According to the American Time Use Survey released recently by the Department of Labor, Americans spent more time working and less time sleeping in 2016 than in 2015. On average, men and women 15 years of age and older worked about 8 more minutes each weekday and slept for about 5 minutes less than they did in the previous year. Labor officials view this as an indication of a healthier job market. Millennials worked an average of nearly 5 hours per weekday in 2016, their highest level since 2011.
New rules mandated by the Department of Labor could affect many small businesses, driving up labor costs and creating more red tape. These rules, effective on December 1, 2016, raise the salary threshold for eligible workers from $23,660 to $47,476 and to $134,004 for highly compensated employees. This means that salaried workers earning less than $47,476 will now be eligible for time-and-a-half for every hour they work beyond 40 hours per week. While the rules were intended to help millions of workers, they assume that every business will absorb the increased costs and pay overtime, rather than limiting hours for salaried employees.
Research by the National Federation of Independent Business shows that nearly half of all small businesses will be affected by the mandate. NFIB foresees a slowdown in productivity if salaried employees are forbidden from exceeding 40 hours per week. Another concern is that some employees may be converted from salaried to hourly, effectively receiving a demotion.
The rules also include a mechanism to automatically update the salary and compensation levels every three years in order to ensure that they continue to provide useful and effective tests for exemption.