The U.S. Department of Labor has changed the salary level for exempted salaried employees. A prior iteration of this rule was famously (at least to employment law attorneys) declared illegal in 2016. However, the Department has been undeterred, and the new rule, which will go in to effect on January 1, 2020, has massive implications for businesses who classify employees as overtime exempt under the “white collar” or “EAP” exemption.
The white collar/EAP exemption exempts from the minimum wage and overtime pay requirements any employee employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or processional capacity. In order to satisfy the exemption, an employee must: (1) be paid a predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction because of the quality or quantity of work performed (the “salary basis” test); (2) the salary must meet a minimum specified amount (the “salary level” test); (3) and the employee’s job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative, or processional duties (the “duties” test).The new rule changes the “salary level” test. Until January 1, 2020, the required salary must exceed $455 weekly ($23,660 annually). However, after January 1, 2020, the salary requirement will be raised to $684 weekly ($35,568 annually). To somewhat ease the burden this imposes on employers, the Department has also permitted employers to count nondiscretionary bonuses, incentives, and commissions toward up to 10 percent of the salary level ($2,556.80 annually).
As a result of these changes, on January 1, 2020, employers who do not raise their salaries to meet the new minimum, but otherwise satisfy the white collar/EAP exemption will find themselves exposed to potential overtime and/or minimum wage liability. If you are concerned that your pay policies may be out of compliance, consider speaking to one of the employment law attorneys at the Finney Law Firm: : Stephen E. Imm (513-943-5678) or Matt Okiishi (513-943-6659).