WASHINGTON — Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) has urged Congress to resist legislative intervention in the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) attempt to revise regulations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). DOL has proposed a revision to Section 541 of the FLSA which defines white-collar employee overtime exemptions, and is currently reviewing public comment on these proposed changes.

"ABC believes that the department's proposal for updating Section 541 of the FLSA is a substantial step toward modernizing the definition of exempt and non-exempt employees," stated Kirk Pickerel, president and CEO of ABC. "Opponents claim that DOL's proposed changes to the FLSA will hurt blue-collar workers. This is simply not true. Section 541 applies strictly to white-collar professions, and in fact, DOL estimates that with these changes approximately 1.3 million more employees will be guaranteed the right to overtime pay.

"ABC believes that any congressional attempt to intervene in this process is premature and counterproductive, as DOL officials have not had the opportunity to thoroughly review the public's comments on the proposals. Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress will have an opportunity to review a final regulation should the secretary decide to publish it after full deliberation."

Added Pickerel, "Under the current regulations, it is difficult for employers to determine which employees are exempt from overtime restrictions and which employees are non-exempt. DOL's proposed changes would clarify this process and update language in this regulation that presently includes position descriptions that have been out of date for many years."

According to DOL, the proposed regulatory changes will guarantee overtime pay for any employee making less than $22,100 annually ($425 per week) regardless of the individual's job responsibilities. Current regulations only provide guaranteed overtime pay for workers making less than $8,060 annually.

"The proposed regulations would have a limited impact on the construction industry, as the vast majority of construction employees are non-exempt and qualify for overtime pay," said Pickerel. "Nonetheless, these changes are needed to eliminate the outrageous lawsuits currently facing employers trying to comply with these arcane regulations."

Publication date: 07/14/2003