Preparing yourself, your office, and your executive for the Fair Labor Standards Act

by Melissa Mahoney, CAE

The clock is ticking for companies based in the U.S. to comply with the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) final overtime ruling. The ruling takes effect on December 1, 2016 and one role which will be largely impacted is administrative professionals. By now you probably know the details of the final ruling but if not, here’s a quick summary of the ruling:

  • Standard salary level to qualify for exempt status will be raised from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $913 per week ($47,476 annually)
  • Highly compensated employees minimum salary qualification will be raised from $100,000 to $134,004
  • Automatic updates to compensation levels every three years


Does this impact you? If you are currently classified as an exempt employee (you do not qualify for overtime pay) and you make less than $913 per week then the answer is, “yes.” If it does impact you, what do you need to do? This is a question that is not easily answered. Most companies have already evaluated which employees will be impacted and are in the process of creating a plan to be sure they are compliant when the new ruling takes effect on December 1. That doesn’t mean you know about their plans yet and that can cause some anxiety for admins. You can alleviate that anxiety by addressing the issue with your executive. Here are some tips to help you navigate that conversation:

  • Put your executive’s shoes on for a moment (you do it often as a business partner!). Consider how this change may impact the company from your executive’s perspective. It’s no secret every company is focused on the bottom-line. Your executive is likely looking at the solution from that perspective. Be sure you acknowledge your understanding of that at the very beginning of the conversation.
  • Express your desire to be a part of the solution. You know your workload and time commitments in your role better than anyone else, so approaching your executive with a solution-based agenda opens the door for you to have a collaborative discussion about the best solution for you and your executive.
  • Do your homework. Collect the data you need to truly evaluate the pros and cons of potential solutions. How many hours do you typically work in a week? Are you expected to be connected 24/7? Does your workload have peaks and valleys throughout the year and, if so, when are your busy and slow times?
  • Be honest and direct. Too often people get caught in a viscous cycle of almost saying what they mean—but not quite. That can lead to very unproductive and time-wasting conversations. Despite the misnomer, direct is not a synonym to mean. Truly being direct means you communicate succinctly and effectively. If you have used the tips above and you believe you know what the best solution is for you, your executive, and the company, then say it. If you do not have a defined conclusion, say that. Present the facts and present your case for support or list of pros and cons. Allow your executive to review and respond in the manner that best suits them.

No matter how your company decides to handle compliance with these new DOL regulations, if it impacts you, being proactive in your approach with your executive will at least ensure you are on the same page. It’s especially important since this is the person you partner with each and every day. The reality is that this ruling was intended to favorably impact employees (not employers). As an admin, you don’t want to allow anyone, especially your executive, to assume you are celebrating the positive impact to you as an employee and don’t care about how it impacts your employer. Chances are (unless you’re miserable in your admin role, in which case there are different blog posts you should probably be reading!) you are happy to be positively impacted but you do care very much about how it may impact your company. Let your executive know that and start planning together. It is a great way to express through action how much you value the partnership you have with your executive.


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