By Tiffany Bloyer
It isn’t every day when a Human Resources Director from a small local government in Pennsylvania travels to Washington, DC. But, that opportunity presented itself to me and two other HR advocates earlier this month.
We had the opportunity to meet with federal officials face-to-face to talk about the proposed Fair Labor Standards Act overtime rule and its impact on the public sector.
As an HR Director for a local county government in Pennsylvania, we are limited in funds and are required to be fiscally sound at the expenses of the taxpayers. A salary threshold that might work in San Francisco, California will not work in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.
Please don’t get me wrong... I will be the first to advocate for a change to the minimum salary, but not to the extreme level proposed by DOL. I explained to policymakers in Washington that we can’t afford to cut positions or programs that are imperative to society and the good of the people. Unfortunately, in the public sector world, we can’t make more widgets and we can’t drastically increase funding. This places our local government in a very challenging situation.
When I was in Washington, I also explained how this rule impacts the workplace autonomy and flexibility so valued by my employees. In Franklin County and elsewhere, being an exempt employee allows for flexibility, and balance, allowing supervisors to work and get the job done in the pace that is best for them personally and their employees.
The proposed regulation will change all of this. To most, becoming an exempt employee is the next step in their career. It provides the ability to supervise, to work independently, and to have a great impact in our organization. For HR Directors like me, it’s going to be a challenge to communicate to employees in their current exempt role that they can no longer be exempt due to a dramatic increase in the salary threshold.
It’s like any other HR issue, if someone doesn’t understand, it’s our job as HR professionals to educate. That’s what we did on our recent trip to Washington. But, I believe more voices are needed. The time to act is now. Write letters, make the phone calls, travel to Washington, do anything you can to make sure policymakers understand how the proposed overtime regulations will impact employers and employees.
Human Resources Director
Franklin County Government