Federal overtime rules wouldn’t hit state or local governments
November 24, 2016
In Tuesday's Nevada Appeal, the first of a 4-part series appeared on the Department of Labor's change to the overtime laws. On Tuesday, a federal court in Texas issued in injunction that prevents the rule from taking effect until the rule's legality can be explained further. Since the injunction — at this time — only puts a hold on the rule, the Appeal will continue with the series. The second part appeared on Wednesday. Two more parts appear today.
Although major changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act could have a major impact on some businesses, state and local governments here will be pretty much unaffected.
However, if those rules take affect are uncertain, after a Texas federal court's Tuesday ruling blocking the implementation of a rule imposed by President Barack Obama's administration that would have made an estimated 4 million more higher-earning workers across the country eligible for overtime pay starting Dec. 1.
The existing rule allowed employers to exempt anyone making over $23,660 from receiving overtime. The proposed new rule says that employees have to make more than $47,476 a year to be salaried — exempt from overtime.
"In state government, there are very few exempt employees who make less than that," said Human Resources Administrator Peter Long, recently before the Texas judge's ruling.
He said that's because most exempt employees in state service are administrators, directors and supervisors or other staff that have some policymaking authority. He said the state almost uniformly pays those people more than $47,476 a year.
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In a workforce of nearly 20,000, Long said his office has found just 21 people under that wage who were listed as exempt.
"That's, what, point zero, zero, zero, zero something of a percent?"
He said the list was almost exclusively from agencies with employees outside the classified worker system. There were seven under the agencies within the governor's office: his direct staff, the Office of Economic Development, his Energy and science and technology offices and other programs. Governor's office staff are listed as nonclassified and he gets to set their salaries.
Another 11 were in the Gaming Control Board staff, two at the Colorado River Commission and one in the Tourism office.
All, Long said, were simply converted to non-exempt status and, now, can get overtime if they work over 40 hours a week.
Carson City had a similar story. Melanie Bruketta of Carson Human Resources said they found just one employee in that situation and converted that person's classification so that he or she now qualifies for overtime.
Likewise, Joel Dunn of the Carson City Convention and Visitor's Bureau said they found only one person on staff whose classification needed to be changed to meet the new rules.
Washoe County said the law will have no impact on county workforce.
Long said the change was primarily aimed at businesses such as fast food restaurants who gave some employees a manager's title and cut them off of overtime even though they were working long hours and making little more than the minimum wage.
He said there are some states with a bigger problem under the new rule than Nevada but that, for the most part, public employers shouldn't be hit too hard.