As if November 2016 hasn't already been full of national drama, many U.S. employers were stunned when, just before Thanksgiving, a federal district judge issued an injunction suspending a new U.S. Department of Labor overtime regulation slated to go into effect Thursday, Dec. 1.
"I said to myself, 'Am I really seeing this?' I had to rub my eyes when I got the email," said Amy Little, executive director of the Idaho Nonprofit Center. "I was really shocked."
The INC provides resources and advocates for the more than 5,000 registered nonprofits in Idaho, and its hundreds of members range from organizations with significant payrolls to some with few personnel. Following the announcement, inquiries started flooding into INC.
"Yes, we fielded several phone calls of, 'Oh my gosh, I don't know what to do,'" said Little.
The Department of Labor mandate would have raised the minimum salary below which workers must be paid overtime from around $24,000 to $48,000 per year. In response to a legal challenge from business groups saying the ruling would be cost prohibitive and result in fewer hours for workers, Texas-based Judge Amos L. Mazzant III issued a 20-page order stating the regulation, which would have affected more than 4 million workers, was unlawful under the statutory language of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
However, don't think for a moment the debate over the proposed change is over.
"We've consulted with a human resource professional and attorney, and the message from us is this: If you've already implemented these changes, stay the course," said Little. "You should still be planning for something. The threshold or criteria might change, but chances are there will be some change. For those who procrastinated? Maybe it paid off, for a while at least, but you should really continue planning and be prepared."
The preliminary injunction isn't permanent, it just keeps the status quo until the federal court can review the merits of both sides of the debate.
If November has taught us anything, it's that change is the new normal.