Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Impact of U.S. Department of Labor Overtime Threshold Increase on Research Faculty and Postdoctoral Fellows

 

1. When is this change effective?

December 1, 2016

2. Which positions are affected?

Research faculty and postdoctoral fellows who currently are paid less than $913 per week ($47,476 annually). As of May 2016, Main campus academic units had 76 employees who fell within this category.

3. What is the Impact?

Research faculty and postdoctoral fellows who currently are paid less than $913 per week ($47,476 annually) cannot continue to hold these appointment classifications.  They will need to be reclassified to one of the staff research scientist positions listed below (current minimum for Research Scientist 1 is $32, 235.95). The reclassification of any researchers to staff positions will facilitate use of the pre-existing hourly timekeeping process in the event any of them work over 40 hours a week.

Research Scientist 1

http://jobdescriptions.unm.edu/detail.php?id=7462&posn=Research+Scientist+1

Research Scientist 2

http://jobdescriptions.unm.edu/detail.php?id=7477&posn=Research+Scientist+2

Research Scientist 3

http://jobdescriptions.unm.edu/detail.php?id=7481&posn=Research+Scientist+3

Sr. Research Scientist 1

http://jobdescriptions.unm.edu/detail.php?id=7465&posn=Sr+Research+Scientist+1

4. Can we avoid needing to reclassify someone by lowering their FTE?

No.  The earnings threshold is the same regardless of FTE.  It should be noted that the Department of Labor expects FTE to correlate with working 40 hours per week. Someone with an FTE of less than 1.0 should not need overtime because they should never work more than 40 hours per week.

5. Who should we work with in reclassifying a research faculty member or postdoctoral fellow to a research scientist staff title?

Your HR consultant can assist you with the reclassification process.  The reclassification form should be submitted to HR and can be accessed on their forms http://hr.unm.edu/documents-and-forms#compensation under the title Staff Position Review Questionnaire (PRQ).

6. Are there any alternatives?

If the compensation rate for affected research faculty and postdoctoral fellows is increased to be above the threshold, i.e., greater than $913 per week ($47,476 annually) then they will be eligible to continue to hold research faculty and postdoctoral appointments.  The salary increase request should be submitted to OFAS using the Compensation Change Requestform.http://ofas.unm.edu/docs/sfcc/CompChange.pdf

7. How should PI's with existing contract or grant plan for providing increases?

If funding is available, PI's may be able to raise the salaries of research faculty and postdoctoral above the FLSA threshold. Prior to initiating the increase PI's should contact their program officers to determine if a supplement to existing contracts or grants is possible to cover the added expense. If not, re-budgeting existing funds would be necessary.

8. How should PI's plan for these new overtime rules in future proposals?

For all future contract and grant proposal submissions, PIs are strongly advised to keep in mind the new salary threshold, internal salary equity, and agency guidelines when developing budgets which include salaries for research faculty and postdoctoral fellows.

9. Does the Provost’s Office or the Office of the Vice President for Research have any revenue to support compensation increases for affected research faculty or postdocs?

No.

10. When do I have to decide what to do?

The process of increasing compensation rates and/or reclassification to a research scientist position should commence as quickly as possible to ensure it is completed by December 1st. OFAS (http://ofas.unm.edu ) staff will begin the process of reaching out to those of you whose employees will be affected by these changes. Their goal will be to determine whom among the affected employees will potentially be getting a compensation increase, and who will need to be reclassified. OFAS can process research faculty compensation increases; however, you will need to work with your HR consultant to reclassify people to one of the research scientist positions.

11. What effect does this have on pending appointments?

Effective immediately, OFAS will also no longer process new research faculty appointments with a term that extends beyond November 30, 2016 if the salary is below the threshold.

12. Does this regulatory change affect any other faculty members?

The new regulations contain exceptions to the increase in the salary threshold are for ‘bona fide teachers,’ graduate and undergraduate student employees, and academic administrative personnel such as chairs and deans.  Since continuing and adjunct faculty are considered to be bona fide teachers they are not subject to the salary threshold requirement and remain exempt from the overtime requirement of the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Research Lecturers whose primary duty is instruction on Title V or similar grants should also meet the bona fide teacher exemption.

13. Where can I get more information on the impact of the FLSA changes?

 

Last Updated 7.18.16