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Updates to Fair Labor Standards Acts Take Effect

August 24, 2004

Updates to Fair Labor Standards Acts Take Effect
August 24, 2004 – The long-awaited updates to the Fair Labor Standards Acts went into effect yesterday. The updated regulations redefine who must be paid time and one-half for work over 40 hours and represent the first overhaul of the job duty requirements in the regulations since 1949. The new changes offer some assistance for tour operators; however, some union leaders say they fear the new rules may actually mean less money in their paychecks.

The Labor Department says the changes are meant to protect low-wage workers and limit lawsuits. They hope the new rules will strengthen overtime rights for 6.7 million American workers, including 1.3 million low-wage workers who were denied overtime under the old rules. Some groups, including the AFL-CIO, say the new rules will thwart six million workers from getting time and a half.

The new law offers some assistance to tour operators and tour directors wanting exempt status for tour directors. The new Department of Labor regulations provide clearer guidance as to the definition of "discretion and independent judgment." The clearer language was meant to forestall litigation in the future and will help tour operators classify tour directors as exempt employees.

However, NTA and USTOA asked the Department of Labor to list tour directors as an "example" of an exempt class. The Department of Labor did not do so, even though tour directors agreed with the NTA/USTOA position and NTA/USTOA met with the Department of Labor on several occasions to discuss the issue. NTA and its allies will continue to work with the US Department of Justice to secure explicit regulatory treatment of tour directors.

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