DOL: Expect new overtime pay rule in 2019

Salary transparency The U.S. Department of Labor plans to wait until 2019 to release new proposed overtime rules for white-collar employees. The announcement, buried deep inside the Trump administration’s spring regulatory agenda document, merely states that the DOL will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking on “01/00/2019″—in other words, sometime next year.

The delay came as a surprise, since the DOL began seeking public input in July 2017 on raising the overtime salary threshold for employees qualifying for the Fair Labor Standards Act’s executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and computer employee exemptions. The deadline for submitting public comments came and went last September.

Notices of proposed rulemaking usually follow shortly after an agency has considered public comments.

The current overtime salary threshold of $23,660 was set in 2004. White-collar employees earning less than that per year qualify for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek.

The Obama administration tried to raise the salary threshold to $47,476 per year, but that met with furious opposition from business interests and conservative state attorneys general, who sued to block implementation of the rule. A federal court in Texas invalidated the final rule—three years in the making—just days shy of its effective date on Dec. 1, 2016. Technically, an appeal of that stay remains on file with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, but the DOL is unlikely to pursue it.

What would the new rule look like? Labor Secretary Alex Acosta has said he supports raising the overtime salary threshold.

In March 2017, during Senate hearings before he was confirmed as Secretary of Labor, Acosta said he endorsed raising the threshold to account for inflation since 2004. That would place the salary threshold somewhere in the neighborhood of $33,000 per year.

Releasing the new notice of proposed rulemaking will trigger another round of public comments, which the DOL must factor into a final rule. If all goes smoothly, expect the new overtime rule to be ready to go into effect in late 2020, sometime shortly after the presidential election—just as the previous attempt to raise the salary threshold was supposed to.