Buried deep, deep, deep in Monday’s Federal Register was a quiet announcement that the U.S. Department of Labor was proposing some new wage/hour regulations interpreting the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (download here).  In the "summary" section, the DOL states that the new regulations are needed because the regulations, in some cases, are out of date based on court decisions or subsequent legislation.  The DOL website doesn’t even have a press release on it as of Monday evening — only a link buried deep on a webpage here.

Comments are requested by September 11, 2008, so presumably the DOL is trying to implement these new regulations by the end of the current administration.  workers, courtesy library of congress

So what topics are covered in these proposed regulations? A few are noteworthy, while several others others are snoozeworthy.

For example, among the more noteworthy items are regulations addressing "compensatory time" and a "fluctuating workweek".  More snoozeworthy items including regulations regarding salesmen who sell boats and regulations regarding workers who work on ditches, canals and reservoirs, where 90% of the water used is for agricultural purposes.

Among the other topics covered

  • Updating regulations regarding "tipped" employees and the way the phrase "minimum wage" is used in various statutes;
  • Updating regulations defining who an "employee" is and excluding certain volunteers at private non-profit food banks;
  • Updating regulations regarding those employees engaged in "fire protection activities";
  • Updating regulations to clarify that stock options are excluded from the computation of the regular rate of pay;
  • Addressing regulations of "service advisers" working for auto dealers;

Upon first glance, most of the changes suggested by the Department of Labor just incorporate language from laws that have been passed in the last 20-30 years.  But for employers that have a particular interest in one of the above topics, special care should be used to review the language to see if it will have a particular impact on the business.

Lastly, these regulations are mere proposals; while it is somewhat likely that regulations like this will be implemented, they may undergo some significant changes in the final rule. Thus, employers should be cautious about relying on these rules until the final regulations are issued.

I’ll continue to review them and post any further comments or thoughts later in the week.

(H/T Fl. Employment Law Blog)

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.