How New Labor Regulations Can Affect IT Workers



In many workplaces, salaried employees expect to work long hours – well beyond 40 hours – without being compensated. At the same time, independent contractors have become more widely used by companies that prefer to have an on-demand workforce and pay fewer full-time employees.

Some employers misclassify their workers, intentionally or unintentionally, as independent contractors or as exempt from overtime pay. For a significant portion of the American workforce, this is just an accepted part of going to work every day. While it may be accepted, it may not be legal.

In fact, the Department of Labor is changing overtime rules and cracking down on the misclassification of employees and improper pay practices. New regulations are expected to raise the salary levels needed to qualify for overtime exemption. In other words, the number of employees who will be required to receive overtime pay is likely to increase dramatically.

But salary levels aren’t the only factor — the tasks an employee is asked to perform each day also determine exemption from overtime. The new rules are expected to follow the California model in which exempt employees are required to spend more than half of their time on exempt tasks. To ensure compliance, organizations will need to closely scrutinize job descriptions, categorize primary responsibilities according to exemption status, and track how much time is spent on each task.

Nearly half of IT professionals in the U.S. average eight to 20 hours of unpaid overtime each week, according to GFI Software’s annual IT stress survey. However, new FLSA regulations will apply to IT workers who handle technical support, system and web admin, and other similar roles, many of which are likely not exempt from overtime pay. Even if an organization classifies an employee as salaried and exempt or gets an employee to accept exempt status in writing, that employee may be eligible for overtime pay. Violations for unpaid overtime and employee misclassification can result in heavy fines and even criminal charges in extreme cases.

But aside from complicated labor rules, stressed IT workers aren’t good for business. Approximately eight in 10 American IT workers have considered a career change due to high stress levels, according to the GFI study, while 27 percent have experienced stress-related illness. IT personnel can’t be expected to perform at optimal levels when they’re on call 24×7, and high turnover in IT can put your business at risk.

Whatever your opinion of the new labor regulations, this may be a good opportunity to take a fresh look at your IT operations. If your IT team routinely works overtime, it may be wise to consider outsourcing some of their responsibilities.

A managed services provider can take on many routine IT tasks, helping you to minimize overtime pay and reduce the burden on in-house personnel. Let, your outsourced IT department, help you optimize the performance of both your staff and your technology.