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Department of Labor Releases Long-Anticipated Overtime Rule
The Department of Labor released its long-anticipated “Overtime Rule” last week in the form of a pre-publication Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).

  • Among other changes, the proposed rule includes a significant increase in the minimum salary threshold for “white collar” exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime pay requirements.
  • Under the proposal, the minimum salary threshold for exemptions would increase from $35,568 to $55,068, nearly 55 percent.
  • The proposal also includes a provision to automatically adjust the minimum salary threshold every three years by tying to the 35th percentile of weekly earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region.

Importantly, the proposal does not make changes to the duties requirements for FLSA overtime exemptions or the teaching exemption. While faculty and some other positions may not be impacted because of the FLSA teaching exemption, there would still be significant impact to many categories of employees at APLU universities, likely including postdocs and some individuals working in research, student affairs, athletics, agricultural extension, etc.

Under the proposal, employers, including public universities, would need to either reclassify employees and/or absorb the budget impact of boosting salaries above the new minimum threshold. Of course, both options likely involve cascading human resources implications across the institution and within departments.

APLU will work collaboratively with our membership to assess the impact of the proposed regulation and convey our views to the Biden administration. DOL is providing a 60-day comment period starting from the date when the NPRM is officially published in the Federal Register. With peer higher education associations, APLU participated in a DOL “listening session” last year and conveyed appreciation for the need to continuously increase the minimum salary threshold to protect workers while also noting the importance of not going too high, too fast, as well as the unique impact such a rule would have on public institutions of higher education given budget dynamics.

White House Urges Congress to Pass Stopgap Funding Bill Ahead of September 30 Funding Deadline
Ahead of a looming September 30 funding deadline, the Senate reconvened this week and the House will reconvene next week and continue their consideration of appropriations bills. The House Appropriations Committee has advanced 10 funding bills out of committee, with the Commerce-Justice-Science and Labor-HHS-Education bills remaining, while the Senate Appropriations Committee has advanced all 12 funding bills out of committee. Given the limited number of legislative days before government funding runs out, the White House has urged lawmakers to pass a short-time funding bill to avert a government shutdown.

APLU developed a chart comparing House and Senate 302(b) allocations by subcommittee. 302(b) allocations are the overall level of funding each appropriations subcommittee has to work with in crafting their individual bills.

APLU staff also developed one-pagers on each of the seven appropriations bills containing APLU priority accounts that include funding levels, policy riders, and other information of potential interest to public research universities:

Department of Education Releases New Dear Colleague Letter on Race and School Programming
The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) on Race and School Programming to provide schools guidance on lawful programs to promote racially inclusive school communities. The DCL includes examples to help institutions assess their Title VI obligations, which prohibits discrimination on race, color or national origin in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance, in school sponsored curricula and programming. The letter builds on recent ED resources intended to help colleges and universities understand the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. (SFFA) v. Harvard College and SFFA v. University of North Carolina.

ED Releases Resources on SAVE Plan   
The Department of Education (ED) recently unveiled a public outreach campaign, SAVE on Student Debt, to encourage borrowers to enroll in the new Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) repayment plan ahead of October’s return to repayment. Additionally, ED published a list of FAQs on the return to repayment and the new SAVE plan. ED will host a webinar for borrowers and the general public about both the return to repayment and the new SAVE plan on Thursday, September 14 from 7-8pm ET. 

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