Senate Republicans to Administration: Give the Public More Time to Weigh in on Overtime Proposal

In letter to Labor Secretary Perez, 10 senators urge an extension of the public comment period on overtime proposal

Posted on July 24, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 24 – Senate labor committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today led a group of 10 Republican senators in urging the administration to give the public “a reasonable opportunity” to review and respond to its proposed rule to make drastic changes to existing overtime eligibility.

Alexander said: “Our workers and small businesses deserve more time to adequately review this significant and costly new regulatory proposal. I hope the administration could also use more time to consider how its proposal could hurt those American workers it’s intended to help, through reductions in their hours and diminished workplace flexibility, while adding expensive, time consuming compliance burdens to small businesses.

He added: “Rather than issuing mandates that will only hurt small businesses, the Department of Labor and the Obama Administration should instead pursue policies that will create better job opportunities, more workplace flexibility and enable hard working Americans to have greater control over their work lives.”  

On July 6, the Department of Labor issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to make significant changes to existing overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The DOL proposal will more than double the current salary threshold level for exemption from overtime requirements, and automatically update that level annually.

In a letter to Labor Secretary Tom Perez, the Republicans warn that the administration’s proposal would impose heavy burdens on employers in vital industries, from restaurants and retail, to manufacturers and non-profits, impacting their ability to create new jobs and maintain existing ones.

“As written, DOL’s proposal would substantially increase the number of workers who qualify for overtime pay, which presents complex questions that must be carefully considered by impacted individuals and entities across numerous industries, which are vital to our economy. For employers – many of which are small businesses – the process of reviewing the NPRM, weighing its potential administrative burdens, business implications, and compliance concerns, and submitting feedback in writing will be incredibly time consuming. The current 60-day comment period is simply inadequate to properly evaluate DOL’s proposal and complete these important steps,” the senators write.

The letter is signed by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Tim Scott (R-S.C.) Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and James Lankford (R-Okla.).

The full text of the letter is as follows and online here:

 

July 24, 2015

 

The Honorable Tom Perez

Secretary

United States Department of Labor

200 Constitution Avenue Northwest

Washington, DC 20210

 

Dear Secretary Perez:

We are writing to request that the public comment period for the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) July 6, 2015, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on overtime pay be extended for at least an additional 60 days to allow a reasonable opportunity to review the proposal and thoughtfully respond.

DOL’s proposal is nearly three times as long as the agency’s 2003 proposal (68 FR 15560), but the agency has granted a significantly shorter comment period for the current proposal. The current NPRM spans nearly 100 pages in the Federal Register, and carries a 60-day comment period, which is far shorter than the 90-day comment period granted by DOL for its mere 37-page proposal in 2003.

Among the proposed changes, DOL aims to more than double the current salary threshold under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) overtime exemption for administrative, executive, and professional employees. DOL also proposes to update this threshold level annually on the basis of a metric the agency has yet to determine.

As written, DOL’s proposal would substantially increase the number of workers who qualify for overtime pay, which presents complex questions that must be carefully considered by impacted individuals and entities across numerous industries, which are vital to our economy. For employers – many of which are small businesses – the process of reviewing the NPRM, weighing its potential administrative burdens, business implications, and compliance concerns, and submitting feedback in writing will be incredibly time consuming. The current 60-day comment period is simply inadequate to properly evaluate DOL’s proposal and complete these important steps.

In order to ensure a thorough public record with all relevant feedback and accurate data, more time is needed. Therefore, we encourage the Department to allow full public participation in the rulemaking process by extending the comment period for its NPRM by a minimum of 60 days.  

We appreciate your prompt attention to this request, and look forward to staying apprised of further developments.

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