KERN BUSINESS JOURNAL
Finding magazine articles with Ebsco Academic Search
New federal overtime rules changing workplace culture By Holly Culhane
J By Katherine Ross Today, you can have thousands of magazines at your fingertips — they all fit inside your computer and the library pays for the subscriptions. It’s a reality with Ebsco Academic Search Complete, one of the many online databases available through the Kern County Library. Outside the library, the database is easily accessible through our website, www.kerncountylibrary.org/research, along with your library card. Simply scroll down to click on the “Students” link and click “Access Database” beside the Academic Search logo. Academic Search includes 15 journals specific to real estate, housing or property. It contains a staggering 7,700 full-text journal titles, along with more than 1,000 full-text magazine titles. This database also contains more than 900 books, pamphlets, reports, speeches and conference proceedings, including the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. All these sources can lend an impressive range to almost any search. The database allows both general and specific searches. For example, a simple search for “real estate” yields 89,923 results. The “refine results” section on the left of the search results list allows you to narrow those results to full-text articles from the last three years, trade publications and United States to end up with only 19 results. An advanced search on mortgage lending, limiting to full text and current year yields 34 results. You can even limit to cover story articles, limit to peer-reviewed sources or look for articles in a specific periodical. This database, like all of Ebsco’s resources, has all the convenient options we’ve learned to expect. It allows for printing, emailing and saving results. With the “listen” link at the top of each article, it can be read to you. A nearby download symbol offers MP3 downloading to your computer. And there’s an iPhone and Android app link at the bottom of nearly every Ebsco page. Whether you’re a business professional, a student or just curious, Academic Search has something for everyone. And it’s brought to you by the Kern County Library. — Katherine Ross is a librarian at Beale Memorial Library, main branch of the Kern County Library System.
December 2016 / January 2017
ust days before controversial federal overtime rules were set to go into effect, they were blocked by a temporary injunction issued by a federal judge in Texas. While the injunction was celebrated by many in the business community, it may be causing confusion in workplaces that were pushing to meet the Dec. 1 compliance deadline. Since the rules were unveiled in July, we have been helping our clients take the necessary steps to bring their workplace practices into compliance. Although legal challenges, including the one in Texas, were pending, most employers decided to Holly Culhane move forward with making workforce changes to meet the deadline. The state of Texas led 21 states in a court challenge of the new overtime rules, which states contended would be too costly and would violate the U.S. Constitution’s state’s rights provisions. A consortium of business interests filed a similar lawsuit in September. Despite the issuance of the Texas injunction blocking the rule, the dispute could drag out in the courts for at least two months, until Donald Trump is sworn in as president on Jan. 20. It is unlikely that the incoming Republican administration will support the new overtime rules. And the Obama administration may be running out of time to defend them. Where does this leave employers now? That is a good question that is best answered in the context of how the new rules were conceived. As provided in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, employers are required to pay overtime to employees who work more than 40 hours a week. But current federal rules allow employers to “exempt” certain employees from being paid overtime if they make as little as $23,660 a year. California rules raise that number to $41,600. The new rules being enacted by the federal Department of Labor would have raised the federal threshold to $47,476 a year, higher than the current California minimum. In 2004, the administration of President George W. Bush raised the overtime pay threshold to $23,660, from $8,060 that was set in 1975. While the 2004 hike was unpopular with businesses, it was not challenged in court. The proposed new rules left employers with basically three options: increase exempt employee salaries to the higher threshold, reclassify hourly employees as salaried employees if they meet the criteria to do so, or reclassify salary employees as hourly employees and adjust the base pay to allow overtime. The easiest solution for many of our clients with lower-paid salaried or exempt employees was to just raise the employees’ salaries to the $47,476 annual threshold, but that presented budget problems and a potential cost increase in the goods and services they sell. However, in some cases, that is what they planned on implementing. The new rules also include an indexing schedule that tied the “exemption threshold” to the cost of living. In
issuing his injunction, the Texas judge concluded automatically raising the threshold in future years exceeds the Labor Department’s authority and intent of Congress. Some of our clients resisted adopting a salary scale requiring automatic raises. And others could not afford to pay their entry-level salaried employees more money. Those clients now are in the process of: • Auditing their workplaces — identifying how and why employees are working and being paid and identifying ways to balance workplace requirements with worker convenience and “tradition.” • Weighing the financial and productivity impacts of paying exempt employees more or converting exempt employees to hourly employees. • Determining the impacts reclassification will have on benefits, such as insurance coverage, vacation and flexible working hours. • Developing written policies to define how overtime will be earned, authorized and paid.
But prudent employers, who took cautious, conservative steps will nonetheless benefit from the close examinations they are giving to how they are managing their workforces, particularly their management of costly overtime. The biggest challenged they face is changing the “workplace culture.” Transitioning employees from salaried, or exempt, classifications to hourly ones can create some employee resistance. In light of the Nov. 22 issuance of the injunction that temporarily blocks enactment of the controversial overtime rules, some employers will likely consider the efforts they have expended on meeting the December compliance deadline as a colossal waste of time. It’s hard not to agree with that conclusion. But prudent employers, who took cautious, conservative steps will nonetheless benefit from the close examinations they are giving to how they are managing their workforces, particularly their management of costly overtime. And the fact remains, until the new overtime rules are rescinded, or a new administration comes into office and decides not to defend and enforce them, they still hang over employers’ heads. — Holly Culhane is president of the Bakersfieldbased human resources consulting firm P.A.S. Associates and P.A.S. Investigations. She can be contacted through her website www.PASassociates.com and through the PAS Facebook page.
The Real Estate Issue