Seminar Teaches Administrators Ins and Outs of New Overtime Rules

Seminar Teaches Administrators Ins and Outs of New Overtime Rules

By Jenny Kincaid, The Roanoke Times

May 18, 2004

The meeting resembled a problem-solving session in seventh-grade math class.

The problem: Terri works at a convenience store. She takes on some manager’s duties, such as paperwork and hiring. But 75 percent of her duties are basic, such as cooking hamburgers and serving ice cream.

Should she be paid by the hour or by salary?

Local human resource directors, business executives and others scratched their heads over that question and others Monday. During a seminar at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, they learned the ins and outs of new overtime regulations that will be made effective Aug. 23 by the U.S. Department of Labor. The meat of the regulations determines which employees get overtime pay and which do not.

The regulations, which have come under fire by members of Congress in recent months, represent the first overhaul of overtime laws in 50 years.  They guarantee overtime rights for white-collar workers who earn up to $23,660.  (The overtime guarantee currently applies only for those earning salaries up to $8,060.)  And they protect or expand eligibility for those who earn up to $100,000.  The minimum salary required for overtime exemption will be $455 a week.

Examples of jobs that will be exempt from overtime pay under the pending new rules include computer programmers, accountants, chefs with culinary degrees and even licensed funeral home directors, said Alfred Robinson, a deputy administrator with the DOL.

Some local business professionals confessed that they didn’t understand details about the new regulations and were pleased to be fed some information Monday.

Charlene McFall, a compliance officer for Bedford County Schools, said the only new employees who will be exempt from overtime pay in her office will be those who work in finance, insurance and other administrative positions.

McFall said she didn’t think many Bedford County school employees would be surprised by the changes.

“I think mostly people are aware of what’s going on,” she said.

Rhoda Rojiani, owner and executive director of CARE for You, a home health agency in Christiansburg, said a reorganization of her employee payroll plan is in order so that her business will meet the new regulations.  Although she employs many nurses aides, Rojiani has office employees who will have to switch from hourly to salary pay.

Rojiani said she doesn’t agree with the regulations because she thinks it is unfair for professionals to be denied overtime pay.

“I think professionals are losing ground,” she said. “But I’m just trying to make sure that we are compliant.”

Despite political opposition to the regulations, including recent proposals in the Senate to change the rules, Robinson assured the crowd in Roanoke that the overtime rules will “go forward on Aug. 23.”

“We are trying to do everything we can to encourage the House and Senate not to pass anything that prohibits these rules from going into effect,” he said.  “We think that we have a good product that will help not only employers but employees.”

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