Waiting on the Feds: Overtime Rules, FMLA Forms Hang in Limbo

by Pat DiDomenico on March 13, 2015

Deadlines don’t mean much inside the Beltway. This month, HR professionals—more specifically, the lawyers who advise HR professionals—are waiting on a pair of tablets expected to be handed down soon from Mount Labor.

Both documents stalled at the U.S. Department of Labor actually do matter to the way you do your business. Here’s why … and the status of each:

New salary threshold for overtime pay. The Department of Labor is working on highly anticipated proposed rules that would make overtime pay available to more than 3 million more management employees. Currently, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lets employers declare certain executive, administrative and professional workers as exempt from overtime pay. The rules say white-collar employees who are paid a salary of less than $455 per week ($23,660 annually) automatically qualify for overtime pay.

In March 2014, President Obama ordered the DOL to update those FLSA rules. The DOL said it would raise that salary threshold. By how much? Possibly doubling it, some experts predict. And what other FLSA changes are coming? Possibly narrowing the duties test of these exemptions, making it harder for employers to classify employees as exempt.

First there was talk of an October release of the new rules. Then, the DOL said February. Now it’s anyone’s guess. In fact, a DOL official speaking at an American Bar Association event two weeks ago said release of the rules are “not imminent.”

You can check for news updates on the rules at TheHRSpecialist.com/overtime2015.  

Updated FMLA Forms … at Least for the Rest of March. Have you looked at your FMLA certification and notification forms lately? If you use the DOL model versions, you may have noticed that they carry a Feb. 28, 2015, expiration date in the upper right corner.

Now that we’re into March, are you breaking the law by using those forms? The answer is no.

On March 1, the DOL did put out updated versions of the core suite of FMLA forms—doctors’ certifications of serious health conditions, notices of rights and responsibilities, and designation notices. But those new forms are only good until the end of the month—they carry March 31, 2015, expiration dates. These new versions were the same, other than the new expiration date.

Practical impact: If past practice holds true, continuing to use your FMLA forms with the Feb. 28 expiration date that you’ve already printed out will still suffice. But, as a rule, it’s always best to use the most current government document.

Will new forms be published by March 31? Quite possibly. They’ll either do another hold-over publication with a different expiration date. Or the DOL is looking at making some substantive changes to FMLA forms, possibly including disclaimers related to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

Again, you can find links to the current forms and updates on news of new forms at TheHRSpecialist.com/fmlanew  

The waa-aai-ting is the hardest part.


Category: HR Soapbox