During 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will be focusing on building a stronger middle class by addressing workers’ wages, skills, safety, and retirement. These rules will be closely monitored by the Division of Human Resources to determine the impact on our faculty and staff. The regulation to extend overtime eligibility to more Americans has received the most attention, and is anticipated to be approved this summer.

Curtis Powell

Curtis Powell

Many people are unaware that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was enacted in 1938 by President Roosevelt. The passage of the Act introduced the 40-hour work week, established a national minimum wage, guaranteed “time-and-a-half” for overtime in certain jobs, prohibited employment of minors in certain occupations, and prohibited employees and employers from engaging in interstate commerce without an exemption.

To modernize and streamline existing overtime regulations, the DOL has proposed a rule change for the minimum wage provision of the Act. The proposal by the DOL would increase the new minimum salary threshold from $455 per week or $23,660 per year to $970 per week or $50,440 per year for workers classified as exempt under the law. It is estimated that the proposed annual increases in the minimum salary threshold will result in 10 million employees being reclassified from exempt to nonexempt over the next 10 years.

The new minimum salary threshold being proposed by DOL will have a significant impact organizationally, financially, and culturally on colleges and universities. For example, the current minimum salary threshold of the Act is $23,660 per year and several positions—such as postdocs, admissions counselors, financial aid professionals, advancement professionals, recruiters, student advisers, athletic coaches, and mid-level academic and administrative managers and supervisors—may not meet the proposed minimum salary threshold. Thus, staff members in these positions are currently ineligible to receive overtime for hours worked over 40 per week. In anticipation of the new minimum salary threshold being proposed by DOL, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will identify potentially affected exempt staff, and identify and consider options for addressing the new salary threshold being proposed by DOL.


Curtis N. Powell, SPHR
Vice President for Human Resources