Rather than jump from my wage and hour soapbox — the hella-best soapbox in town — I’m going to step down slowly.
For you, my HR brothers and sisters, I need to testify a bit longer.
Welcome to the Church of Wage and Hour.
About a month ago, I predicted (here) that the new Department of Labor Fair Labor Standards Act overtime rules would take effect on Labor Day. While I continue to stand by that prediction, I did read with interest a story in yesterday’s Bloomberg Daily Labor Report from Chris Opfer and Ben Penn, in which they report that a big bunch of corporate heavyweights ike Wal-Mart and the National Association of Wholesalers are asking Congress and the Obama administration to phase in the new overtime rules over five years or more. These groups anticipate a 60-day period between the time final rule issued and when businesses must start adhering. And, they are concerned that 60 days won’t be enough time to implement the changes.
I reached out to President Obama for comment and he was like…
(By the way, just for the record, that was totally farcical. Lest anyone thought I actually reached out to President Obama for comment).
Maybe, it’s because I’m stubborn. Or, maybe, it’s because I get a little thrill out of saying, ” I told you so.”
Much in the same way that I do my part for the employer community, my friends on the plaintiff’s bar are actively broadcasting to employees about their rights under the FLSA. For example, here’s a post about how business owner is going to jail for not paying overtime. And, here’s one about another big FLSA pitfall: meal break deductions. Between posts like these and the attention that the new overtime rules are receiving, it’s getting tougher to sweep wage-and-hour issues under the rug.
Sure, proactive companies may have to spend a little now to get their house in order before a plaintiff’s attorney shows up bearing gifts. And, by gifts, I mean a collective/class-action lawsuit. But the benefits of hiring an outside employment lawyer to conduct a wage-and-hour audit now far outweigh the potential risks of doing nothing.
Conversely, companies that react to wage and hour issues — hidden or right out in the open — may find themselves literally betting the company.