Update about academic staff and the Fair Labor Standards Act

A message from members of the Academic Staff Executive Committee:

Dear Colleagues-

As you may know, on Wednesday, May 18, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued considerable changes to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The decision whether employees are exempt from overtime earnings is based on two items: the duties test and the salary threshold.  This change affects the salary threshold by raising it from $23,660 to $47,476 or $913 per week.  This means academic staff being paid the amount of less than $913 per week regardless of percent time may be affected by this change.  Changes must be implemented by December 1, 2016. 

DOL did include changes that will be specific to higher education.  These include that certain “academic administrative personnel” whose primary duty is to provide student support, such as advisors and counselors are exempt if they are paid at least as much as the entrance salary for teachers at their institutions.  The Office of Human Resources (OHR) and the Office of Legal Affairs are currently analyzing how “teacher” is defined under this context.  Athletic coaches and their assistants are exempt if their primary duty involves teaching (including instructing athletes on how to perform their sport, but not including recruitment).

The new FLSA requirements mean that there are more than one thousand academic staff at UW-Madison who do not currently meet the salary threshold and would need to move to non-exempt status.  Academic staff governance has been assured that academic staff who become non-exempt employees due to the change in salary threshold will remain academic staff and not change to university staff.  The UW-Madison HR Design project determined that the demarcation between University Staff and Academic Staff would be whether the position was FLSA exempt.  With the FLSA changes, academic staff positions will be determined by the FLSA duties test, not the salary threshold.  This means that academic staff who become non-exempt due to the salary change will not become university staff.

Visit the new FLSA website on the Office of Human Resources page at for additional information and updates.  Questions can be emailed to

Members of the Academic Staff Executive Committee

Bruno Browning
Aaron Crandall
Trish Iaccarino
Sarah Kuba
Heather McFadden, Chair
Michael Moscicke
Kevin Niemi, Vice Chair
Robert Newsom
Deb Shapiro

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