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CLIENT ALERT: New Overtime Rule Raises Minimum Salary Requirements and Other Changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued its Final Rule updating the regulations under the Fair Labor Standard Act:

Effective January 1, 2020, employees who make less than $35,568 are now eligible for overtime pay under a final rule issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”). The DOL expects 1.3 million workers to become newly eligible for overtime by updating the thresholds.  The new rule will raise the salary threshold to $684 per week ($35,568 annualized) from $455 per week. This means that even if your employee qualifies under one of the overtime exemptions, if the employee is not earning at least $684/week, the employee will be eligible for overtime and minimum wage requirements.

The new rule which revised the regulations issued under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is expected to prompt employers to reclassify exempt workers to nonexempt status and raise the pay for others above the new threshold. 

In addition to raising the salary threshold for exempt workers, the new rule raised the threshold for highly compensated employees from $100,000 a year to $107,432 a year for full-time salaried workers. This means that employees classified as highly compensated for purposes of obtaining overtime exemption will now need to be paid at least $107,432/year.

The Final Rule also allows employers to use non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) that are paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary level, in recognition of evolving pay practices.

How does this affect Employers?

In order to comply with the Final Rule, employers will need to consider a few different options for employees classified as exempt but earn less than $684/week. Employers must review their roster of current exempt earners and, if they earn less than $684/week, the employers must implement one of the following options:

  • Beginning January 1, 2020, employers can remove the exemption status from these employees and begin paying overtime for all hours worked over 40 hours per week.

 OR

  • Beginning on January 1, 2020, employers can remove the exemption status from these employees, forbid overtime, and hire or reassign additional employees to cover any increase in workflow.

OR

  • Beginning on January 1, 2020, employers can increase the salaries of these employees to meet the minimum salary threshold of $35,568/year and at least $684/week, thus qualifying them for the overtime exemption.

Employers must weigh the cost of raising employee salaries above the new threshold against the cost of reclassifying employees as nonexempt and paying overtime. 

The ultimate decisions made by the employer should be strongly considered as any change in employee classification or reorganization of employee structure may impact employee morale. In addition, we view the “duties test” as even more important for employees whose salaries are on the border of the revised threshold. For these employees, it is now more important than ever before that employers ensure correct exemption classification and, if employers ultimately discover improper classifications, they should use this time as an opportunity to reclassify the exemption status for these employees.

If you have any questions about the changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum salary requirements to qualify for overtime exemption status, as discussed in this Client Alert, or labor & employment, generally, please do not hesitate to contact one of the following members of the Brennan, Manna & Diamond’s Labor & Employment Team:  In Akron contact: John N. Childs at (330) 253-1946, Adam D. Fuller at (330) 374-6737, Richard L. Williger at (330) 253-3770, or Bryan E. Meek at (330) 253-5586, or Jeffrey C. Miller at (216) 658-2323 in our Cleveland Office; or John Gast (239) 992-1841 in our Bonita Springs, Florida Office; or Cody L. Westmoreland at (904) 366-2326 and Erin R. Whitmore at (904) 366-2324 in our Jacksonville, Florida Office.

Update: President Trump Signs Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020

On June 3, 2020, Congress updated the CARES Act by passing the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (“FA”). The legislation, which has not yet been signed into law by President Trump, would provide more flexibility to small businesses who received loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).

Workers’ Compensation Claims and COVID-19

Can one of my employees file a workers’ compensation claim if they claim that they contracted coronavirus at work? We get that question a lot. Yes, they can, but you should oppose any application for coverage if you receive one. Generally, the claim will not be granted unless the employee has a job that poses a special hazard or risk of exposure to the virus and the employee can prove that he or she contracted the virus at work.

Ohio State Dental Board Implements Teledentistry Rules

Ohio law defines “teledentistry” as the delivery of dental services through the use of synchronous, real-time communication and the delivery of services of a dental hygienist or expanded function dental auxiliary pursuant to a dentist’s authorization.[1] The law requires a dentist who desires to provide dental services through teledentistry to apply for a teledentistry permit from the Ohio State Dental Board (“OSDB”).[2] Pursuant to the mandate under Ohio Revised Code 4715.436, the OSDB is implementing the following teledentistry permit rules and requirements (to be set forth under Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 4715-23). These regulations, which were subject of a public hearing on February 19, 2020, are effective on May 30, 2020.

HHS Addresses Drug Manufacturer Coupons on Out-of-Pocket Limits

On May 7, 2020, the US Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced their Notice of Benefit Parameters for 2021 in which HHS addressed the application of prescription drug manufacturer copay coupons towards a patient’s out-of-pocket limit. Under this guidance, HHS will permit, but not require, plans and insurers to count direct support offered to enrollees by drug manufacturers (i.e., coupons) for specific prescription drugs toward the annual limits on cost-sharing, regardless of whether a generic equivalent is available.

Important Updates, Deadlines, and Clarifications for the HHS Provider Relief Funds

On May 20, 2020, HHS made important updates and clarifications regarding the General Distribution payments to providers. Between April 10, 2020 and April 24, 2020, HHS distributed an initial $30 billion to providers based on the provider’s 2019 Medicare fee-for-service receipts. These funds were distributed automatically and providers did not need to submit an application in order to receive these funds. The funds were originally touted as a “no strings attached” stimulus payment reserved for healthcare providers. But HHS issued a 10-page Terms and Conditions and required that providers sign an attestation confirming receipt of the funds and agreeing to the Terms and Conditions.