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President Obama's Plans to Revamp Overtime Regulations Temporarily Delayed Until After November 2014 Elections

The U.S. Department of Labor's Solicitor, M. Patricia Smith, recently confirmed that the DOL will not meet its self-imposed November 2014 deadline for issuing a proposed rule to overhaul its overtime pay regulations, including those pertaining to the "white collar" overtime exemptions for salaried executives, professionals and administrative employees, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Solicitor Smith, the DOL's chief law enforcer and third highest ranking official, said the proposed rule is months away, but hoped it would be issued early in 2015.

In March, "fixing" the DOL's overtime regulations and exemptions was declared to be a major policy initiative by President Barack Obama. See March 13, 2014 KZA Employer Report. As such, the DOL designated the priority of this regulatory project as "economically significant" and "major" in its semiannual regulatory agenda update, which was issued in late May and identified the DOL's November 2014 timetable for publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). This delay is hardly unexpected as it keeps another hot-button issue off the public's radar screen until after the highly contentious November elections are over.

Given the administrative process the DOL must follow to change its overtime regulations and exemptions, a proposed rule issued in early 2015 could give the DOL almost two years to assess public comments and prepare a final rule, if the DOL wanted to give the underlying issues careful consideration. However, if the DOL decides to fast track this regulatory project, a proposed rule release in January or February 2015 could result in a final rule as soon as early summer 2015

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