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DOL Issues Guidance Regarding Impact of New Overtime Rules to Higher Education

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On May 18, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance regarding how the new FLSA regulations governing overtime compensation eligibility rules impacts colleges and universities.

The DOL’s guidance reminds colleges and universities that special regulations apply to certain higher education personnel, and therefore, many “white-collar” employees are not subject to the new salary threshold for overtime.

First, teachers in higher education institutions will continue to be exempt – notwithstanding the new salary threshold –  if their primary duty is teaching, tutoring, instructing, or lecturing in the activity imparting knowledge.  Examples of teachers may include:

  • Faculty members
  • Adjunct instructors
  • Postdoctoral fellows, if primarily engaged in teaching
  • Athletic coaches whose primary duty is to instruct student-athletes in how to perform their sport, but not recruiters

Students acting as teaching or research assistants working under a professor also are exempt notwithstanding the new salary threshold, as their positions are considered “educational.”

Academic administrators will continue to be exempt, provided their primary duty is performing administrative functions directly related to academic instruction or training. However, such employees must also be paid a salary not less than the new threshold, or at least equal to the entrance salary for teachers in the same educational establishment.  Examples of academic administrative employees may include:

  • Department heads
  • Academic advisors/counselors

To read a full analysis of the new overtime rules, please click here to access an alert authored by Rodney L. Bean.

Institutions should audit their current employee classifications to ensure compliance with the new overtime regulations.  While the DOL’s guidance is helpful in applying the overtime rules, the job duties of each position must be carefully evaluated to determine its proper classification.  Steptoe & Johnson’s Higher Education Team is prepared to assist institutions in navigating these complex rules.

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