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June 23, 2016

Pitt still studying revised OT rules

The University is still studying the new and lengthy federal overtime rules set to take effect Dec. 1, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Ronald W. Frisch told the Staff Association Council (SAC) June 15.

Last month Gregory A. Scott, senior vice chancellor for Business and Operations, told the University in a memo that changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) would give overtime pay to nonexempt employees — those paid hourly — who made up to $47,476 per year, doubling the previous threshold. He cautioned that the new rule allowed for exemptions for certain jobs, and that some employees below the overtime cutoff rate may be reclassified as exempt, or salaried, while others may see a pay rate change “to maintain the exempt classification. Our best estimate is that approximately 2,000 current positions need to be evaluated.”

Frisch told SAC that his department and Scott’s are still trying to figure out the FLSA changes.

“The code has been designed to say, ‘You know, it’s time to recognize people for this time they spend at work.’ The challenge comes in how do you do that fairly and equitably,” Frisch said.

Given that teachers, assistant coaches and postdoctoral students are just a few of the job categories exempt from the new FLSA rules, “we have to figure out what that means,” he said. “We have to still figure out what those exceptions are and how those exceptions apply.

“There’s going to be a lot of caveats to this,” he added. “Stay tuned.”

Frisch, who is retiring July 1 after 21 years at Pitt, thanked SAC once again for establishing the Ronald W. Frisch Staff Professional Development Award during SAC’s spring assembly last month. The award’s fundraising campaign achieved its first $10,000 fundraising goal, garnering $10,124.

“The Frisch Award is really a tribute to you more than me because it recognizes the staff,” he said. “You are behind the scenes making me look good. We quite frankly can’t run the plant without you. We have significant leaders now. We’re here not because we want better vacation time … you’re here because you’re looking at the mission and vision of the University … You are today recognized as a partner to this University, and I think that is a significant accomplishment.”

SAC now has a membership waiting list of 25 people. “That’s why I think it’s a tribute to you that you continue to recognize staff,” he said.

In other SAC news:

• SAC elected four new committee heads: Alex Toner, of the University Library System, to external relations; Clayton Steup, of the dean’s office of the School of Medicine, to operations; Ric Fera, of Computing Services and Systems Development, to health, safety, IT and transportation; and Kathy Hansell-Prigg, of the Systems Neuroscience Institute, to staff relations.

• Matthew Richardson was appointed head of the SAC strategic initiative committee to study staff impressions of the organization and chart new directions for SAC.

—Marty Levine 

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