You Never Heard Of The "Training Wage"?! (Updated 04/19/13)

by Fisher Phillips
Contact

Pressure continues to mount for raising the federal Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage in three stages from the current $7.25 per hour to (so far) $10.10 per hour. Under pending proposals, the rate would thereafter be subject to annual increases linked to rises in the Consumer Price Index.

Leaving aside for now questions about the wisdom of these measures, history suggests that Congressional negotiations are or soon will be underway to strike a bargain – one under which the increases will be passed in exchange for something that ostensibly alleviates some of the impact upon employers. Experience also counsels vigilance in the interests of steering these discussions toward a tradeoff that actually has value.

The Past Should Not Be Prologue

A good example of what not to do is found in the gimmick that was proudly held up as a worthwhile exchange for the minimum-wage increases beginning in 1990. This "training wage" temporarily allowed employers to pay 85% of the FLSA minimum wage for up to 90 days to workers less than 20 years old under a variety of restrictions and conditions. The employee could be paid the training wage for another 90 days by a different employer under certain circumstances.

This exception was soon hamstrung by complicated U.S. Labor Department rules consuming more than 9,000 words, 41 sections, and over 15 pages in the Code of Federal Regulations. By the time the "training wage" expired in 1993, whatever limited utility it might otherwise have had was entirely undercut by what one large employer referred to as an "administrative nightmare".

A similar provision was part of the agreement for minimum-wage hikes that began in 1996. We have addressed the still-existing "opportunity wage" elsewhere; suffice it to say that this too has been ineffectual.

Address Matters Of Substance Instead

If there is to be a deal, especially a groundbreaking one that puts future increases on "autopilot", then it should consist of truly meaningful FLSA reform. There are many worthy possibilities, but some we have discussed before include:

An amendment creating at least a presumption of accuracy for time records kept by non-exempt employees under a clear employer procedure requiring and facilitating accurate timekeeping;

A revision allowing employees to be deemed exempt from the FLSA's minimum-wage, overtime, and timekeeping requirements based simply upon their being paid compensation beyond a specific threshold;

A modification excluding many, most, or even all bonuses and incentive pay from the "regular rate of pay" used to compute FLSA overtime compensation; and

Raising the annual-dollar-volume threshold for FLSA "enterprise" coverage to a level higher than $500,000 (an amount set 23 years ago that equates to over $930,000 today) so as to protect small businesses from the impact of minimum-wage increases.

Another candidate would be permitting the private sector's use of compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay.  A bill to that effect was recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and has already been the subject of a committee hearing; perhaps this is in the offing as a tradeoff. Assuming for the moment that this amendment (as filtered through the inevitable U.S. Labor Department interpretations) would be of appreciable benefit, it would expire in five years. The proposed indexing of the minimum wage would not expire in five years; it seems ill-advised to sunset the benefit of the bargain.

Unless employers clearly and vigorously make their desires known to Congress without delay, the most that can probably be expected is something that will turn out to be as meaningless and soon-to-be-forgotten as the "training wage".

UPDATE 04/19/13: The "comp time" bill referred to in the post, H.R. 1406, has been approved by the Committee on Education and the Workforce for consideration by the full House of Representatives. The current version still contains the five-year "sunset" provision.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Fisher Phillips | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Fisher Phillips
Contact
more
less

Fisher Phillips on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.