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Higher-Ed Groups Criticize Obama’s Overtime-Pay Proposal

A coalition of higher-education organizations on Friday criticized the Obama administration’s proposed changes in federal rules on overtime pay that would raise the annual salary cutoff below which workers are generally eligible to receive such pay.

Employees who make below $23,660 annually are generally eligible for a time-and-a-half wage rate for work that exceeds 40 hours a week. The proposed change would lift that salary threshold to $50,440.

President Obama’s administration has estimated that the change could benefit millions of workers. But experts have said it could be costly for colleges, most of whose workers are employed outside of teaching roles, which are exempt from the proposed rules.

“We agree that an increase to the minimum salary threshold is due and that [the U.S. Department of Labor] must update the salary levels and regulations from time to time to ensure the exemptions are not abused. The proposed minimum salary threshold, however, is simply too high,” stated a letter to the Labor Department that was written by officials with the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources and sent on behalf of 18 higher-education groups.

The letter warned that the new rules would force colleges to reclassify many workers to hourly status and said such a move “would be to the detriment of employees, institutions, and students.”

The groups urged the department to consider lowering the new proposed salary cutoff and to phase in the new level over time.

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