Skip to content

Who Should Be Overtime-Eligible? Our Meeting With Tom Perez, Secretary of Labor

CUPA-HR President and CEO Andy Brantley with DOL Secretary Tom Perez

CUPA-HR President and CEO Andy Brantley with DOL Secretary Tom Perez

On May 20, we had the great opportunity to meet with Labor Secretary Tom Perez to talk about potential changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). We were invited to a special listening session along with several representatives from SHRM.

We arrived at the Department of Labor (DOL) for our 4 p.m. meeting with the secretary at around 3:20 p.m. It took a few minutes to get through the metal detector and have our special name badges printed (I’m sure this is a security measure to verify who is actually meeting with the secretary). We walked down a long wide hall with really, really tall ceilings to a bank of elevators. We exited the elevators on the second floor and walked into a conference room with a large, skinny rectangular table just outside the secretary’s office. Name cards had been set up at every chair.

My name was directly across the table from the secretary. To my right was Hank Jackson, president of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). My CUPA-HR colleagues, Peter Barnes from Emory University, Yohna Chambers from Virginia Tech, Brenda Malone from Georgetown, Rob Shomaker from CUPA-HR and Josh Ulman from CUPA-HR were seated at various locations around the table with SHRM colleagues representing various employment sectors.

After brief introductions and introductory remarks, we focused on three key areas of the FLSA: the salary threshold, the duties test and the secretary’s (and the president’s) interest in simplifying the regulations. In fact, the secretary said, “What changes, if any, should there be to the duties test?”

The secretary and his staff listened, and the secretary asked great questions. It was very clear that changes will be made. The salary threshold will go up, but I do believe they seek our guidance on the potential impact that a change could have on our organizations. I also believe that the secretary and his staff understand the significant compliance burden already faced by HR and that they wish to work with us to the degree that they are able to do so.

From left: Brenda Malone, Andy Brantley, Peter Barnes, Rob Shomaker, Yohna Chambers and Josh Ulman

From left: Brenda Malone, Andy Brantley, Peter Barnes, Rob Shomaker, Yohna Chambers and Josh Ulman

Our colleagues Peter Barnes, Yohna Chambers and Brenda Malone offered great insight into the unique challenges for higher education, and the secretary acknowledged his past higher ed work experience! They helped me emphasize the complexity of our higher ed institutions. I am also grateful for the help, guidance and support that we received from our VP and COO, Rob Shomaker, and our chief government relations officer, Josh Ulman. Josh did a phenomenal job of working with our SHRM colleagues to make this opportunity possible. He also did a great job of helping us prepare for our meeting with the secretary.

It will be many months before we see draft regulations, but I do think our dialog with the Secretary and his staff will have an impact on the regs. I also have every reason to believe that the dialog we began at this meeting will continue during the coming months.  Meetings like this underscore our responsibility to lead regarding public policy. Sitting back and reacting is too often the strategy that we, as HR professionals, take. Yes, we will always be busy, but we will be even busier with unnecessary administrata if we don’t make public policy leadership a critical part of our responsibility as HR leaders and as leaders of our colleges and universities.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
  • Greg Walters

    Great job everyone! Before Andy’s arrival, the national board had a vision, an inkling of the kind of impact that the CUPA-HR CEO and CUPA-HR could have at this level, contibuting to the shaping of regulations and laws affecting higher education and working with other HR Associations and organizations. Andy came and quickly solidified the vision and probably took it even further. For years now, with the help of his great staff and colleagues around the country, he has lived the dream and represented us so well. This is just one clear indication of such.
    Greg Walters
    University of Idaho

  • jaspelund

    This is a great start. Would you consider putting a representative or two from a Community/Junior College (one from urban area and one from rural area) on this panel. 2 year schools very often have some different issues not found at 4 year colleges and universities including higher number of adjuncts employed (faculty to adjunct ratio), rural community settings, condensed class schedules, etc. CUPA-HR has done alot to give 2 year schools a voice and we appreciate being included in these conversations.
    Jan Aspelund
    Colorado Mountain College

  • Jackie McClain

    I agree that this is a giant step in the right direction. Andy’s leadership and the excellent work of our staff and volunteers have positioned us to have a voice in policy decisions which have a unique impact in higher education. Thanks to all. Keep up the good work and know that even we retirees support these efforts and will do any thing we can to help.

  • Andy Brantley

    Thanks so much Greg. This meeting was possible due to the great work of our chief government relations officer, Josh Ulman, and the great working relationship he has developed with the SHRM government relations staff. You are correct that I am so fortunate that I get to work with so many awesome association leaders and national office staff!

  • Andy Brantley

    Hi Jan. Our public policy committee includes community college representatives. We will definitely make sure that the unique challenges of community colleges are incorporated into any input we are asked to provide. Thanks so much for your feedback!