WHD's Decision to Drop Opinion Letters Makes Compliance Harder, Personnel Concepts Warns

The Wage and Hour Division's decision to drop individualized opinion letters in favor of generalized administrative interpretations makes compliance with the FLSA more difficult for employers, Personnel Concepts warns

Online PR News – 30-March-2010 – – ONTARIO, Calif.—The issuance of an Administrative Interpretation (AI) by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor (DOL) this past week on the status of mortgage loan officers signals a new approach by the nation’s workplace watchdogs, one that could make life more challenging for business owners, warns Personnel Concepts.

This AI concluded that the Fair Labor Standards Act’s administrative exemption does not apply to mortgage loan officers and that they are thus non-exempt employees eligible for overtime wages. Along with the issuance of the AI, the agency also announced it was dropping the practice of issuing individualized opinion letters.

"In the past employers would often rely on opinion letters regarding specific wage and hour situations under the FLSA,” said Robert Leland, director of research for Personnel Concepts, “but in dropping opinion letters in favor of more generalized Administrative Interpretations, WHD has choked off individual guidance, leaving employers with one less resource and potential line of defense.”

In fact, the AI actually overruled a previous opinion letter on mortgage loan officers. The decision to quit issuing such letters also left some 400 current enquiries unanswered.

According to legal observers, opinion letters have often served as a first-line defense under the Portal-to-Portal Act, which holds that good-faith reliance on a “written administrative regulation, order, ruling, approval, or interpretation” relieves the company of liability.

While seeking professional legal advice when in doubt is always the best practice, employers and human resource professionals can also avail themselves of solid guidebooks such as Personnel Concepts FLSA Overtime Rules Compliance Kit in properly classifying their employees as exempt from overtime or as non-exempt hourly employees.

To order or obtain more information on Personnel Concepts’ complete line of products, please visit http://www.PersonnelConcepts.com or call toll free to (800) 333-3795.

Personnel Concepts virtually created the labor law and health and safety compliance poster industry in 1989 with its All-On-One approach. It also led the industry in developing a skilled, knowledgeable and experienced research team that keeps constant vigil on government regulatory changes and updates clients on changing labor law and OSHA requirements. Its “We Pay the Fine” guarantee was an industry first and is still a mainstay of its strong customer service tradition.

Personnel Concepts’ customers have relied on the company’s products and services for the past two decades to protect them from government fines, employee lawsuits and other costly consequences associated with non-compliance. Businesses throughout the nation have entrusted their compliance to Personnel Concepts, and the company in turn embraces that responsibility by keeping up to date on changing regulations and tailoring a wide variety of simplified solutions. The company currently advises and serves more than 1.2 million businesses throughout the United States from its headquarters in Ontario, Calif., with the motto “Your Trusted Compliance Partner.”