Update on Department of Labor Changes for UT Employees

Over the past several months, campus and institute leaders and human resources departments have been working to implement the US Department of Labor’s changes to regulations in the Fair Labor Standards Act, which take effect December 1.

The changes, announced in May, apply to all private and public employers in the nation. The changes require that UT staff members who are paid less than $47,476 become nonexempt employees on December 1. The rule change is intended to provide employees with important wage and hour protections.

UT Human Resources staff members have been working with departments and units to evaluate positions and apply the exemptions for academic administration and teaching set forth in the Department of Labor regulations and guidance for the higher education sector.

Supervisors should be communicating with employees who will be affected by the change about how the new rules will impact them and their job responsibilities. All nonexempt employees must receive overtime pay or paid time off (compensatory time) for hours worked in excess of forty hours a week. Flexible scheduling and other changes may therefore be required to manage overtime and comp time.

Benefits such as sick leave, retirement, insurance, educational assistance, and longevity pay will not change for affected employees. Annual leave calculations will change on December 1 for affected employees:

  • Monthly accrual rates for annual leave will change on December 1 based on the employee’s years of service, using the same rates in place for current nonexempt employees.
  • The maximum amount of annual leave carried over from one calendar year to the next also will change based on years of service. For details, see the employee section of the FLSA frequently asked questions at tennessee.edu/flsa/faq.
  • The annual leave carry-over maximum will not take effect until December 31, 2017, to give affected employees time to use any excess annual leave hours before the time is converted to sick leave.
  • Employees who are converted to nonexempt status on December 1 will be given one personal day that will need to be used by December 31. As is the case for all nonexempt employees, affected staff will also earn a personal day in the new calendar year to be used by December 31, 2017.

Human Resources will be conducting training for affected employees and supervisors. Training sessions will be held this fall and an online training course will be made available.

A review process has been established for supervisors to request that an employee retain their exempt status. All requests must be received by October 15 and will be evaluated by division heads, Human Resources, chief business officers, and the Office of the General Counsel. Please contact HR for information about the process at 865-946-8847.

If you have questions, please talk with your supervisor. Answers to many questions about this change and how it is being implemented at UT are posted online. More information about federal FLSA is available online.