U.S. Chamber Position on Fair Labor Standards
The Chamber is a leader in a number of important efforts to modernize our federal wage and hour laws and regulations. We co-chair a coalition supporting reform of the regulations governing overtime eligibility for white collar employees, as well as a coalition that seeks to permit private sector employers to offer their employees the choice of accepting compensatory time in lieu of additional wages for overtime worked.
White Collar Regulatory Reform
The Fair Labor Standards Act exempts executive, administrative, and professional employees from its overtime requirements under regulations established by the Labor Department. On April 23, the Labor Department published the first significant updates to these regulations since they were last comprehensively amended and were out of touch with the modern workplace. Because of this, under the old regulations, what should be a simple task, determining an employee's overtime eligibility, is very complex and even the most well-intentioned employer will often be unsure as to whether he or she has properly classified employees. While not perfect, the regulations are good for employees because they provide added protections for low wage workers AND are good for employers because they provide clearer guidance that will reduce compliance costs and exposure to "gotcha" lawsuits. There is currently a legislative effort, fueled by the mischaracterizations of labor unions and trial lawyers, to stop the regulatory process in its tracks. This effort must be defeated in order to let this important regulatory reform take effect.
>> One Page Summary and Background (PDF)
We strongly support the Family Time Flexibility Act (HR 1119) that was approved by a House Education and the Workforce subcommittee in April 2003. The bill would permit employers to offer employees the choice of taking paid time off (compensatory time) in lieu of overtime pay. This proposal would provide one more tool for employers and employees to balance work and family life by recognizing that for many employees, paid time off is more valuable than money.
>> U.S. Chamber Criticizes Senate Vote on Overtime Regulations — Sep 10, 2003
The Chamber supports legislation that would amend the FLSA to provide certain bonuses and special payments given to employees be excluded in an employees "regular pay rate." Currently, under the FLSA, an employer must recalculate an hourly employee's overtime pay rate when it pays out the bonuses or payments. While no legislation has been introduced this session, bonus/gainsharing legislation was introduced in the 107th Congress (HR 1602).
Inside Sales/Computer Professionals
As mentioned above, the Chamber recommends changes to the outdated "541" regulations under which highly skilled and highly compensated inside sales and computer professionals are not exempt from the FLSA's overtime requirements. The Chamber has received support on the computer professional issues from members of the 108th Congress, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) with S 495 and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) with HR 1997. While inside sales legislation has not yet been introduced in the 108th Congress, Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-OH) continues to be a leader for reform and he has championed reform legislation in the past, such as HR 2070 in the 107th Congress. The Chamber will continue to work with members of the 108th Congress promoting legislative fixes to the inside sales and computer professional FLSA problem.
Updated by the U.S. Chamber's Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits division, June, 2004.