NATSO urged the Department of Labor (DOL) to refrain from making dramatic changes to the Overtime Rule that would expand the universe of employees eligible for overtime pay, arguing that significant changes to the salary threshold and duties test would harm the very employees that they are designed to help. The Trump Administration is reexamining the rules governing overtime pay in the wake of the Obama Administration's effort recently being struck down by a federal court.
NATSO submitted comments to the DOL Sept. 25 in response to a Request For Information from industry that was opened after DOL Secretary Alexander Acosta testified before Congress that an overtime increase was necessary.
The Obama Administration sought to increase the minimum salary required for overtime-exempt employees to $47,476 annually from $23,660. A federal judge in November 2016 issued a nationwide injunction against the DOL's regulation; the same judge struck down the rule in August 2017.
Because the rule was scheduled to take effect just days after the federal court issued that stay, many NATSO members had already adjusted their practices to conform to the new rule.
In its Sept. 25 comments, NATSO urged the agency to refrain from changing the duties test used to determine whether an employee holds an exempt or non-exempt status and opposed the establishment of multiple salary levels (depending on region, industry, etc.). NATSO also urged the agency not to automatically update the salary threshold, but rather review it sporadically to ensure it continues to serve its intended purpose.
NATSO said unduly aggressive changes ultimately would harm businesses and employees by negatively altering hours worked and benefits as well as disrupting some of the most fundamental attributes of running a successful, efficient truckstop.
In anticipation of the Obama Administration's rule, for example, most general managers of quick-service restaurants located in truckstops, as well as some managers of convenience stores operated by truckstops who were previously exempt and paid on a salary basis were converted to hourly to enable employers to more closely track and monitor employee hours. Such transitions often lead to a loss of morale for both line employees and managers. Employees mistakenly view the change as a demotion and managers appear to be at the same organizational hierarchy as the employees they manage.
The current duties test also accommodates a work environment where managers frequently must step in to help their employees to ensure that operations run smoothly, such as stocking shelves or running a cash register in addition to their primary duties as managers.
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