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How the new FLSA overtime rule affects higher ed employees

If you have been following recent news about updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act, you know that changes to overtime rules are coming. The new rules increase the rate under which an employee must be paid in order to be eligible for overtime pay.

While this is generally good news for employees throughout the Houston area, those employed in the field of higher education should know that exceptions exist.

Many Higher Ed Employees Will Not Be Affected By Changes

Unfortunately, many employees in the higher education industry will not benefit from the rule change, even if their salary is within the new salary limit of $913 per week ($47,476 per year). Provisions within the FLSA prevent the following employees from being eligible to benefit from the impending update:

  • Teachers, including adjunct professors, professors and anyone whose primary job duty is teaching.
  • Academic administrators, including academic counselors and department heads, who are paid at an equal or greater rate than new teachers in their organization.
  • Coaches, including assistant coaches. Those whose primary job duty is recruiting or manual labor, however, are not considered recruiters and may be eligible for the overtime rule change.
  • Students who teach or conduct research, including undergraduate and graduate students.

Who Does Qualify For The Change?

While many employees in the higher education field will not benefit from the upcoming law change, a few will. They include:

  • Non-academic administrators
  • Post-doctoral researchers in humanities and sciences, excluding those whose primary duties involve teaching
  • Salaried workers who do not fall into the above-mentioned categories and whose income is lower than the new threshold

Because of the FLSA's teaching exemption, many employees of higher education institutions will not be impacted by the Dec. 1 law change.

Employees who do qualify, however, may find themselves able to reap the benefits of new access to overtime pay, depending on how the institution chooses to approach the new law. Employers will be allowed some flexibility in the way they choose to approach the law. For instance, some may choose to increase salaries to a rate that is higher than the new threshold in order to avoid having to pay overtime to certain employees.

Remember, the law is set to go into effect on Dec. 1 of this year. If you are unsure of whether it will affect you, speak to your employer. If your employer does not give you the answer you were expecting, or you feel that your employer is trying to skirt its obligation to pay you overtime, it may be wise to speak with an employment law attorney.

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