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    Dept. of Labor Seeks Feedback on New Overtime Rule

    Agency asks for comments on salary level, cost of living.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Labor Department is looking for the public's input on the new overtime rule, which has been put on hold since November.

    The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a Request for Information (RFI) on July 26, opening the door for the public to provide information "that will aid the department in formulating a proposal to revise these regulations which define and delimit exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage and overtime requirements for certain employees," according to the DOL.

    Specifically, "the RFI solicits feedback on questions related to the salary level test, the duties test, varying cost-of-living across different parts of the [United States], inclusion of non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments to satisfy a portion of the salary level, the salary test for highly compensated employees, and automatic updating of the salary level tests."

    The publication of the RFI in the Federal Register begins a 60-day public comment period.

    Under regulations issued during the Obama administration, most workers making up to $47,476 a year would have automatically qualified for overtime, more than double the $23,660 level that previously triggered overtime eligibility. The threshold would have automatically increased every three years.

    The National Retail Federation (NRF) called the request for public comment an important first step toward pursuing more reasonable workplace policies.

    "Retailers understand that overtime rules need to be updated occasionally but the extreme changes pushed by the Obama administration were too sharp an increase for most businesses to absorb without negative consequences for both employers and employees," NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said. 

    "They were simply out of sync with the realities of retail workplaces across the country. NRF supports a more balanced approach that supports growth for businesses and expands career opportunities for employees," he added.

    The rules were scheduled to go into effect Dec. 1, but NRF and more than 50 other business organizations filed a lawsuit arguing that the increase exceeded the Labor Department's statutory authority under the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

    Twenty-one states also filed suit against the new rules in U.S. District Court in Eastern Texas.

    On Nov. 22, 2016, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant ruled that the Department of Labor exceeded its authority by focusing on salaries to determine whether employees are eligible for overtime pay or not. Mazzant stated that the department should instead examine the duties that employees perform to determine if they qualify as "executive, administrative or professional" workers who are exempt from overtime requirements, as CSNews Online previously reported.

    Research conducted for NRF by Oxford Economics found that the Obama overtime regulations would force employers to limit hours or cut base pay in order to make up for added payroll costs, leaving most workers with no increase in take-home pay despite added administrative costs, according to NRF.

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