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Adjusting new overtime rules ripe for lame duck Congress

 - New legal advisory outlines station exceptions

With the General Election now history, Congress gets back to work and a full plate of unfinished business starting Nov. 17 after taking much of the year off to campaign, either for themselves, embattled colleagues or the Presidential tickets. Broadcasters and scores of other business interests are hoping that adjusting the Department of Labor’s new overtime rules will be near the top of their to-do list in the four-week lame duck session, but Congress will have to do something it hasn’t in recent memory….work fast.

TAB is among the groups advancing efforts to replace the Obama Administration’s new overtime rules slated to take effect December 1 with a phased-in approach that would increase the salary threshold in four stages over five years. The effort is supported by 406 other business groups from across the nation and centers on legislation authored by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee.

Acknowledging that a responsible increase to the salary threshold is due, the Department of Labor’s immediate increase of more than 100 percent would have a disproportionate impact on a wide variety of industries, sectors and geographic areas of the country. The DOL’s final rule also allows for the threshold to automatically ratchet up every three years without regard for prevailing economic conditions or input from affected businesses.

Alexander’s bill, S. 3464, would initiate the phase-in on December 1 with a substantial salary threshold increase to about $36,000. That increase would be followed by a “pause year” in 2017 to allow employees to review and adjust for the consequences of the new rule. Further increases to the salary threshold would occur annually thereafter until reaching the DOL’s planned new threshold of $47,476 on December 1, 2020.

The measure also would prohibit the automatic increases contained in the DOL’s new rule and require the federal agency to propose changes in the future through the customary notice and comment process.

While many groups have called for outright repeal of the new measure, President Obama would assuredly veto such a measure. The overtime threshold hasn’t changed in decades and political observers believe the President considers this measure part of his enduring legacy after his term ends in January.

Exceptions for broadcasters

Absent Congressional action, TAB’s federal legal counsel, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has issued a new legal advisory detailing some exceptions to the overtime requirements that broadcasters can use.

Review June 22 TAB Overtime Rules Webinar

Questions? Contact TAB's Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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