Companies strategize to meet overtime changes

Companies are racing to track and manage the hours their employees really work, following a White House proposal that would put millions more U.S. workers in line for overtime pay.

The plans, issued last month by the Labor Department, would more than double the salary threshold that determines which workers are eligible for time-and-a-half pay when working more than 40 hours in a week.

Those rules won’t be finalized for months, but already companies are seeking ways to comply with the law and keep a lid on labor costs. Some firms are installing software that alerts managers when workers are at risk of running up overtime pay, while others are evaluating which staffers should receive salaries and which should switch to hourly pay. And others may discourage checking email after working hours.

“It’s a big logistical issue to make sure you’re catching all the time,” says Ron Peppe, a vice president overseeing legal and human-resources functions at Canam Steel Corp., a unit of Canada’s Canam Group Inc. This year, the company assigned a full-time employee to manage compliance reports for new workplace regulations, including overtime.

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