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DOL Refuses to Extend Comment Period for Overtime Exemption Salary Changes

    Client Alerts
  • September 14, 2015
The 60-day notice and comment period for the Department of Labor’s proposed changes to its Part 541 white collar overtime exemption rules has expired. The agency reports receiving over 200,000 comments to the proposed rules, which prompted calls for the comment period to be extended to allow the agency adequate time to digest the public input. Despite these calls, last week DOL announced that it will not extend the notice and comment period, meaning that final rules can be expected within the next several months.

This refusal led many employer advocacy groups to conclude that DOL is rushing the final rules to make certain they are implemented before the end of the Obama administration. By limiting the rules to changes to the minimum salary, and by refusing to extend the comment period, DOL appears to be positioning the regulations to withstand the inevitable court challenges. Changes to the salary rather than the duties tests provide fewer grounds of attack for opponents to the rules, while the expedited regulatory process means that court-imposed delays are less likely to result in failure to implement the rules before the next administration takes office.

For employers, the good news may be that this expedited process will not allow DOL to make changes to the exemptions’ duties test. The proposed rules contained no changes, but held open the possibility that the requisite duties for exempt employees could be altered in the final rules based on public input. Failure to extend the comment period may signal DOL’s intent not to reopen the possibility of such changes.

Based on these developments, employers should start to plan for the significant increases in minimum salaries for their exempt employees sometime in 2016. Absent court action, annual budgeting efforts should include the probability for such increases at some point during the upcoming calendar year.