PHOTO: The Frances Perkins Building of the U.S. Department of Labor headquarters in Washington, D.C. (photo via Wikimedia Commons/Ed Brown)
Just one-third of respondents to a recent ASTA survey reported being either very concerned or somewhat concerned with proposed new Department of Labor (DOL) regulations that would more than double the salary threshold below which workers will be eligible to receive overtime pay.
The survey, conducted last summer, also found that 32 percent of respondents reported that the regulations didn’t affect their business model.
The proposed regulations would raise the minimum threshold for salaried workers to $47,476. However, the regulations, slated to have gone into effect Dec. 1, 2016, have been challenged in court.
And while their fate isn’t completely clear, “it’s safe to say [this issue] has died,” Peter Lobasso, ASTA’s general counsel, said yesterday.
“Even though we dodged a bullet, we learned [through the survey] that there are a lot of agency owners who maybe aren’t quite as clear as they should be on how to treat their employees as salaried or hourly worker,” Lobasso added.
If travel agency owners and managers were required—or decided—to begin tracking each salaried employee’s work hours every week, four in ten respondents (39 percent) said the extra work involved would be very, or somewhat, burdensome, according to the survey.
The survey also examined travel agency business models in 2016.
The most common model, at 46 percent, was agencies with one location outside the home with employees or independent contractors (IC’s). That was followed by home-based agencies with no employees or ICs, at 20 percent; home-based agencies with employees or ICs, at 19 percent, and agencies with multiple locations, at 12 percent.
Current technology, coupled with remote capabilities, allow some agencies to have the flexibility to use employees or IC’s without conventional brick and mortar storefronts or office locations, the survey noted.
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That’s especially true for small agencies with more budget constraints, leading to the finding that home-based agencies—with or without employees or ICs—were a popular location type with a combined share of nearly 40 percent.
The survey also reported that—given the improved post-recession business climate and a thriving travel industry—any agency owners and managers said that good, experienced agents were in high demand to fill increased business needs.
ASTA agency members with multiple employees in 2016 reported their top compensation model to be paying employees on an hourly basis, at 36 percent, followed by employees receiving salaries, at 23 percent. Hourly plus commission compensation came in at 17 percent, with salaried-plus-commission at 14 percent.