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Changes ahead for overtime pay

Pennsylvania employees will have more chances to receive overtime pay if proposed regulations from the U.S. Department of Labor are enacted. Under those regulations, the salary threshold for exempt employees will be significantly increased.

Exempt employees are those who are not eligible for being paid overtime. Salary is one determiner of who is an exempt employee, and the Department of Labor wants to increase the threshold amount.

The proposed changes were posted on July 6, 2015 in the Federal Register. Because the proposal received more comments than is usual for a proposed regulation and due to the logistics of implementing the new threshold, this may not come into effect until late 2016. The new proposal calls for the threshold to be raised from $455 per week to $921 per week. Furthermore, highly compensated employees will need a higher annual total compensation to qualify for exemption. Salary and compensation levels will then update automatically in the future. This may be calculated using the Consumer Price Index or by looking at full-time workers' fixed percentile of earnings.

Some employees may not be familiar with their rights regarding whether they qualify for overtime, and when the proposed regulations come into effect, they might be unaware of the increase. This could result in an employee working unpaid overtime. Some employees might also feel pressured into working overtime without extra pay because it tends to be the culture in their workplace or because they feel they will not be promoted otherwise. However, employees who are asked to work overtime without time-and-a-half pay may want to speak to an attorney in order to determine what recourse they may have.

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