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Navigating the New Federal Overtime Rule Phases: Employer Action Plan

New Department of Labor DOL Overtime Rule

May 8, 2024

As employers across the United States prepare for the implementation of new overtime rules, it's crucial to understand the intent and phased approach outlined in the Final Rule. This rule updates and revises regulations under section 13(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, affecting the exemption from minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for executive, administrative, and professional (EAP) employees. The primary purpose of these changes is to expand overtime protections, requiring employers to either raise salaries for exempt employees to meet the new thresholds or pay overtime if those thresholds are not met. These significant adjustments in salary and overtime structures will require strategic payroll and employee classification decisions by employers nationwide.


Phased Implementation of the New Overtime Standards


The Final Rule introduces changes in three key phases:

  1. First Phase (Effective July 1, 2024): The salary threshold for the white-collar exemptions will increase to $844 per week ($43,888 per year), and the minimum salary level for highly compensated employees will jump to $132,964 annually. This initial phase sets the stage for broader changes and requires immediate attention from employers to adjust their payroll structures.
  2. Second Phase (Effective January 1, 2025): The salary threshold for white-collar exemptions will rise further to $1,128 per week ($58,656 per year). Concurrently, the annual salary for highly compensated employees will increase to $151,164. This marks a significant hike, particularly affecting those who were close to the previous threshold.
  3. Third Phase (Starting July 1, 2027): Salary thresholds will be updated every three years, using up-to-date wage data to determine new salary levels. This ongoing adjustment process ensures that salary thresholds keep pace with economic changes, affecting long-term planning for employers.


Employer Preparation Across Phases


Given these phased changes, employers need to develop a comprehensive strategy that addresses each phase effectively:

  • Phase 1 Preparation: Employers should immediately identify employees who are currently near the threshold of $43,888. Decisions need to be made whether to increase their salaries to maintain exempt status or to reclassify them as non-exempt, making them eligible for overtime.
  • Phase 2 Planning: With the significant increase in 2025, employers have a bit more time to prepare but should begin forecasting budget impacts and potential restructuring now. It might be advantageous to start gradual salary adjustments or to strategize on workflow efficiencies to manage increased labor costs.
  • Long-Term Strategy for Phase 3: Establishing a protocol for regularly reviewing and adjusting salaries every three years in response to the new thresholds will be crucial. This proactive approach will help mitigate compliance risks and manage financial implications efficiently.


Action Steps for Employers


  1. Audit and Classify: Conduct a detailed audit of your workforce to identify which employees will be affected in each phase. Classification decisions should be documented and clear.
  2. Financial Analysis: Assess the financial impact of either raising salaries to maintain exemptions or paying overtime. Consider long-term financial planning to accommodate the higher thresholds for highly compensated employees.
  3. System Updates: Ensure that your payroll and timekeeping systems can adapt to these changes seamlessly. This includes the capability to update salary thresholds and manage overtime calculations for a potentially larger group of non-exempt employees.
  4. Employee Communication: Develop clear communication plans to explain these changes to your employees, addressing how their compensation and work hours might be affected. Maintaining transparency can help manage expectations and maintain morale.
  5. Legal Consultation: Stay informed about legal developments related to these rules and consult with employment law experts to ensure full compliance and to strategize responses to potential legal challenges.


The phased increases in overtime salary thresholds represent a significant shift in labor law that will affect many employers and employees alike. By taking proactive steps to understand, prepare for, and adapt to these changes, employers can ensure compliance while minimizing disruption to their operations and workforce. Please don’t hesitate to contact your Faw Casson advisor with any questions.

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