CHICAGO — While large companies often have teams whose job it is to keep up on the laws and regulations that affect their business, small-business owners have to keep tabs on changes themselves. This can be confusing and time-consuming, but it’s necessary for the long-term health of their companies.
In order to educate owners on possible challenges in 2024, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) recently hosted “The 2024 Small Business Landscape — Legal, Regulatory, and Economic Updates for the New Year,” a webinar designed to shed light on some of the new rules that have been, or soon will be, put into place.
We examined the new Joint Employer Rule in Part 1 of this article. Today, we’ll continue our dive into legislation that is coming into effect or proposed to be enacted in 2024 by looking at potential new overtime rules.
WHO’S GOING INTO OVERTIME?
“Currently, under the U.S. Department of Labor’s overtime rule, employees who are making $35,000 annually can be exempt from overtime,” says Beth Milito, executive director of the NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center. “In a proposal the Department of Labor issued, the overtime threshold would increase from $35,000 to $55,000.”
That’s a significant jump, she says, “particularly considering that the overtime threshold was just increased in 2019 from $23,000 to the $35,000 that we now have. Now, the U.S. Department of Labor is coming in and saying, ‘You know what? We think it should actually be $55,000, and, oh, by the way, we are proposing to automatically increase that salary threshold every three years.’”
Milito added that the NFIB opposed this proposal: “I know we had many members who also filed comments with the Labor Department expressing a concern about the impact this would have on their business. Many of you may have managers or assistant managers or salaried workers that earn under that $55,000 threshold.”
GETTING READY BY ASSURING COMPLIANCE
Milito believes that the final ruling on this proposal will be issued around June 1.
“We do anticipate it will probably have that $55,000 threshold,” she says, “or possibly even higher.”
So, how should small-business owners prepare for this?
“One thing I’m encouraging business owners to do is to make sure they are in compliance with the existing overtime rule,” Milito says. “It’s always a good idea to, on occasion, perform a wage and hour audit.”
Milito also says that employers should understand the differences between exempt and non-exempt employees, and make sure they’ve structured their pay practices accordingly.
- Are paid for actual hours worked
- Must keep records of time worked, e.g., time sheets or time cards
- Must earn at least minimum wage for all hours worked
- Are entitled to overtime for any hours worked over 40 in seven-day workweek at rate of 1.5 times regular rate of pay
Exempt employees, on the other hand:
- Are paid regardless of quantity or quality of work
- Have no limit on the number of hours that employee may work or be required to work per week
- Have no minimum wage requirement
- Have no overtime requirement
“So, it is advantageous if you’re currently at that $35,000 or more level annually to classify a worker as exempt,” Milito says.
She also warns that it’s not just the salary threshold that needs to be taken into account. There is actually a three-part test that needs to be addressed:
Salary Basis — The employee must be paid a predetermined and fixed minimum salary that is not subject to reduction because of quality or quantity of work performed.
Salary Level — $35,568/year or $684/week.
Duties — The employee’s job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative or professional duties as defined by the regulators.
“I do think that, if this new rule does go into effect, which I think it will, there will be litigation over it,” Milito says. “But it’s not a sure thing that a lawsuit would stop the rule. So, prepare for the worst and hope for the best in this situation.”
Come back Monday for our conclusion, where we’ll break down information about independent contractors, minimum wage and more.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].