Amendments to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), announced earlier this year in mid-May, will significantly expand the pool of workers eligible for overtime pay—and that includes government workers.

The Department of Labor’s (DOL) final rule updating the overtime regulations will automatically extend overtime pay protections to over 4 million workers during the first year of implementation.

The final rule boosts the number of eligible workers by more than doubling the salary threshold that determines coverage. Under the new rules, any salaried employee earning less than $47,476 annually would be entitled to time-and-a-half for work that exceeds 40 hours per week. Currently, the salary cutoff for overtime pay is $23,660. The final rule is scheduled to go into effect Dec. 1.

The final rule applies to workers in local and state governments as well as employees throughout the U.S. workforce. The publication, “Overtime Final Rule and State and Local Governments,” notes that state and local government employers have discretion to choose from four options for complying with the final rule.

Rock Regan, Director of Industry Marketing and Strategy for Public Sector at Kronos, offers his thoughts on the new overtime regulations below. He also tells how Kronos' systems can aid in time and attendance record-keeping. Kronos is a global provider of workforce management solutions.

GPN:  What steps can local governments take to comply with the new U.S. Dept. of Labor overtime rules?

Rock Regan: Here are a couple of areas that governments can concentrate their efforts:
·        Awareness: Have you heard about the proposed regulations that impact overtime?
·        Action: Contact your local counsel to determine how this new rule affects your organization
·         Current processes: How do you handle time tracking today? Will current time tracking practices ensure compliance with the new rule without any change?

·        Scope of impact: Do you know which employees may be impacted by the proposed changes?
o   Employees who make between $23,660 and $47,476 per year
o   How will you determine this? Will you leverage data in payroll systems or manual systems?

·        If you have people who fall into this bucket …
o   Hours worked: Do you typically require the affected employees to work more than 40 hours per week?

•  Are you able to report on their historical hours to understand the potential cost and impact?

•  Have you considered putting these employees into your timekeeping system to manage their time and minimize your compliance risk?

o   Time tracking: How will you start to track the time of employees who will be considered nonexempt under the new FLSA overtime rule?

•  Do you have the capacity to track these employees within your existing timekeeping system?

•  Does your existing timekeeping system provide a full audit trail for demonstrating compliance?

o   Other compensation: Have you thought through the impact on other compensation such as bonuses, accruals, especially compensation time, and other benefits?

·        What’s Your Strategy? Each employer must choose the FLSA strategy that is best for the organization’s overall business needs.

GPN: An attorney tells me that state and local governments will be affected by the new DOL rule. Will cities/counties need to track employees' hours more closely and rely on worker time tracking systems?

RR: You must speak with a qualified to attorney to determine how the new FLSA overtime rule applies to your organization. However, you should be aware that more employees will likely be eligible for overtime when the new rule goes in effect. Therefore, state and local governments will need to determine how to comply with this new requirement, which will most likely require you to keep track of hours worked by the employees who are affected by the new rule.

GPN: Do you have any advice for governments on how they need to respond?

RR: It’s definitely important for state and local governments to ensure that they have evaluated a long-term workforce management strategy when preparing for compliance with the new FLSA changes, leading up to December 1, 2016.

In addition to benefiting from real-time visibility into their workforces, state and local governments must also ensure that manager and employee morale is not impacted. Governments need to automate as many tasks as possible that managers and employees do today. They (governments) need to offer additional platforms to complete these tasks, such as mobile applications.

This will allow managers to lead and coach more, in turn having a positive impact on employee engagement and service. Managers and employees will also, as a result, be more focused on agency or departmental goals versus manually building schedules or tracking time.

Overall, state and local governments need to look at this change in regulations as an opportunity to build upon their long-term workforce management strategy. How an agency or a department approaches this compliance must be weighed in with the impact it will have on turnover, retention, recruitment as well as employee engagement.

GPN: Does Kronos have solutions that local/state governments can set up before the rule takes effect on December 1, 2016?

RR: Yes. State and local governments need real-time visibility into their workforces, and Kronos offers a single system of record from their workforce management and human capital management solutions. Kronos can help agencies/departments minimize compliance risk by accessing high-quality workforce information that’s centralized, comprehensive, and available in real-time. Automated workforce management solutions also help state and local organizations keep pace with regulations as they evolve so governments can apply appropriate policies and rules easily and accurately to help facilitate compliance. As a result, state and local governments will also be able to document that these policies are being applied consistently and fairly throughout the organization.

In the video, learn how Kronos systems and technology can help employers tame worker overtime.

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