Last updated: 04:04 PM ET, Wed May 18 2016

The New Overtime Labor Laws: ASTA Speaks Out

Travel Agent | American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) | Robin Amster | May 18, 2016

The New Overtime Labor Laws: ASTA Speaks Out

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The Department of Labor’s (DOL) final overtime rule, announced today, will cause “significant  disruption” to travel agents’ businesses and will ultimately be felt by the traveling public, said the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) in a statement responding to the ruling.

The DOL ruling, to take effect Dec. 1, would extend overtime benefits to an estimated five million people by more than doubling the salary threshold for overtime eligibility to $970 a week in 2016. That means employes earning $50,440 a year or less will automatically be eligible for overtime pay.

The threshold, last updated in 2004, was $455 a week, meaning employes earning salaries of $23,660 a year did not automatically qualify for overtime under federal standards.

“While we believe employees should be compensated fairly, in the public comments we filed last September we expressed our grave concerns that an increase of this magnitude with little lead time will cause significant disruption to our members' business operations and the travel agency community as a whole, which will be felt ultimately by the traveling public,” said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby in the association’s statement.

READ MORE: ASTA Rolls Out Course on 'Becoming A Travel Agent'

A provision in the rule—mandating additional increases to the salary threshold every three years—along with the lack of accounting for cost-of-living variations in different parts of the country, “represents an additional burden on all small businesses that we believe, frankly, the Obama Administration has failed to adequately consider,” Kerby said. 

ASTA has already held one meeting with DOL regarding changes that would separate regulations in order to provide ASTA members some relief from the final rule, according to Kerby.

ASTA will continue to work with policy makers to explore legislative remedies for the issue and “otherwise mitigate the worst impacts of the rule,” Kerby added.

 The association said it will soon be launching a series of webinars and other educational programs on the issue. It also plans to discuss the issue at its upcoming Global Convention Sept. 25 to 28 in Reno, Nevada.


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