HAMLET — City officials, during a special meeting Tuesday, discussed some of the potential implications of a new labor law taking effect in December that could result in big raises for reclassified employees — or the creation of new part-time jobs to ensure they avoid working overtime.
“A non-exempt employee is one where if they work more than 40 hours, they must be compensated at time-and-a-half or comp time,” said City Manager Marcus Abernethy. “Unless you are making more than $48,000 per year, you will automatically be non-exempt.”
The new law, a result of a 2014 presidential memorandum signed by President Obama, defines and delimits protections of white collar workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act and is effective Dec. 1, according to the U.S. Department of Labor website.
The council said all of Hamlet’s department heads are classified as exempt, but many of them will become non-exempt once the new law takes effect since their salaries are not high enough to maintain their current classification.
“My concern is now if we have to pay some people time-and-a-half,” said councilman David Lindsey. “It may be cheaper to hire another employee.”
“Comp time is hours worked that have to be paid,” Abernethy said. “Not paid now, but whenever an employee chooses to take time off. This is time worked in addition to 40 hours for a regular full-time employee. In their 28-day cycle, for police that’s anything over 803 hours, and finance and water it’s over 248 hours.”
Abernethy went on to say the city could benefit from hiring additional employees.
“I don’t think that our labor force has enough part-time people,” he explained. “If we had 20 to 25 part-time employees, we’d have more people to turn to when employees need to go on vacation.”
He also said part-time employees could be leveraged to prevent full-time employees from working extra hours.
“If you’re getting a handle on it, that’s good,” said Mayor Bill Bayless. “Just let us know how it’s going.”
The council and city manager all agreed that the conversation should continue in the presence of City Attorney C.T. Morphis, who was not at the special meeting.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.