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Non-Exempt Employees and the new FLSA Requirements

  • 1.  Non-Exempt Employees and the new FLSA Requirements

    Posted 11-18-2016 14:51

    As of 12/1/16, the minimum salaries for professional employees is being raised in order to be able to claim an exemption from the requirement to pay overtime. In other words, if your employees don't meet the threshold, you will be paying overtime at time and a half. Since this raises many interns and lower level architects' salaries, or requires that they be paid overtime at time and a half, I'm looking for ideas about how firms are addressing this issue.

    Further, I'm wondering what our Government Affairs team at the AIA did to try to get architects added to the list of professions that don't have to meet the salary test. As currently written, lawyers, doctors and teachers are exempt from the minimum salary requirement test. Architects are not.

    Thank you.

    Cara Hall FAIA
    Managing Principal
    GH2 Architects, LLC
    Tulsa OK

  • 2.  RE: Non-Exempt Employees and the new FLSA Requirements

    Posted 04-11-2017 13:56
    This law has been stalled, but I have to ask, why should architects be exempt from either paying our employees overtime/time-and-a-half, or giving them a raise if they're salaried at less than $46K?  I was an intern and am now an employer, and my company pays our interns hourly. IF they work overtime (and that is a rare occasion, since 1) it's a quality of life issue and 2) I have a stake in managing overtime),  they are paid time-and-a-half.

    Catherine McCullough AIA
    Principal Architect
    Symmetry First Architects, LLC
    Savage MD

  • 3.  RE: Non-Exempt Employees and the new FLSA Requirements

    Posted 04-12-2017 19:11
    I agree with Catherine. I don’t know how that did not pass.

  • 4.  RE: Non-Exempt Employees and the new FLSA Requirements

    Posted 04-13-2017 19:22
    This law was random and unthoughtful, that is why it is being contested.
    If you agree with the legislation and have a business model that allows you to pay interns endless overtime, you are free to implement it.
    However, for most of us, as small business owners already struggling to manage workflow and charge enough fee to sustain our offices, the law eliminated our ability to adopt policies that make sense for our businesses.
    For example, I know many firms that have flextime policies similar to what Gerald mentioned in his post. That would no longer be allowed under this law. In our office, project workflow is often impacted by client issues not within our control. Our workload is not consistent. Everyone is on salary and we address this with a typical 35 hour work week with occasional deadline crunches that average out close to 40 hours per week over the course of a year. This also would not be allowed under the new law. In any particular week when 40 hours of work is exceeded time and a half pay is mandated, but there is no way for us to capture the less than 40 hour weeks without converting everyone to hourly pay. I know many firms who did convert to hourly pay upon news of this pending legislation. However, this creates new issues that are problematic and will ultimately discourage firms from hiring beginning interns. Architecture education does not prepare students to be productive members of firms, this is sad but true. There is a reason why office experience is a licensure requirement, it is a critical component of our professional education. It is not fair and makes absolutely no business sense to pay inexperienced staff more in overtime because it takes them longer to complete a task than experienced staff. Work is worth what you get paid to do it. If it takes someone 25% more time to complete the same task as someone else, why should they be paid more to do it? This law would artificially value inexperienced staff higher than people with more experience with mandated overtime. No one would ever hire students right out of school when they could hire someone with experience who can work more efficiently, which does not serve the profession. Many countries of foreign exchange students will pay an intern's salary because they know the value of this office experience. We have not figured out in this country how to educate architects to be productive professionals. Internship, in my opinion, should be formally part of the education process. Offices tend to know exactly how much someone's time is worth, and those that converted from salaries to hourly wages in anticipation of this law simply reduced their hourly rates in order to compensate appropriately. No difference, because you can't pay people more than they are worth and still stay in business.

    Cheryl Noel AIA
    Wrap Architecture
    Chicago IL

  • 5.  RE: Non-Exempt Employees and the new FLSA Requirements

    Posted 04-12-2017 20:35
    I too agree with Catherine,
    A couple of things I have done with my interns, in order to manage crunch time over time, is to allow/ require them to take time-off every two WEEKS in compensation for the enviable project dead line pushes.  This manages overtime and improves quality of life.  Regular time off.  The other thing that works very well for more established associates is to let them choose to take every other Friday off (staggered with colleges) in-stead-of a salary increase.  Who doesn't want a three day weekend.
    I had a 27 year veteran tell me today she hasn't taken a vacation in two years.  I told her to take two!

    Gerald Cowart FAIA
    Former AIA Ga President
    Cowart Group, PC Architects
    Savannah GA

  • 6.  RE: Non-Exempt Employees and the new FLSA Requirements

    Posted 04-13-2017 09:17
    I also agree with Catherine -Thank you for posting as you did. We cannot as an organization or professionals say we believe in equity and then not fairly pay our employees.

    Christina Amey AIA
    Christina Amey Architect LLC
    Ocean City, NJ