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  • Washington Highlights

    AAMC Joins Higher Education Comments on Proposed Department of Labor Overtime Rule

    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

    The AAMC May 21 joined a comment letter led by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) on the Department of Labor (DOL) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding overtime pay requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

    The NPRM would repeal the 2016 DOL rule that attempted to increase the salary threshold for exempting certain employees from FLSA overtime requirements to levels greater than the National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral National Research Service Award (NRSA) stipend level [see Washington Highlights, May 20, 2016].

    As noted in the letter, the new DOL rule proposes “increasing the current (2004) level of $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $679 per week ($35,308 per year) by using the same formula it employed in 2004, which was set to the 20th percentile of earnings for full-time salaried employees.” This level is below the 2019 NIH postdoctoral NRSA stipend level of $50,004. The DOL also proposes “requiring, every four years, an update to the salary threshold using the 2004 formula through notice-and-comment rulemaking.”

    The CUPA-HR comments “agree that an increase to the minimum salary threshold is due and that DOL must update the salary levels and regulations from time to time to ensure the exemptions are not abused.” The letter also made the following suggestions:

    • Any final rule should allow employers to prorate the salary threshold for part-time employees;
    • DOL should count the cost of employer-provided room and board toward the salary threshold;
    • DOL should update the regulations every five to seven years based on circumstance as any automatic update may exceed DOL’s authority under the FLSA and, therefore, will be susceptible to legal challenge; and
    • If DOL does decide to proceed with an automatic update, the agency should make clear that any change to the methodology used to determine the standard salary level as part of future updates would require multiple proposed rulemakings.

    Medical residents remain exempt from the FLSA overtime requirements.