Understanding The Department of Labor's Recent Overtime Rule Updates

Understanding The Department of Labor's Recent Overtime Rule Updates

As of April 24, The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced substantial changes to the overtime exemptions

April 27, 2024

As of April 24, The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced substantial changes to the overtime exemptions and salary thresholds under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which will go into effect on July 1, 2024. These adjustments will significantly impact businesses across the nation—especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)—who have set their employees’ compensation based upon existing salary and overtime exemption thresholds. This article seeks to clarify the rule changes and guide you through some of the most critical implications for your business operations and compliance strategies.

History and Background

The concept of exempting certain employees from overtime pay began with the enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 1938, designed to set minimum labor standards while reducing unemployment during the Great Depression. The criteria for exemptions, focusing on roles that involve executive, administrative, or professional duties, known as "white collar" exemptions, have evolved based on both the nature of the work performed and the compensation level. This ensures that higher-earning employees in more autonomous roles aren't compensated for overtime like hourly workers. 

Just like with many areas of the law, compliance can be complicated. For years, the Department of Labor has promulgated ‘Fact Sheets’ to help employers determine whether an employee can be exempt from overtime or not. These written guides were particularly helpful for those employers who wanted to exempt certain workers based upon their job duties. As long as the employee met the described duties in actual practice, then the employer could simply verify that their compensation met the minimum salary threshold, and then rest easy (for the most part) knowing that the employee was exempt from overtime.

Understanding the New Regulations

In 2024, the DOL's updated rules will increase the salary threshold for exempt employees to $844 per week ($43,888 annually). For highly compensated employees, the threshold will rise to $132,964 annually. These adjustments respond to wage growth and cost of living increases, aiming to make the salary thresholds more reflective of today's economic reality. The update includes an automatic adjustment mechanism every three years to ensure relevance. In addition, the salary threshold will continue to increase for subsequent years. The following is a table excerpted from the DOL’s small entity compliance guide:

Before July 1, 2024 $684 per week (equivalent to $35,568 per year) $107,432 per year, including at least $684 per week paid on a salary or fee basis.
July 1, 2024 $844 per week (equivalent to $43,888 per year) $132,964 per year, including at least $844 per week paid on a salary or fee basis.
January 1, 2025 $1,128 per week (equivalent to $58,656 per year) $151,164 per year, including at least $1,128 per week paid on a salary or fee basis.
July 1, 2027, and every three years thereafter To be set using the methodology in effect at the time of the update based on current earnings data. To be set using the methodology in effect at the time of the update based on current earnings data.

Impact on Florida Businesses

For Florida business owners and compliance professionals, these changes could mean a significant shift in payroll burden and, consequently, employment strategies. Businesses may need to reevaluate which employees are classified as exempt and non-exempt, potentially leading to higher payroll costs due to increased salaries or overtime payments. It's crucial for business owners to forecast these impacts on their operations and budget accordingly, possibly redefining job roles or adjusting working hours to manage costs effectively.

Steps for Compliance

July 1 is fast approaching. If you are looking for tangible, practical steps on what you can do to be prepared, here are four action items to implement right away:

1. Employee Classification Review

Thoroughly assess your current employee roles and salaries to determine who will be affected by the new thresholds. If you are new to the exempt vs. non-exempt calculus, here is a quick primer (derived from the DOL’s small entity compliance guide) on the questions to ask:

Payment on a Salary Basis: The employee must be paid a predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed;

Payment of a Minimum Salary Level
As stated above, the amount of salary paid must need the specified minimum amount ($684 per week now; $844 per week as of July 1, 2024); and

Pass One of the Duties Test:
The employee’s job duties must primarily involve those associated with exempt executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, or computer employees.

2. Financial Impact Analysis

You will need to audit your current roster of exempt employees to determine which employees, if any, would fall below the new salary threshold. Then, perform a cost-benefit analysis as follows: (i). calculate the additional cost increase that would result from increasing their compensation to meet the new salary threshold; then, (ii). calculate what the cost increase would be by paying these (now) non-exempt employees overtime; then (iii) calculate any additional administrative costs which would be incurred, if any, due to having to track these (now) non-exempt employees’ hours; then add items (ii) and (iii) together, and compare this cumulative cost against (i). Which option is more cost effective?

3. Legal Consultation

Engage your legal counsel to understand the nuances of the rule changes and ensure all compliance strategies align with the latest regulations. Additional or revised employee documentation may need to be drafted. Make sure that this is done well in advance of July 1, so that you have a smooth rollout process.

4. Communication Plan

Develop a strategy to transparently communicate these changes to your employees, explaining how they might be affected. A short organization-wide memo may be appropriate; or, perhaps a discreet email to each affected employee may be appropriate based on the size and type of company that you have.

5. Training for Management

Ensure that all managerial and accounting staff are trained on the changes—particularly how to handle overtime management and payroll adjustments. 

6. Update Payroll Systems

Modify your payroll systems to accommodate new salary structures and to handle overtime calculations effectively. 

Case Studies and Examples

Hypothetical Case Study 1: Tech Firm in Tampa

A small tech firm in Tampa preemptively adjusted its salary scales during the last update in 2019. By aligning salaries with anticipated regulatory changes, they avoided disruptions when the new thresholds were implemented. This proactive measure allowed them to stabilize operational costs and maintain workforce efficiency without sudden financial strain.

Hypothetical Case Study 2: Retail Chain in Orlando

Imagine a medium-sized retail chain in Orlando with several exempt managers currently earning just below the new threshold. To comply with the updated rule, the company could either increase these managers' salaries to maintain their exempt status or reclassify them as non-exempt and pay overtime. Opting to increase salaries, the company revises its budget to accommodate higher payroll expenses while also restructuring store operations to optimize management coverage and minimize overtime needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is the new salary threshold for exempt employees?
    • $844 per week, or $43,888 annually.
  1. Who qualifies as a highly compensated employee under the new rule?
  • Employees earning above $132,964 annually.

  1. Will the salary thresholds change again?
  • Yes, updates are scheduled every three years to reflect economic changes.

  1. How should businesses prepare for these changes?
  • Start by reviewing current employee classifications and salaries to identify who will be affected. Follow the steps outlined above for more detail.
  1. What options do businesses have if they can't afford to raise salaries?
  • Businesses may reclassify employees as non-exempt or adjust hours to manage overtime costs. In a worst-case scenario, temporary or permanent layoffs may be required.
  1. How does the rule affect part-time employees?
  • Part-time employees are not directly affected by the salary threshold but could be impacted by changes in how employers manage overtime.
  1. What should employers do if an employee’s salary is close to the new threshold?
  • Consider whether a salary increase to maintain exempt status is feasible or if reclassification is necessary.

  1. Are there exceptions or special rules for certain industries or positions?
  • Yes, different salary levels apply to workers in U.S. territories and specific industries like motion pictures.
  1. What are the penalties for non-compliance with the new rule?
  • Employers may face fines, back wages payments, and possible lawsuits.
  1. Can these changes be appealed or modified by individual states?
  • While states can impose stricter regulations, they cannot weaken the federal standards set by the DOL. In other words, the federal standards are a “floor”. States can set higher standards, but not lower ones.


The DOL's new rule is a significant shift in labor law that will require careful planning and adaptation by Florida's business community, particularly small and mid-sized companies who. Munizzi Law Firm is here to guide you through these changes with tailored legal advice and strategic planning. By understanding the impact this will have on your company, grasping the details of the new regulations, and implementing the outlined compliance steps proactively, your business can roll with the punches and keep pressing forward. 

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