Don't forget to visit my website! Jackie Coleman - Author

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

New Minimum Salary for Exempt Overtime Pay

The Department of Labor's new rule for the minimum salary of an employee to be exempt from overtime pay will go into law on December 1st. Because this was a "rule change", Obama could just sign it into law, much like an executive order, without the approval of Congress. And, because he knows what's best for us, he did just that.

I'm sure there are people out there that are happy about this, but I don't know any of them.

Salaried workers will no longer be allowed to say they worked 40 hours, they have to prove they did not work more than 40 hours. Their word that they only worked 40 hours isn't good enough ... they'll have to clock in and clock out ... just like at their fast food job in high school.

One of the perks of being a salaried employee is not having to punch a time clock. If your employer trusts you enough to pay you for 40 hours, they expect you to work 40 hours and, generally, your word that you did is good enough. They'll find out sooner or later if you're not doing your job. Salaried employees understand there will be times they will have to come in early, work late, work on the weekends, or miss lunch in order to meet a deadline. In turn, they know their paycheck won't be docked if they get caught in traffic one morning and can't clock in on time.

The flexibility once enjoyed by salaried workers who fall below the new threshold is now gone. They can't come in early or work through their lunch hour in order to leave early. They can't work outside of their work hours, including checking and responding to emails after hours and on the weekends. They cannot clock in or out more than seven minutes outside of their normal start/stop time. I can easily see someone coming in early and forgetting to clock in when the appointed time approaches because someone needed something and they weren't able to clock in during the appropriate time frame.

They no longer have the choice to "volunteer" their hours ... meaning, they can't stay a few minutes over, knowing they won't be paid for it, to finish a task before leaving for the day. It doesn't matter if you expect or want to be paid for those few minutes or not. It's against the law to finish your work if it can't be accomplished in the time the government allows you to work.

This law is particularly troubling for those in the IT industry that fall below the salary threshold for salaried workers. They can no longer check their email at home unless they will be compensated for it. If a worker doesn't have approval for checking email after hours or on the weekend, they will never know when someone notifies them that a critical system is down. And they won't be able to remote in or go into the office to fix the problem without a supervisor's written approval.

If an IT person is walking through the office in the morning, on the way to their desk, and it isn't time to clock in, they can't stop to help someone who can't login to their computer or is having any other technology issues. It might be something as simple as telling them, "Wifi is turned off. Slide the wifi bar to the right to turn it on, and you'll be able to login." But ... that's against the law now. Mouths will fall open when, instead of fixing their problem, they are told, "I could fix it, but I'm not on the clock for another 23 minutes. I'm going to go surf the web until it's time to clock in, then I'll come back and fix it."

If a colleague is going out of town tomorrow and is having a computer issue, they won't be able to get help if their IT staff can't take care of the problem during their normal working hours. I can see the outrage on their face when their IT person tells them, "Sorry. I have to clock out in five minutes, and your problem will take a minimum of six minutes. I know you need this issue fixed before you leave town, and I know you can't do your job unless I fix it, but there's no one around to authorize my overtime, and the company could be slapped with heavy fines if the government finds out I worked a minute over and wasn't compensated for it."

The "approval rating" for departments with salaried workers who can't take care of an urgent problem outside of normal working hours will plummet. IT staff who can't reboot a server or take care of a login issue after hours will soon find their heads on a chopping block. Users won't care if the government says you can't help them, all they care about is being able to do their jobs ... and they can't do their job if you're not allowed to do yours.

I know there are employers who take advantage of salaried individuals, but I have never worked for any of them. I know Obama thought he was doing everyone a favor by raising the minimum salary of employees exempt from overtime, but after him "helping" me with affordable health insurance, I can't afford much more of his "help".

Far from helping, this policy is creating a lot of work for a lot of people. It will cost businesses a lot of time and money. New systems will have to be put in place to track hours, and those systems aren't free. Countless dollars in man-hours will be wasted in preparatory meetings, implementation, and monitoring. The worst "perk" is that the flexibility those workers used to enjoy has been taken away.

My previous job was outsourced. I was lucky, and found my current job right away. It was a sizeable cut in pay, but the insurance and benefits were infinitely better, making the lower salary much comparable to my old salary.

Fast forward to 2016 ... I have the option of a really good health insurance plan, but it will cost me twice as much. As a result, I chose a high deductible plan to cut down on my monthly premium. I now have the same kind of crappy insurance I had before I started here because I can't afford the kind of insurance I had before Obama made health insurance "affordable".

I can no longer help co-workers with computer issues if I haven't clocked in. I can no longer check my email outside of normal business hours. I can no longer research the answer to problems in the evening because I want to. I can no longer lay in bed and mull over an issue in my mind. I can't come in to work early to get a jump-start on my day, and I can no longer work a little bit over to finish up a project. I can't work through lunch because I'm eyeball-deep in a complicated problem, and don't want to stop while I'm on a roll.

What our wise and all-knowing President fails to understand is that the cost of this new law will be passed on to consumers through higher costs for their goods and services, and fewer or lower wage increases to employees. I'll be dancing when Obama leaves office ... I can't afford much more of his "help".

No comments:

Post a Comment