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ADA comments on proposal for overtime pay changes

September 01, 2015

By Michelle Manchir

Washington — The Association Sept. 1 urged the U.S. Department of Labor to reconsider its proposed rule to expand the number of full-time salaried workers eligible for overtime pay.

In a letter to the director of the Division of Regulation, Legislation and Interpretation, ADA President Maxine Feinberg and Executive Director Kathleen O’Loughlin said the revision could leave some dental employers affected by the change with the options of raising fees, which could be detrimental to millions of American already struggling to pay health care bills, or limiting the hours some employees work, which is not realistic for many dental practices because of after-hours emergencies and other patient problems that make working hours unpredictable.

“We urge the Department to reconsider its proposed change to the salary test as it applies to dental practices. Doing so will help prevent a rise in health care costs for our most vulnerable citizens,” Drs. Feinberg and O’Loughlin state in the letter.

The proposed change to the Fair Labor Standards Act would revise a minimum salary level test that helps determine whether a full-time salaried employee is exempt from federal overtime pay rules. Other tests, which include evaluating the nature of the employee’s duties and whether the salary is predetermined and fixed, would not be affected.

Under the proposed rule, according to the ADA letter, any dental practice with over $500,000 in annual dollar volume would have to pay overtime wages to salaried employees who are currently exempt and paid between $455 a week ($23,660 annually) and $921 a week ($47,892 annually.)

Responses from the ADA’s volunteer leaders suggest around 39 percent of all dental offices have at least one employee in a salaried position, according to the letter. Factoring out annual dollar volume, the proposed rule could impact approximately 20 percent of all dental practices, depending on how many employees are currently exempt, the salaries they receive and whether they typically work more than 40 hours per week, the letter states.

The Department of Labor could issue a final rule in the next few months, and put the regulation in place as soon as early 2016. The last round of overtime and salary exemption rule changes, in 2004, were under review for almost a year.