposed rule on overtime pay threshold adjustments.  Also this week, the Senate rejected the nomination of David Weil to head the division.  

DOL is planning on issuing proposed changes to the overtime salary threshold requirements for white collar workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  While the proposal was initially expected in April, it has been delayed until the fall.  

Changes to the overtime salary threshold affect employers and employees in all sectors, and govern the salary amount at which overtime pay is required for non-exempt employees.  The threshold amount was last adjusted during the Trump Administration, and is currently set at $35,568.

Leaders and staff from groups and associations, including NAICU, representing all sectors of higher education participated in the listening session.  Most of the comments from the community focused on opposing an increase in the salary threshold at this time.  While college and university leaders support fair wages and adjustments of the salary threshold, they felt an adjustment now, as colleges continue to face obstacles from the pandemic, would be ill-advised.  The business community is also participating in a similar series of listening sessions and have overlapping concerns with the higher education community.

During the Obama Administration, DOL proposed more than doubling the salary threshold, which would have been extremely problematic for many colleges and universities, especially those in more rural regions that have lower costs of living and wages.  Ultimately, that proposal was struck down by a federal court shortly before President Obama left office.  At the time, the Obama Administration was proposing a threshold amount supported by organized labor.  There is now a concern that the Biden Administration could make too dramatic a jump in the salary threshold at the urging of labor, which is again pushing for more than doubling the current level. 

DOL did not outline any specific details of the upcoming proposed changes, but indicated there would be additional opportunities for community input as part of the regular Notice of Proposed Rule Making process prior to the issuance of a final rule.

Regarding the Weil nomination, the rejection wasn’t directly linked to the upcoming changes to the overtime rules.  Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) joined all of the Senate Republicans in opposing his nomination based on his policies at DOL during the Obama Administration on issues like independent contractor classifications, joint employment designations, and small business and nonprofit concerns, including overtime.  The Biden Administration will now have to nominate a new candidate.

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