Overtime Rule Injunction! A Five-Minute Conversation Manages this Employee Relations Hot Button

NEWSLETTER Employee Relations Hot Button_Two Professional Men

Employers across the country have been preparing for the December 1st deadline to comply with the Department of Labor (DOL) changes to the FLSA overtime exemption rule. I am sure you have heard by now that a Texas federal court judge issued an injunction, putting things on hold.  So, What Now? 

 Considering the upcoming administration change, the DOL position that the new rule is still appropriate, and of course, the court of public opinion in play, who knows what we will end up with, or how long it will take us to get there?  

While small business owners may experience initial relief, many of you are faced with the potential fallout from employees because of changes they were anticipating by the December 1st deadline. Although they would now get overtime for working over 40 hours, some Exempt employees were feeling “demoted” to have to move to Non-Exempt status, yet others reported feeling the imminent change would finally give them the pay they deserve for long workweeks. Some exempt managers were told their salary would be raised to new minimums, but they would be taking on different duties with the higher pay and they were adjusting accordingly.  Even small changes in pay can be a stressor; add in this uncertainty and you could end up with an employee in a high-anxiety state. Affected staff, like you, also want to know, “So, What Now?”

As most small business owners don’t have an in-house HR department, the responsibility to address this rests firmly on your shoulders. The good news is that by getting ahead of this using the same communication style that reflects your strong organizational culture, a quick conversation should keep everyone on the same page.   

  • You must be transparent. Lack of sincerity or attempts to manipulate information will undermine Trust, the foundation of your strong Company Culture. 
  • Make your decision about how you will handle any affected individual. 
  • Let me rip the band-aid off and tell you if you already gave a raise, you should probably leave it alone. As a matter of fact, if you already made any of the changes ahead of the deadline, you may be better off leaving them until the final ruling. 
  • Create talking points, stating facts and avoiding editorializing. 
  • Have one-on-ones with affected employees to discuss their specific situation, and what you will do in light of the injunction. If you decide to leave employees exempt pending the outcome, reassure them that regardless of what is finally decided, their work is valued, and you are committed to ensuring they have a balanced workload and are being paid fairly. 
  • Listen to and address any questions or concerns. 

If you have concerns about being able to deliver any of these bullet points or believe you may experience some negative employee feedback, you may need to do some long-range work to move your organization toward more intentional cultural development while we are waiting for further development on the DOL ruling. 

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