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September 2, 2004

Effect of new Federal Overtime pay Rule Changes at Pitt Unclear

It’s too early to know if Pitt staff will gain or lose overtime pay under a new federal labor rule.

An updated overtime rule in the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act took effect Aug. 23, potentially impacting about 6.7 million workers and their eligibility for overtime pay, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The new rule expands the number of workers eligible for overtime pay, according to the labor department. For example, workers paid less than $23,660 or $455 per week are now guaranteed overtime regardless of their titles or duties.

“The impact is fairly nominal at Pitt,” said Ron Frisch, associate vice chancellor for human resources. “I don’t expect significant changes. Our compensation system is clean and accurate. It’s been challenged and reviewed by the Staff Association Council.” Human Resources overhauled its job classification system and pay ranges in 1999.

Human Resources will review the classifications of approximately 6,752 fulltime and part-time employees to check compliance with the new federal rules. The review should take about a year, Frisch said.

Results of the review, according to Frisch, will be reported to university administrators.

One of the reasons why the new rule might not have a big impact at Pitt is because the state has its own set of labor laws, which are more specific than the federal rules, explained Frisch.

According to state Labor & Industry Secretary Stephen M. Schmerin, “The bulk of workers will get the benefits of the changes to the federal standard, without the negative impact because an employer must pay overtime if either the new federal overtime rules or Pennsylvania law requires overtime payment.”

Nationally, some labor experts are concerned that some workers could lose overtime pay rights.

The new law is “admittedly still somewhat confusing,” Frisch said. He expects some adjustment time for the new rules, as public and legal debates play out nationally.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 37 Issue 1

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