In 2015, President Obama announced his proposal to raise the overtime salary threshold under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which would extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million Americans. As a reminder, the FLSA determines the standards for minimum wage and overtime pay (unless an employee meets one of the available exemptions).
In May, it was released that the exemption level would be increased from $23,660 to $47,467. Employers have until December 1st to evaluate job responsibilities and reclassify staff. These changes to FLSA could have major financial and operational implications for schools, colleges and universities.
Teachers and schools administrators will not be affected by this change, but it will have an impact on housing professionals. According to the ACUHO-I 2015 Operational Survey, most in these positions earn between $27,000 to $34,000, which is well below the new exemption level.* Often times the compensation of housing professionals includes on-campus housing and a full or partial meal place, but only compensation in real dollars counts toward gross income.
Noting this, some colleges and universities are beginning to change their approach to housing staffing and services. There is no right or wrong way to tackle the FLSA. Each school is doing what’s best for its staff and students, but it is also important to remember that these decisions will shape the housing profession for years to come.
For example, some institutions are considering hiring additional staff to manage on-call responsibilities, therefore, eliminating the need for live-in staff. A change like this could result in unintended long-term consequences. Chief Housing Officers often begin their careers as entry-level, live-in staff. This gives them the unique experience interacting with students while also managing critical incidents. If the opportunity to live on campus was eliminated, expectations of future housing professional need to be adjusted accordingly. While the profession may evolve and change as a result of the FLSA, the goal of the profession will remain the same.
How is your school, college or university planning to handle the FLSA? Please share your experience in the comments section below.
*Working Overtime, Talking Stick, August 2016: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/acuho/talkingstick_20160708/#/58
Working Overtime on Campus, Higher Education Today, May 2, 2016: https://higheredtoday.org/2016/05/02/working-overtime-on-campus/