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Republican lawmakers push for longer comment period on FLSA OT proposal

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

Republican lawmakers are asking the Department of Labor to extend the comment period on the proposed revisions to the FLSA overtime rules for at least another 60 days “to allow a reasonable opportunity to review the proposal and thoughtfully respond.” The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on July 6, triggering a 60-day comment period that closes on September 4, 2015.

The DOL’s proposed revisions would more than double the current floor below which the FLSA’s white-collar exemptions from overtime would not apply—from $23,660 to $50,440, as projected for 2016. The “white-collar” regulation defines the executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, and computer employee exemptions from overtime. The revisions would also increase from $100,000 to $122,148 the pay required for the “highly compensated employee” exemption to apply. According to the White House, 5 million additional workers would be entitled to overtime within the first year alone by virtue of the increased salary threshold.

In a letter dated July 24, 10 Senate Republicans, led by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), observed that proposal is nearly three times as long as the DOL’s 2003 proposal (68 FR 15560), but the agency has granted a significantly shorter comment period for the current proposal. (The July 6 proposal spans 98 pages in the Federal Register compared to the 38 pages that set out the 2003 proposal.) The DOL allotted a substantially longer comment period—90 days—for its 2003 proposed revision than the 60-day comment period it allotted for this latest proposal.

“As written, DOL’s proposal would substantially increase the number of workers who qualify for overtime pay, which presents complex questions that must be carefully considered by impacted individuals and entities across numerous industries, which are vital to our economy,” the Republican lawmakers wrote. “For employers—many of which are small businesses—the process of reviewing the NPRM, weighing its potential administrative burdens, business implications, and compliance concerns, and submitting feedback in writing will be incredibly time consuming. The current 60-day comment period is simply inadequate to properly evaluate DOL’s proposal and complete these important steps.”