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Advocating for
I-O in Federal
Public Policy

SIOP in Washington

Jill Bradley-Geist
University of Colorado,
Colorado Springs


Laura Uttley
Lewis-Burke Associates LLC



 Since July 2013, SIOP and Lewis-Burke Associates LLC have collaborated to make I-O science and research accessible to federal and congressional policy makers.  SIOP has embedded a foundational government relations infrastructure within the organization, enabling SIOP to develop an authoritative voice as a stakeholder in science policy in Washington, DC  and to promote SIOP as a vital resource for evidence-based decision making.

Update on the Department of Labor’s Overtime Rule

On May 18, the Department of Labor (DOL) released its final rule to modify the existing overtime pay regulations covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The final rule, which was officially published in the Federal Register on May 23, raised the salary threshold for salaried executive, administrative, and professional employees to qualify for overtime pay, from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to an estimated $913 per week ($47,476 per year).  Employers are expected to be in compliance by the time the rule goes into effect on December 1, 2016.

DOL received nearly 300,000 comments on its July 2015 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking updating the salary threshold for overtime pay, outlining concerns and impacts of the proposed rule.  In the end, DOL did not alter the final rule significantly from the proposed rule.  DOL slightly lowered the salary threshold from the proposed $50,440 to the final $47,476 annual salary level.  According to DOL, this new threshold reflects the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-income Census region in the country.  Another modification is that the final rule mandates the salary threshold be automatically updated every 3 years to reflect the 40th percentile level of salaried workers in the lowest-wage region.

According to the DOL, employers have several options available to comply with the updated salary threshold, including:

  • Raising salaries to the new threshold;
  • Limiting work hours to 40 hours per week;
  • Offering comp-time in place of overtime pay (for public institutions);
  • Redistributing workload to minimize overtime;
  • Paying overtime to employees whose salaries are below the threshold; and
  • Adjusting base pay and paying overtime for employees who work a small number of hours of overtime on a predictable schedule.

Congressional Pushback

On June 7, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) introduced a joint resolution, along with 43 Republican Senate co-sponsors, aimed at blocking the implementation of the Department of Labor’s final rule to raise the salary threshold for employees eligible for overtime pay.  On the House side, House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) introduced the House companion resolution on June 16.  Twenty-six Republican Members of the House have cosponsored the resolution.
The resolution of congressional disapproval utilizes a procedural tactic, the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn the executive branch’s regulatory proposal within 60 days of release if the resolution passes both chambers and is signed by the president.  If this resolution reaches the president’s desk for signature, President Obama would likely veto the resolution, sending it back to Congress where it would need a two-thirds vote of both chambers to become law.  Given this challenge, the likelihood for a legislative block to the new overtime rule is low.

Advocacy in Action: SIOP Member Snapshot

Beginning in this TIP issue, we will be featuring SIOP members who are engaging in government advocacy work. This month, we follow SIOP members Lynda Zugec and Winny Shen who spearheaded a response to the Canadian government’s recent request for information on flexible work arrangements. To tell us about your own advocacy-related work, please contact current Government Relations Advocacy Team committee chair, Jill Bradley-Geist at jill.bradley-geist@uccs.edu.

Advocacy can happen across borders. When SIOP teams up with organizations such as the Canadian Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (CSIOP), we can have a wider impact and increase awareness of our field more globally. One such example was when a call came from the Government of Canada, which sought consultation from Canadians on Flexible Work Arrangements http://www.esdc.gc.ca/en/consultations/labour/flexible_work_arrangements/index.page.

The Canadian Government has pledged to amend the Canada Labour Code to allow workers in federally regulated sectors to formally request flexible work arrangements from their employers. The government was seeking to consult with Canadians to more fully explore which flexible work arrangements would help better manage the demands of paid work and their personal and family responsibilities. We, as Industrial-Organizational Psychology academics and practitioners, have much to offer in terms of insights on this topic. As a result, we prepared a summary of some of the most pertinent research and findings in this area for submission. Our report can be accessed here.