New Labor Rule Entitles More Workers to Overtime Pay

Pharmacy technicians who put in extra hours each week without additional compensation may soon be eligible for overtime pay under a new Department of Labor rule finalized on May 18, 2016.

Pharmacy technicians who put in extra hours each week without additional compensation may soon be eligible for overtime pay under a new Department of Labor (DOL) rule finalized on May 18, 2016.

This update to Fair Labor Standards Act requires that workers who earn an annual salary of less than $47,476 (or $913 per week) be paid time-and-a-half for any labor beyond 40 hours a week. The previous salary threshold was $23,600.

The rule also establishes mechanisms for ensuring that these salary and compensation levels are updated every 3 years to account for inflation and increasing costs of living.

Notably, the rule only applies to salaried workers, as employees who earn an hourly wage are already guaranteed overtime pay. Because the majority of technicians fall into the latter group, very few may be directly impacted by the change, despite the fact that most techs bring home between $26,000 and $39,000 a year.

Regardless of how it affects them, techs should remain mindful of the new rule, according to Judy Neville, BS, CPhT, president of the American Association of Pharmacy Technicians.

“I'm very much in favor of any rule that simplifies a concept of ensuring that extra work means extra pay,” Neville told Pharmacy Times. “There are 2 key elements to the overtime rule that every pharmacy technician should be aware of and insist upon: that they be limited to 40 hours per week and, when pharmacy workflow or patient need demands more than 40 hours per week, that they be paid time-and-a-half for any overtime work.”

Neville isn’t alone in her praise of the rule, as many proponents have lauded its potential to improve wages for middle-class workers. However, critics have argued that the changes could put financial pressure on small businesses and potentially force employers to cut hours or change their employees’ wages from salaried to hourly in order to avoid paying overtime.

Despite these concerns, the DOL estimates that 4.2 million workers will ultimately benefit from the rule after it goes into effect on December 1, 2016.