Paul DeCamp Quoted in “Proposed Overtime Rules Take the Middle Road”

Business Insurance

Paul DeCamp, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC office, was quoted in Business Insurance, in “Proposed Overtime Rules Take the Middle Road,” by Judy Greenwald.

Following is an excerpt:

The U.S. Department of Labor’s long-awaited overtime proposal was apparently conceived to ensure as smooth an enactment process as possible, experts say.

The proposal issued by the department earlier this month avoids any controversial issues likely to lead to litigation that might stall its enactment, say experts.

These include clauses on periodic escalation of salaries, geographical distinctions and a change in job duties, experts say.

In part because of this, observers generally expect the proposal to go into effect as planned in January 2020. The Obama administration generated significant controversy, which led to a federal district judge in Texas striking down the proposal.

“Basically, the department’s proposal is about as plain vanilla as you can get for a wage-and-hour proposal these days,” said Paul DeCamp, a member of Epstein Becker & Green P.C. in Washington. “It is difficult for anybody, regardless of where they are on the issue, to be too upset about this proposal.”

The department suggested employers must pay overtime to workers who earn less than $679 a week, or $35,308 per year. This is an increase from the $455 threshold, or $23,660 a year, under the current standard, which was set in 2004, but less than the $913 a week, or $47,476 annual salary, that had been proposed by the Obama administration.

Experts point out that the proposed hike falls in the middle between the current level and the Obama administration’s proposal.

The current proposal will impact a little more than a million people, “whereas the prior proposal was going to affect more than 4 million workers,” Mr. DeCamp said. …

“I think they did it with a goal of not making any waves,” said Mr. DeCamp. “This DOL is a particularly no drama-focused department.” Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta “is a cautious, careful incremental kind of guy,” he said.

“He doesn’t want to take big risks. He doesn’t want to issue proposals that are going to draw a lot of criticism, so he is revising these regulations in a fairly straightforward, incremental and transparent manner,” Mr. DeCamp said.

“What they’ve done here is very much consistent with what the secretary has been saying for about two years now, in terms of the salary level and the other aspects of the regulation,” he said. …

Many employers, particularly large firms, had already increased the threshold in response to the Obama administration’s proposal, experts say.

Businesses with more than 5,000 employers “have tended to be out in front of these issues, and those employers by and large made their changes in advance of when the Obama rule would have gone into effect, meaning those changes were in place before the court struck down the rule,” said Mr. DeCamp. Most of those employers did not then turn around and undo the change.

“However, a lot of smaller employers did not implement the change in the first place, or they went back once the court in Texas invalidated and restored their old practice, so there are plenty of smaller employers that converted people twice in a relatively short period of time from exempt to nonexempt, and back to exempt.”