Change to federal overtime law will impact some ISU employees

Federal equity audit finds ISU compliant

Pay equity and recruiting a diverse workforce are important at Iowa State. As a federal contractor, the university is required, by law, to take affirmative action to ensure all individuals have equal opportunity for employment. 

The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) periodically audits federal contractors and recipients of federal assistance to determine if the contractor maintains nondiscriminatory hiring and employment practices and is taking affirmative action to avoid making employment decisions with regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, national origin or status as a protected veteran.

In September 2018, OFCCP began an extensive audit of Iowa State. In August 2019, OFCCP notified Iowa State the audit found no violations. This notification is significant because it demonstrates that we are all doing our part in complying with the federal regulations.

Recent revisions to federal labor regulations will increase the number of workers nationwide eligible for overtime pay and will impact some Iowa State employees.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Sept. 24 that it completed the rulemaking process for updating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), raising the weekly salary an executive, administrative or professional employee must earn to be exempt from FLSA overtime provisions. The $455-per-week threshold set in 2004 will increase to $684 per week, effective Jan. 1, 2020. That means the minimum annual salary to qualify as exempt will jump from $23,660 to $35,568, making more Iowa State staff eligible for overtime pay.

Because the FLSA doesn't make a distinction between full-time and part-time work, the salary threshold also applies to part-time employees without proration. 

Iowa State has been planning for the changes, which will affect around 100 employees, said Emma Mallarino-Houghton, university human resources (UHR) classification and compensation director. The effects will be far less widespread than anticipated in 2016, when a proposal to raise the salary threshold to about $47,500 per year was blocked by a federal court ruling.

"The university is aware and is developing a plan for implementation," Mallarino-Houghton said.

UHR will work with supervisors, human resources service teams, and department and unit heads on preparing for the revised regulations. Managers will notify impacted employees, who will receive resources needed to navigate the change.

After working 40 hours in a week, employees covered by FLSA must be paid an overtime rate of at least 50% more than their regular rate for any additional work. ISU workers subject to FLSA regulations due to the revisions will be required to track their work hours with Workday's timekeeping function.

The salary threshold that exempts some workers from FLSA overtime rules applies only to those who qualify for the "white-collar" exemption for executive, administrative or professional employees. The minimum salary for the exemption doesn't apply to some specific professions, including most teachers, certain academic administrators, lawyers and physicians. Merit, student and temporary positions at Iowa State are not exempt from FLSA rules.