Impending federal changes to wage rules

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The following email was distributed on May 5 to all Augusta University employees by Susan Norton, enterprise vice president for Human Resources

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is expected to issue new regulations within the coming weeks that will impact workers in most industries across the nation, including some of our university and health system employees. Please read this communication to learn what is expected, who may be affected and what we are doing to prepare.

As you may be aware, current labor laws differentiate between employees whom employers are required to pay extra for overtime (working more than 40 hours per week) and employees whose duties and salaries exempt them from overtime pay requirements. That’s what the designations “exempt” and “non-exempt” refer to in our time and attendance systems. Exempt employees are paid to perform a specified job for an annual salary without extra compensation for overtime; non-exempt employees are paid an hourly wage based on the specific hours they have logged in TimeNet during the pay period and are eligible for overtime. Generally, exempt employees are paid monthly and non-exempt are paid bi-weekly, except in AU Medical Associates, where pay is bi-weekly.

Two criteria are assessed to determine which group an individual employee falls in: the duties/responsibilities of the position and salary. Currently, a position that satisfies the duties requirements and pays an annual salary of $23,660 or more is exempt. All others are non-exempt. The DOL proposes to raise the minimum salary for an exempt employee to $50,440. The DOL has completed its review of the comments received during the official comment period, is currently considering other feedback and is expected to issue final regulations within a few weeks, at which point they will also designate a date by which all employers must comply. The final regulations may be at the $50,440 level or they may be less.

Human Resources is in the process of reviewing all positions in our university and health system to determine which employees may be affected, and we are planning for final regulations at the proposed salary level of $50,440. We are reviewing each position according to the two criteria for determining exempt employee status, job duties and salary.

We are in the process of working closely with senior leaders (deans and vice presidents) who have employees who will be affected by the change in regulations to determine the most appropriate, most equitable and least disruptive implementation process. It is not known at this point when the regulations will be issued, what exactly they will be and when they must be implemented, though it is expected to be this calendar year.

We understand potentially affected employees will have questions and concerns and we are committed to being as prepared as possible to take action on the new regulations in order to keep uncertainty and speculation to a minimum. Employees who are converted to non-exempt status — and their managers — will need to be informed and trained on how the change affects pay schedules, time keeping, leave policies and more, and that transition process is also being planned for and readied for implementation.

We will provide more information as we have it. After we communicate these impending changes directly to employees, all related information will be posted to as it develops, so please encourage your employees to check it regularly. Once the DOL has officially issued the regulations, affected employees and their managers will be contacted directly.

Susan A. Norton
Enterprise VP for Human Resources


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