Wednesday, November 23, 2016
FLSA overtime rule: Federal judge issues injunction, Illinois suspends its FLSA increases
In the news this week, you may have heard that a federal judge suspended implementation of the new Department of Labor FLSA rule regarding overtime thresholds, the one that would have made academic institutions either 1) pay their postdoctoral fellows at or above $47,456 or 2) track their hours and pay overtime for any hours more than 40 hours a week.
In my opinion, this best place to look for up-to-date information on this is Gary McDowell's Twitter feed. He's the head of Future of Research, a non-profit working on scientific labor issues. They are tracking the wildly divergent responses from academia on this issue; decisions are being made on day-by-day (if not hour-by-hour) basis.
Most relevant to readers of this blog is the announcement that the University of Illinois system is suspending the planned salary increases to postdoctoral fellows.
As far as what may come, I believe all this legal wrangling is moot. The House of Representatives had already made some noises about suspending the FLSA rule, and it is my strong presumption that, on inauguration, President Trump will cancel this rule on the first day in office. That said, we have no real sense as to President Trump's policies on the overtime issue.
I also believe that academic institutions have already figured out how they will deal with this for the coming calendar year, and that the more financially stable institutions (read: private universities) will keep those planned increases, and public universities will choose not to increase their postdoc salaries, or will require tracking of hours worked above 40 hours a week. But who really knows?