Back in March, construction industry group members and leaders strongly opposed a final rule issued by OSHA that requires greater protections for workers against silica dust, citing high costs versus minimal safety improvements. This month has pitted the Department of Labor (DOL) against the construction groups.
On May 18, 2016, the DOL issued a final rule that raises the minimum salary an employee has to make in order to not qualify for overtime pay from $23,660 to $47,476. That means that any salaried worker that makes under $47,476 annually must be paid overtime for any hours worked over 40 per week. The overtime exemption have not been updated since 2004 and the lawmakers have not only brought the salary amounts up significantly to more accurately reflect current market conditions, but they have also included a provision that requires the salary threshold be updated every 3 years. The rule also increased the threshold for highly compensated employees (HCE) to receive overtime protection from $100,000 to $134,004. This rule will go into effect on December 1, 2016.
This rule has been in process since at least August of last year and based upon thousands of comments received, many of the stipulations have changed slightly. The DOLs overall goal and the reason behind these changes is to either put more money in the pockets of more middle class Americans or to allow for more free time, if companies are not willing to pay extra overtime costs.
These changes haven’t given several leading construction industry groups a warm, fuzzy feeling though. Many have submitted comments throughout the course of the approval process and others have made their feelings about the approval of the final rule very clear.
In a news release, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs Kristen Swearingen said, “DOL’s overtime rule will rob employers of needed flexibility and employees of career advancement avenues, and it will have a disruptive effect on the construction industry as a whole. The unprecedented increase in the salary threshold may force some contractors to consider switching certain employees from salaried positions to hourly. This change may deprive employees of autonomy in their work schedules and may be perceived as a demotion to employees.”
National Association of Home Builders chairman Ed Brady also released this official statement on the rule, “The sheer arrogance displayed by the Department of Labor in failing to heed the concerns of the nation’s small business community will result in severe repercussions that will harm workers, small businesses, housing affordability, job growth and the economy.”
Which side of this fight do you fall on? Tell us in the comments below.