July 16, 2018

Breaking News: Overtime Rule Released; Incident Reports to Go Online


Administration Releases Final Overtime Rule  

Administration Releases Final Overtime Rule Late on Tuesday, May 17, the Obama Administration released its controversial final rule expanding overtime eligibility to over four million additional workers. The rule, opposed by One Voice and thousands of other business and non-profit groups, doubles the white-collar salaried overtime exemption from $23,660 annually to $47,476, or $913 per week. The new standards affecting Executive, Administrative, Professional & Clerical Employees (EAP) take effect December 1, 2016.  
Not only is the federal government more than doubling the exemption threshold, the new rule will increase the $47,476 by roughly 10 percent every three years. The initial proposal called for the increase annually; however, following strong objections raised by small businesses and non-profits, the Administration relented on the yearly jump, but will mandate that employers adjust their payroll systems starting in 2020 with the new levels and every three years thereafter.  
The Administration promoted the rule as an effort to grow the middle class; however, the final rule goes further than the draft proposal by increasing the overtime exemption for Highly Compensated Employees to $134,004 annually from $100,000. This is $12,000 higher than the Department of Labor proposed in its initial rule last summer and will make thousands more manufacturing employees, such as those at the VP or Comptroller level, eligible for overtime.  
One Voice filed official comments and joined coalition forces in opposing such a drastic increase in the exemption level virtually overnight. Manufacturers and their HR managers across the country have only six months to adjust their current policies and possibly make significant changes to their budgets to account for increased costs. Most observers believe employers will reclassify affected employees from salaried to hourly status. This will lead to lower worker morale and reduced flexibility for those reclassified.  
Manufacturers are not alone in raising concern over this major rule change. Non-profits and charities, including the American Red Cross, have said they will reduce social and disaster related services due to increased overtime costs for staff. Trade associations will also have to reexamine their annual activities and may limit staff from attending key conferences and supporting members’ activities.



OSHA Finalizes Rule Making Incident Reports Public
The Department of Labor has significantly increased its activity this spring, targeting employers on issues ranging from wages, to recordkeeping, and union organizing. On May 11, 2016, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revealed its long delayed Electronic Recordkeeping rule, also known as "Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses."  
The new requirement forces small businesses with 20-249 employees to electronically submit their Form 300A, which OSHA will then put on the internet for public viewing. Larger manufacturing companies with over 250 employees will submit Forms 300, 300A, and 301 quarterly, which OSHA will also post online. One Voice repeatedly raised concern with the Administration that the information, without proper explanation to the general public, will mislead them to believe that manufacturing facilities are unsafe.  
One Voice is a leader in Washington opposing this new policy that does not improve workplace safety and hurts the image of manufacturing in America at a time when employers are struggling to recruit qualified workers into the industry. The new rule takes effect January 1, 2017.  
In addition to publicly posting the information online, in the rule, OSHA also reiterated its opposition to employee safety incentive programs. The Labor Department believes that rewarding employees for days without an incident or maintaining a safe workplace are disincentives for reporting injuries.