By Stuart Oberman, Esq., Oberman Law

Department of Labor’s recent ruling can potentially extend overtime pay to dental employees

The Fair Labor Standards Act provides for a federal minimum wage, a standard 40-hour work week and pay at time-and-a-half for all overtime hours. Almost all hourly workers in a dental practice get paid – or should get paid – time-and-a-half for any hours over 40 per week. However, many salaried employees in a dental practice do not get the same protections as in other professions.

That said, individuals who are considered executive, administrative or professional employees, are not entitled to premium pay for overtime work, according to the Act. Traditionally, employees of a dental practice who make more than $23,660 annually and whose primary duties are executive, administrative, or professional have not had to be paid time-and-one-half for overtime hours. The Department of Labor’s new rules have nearly doubled this compensation threshold to $47,476.00, which may impact the number of employees in dental practices who are eligible for overtime benefits.

Take stock
Dental practice owners may be significantly impacted by the Department of Labor’s new rules. Since many employees have likely been affected, practice owners may have to pay substantially more to employees than has been required under the Fair Labor Standards Act to qualify for an overtime exemption. Practice owners who are forced to comply with the new rules can choose from different options, however these options will vary from practice to practice.

One such option is to raise employees’ salaries to the exemption threshold. Practice owners may be able to raise the salaries of affected employees in order to meet the new minimum standards provided for under the new rules.

Another option is to pay overtime, in addition to the employees’ current salary, when necessary. Practice owners are only required to pay overtime to an employee who works more than 40 hours in a week. This makes the most sense for employees who make far less than the proposed new salary basis.

A third option is to limit the hours of current employees of the practice and hire more part-time employees. This will split job duties between multiple employees and limit the amount of overtime allowed.

If they have not already done so, practice owners should determine which of their employees are impacted, analyze the hours they have worked and determine which option is best for each of them. Now is the time to act to be in compliance with the new rule change.

Editor’s note: Stuart J. Oberman, Esq. handles a wide range of legal issues for the dental profession including employment law, practice sales, OSHA and HIPAA compliance, real estate transactions, lease agreements, non-compete agreements, dental board complaints and professional corporations.

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