The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a Final Rule that clarifies the types of compensation included in an employee’s regular rate of pay for overtime purposes.
The rule marks the first significant update to the regulations governing regular rate requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in over 50 years. Those requirements define what forms of payment employers include and exclude in the FLSA’s “time and one-half” calculation when determining overtime rates.
The rule clarifies that employers may exclude the following perks from the regular-rate calculation:
- Parking benefits, wellness programs, onsite specialist treatments, gym access and fitness classes, employee discounts on retail goods and services, certain tuition benefits, and adoption assistance.
- Unused paid leave, including paid sick leave and paid time off.
- Certain penalties employers must pay under state and local scheduling laws.
- Business expense reimbursement for items such as cellphone plans, credentialing exam fees, organization membership dues and travel expenses that don’t exceed the maximum travel reimbursement under the Federal Travel Regulation system or the optional IRS substantiation amounts for certain travel expenses.
- Certain sign-on and longevity bonuses.
- Complimentary office coffee and snacks.
- Discretionary bonuses (the DOL noted that the label given to a bonus doesn’t determine whether it is discretionary).
- Contributions to benefit plans for accidents, unemployment, legal services and other events that could cause a financial hardship or expense in the future.
The Final Rule also includes additional clarification that the label given a bonus does not determine whether it is discretionary and provides fact-based examples of discretionary bonuses that may be excluded from an employee’s regular rate of pay under section 7(e)(3) of the FLSA.
The final rule is effective on January 15, 2020.