New overtime pay rule to affect Arkansas universities

Markets Associated Press

Employees at two Arkansas universities will soon become eligible for overtime compensation under a new U.S. Department of Labor rule.

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Hundreds of University of Arkansas at Fayetteville workers and about 1,000 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences employees will be affected when the rule takes effect Dec. 1, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (http://bit.ly/2fMQvBo ). UAMS will increase the salaries of postdoctoral researchers to keep them from qualifying for overtime pay.

The new rule's final version, announced in May, updates overtime regulations for white collar executive, administrative and professional workers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an estimated 4 million employees nationally are expected to receive overtime pay protections in the first year of implementations.

Previously, white collar workers earning more than $455 per week and working more than 40 hours per week wouldn't be eligible for overtime pay. Under the new rule, employers are required to either raise the affected workers' salaries to over $913 per week or to provide compensation for overtime hours.

Despite the decisions, the universities are still uncertain as to how their budgets will be affected.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined a group of 21 states in September challenging the labor department's new rule.

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"Business owners, sheriffs, mayors and county judges are all concerned about how they are going to implement this rule without being forced to lay off hardworking employees," Rutledge said.

Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute, said he expects the rule to not survive for long given the election of a Republican to the presidency. Eisenbrey's organization supported the rule change.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com