WSHA raises concerns on 2nd pre-proposal rule changes to exempt employees

January 3, 2019

WSHA recently commented with concerns about the second pre-draft rules by the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) that would expand the class of workers who qualify for overtime pay. The revised proposal would raise the minimum salary thresholds for Executive, Administrative and Professional (EAP) workers, which also include outside sales and computer professionals, so that anyone making under approximately $56,000 would no longer be exempt from overtime pay obligations regardless of the work they perform. Currently, these workers are exempt from overtime pay obligations if they perform exempt duties and make at least the federal salary threshold of approximately $23,000.

Our comments reiterated the concerns we raised in our comment on the first pre-draft rule, particularly the dangers of imposing mechanistic criteria like a “super minimum wage” to determine whether these workers are fairly exempt. We echoed the concerns of the Association of Washington Business about the proposed changes, in particular urging L&I against proceeding ahead of the US Department of Labor’s forthcoming rulemaking on the same issue, which is expected in March 2019. We stressed the importance of consistency between the two sets of rules, as hospitals and health systems must comply with both. We also urged L&I not to institute higher wage thresholds for higher wage areas, such as Seattle and Tacoma, and to create a phased-in implementation to give everyone time to adjust to the changes.

The formal proposal and commencement of the official rulemaking process is expected to commence in early 2019.


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