New Overtime Pay Rules May Be Coming in 2019

November 14, 2018

Remember when the Obama administration proposed a rule that people making less than $47,500 per year had to be paid overtime? That rule got held up in court and never implemented, but now Washington State is considering raising the state overtime threshold.  If this change goes through, it will affect many nonprofit employees.

Washington State’s Department of Labor and Industries is currently conducting rulemaking to expand overtime pay to more workers in our state. The proposed changes have the potential to impact your nonprofit’s services and employees, so now is the time to start planning for changes. There are two important items for consideration in the latest pre-draft rules:

  • The current draft lists a salary range pegged at 1.5x-3x Washington State’s minimum wage ($37,440 per year-$74,880 per year) as the salary exemption threshold.
  • The Department is proposing changes to the duty criteria for exempting an employee from overtime pay.

Washington Nonprofits is committed to supporting nonprofits and their employees. Nonprofit employees are professionals who serve their communities and deserve to be paid fairly and appropriately for their work. As Washington Nonprofits Executive Director Laura Pierce wrote to the Spokesman-Reviewin response to this article:

Nonprofit workers often receive low salaries in spite of being well-qualified professionals.  For example, a mental health counselor with a master’s degree may receive a starting salary of $38,000—lower than the teacher salaries we often express concern about. Key nonprofit social service staff members like mental health providers, social workers, daycare managers, affordable housing property managers all have jobs with salary ranges likely to be affected by the proposed increased threshold.  As professionals who manage their own time and may at times need to work outside of regular business hours due to the needs of the people they serve, many of these types of jobs are salaried.

These dedicated people on the front lines deserve better compensation.  Our dilemma is that our funding streams do not give us much room to move in this direction.  To raise salaries (or pay overtime), we need more public funding for these basic human services and contracts that pay providers for the full cost of delivering services.  We implore our government leaders and private philanthropy to partner with us to achieve fairer compensation and quality services for our communities.  Together, we can strengthen our communities while recognizing the value of nonprofit professionals.

Because of this, we advise nonprofits to:

  • Expect that rules will be published in 2019 with a salary exemption threshold between $37,440 per year-$74,880 per year. Learn more about the proposal here.
  • Start analyzing what a new salary threshold could mean for your budget and services at different levels.
  • Send examples of the impact to us so we can convey your perspective to the Department during the next comment round.
  • Review the comments we submitted during the most recent feedback round.
  • If you have state contracts, be sure to let the state agency and your legislators know that this rulemaking is taking place, and what it means for your ability to implement the service contract.
  • Watch for local media coverage on this issue and share your organization’s views through letters to the editor and op-eds.
  • Watch for updates from Washington Nonprofits on the rule making by subscribing to our Public Policy and Advocacy Updates email list.

Additionally, the Department will be updating its pre-draft rules and holding another round of listening sessions on its proposed rules this month. The listening sessions scheduled are:

November 27, Seattle
10 a.m. – Overview
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Feedback Session
The Swedish Club, Stockholm Room
1920 Dexter Avenue N.
Seattle, WA 98109

November 28, Yakima
10 a.m. – Overview
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Feedback Session
Hilton Garden Inn, Cascade Room
401 E. Yakima Avenue
Yakima, WA 98901
November 29, Vancouver
10 a.m. – Overview
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Feedback Session
L&I Vancouver Service Office
312 SE Stonemill Drive, Suite 120
Vancouver, WA 98684

If one of the sessions is in your area, please try to have your organization represented so that you can weigh in on the policy proposal. Please contact us with any questions on this issue or to let us know if you will be attending and testifying.

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