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New Overtime Rule Could Affect Many Businesses
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A chamber program on the new overtime rule was held this week.
Evelina Burnett

A new rule that affects how some Mississippians are paid overtime is causing concerns throughout the state. MPB's Evelina Burnett reports. 

The new Department of Labor overtime rule goes into effect Dec. 1. It changes who qualifies for an exemption from the overtime rule - meaning more salaried workers will be entitled to overtime pay.

David Thomas is an attorney at Balch & Bingham.

"The change is that one of the tests that you have to meet for that exemption is a salary level, and that is being raised from approximately $23,000 to approximately $47,000 per year, and for us in Mississippi, that covers a lot of people," he says.

According to the White House, about 40,000 workers in Mississippi will be affected.

Kevin O’Brien is head of the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, which has eight full-time employees. He’s worried about what effect the law will have on non-profits like his.

"It's just one of those jobs, you do it with passion," he says. "I think a lot of people are working, they're not even thinking about the hours. Let's say we have to pick up an exhibition in Dallas - well, that's an overnight deal, and that cuts into those hours. There's all kinds of examples that I'm sure all the other nonprofits have."

Experts in the new labor rule recommend employers start learning about it and preparing now. The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce held a panel discussion about the new rule this week to inform members about the changes. Chamber CEO Kimberly Nastasi says the rule has the potential to shake up the way businesses hire, pay salaries and are structured. 

"They'll have to make some hard decisions," she says. "If they want to change the structure of the pay to increase to meet the specifics from the Department of Labor, they will have to determine if they want to go hourly and absorb the overtime pay. They'll have to determine if they want to eliminate positions if they won't be able to afford to keep everyone on staff at the current levels." 

In order to be exempt, the position must also be primarily an executive, administrative or professional role. Some jobs are automatically exempt, including lawyers, teachers and doctors.