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Office of Human Resources

2016 Changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act

Frequently Asked Questions


  1. What is the Fair Labor Standards Act?
  2. What is the difference between exempt and nonexempt employees under the FLSA?
  3. What are the 2016 changes to the FLSA?
  4. When will the FLSA changes go into effect?
  5. Who is affected?
  6. Are part-time employees affected?
  7. Are faculty members impacted?
  8. How is FSU planning to handle the changes?
  9. Can I or my department opt out of FLSA changes if we want to handle things differently?
  10. What does all this mean for me?
  11. Will all currently exempt employees under the new salary threshold receive a pay increase to remain exempt?
  12. Are currently nonexempt employees affected?
  13. How will Postdoctoral Scholars be affected?
  14. What about part-time postdocs?
  15. What does it mean for an employee to be "reclassified to nonexempt" due to the FLSA changes?
  16. Why does FSU say the minimum annual salary for employees under the white collar exemption is $47,658.60 when the Department of Labor says $47,476?

1. What is the Fair Labor Standards Act?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the United States' federal wage and hour law, administered by the US Department of Labor (DOL). Among other things, it establishes the federal minimum wage and sets overtime pay requirements for employees in the private and government sectors.

Under the FLSA, some employees are exempt from the wage and overtime provisions of the law and some are nonexempt. The FLSA requires that all nonexempt workers be paid overtime (usually one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay) for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

2. What is the difference between exempt and nonexempt employees under the FLSA?

Exempt employees are considered "salaried" and do not earn any overtime pay for working over 40 hours in a workweek. They must also perform certain types of job duties to qualify as exempt. At FSU, most Administrative and Professional (A&P), Executive Service (AEX), and Faculty positions are FLSA exempt.

Nonexempt employees are considered "wage earning" and must be paid overtime for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek (Fri - Thurs). At FSU, most University Support Personnel System (USPS) and Other Personal Staff (OPS) positions are FLSA nonexempt.

3. What are the 2016 changes to the FLSA?

On May 18, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) released changes to the FLSA that increased the minimum salary required for an employee to be exempt from overtime pay under the "White Collar Exemptions" for executive, administrative, and professional employees, from $455 per week (~$23,660 annually) to $913 per week ($47,658.60 annually based on FSU’s 26.1 pay periods).

Beginning December 1, 2016, an employee must meet the following criteria to be classified as FLSA exempt under the "white collar exemption":

  • Perform primarily executive, administrative, or professional duties as defined under DOL regulations; AND
  • Earn at least $913 per week ($47,658.60 annually based on FSU’s 26.1 pay periods).*

The Department of Labor will automatically update the minimum salary every three years to keep it current.

*A few types of employees may be classified as exempt without meeting the salary minimum, for example teachers, lawyers, and doctors.

4. When will the FLSA changes go into effect?

The final rule changes were released on May 18, 2016. They go into effect nationwide on December 1, 2016. They will go into effect at FSU on November 18, 2016, due to University payroll schedules.

5. Who is affected?

If you are currently classified as an exempt employee, you may be subject to the new minimum salary threshold, which will be increasing with this legislation. If you are currently classified as a nonexempt employee, you will not be affected.

6. Are part-time employees affected?

Part-time employees will be affected if they are currently classified as exempt, but make less than the new salary threshold, $913 per week ($47,658.60 annually based on FSU’s 26.1 pay periods), while working part time.

7. Are faculty members impacted?

Teachers are FLSA exempt, regardless of their annual/weekly salary, if their "primary duty is teaching, tutoring, instructing, or lecturing in the activity of imparting knowledge." See DOL Fact Sheet #17D. Most faculty positions, including all tenure stream positions and all FSUS teachers, qualify as FLSA exempt under this "teaching exemption" and will not be affected by the changes. Non-teaching faculty, such as curators, university librarians, and research faculty will be impacted by these changes.

8. How is FSU planning to handle the changes?

The Office of Human Resources in collaboration with the Office of General Counsel, and Central University Administration, is working to develop an approach to these federal regulatory changes that complies with the law, while having the least negative impact on FSU employees.

Human Resources is currently analyzing all university positions, evaluating impacted job codes, and soliciting feedback from departments to determine the best approach to compliance. At this time, the University anticipates a multifaceted approach that includes the following:

  • A&P employees are the most likely to experience changes due to the FLSA regulation changes.
    • Most exempt A&P employees making less than the new FLSA salary threshold can expect to be reclassified as FLSA nonexempt. Also some exempt A&P employees making more than the new FLSA salary threshold may be reclassified to nonexempt, if their job code as a whole is reclassified. If an A&P employee is reclassified to nonexempt, they will become overtime eligible (pre-approval of any overtime hours will be required) and will have new timekeeping procedures. The reclassified employee's pay, benefits, and leave accrual rates will not change.
    • It is possible that a few exempt A&P employees who are making less than the new salary minimum may receive a salary increase and remain exempt. The University is still reviewing this option to determine which A&P positions, if any, would be appropriate for salary increases based on budgetary constraints, job duties, and market data on prevailing salaries.
  • Most USPS employees are nonexempt and will experience no changes as a result of the new FLSA regulations. A small number of currently exempt USPS positions may be reclassified as USPS nonexempt; employees in these reclassified positions would become overtime eligible (pre-approval of any overtime hours will be required) and will have new timekeeping procedures. A reclassified employee's pay, benefits, and leave accrual rates will not change.
  • OPS employees who are currently FLSA nonexempt will experience no changes as a result of the new FLSA regulations. OPS employees who are currently exempt and make less than the new salary minimum are being evaluated and may be moved to nonexempt status. Any OPS exempt employee moved to nonexempt status will become overtime eligible (pre-approval of any overtime hours will be required) and will have new timekeeping procedures.
  • Part-time employees of all types may be reclassified to FLSA nonexempt if their weekly pay while part-time is under the new FLSA salary minimum for exempt employees. While they are nonexempt, they will be required to track their hours, but their pay rates, any benefits, and any leave accrual rates will not be impacted.
  • Many faculty members will be unaffected by the FLSA changes because they meet the FLSA's "teaching exemption." Some specialized faculty members who do not teach may be impacted (including those working part-time). Impacted faculty members will either: remain exempt and receive pay increases to meet the new minimum, or be reclassified to nonexempt. This determination will be made after evaluation of impacted faculty job codes and all relevant factors. Any specialized faculty reclassified to nonexempt will become overtime eligible (pre-approval of any overtime hours will be required) and will have new timekeeping procedures.

No changes made to any employee's classification will impact their in-unit status for the University's collective bargaining units.

9. Can I or my department opt out of FLSA changes if we want to handle things differently?

No. These changes are driven by changes to federal law that will apply to employees across the United States, not by FSU's policy-makers or individual departments. The University has and will continue to consult with departments across campus on factors impacting FSU's response to these regulatory changes. However, guidelines will be established centrally to ensure the University's response is consistent, non-discriminatory, sustainable, and legally compliant.

10. What does all this mean for me?

In some cases, employee classifications may change from FLSA exempt to non-exempt. If you are in a position that is re-classified from exempt to nonexempt, you will become eligible to earn overtime wages if you work over 40 hours during a given week. This may change the way you report your hours worked, to document the time you are eligible for overtime earnings.

11. Will all currently exempt employees under the new salary threshold receive a pay increase to remain exempt?

No, there is limited funding available to raise salaries to the expected new salary threshold. The University is already proactively looking at salaries and specific job codes. While some adjustments may occur, they will be based on many factors so employees should not automatically expect a salary increase due to the legislation.

12. Are currently nonexempt employees affected?

No, employees currently in nonexempt positions will not be affected.

13. How will Postdoctoral Scholars be affected?

The FLSA overtime changes will impact FSU postdocs. The University is setting a new minimum salary for full-time postdocs in all departments at the new FLSA salary minimum, $913 per week ($47,658.60 annually), which will keep them FLSA exempt (overtime ineligible).

  • By August 1, 2016, all new proposals must include the new minimum salary level for postdocs.
  • Current full-time postdocs making below the new minimum will receive salary increases to bring them up to the new salary amount when the FLSA changes go into effect at FSU, November 18, 2016.
  • New full-time postdocs with a November 18, 2016 or later start date, must be hired at or above the new salary minimum.
  • New full-time postdocs hired between now and November 18, 2016, should be hired at or above the new salary minimum, if possible, to assist the transition to the new minimum. However, they may be hired at a previously budgeted amount that is below the minimum at the start of the fall 2016 semester with the expectation that the postdoc salary must meet the new minimum by November 18, 2016.

The University plans to provide temporary bridge funding to assist with the initial costs of raising salaries for current full-time FSU postdocs who are making less than the new salary minimum; however, departments and principal investigators will need to begin factoring these costs into their budgetary planning, including salary budgeting for contracts and grants. Departments will be notified of the final bridge funding arrangement over the next few months as the plan is finalized.

14. What about part-time postdocs?

Postdocs making less than $913 per week, due to part-time employment, will become FLSA nonexempt (overtime eligible) and be entitled to overtime compensation if they work over 40 hours in a single university workweek. At a minimum, postdocs appointed part-time should receive a salary that is proportionate to the new salary minimum (prorated by their Full Time Equivalent (FTE)).

  • For example, a postdoc is hired at 0.75 FTE with an annual salary of $35,500.00. This employee is FLSA nonexempt (overtime eligible). If the postdoc works 42 hours in a single week, they would earn 2 hours of overtime.

If a part-time postdoc continues to earn at least $913 per week while working their regularly scheduled hours in accordance with their FTE, they will remain FLSA exempt (overtime ineligible).

  • For example, a postdoc is hired at 0.75 FTE with an annual salary of $48,000.00. This employee remains FLSA exempt (overtime ineligible). If the postdoc works 42 hours in a single week, they would not be eligible to earn overtime for the 2 hours.

It is imperative that schedules for part-time postdocs accurately reflect the appointed FTE. If a postdoc is consistently working more hours per week than their regularly scheduled hours in accordance with their FTE, the workload should be reassessed and the FTE updated to reflect the hours being worked accurately. Also, be aware that part-time appointment of postdocs may negatively impact their benefits eligibility. Please contact the Office of Human Resources with any questions.

15. What does it mean for an employee to be "reclassified to nonexempt" due to the FLSA changes?

Employees who must be reclassified to nonexempt will become eligible for overtime and will have more detailed timekeeping requirements, but their job duties will not change as a result of the FLSA changes.

They will stay in their current university pay plan (A&P, USPS, OPS, Faculty), retaining all of the attributes of the pay plan (leave plans, benefits packages, employment contracts, etc.).

  • For example, an A&P employee who is currently exempt (overtime ineligible) whose job code is moved to nonexempt (overtime eligible) due to the FLSA changes would become "A&P nonexempt."

Their regular rate of pay, job duties, benefits (leave accrual rates, retirement, health insurance, etc.), and any union membership eligibility will not change. Nonexempt employees are still held to the high performance standards already existing for their work.

Employees impacted by the FLSA changes will be notified before any changes are made to their FLSA classification and offered training on any timekeeping changes.

16. Why does FSU say the minimum annual salary for employees under the white collar exemption is $47,658.60 when the Department of Labor says $47,476?

The annual salary figure for FSU differs slightly from the annual salary published by the Department of Labor because FSU has 26.1 pay periods in a year. Ultimately, the weekly salary determines whether an employee meets the salary test for FLSA exempt status. The Department of Labor's $47,476 annual salary estimate is based on $913 per week with an assumption that an employer is calculating the annual salary figure based on 26 pay periods in a year. However, at FSU the annualized rate is slightly higher because we have an extra 0.1 pay periods:

  • $913 (weekly FLSA minimum) x 2 (weeks in a pay period) x 26.1 (pay periods per year) = $47,658.60

Questions? Please email Sarah Mirkin at smirkin@fsu.edu.