Elkhart Co. Firms Weigh in On Fate Of OT Rule

Reaction to a courts ruling in Indiana’s Elkhart County that blocks a new federal overtime rule from coming into effect Dec. 1 was swift.

The Elkhart Truth reported that U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, R-2, said she was “thrilled” and that the rule change was an “erroneous, over the top regulation” by President Barack Obama’s administration.

“This rule change was going to decimate companies and non-profits,” she said. “I knew once it got in front of a judge it wouldn’t pass a litmus test.”

 Deemed the “Overtime Rule” by the U.S. Department of Labor, employers had until Dec. 1 to reformat how they pay salaried employees that make less than $47,476 annually or face paying overtime for any hours over 40-per-week. The Labor Department says the rule was changed due to the lack of value the current level of $23,660 has on salaried employees.

“The real value of the salary level has fallen significantly since it was set 12 years ago,” the Labor Department said in a statement. “Today, the standard salary level is below the 2015 poverty threshold for a family of four.”

While businesses can breathe a large sigh of relief, the rule change still has some life to it. The injunction in place could be appealed and it might end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, one that could include some of president-elect Donald Trump’s nominees.

Walorski said she doesn’t think the rule will ever go into affect.

“This regulation came out of the blue and had people really stressed,” she said. “With the new administration in place I don’t see this rule change ever happening.”

Local industries are taking a more of a wait-and-see approach.

“The rule is not dead so we are just going to continue to evaluate our position and find the right approach,” said Ken Julien, human resource director for Elkhart-based Thor Industries Inc., one of the nation’s top manufacturer of recreational vehicles.

Julien said he had no numbers available for how many employees were going to be affected by the rule change, but that there were some that might see raises to get up to the salary threshold and others that were salaried employees and going to be switched to hourly employees.

“The bottom line is we would have complied with the law,” he said.

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