Proposed law could mandate more pay for nearly one million higher ed workers

Teaching staff exempted for now

President Obama visited the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse last week to rally support for a proposal that could require colleges to pay overtime wages to more of their employees.

Currently, only workers with annual salaries at or below $23,660 must be paid time-and-a-half overtime wages when they work more than 40 hours per week. Under President Obama's proposal, that cap would be raised to $50,440.

For now, teaching positions have been exempted from the rule. But instructors make up less than half of all people employed by colleges and universities—more than 900,000 jobs on campuses nationwide are not exempted from the rule, according to the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR).

Many administrative positions at the entry and middle levels could fall under the new rules, says Andy Brantley, president and CEO of CUPA-HR.

The biggest concern for many higher education leaders is that the Obama administration will ultimately remove or change the exemption for teaching positions (which also applies to many doctors and lawyers), says Shannon Farmer, a partner at Ballard Spahr law firm.

The White House is seeking comments on the exemption, which has many leaders worried that it is under threat, explains Farmer.

However, some adjunct advocacy groups are seeking to end the exemption as part of their broader efforts to improve pay and working conditions for adjunct faculty members (Basken, Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/1; Horsley, NPR, 7/2).

Thoughts on the story? Tweet us at @eab_daily and let us know.

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