The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

A Call to Action Regarding Proposed Changes to the FLSA Overtime Rule

CUPA-HR’s government relations team is fielding questions every day from members, higher education associations and government affairs departments at institutions across the country about the DOL’s proposed overtime rule — when the rule might be released, guidance on how to prepare for it and whether or not there is anything they can do to convince DOL to reconsider the proposal. To this last question, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Colleges and universities are powerful constituents, and policymakers listen when they speak. As noted in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, “there are colleges in every congressional district, and 1 in 40 U.S. workers draws a paycheck from a college or university.” On an even larger scale, colleges and universities employ 3.6 million full-time staff and spend half a trillion dollars annually, stimulating local economies and positively affecting millions more than just their students. It is because of this tremendous impact institutions have on their communities and our country that Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), while discussing regulatory measures he hoped to pass in Congress, said “if five or six … college presidents say, ‘Senator Alexander, may we have a 30-minute appointment with you while you’re home next month?,’ I’ll do it in a minute. So will every other senator.”

At this point, you may be thinking, “That’s great … but how do I as a higher ed HR professional leverage all this influence?” Here’s how! (But you must move quickly, as DOL is currently working on finalizing the rule; thus, in order to affect change, your institution needs to contact lawmakers in the next 2-3 months.)

  • Review the materials from CUPA-HR’s FLSA OT regulations resource page, including a fact sheet, a summary of the proposed rule and our comments.
  • Analyze the potential costs of the proposed rule to your campus and which occupations will be most impacted, and put this information in an easily digestible format.
  • Engage in dialogue with campus leaders who will be impacted by the rule (e.g., provosts regarding the impact on post-doctoral students, athletic directors regarding the impact on coaches, student affairs regarding the impact on residence hall managers, etc.). Share with these campus leaders the fact sheet, summary, comments and the materials you have compiled about how the changes will impact your institution.
  • Engage your president, government affairs department and others tasked with communicating with the federal government on behalf of your institution about the rule and its impact on campus and discuss with them whether or not it would be appropriate for your institution to share these concerns with policymakers. CUPA-HR laid out various potential improvements to the rule in our comments, and institutions can ask policymakers to consider any or all of these options. Discuss whether your institution wishes to share with policymakers cost data and/or CUPA-HR’s fact sheet, summary and comments, and volunteer to participate in this outreach (be a resource!).
  • Finally, utilize the Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity’s grassroots portal to personally reach out to your members of Congress and voice your own concerns.

If you have any questions or need help implementing any of these steps, feel free to reach out directly to CUPA-HR’s government relations team (Josh Ulman at or Basil Thomson at