5 Tips to Effectively Communicate the FLSA Overtime Changes to Employees

Wednesday November 9th, 2016

Estimated time to read: 2 minutes, 15 seconds

Most employers are familiar with the changes put out by the U.S. Department of Labor regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) updated overtime rule. But while you might be aware of what changes are coming for your employees, they might be feeling confused, concerned, or even completely unaware. Now is the time to start talking to your staff members about what these changes mean for each of them as individuals. The December 1 deadline is just around the corner, so the sooner you can effectively communicate the changes, the better the outcome will be.

Lay it Out Clearly

If you haven’t already done so, start by deciding what you will do for each staff member who falls under the new threshold to get him or her into compliance. You basically have two options:



  • Move the individual from exempt to non-exempt status and start tracking his/her hours, or



  • Raise the individual’s salary to above the threshold ($47,776 per year)



Once you have made the decision, create a plan to discuss the change with each person one-on-one. Emphasize that the change is happening because of a federal regulation, not because the employee did anything wrong.

Be Prepared for Pushback

Employees who were previously classified as exempt may be unhappy about moving to a non-exempt status. There are some perks that come along with being exempt, such as flexibility and a fixed salary at every pay period, and many people will not like the uncertainties that come along with changing classifications. But if you prepare now for how you will handle these situations, it will be much easier than if you’re caught off guard and not sure what to say.


Make sure to emphasize that this change is coming from the federal government and it is beyond your control. Employees should know that they are not being demoted and the new status only refers to the way their pay is calculated, not to their relative positions within the department or company.

Appoint a Designated Person

HR staff members might quickly become bogged down with requests from staff to discuss the change, especially in companies that have a lot of people that fall below the new threshold. It can also be uncomfortable for employees to discuss concerns about a new pay policy with their direct managers or supervisors. Assigning a designated person within the organization to answer questions and discuss concerns with employees can help alleviate the burden on human resources while giving employees a better option for having these discussions.

Explain the Time and Attendance Procedures Clearly

If you do move employees to a non-exempt status, make sure to take the time to explain the time and attendance procedures. Show each employee how to punch in and out and clearly explain the expectations when it comes to taking breaks. Once you have explained the procedures, you may need to monitor the employees for the first few weeks to make sure they are taking their breaks, keeping track of their time, and only working when they are clocked in.

Emphasize the Positive

There are some benefits that come along with moving to a non-exempt status, and these benefits are the ones that the DOL is trying to give to all workers within the new salary range. The purpose of the new regulation is to ensure that employees who work more than 40 hours in a week earn overtime pay for the extra hours. If your organization does not plan to permit these staff members to work overtime, they will theoretically work fewer hours than before and have more time to enjoy a better work-life balance. Focusing on these positive aspects of the new regulation could help your employees see the bigger picture.


Explaining the changes to employees who aren’t familiar with the FLSA Overtime rule could be difficult, but with the proper communication, it doesn’t have to put a strain on the office morale.

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