On September 24, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule to make 1.3 million American workers newly eligible for overtime pay.

The final rule updates the earnings thresholds necessary to exempt executive, administrative and professional employees from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime pay requirements and allows employers to count a portion of certain bonuses/commissions towards meeting the salary level. The new thresholds account for growth in employee earnings since the thresholds were last updated in 2004.
 
Under currently enforced law, employees with a salary below $455 per week ($23,660 annually) must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. Workers making at least this salary level may be eligible for overtime based on their job duties.
 
In the final rule, the Department is:
 

  •  raising the “standard salary level” from the currently enforced level of $455 per week to $684 per week (equivalent to $35,568 per year for a full-year worker);
 
  • raising the total annual compensation requirement for “highly compensated employees” from the currently enforced level of $100,000 per year to $107,432 per year;
 
  • allowing employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10% of the standard salary level, in recognition of evolving pay practices; and
 
  • revising the special salary levels for workers in U.S. territories and the motion picture industry.
 
The final rule is effective on January 1, 2020.
 
How might employers be impacted?
 
An increase in salary thresholds under the overtime regulations may mean certain employers will need to assess their internal employee classifications. They may find the need to either transition some of their exempt employees to non-exempt status or alternatively increase salaries.
 
What should employers do now?
 
Employers should continue to comply with the current federal overtime regulations and are cautioned to ensure compliance with applicable state overtime requirements that may incorporate salary levels that exceed the federal level.