Department of Labor expands overtime pay eligibility

Dental assistants, laboratory technicians affected


Employees earning less than $43,888, or $844 per week, will soon be eligible for overtime pay, according to a new rule issued by the U.S. Department of Labor. 

The Department of Labor released a final rule April 23 that raises the minimum salary threshold for certain overtime exemptions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The new salary minimum is a 23.3% increase over the current salary threshold of $35,568, or $684 per week. 

The ADA commented on the Labor Department’s original proposal in November 2023, which would have raised the minimum salary threshold to $55,068, or $1,059 per week. It would have been a nearly 55% increase over the prevailing minimum salary threshold. 

“We respectfully urge the Department of Labor to reconsider its economically significant proposal,” wrote then ADA President George R. Shepley, D.D.S., and Executive Director Raymond A. Cohlmia, D.D.S. “Around 20 percent of dental practices have over $500,000 in annual dollar volume and would be affected by this rule.” 

The ADA also argued that dental offices would be challenged to absorb heightened labor costs through price increases. 

“Rates are often fixed by third-party payers,” the ADA said. “Even if they could [raise fees], higher prices could be detrimental to the millions of Americans already struggling to pay for the dental care they need.” 

Under the new rule, which goes into effect July 1, the minimum salary threshold will increase to the equivalent of an annual salary of $43,888, or $844 per week. Currently, salaried workers must make less than $35,568, or $684 per week, to be eligible for overtime pay. 

This means that dental assistants, dental laboratory technicians and administrative staff earning less than $43,888, or $844 per week, would become eligible for overtime pay. As of May 2023, the mean annual wage for dental assistants was $47,350, and $52,390 for dental laboratory technicians, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The mean annual wage for medical office administrative staff was $43,380.

On Jan. 1, 2025, the minimum salary threshold will increase to $58,656, or $1,128 per week. 

Most dentists and dental hygienists earn above than the minimum salary threshold and would not be affected. 

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires most employers to pay employees a minimum wage and, for employees who work more than 40 hours in a week, overtime premium pay of at least 1.5 times the regular rate of pay. This includes both hourly and salaried employees. It is adjusted periodically to account for inflation and other factors. 

Beginning July 1, 2027, these earnings thresholds will be updated every three years to “keep pace with changes in worker salaries, ensuring that employers can adapt more easily because they’ll know when salary updates will happen and how they’ll be calculated,” according to the agency. 

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