Media organizations ask Secretary of Labor to consider small businesses

Feb 1, 2022

In January, the National Newspaper Association joined with more than 100 other small business organizations that form the Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity (PPWO) to ask Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh to consult with the small business community before proposing changes to exempt salary thresholds under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Biden administration has announced it expects in April to propose new salary levels, presently at $684 per week or $35,568 a year. Some members of Congress have proposed raising the threshold to at least $82,000 a year. The salary threshold is one prong of a two-pronged requirement for employees who are paid on a salary basis and do not earn overtime pay for work over 40 hours each week.

“This will be a significant rulemaking with respect to cost, difficulty in implementation and impact on the workforce, particularly given the current acute labor shortages,” the organizations said. “Our organizations urge DOL to follow past precedents and hold meetings with the regulated community to obtain input on the potential impact of any changes to the overtime exemption requirements.”

The most recent change to the salary threshold began in 2016 when the Obama administration proposed $47,476 as an annual salary level. That decision was put on hold by a federal judge and revised in 2019 by the Trump administration to current levels.

The Labor Secretary does not require legislation to make the change. Under FLSA, the secretary has the authority to set the exempt salary levels.

NNA Chair Brett Wesner, president of Wesner Publications, Cordell, Oklahoma, said he hoped that the Labor Department would recognize the stresses already burdening small businesses.

“We have not yet emerged from the economic distress created by the pandemic. Most businesses are pushing against many headwinds that are keep people from returning to or accepting new jobs. Putting the federal thumb on this scale to create more hiring barriers will just make conditions worse for the small businesses that the American economy needs,” he said.