October 20, 2016

What You Need to Know About the Overtime Rule and Higher Ed

D.L. Anderson for The Chronicle
Melissa Bard, associate vice chancellor for human resources at East Carolina U., said her institution is considering converting some full-time employees to nine- to 10-month contracts, or to fluctuating work weeks.
A change in federal labor law, originally scheduled to take effect in December, has colleges and universities scrambling to sort out what to do now that a federal judge has blocked the change.

And with the incipient arrival of the Trump administration, expected to be friendly to businesses and against new regulations, the policy may well never take effect.

Under the new policy, salaried employees would have been due extra pay if they worked more than 40 hours in a week.

The new policy, a change in the Fair Labor Standards Act, would have made more full-time salaried employees eligible for overtime pay. Those employees who earned up to $47,000 per year would have been eligible for extra pay for work over 40 hours a week; currently only those who earn up to $23,000 per year are.

Administrators agree that an update in the rule was overdue. While living costs have risen, the salary threshold hadn’t been changed since 2004. But many observers expected a gradual increase, not a doubling.

The new policy was expected to prove especially challenging for small, private colleges, already facing tight budgets, and campuses outside major urban areas, where living costs and salaries are lower and more employees may be affected.

A federal judge’s injunction has forced institutions to either postpone pay increases and adjustments to hourly employment status or proceed as planned — even though the changes may be moot.

In an action that could have enormous implications for colleges, a judge halted the administration’s move to extend overtime pay to millions more workers just days before the change was to take effect.

An update to labor law requires colleges to give raises to some employees in the time-intensive field, pay them overtime, or scale back their hours.

A change in federal labor law that takes effect in December has institutions scrambling to sort out which salaried employees will be due extra pay if they work more than 40 hours in a week.

Skilled craft workers, including electricians and plumbers, were among the best-compensated hourly employees of colleges and universities, according to a survey released on Monday.

Updated with the latest figures on full-time faculty members, adjunct professors, and staff, The Chronicle's comprehensive data resource makes it easy to dig into pay at more than 4,500 colleges. Submit your data to help show what people in your department earn.

The rule will affect more than just postdoctoral researchers at public institutions. Here’s a quick guide to what you need to know about its potential impact.

The proposal would raise, from $23,660 to $50,440, the annual salary cutoff below which employees are generally eligible for a time-and-a-half wage rate for work that exceeds 40 hours a week, a move that experts say would be costly to colleges.

The proposal would make more workers eligible for overtime pay, and colleges would feel its impact. It’s unclear, however, how many campus jobs might be affected.

It provides rare salary data on some positions, like research and lab assistants, that exist only on college campuses.