School & District Management

Federal Rule Could Require Overtime Pay for More School Employees

By Evie Blad — October 03, 2023 2 min read
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School districts would be required to provide overtime pay to more employees under a proposed federal rule that is open for public comment until Nov. 7.

The rule, published by the U.S. Department of Labor in September, would raise the minimum salary threshold for worker exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act by about 55 percent, leading more non-teaching employees to qualify for overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a week.

Since 2019, eligible employees have qualified for overtime pay if their annual salary is less than $35,568. The Biden administration proposal would raise that threshold to $55,068 annually, which is about $1,059 weekly.

That could lead to additional expenses for school districts—along with additional requirements to track and document employee work hours.

The FLSA, a national labor law, exempts teachers and school administrators. But employees like school nurses, athletic trainers, and librarians who were previously exempt from overtime requirements may now qualify under the new rule, the Texas School Boards Association told its members in an advisory. The rule will also cover some part-time employees, depending on the nature of their jobs and schedules, the organization advised.

The TSBA suggested it may be easier for school districts to raise some employees’ pay to an exempt level if their current salary falls slightly below the proposed cutoff.

National education organizations have also taken note of the proposed change. AASA, the School Superintendents Association; the Association of School Business Officials International; the Association of Educational Service Agencies; and the National Association for Pupil Transportation all signed onto a Sept. 25 letter to the Labor Department, requesting more time to review and comment on the rule. The letter was also signed by dozens of organizations representing trade groups and public sector employers.

“These are significant changes that will have a massive impact on the economy and millions of current and future workers,” said that letter, which was also signed by dozens of organizations representing trade groups and employers across a variety of sectors.

The Labor Department estimates that 3.4 million currently exempt workers across all industry sectors would qualify for overtime pay under the new rule.

The Biden proposal is similar to a 2016 rule by the Obama administration that would have raised the minimum salary threshold for exemptions to $47,000.

A federal judge struck down that proposal before it could take effect after business groups and 21 states sued to stop it, arguing that the Labor Department exceeded its authority and set the threshold too high.

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