DOL’s Overtime Rule Means Change for Employers in Colorado

While some employees might well be rejoicing, recent changes in overtime rules have some employers concerned. When the Department of Labor’s Overtime Rule was announced in May 2016, it introduced some important changes that will surely impact employees and employers for small businesses, non-profits and universities in Colorado. Among the many provisions within the rule, it provides for several items of note for salaried employees, including:

  • Establishes a mechanism for automatically adjusting employee income levels every three years
  • Sets standards for salary levels of the lowest-wage regions of the U.S., based on Census data
  • Allows employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments to satisfy up to 10% of the new salary level

The DOL has released a downloadable fact sheet that answers a great deal of the questions surrounding the new rule, but despite a plethora of information and guidance available, Colorado employers are still trying to get their heads around the many ways it will affect their businesses. While it might seem like a raise is on the horizon for some employees, it could be that only a few employees at any given company will see an increase in their own compensation, and some employers might decide their resources are spread far too thin to implement the new rule the way it’s written, so could switch some employees from salaried to hourly or other another status.

The rule is intended to update overtime thresholds (which have been updated only twice in the last 40 years) for employees who are currently exempt from overtime pay, and even though the new rule is set to take effect December 1, 2016, there are some lawmakers who have presented legislation designed to roll the rule out in phases, with full thresholds being met entirely by December 1, 2019. Representatives who introduced the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act would like to have the threshold spread over three years. This “phasing in” period, they believe would give more time to employers, so they can adjust to the new rule in increments, both financially, and in relation to staffing needs. Their position is summarized by Congressman Kurt Schrader, who states:

“Without sufficient time to plan for the increase, cuts and demotions will become inevitable, and workers will actually end up making less than they made before,” says Schrader. “It’s long past time we strengthen overtime pay protections for American workers in a meaningful and effective way.”

The Colorado Division of Labor provides extensive details on the laws surrounding employee overtime in our state, and the new rule from the DOL provides equal details on ways for employees to be in compliance, some businesses and organizations in the state might find the new rule hard to implement, due to strained resources. Organizations in Colorado like the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry (CACI) have voiced concerns that the rule can hurt employers, particularly smaller ones, while proponents contend the rule provides the compensation that employees deserve for the hours they put into their work.

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Lawyer. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email:

Denver’s Housing Crunch and The Impact on Small Business

Denver’s Housing Crunch and The Impact on Small Business

News of Denver’s housing crunch isn’t really anything new, as reports of the housing shortage have been in the spotlight for the last few years. What is new is the toll it’s taking on small businesses and the employees that work for them. Current figures estimate Colorado grew by as much as 101,000 residents during the previous 12 months, and with growth like that, jobs and the competition to get them is fierce.

Live, Work, but Where?
With such explosive population numbers, housing becomes a greater concern, as most people prefer to work close to where they live, but as people try to find a place to live, low inventory of properties both for rent and purchase, there are often more people than places to house them. Home-seekers are pushed further and further from the metro in order to locate the housing they need, and this can sometimes drive those same people to chose work that is closer to their new residence. For small businesses, this can spell trouble because the talent they need might now reside too far away to make the drive worth it. This can breed some competition for the employee, and create a type of “wage bidding war”, but not all small businesses are ready for the fight and have to stick close to their compensation budgets to maintain steady footing themselves.

Talent Gap
And speaking of talent, a recent CU-Boulder survey indicated that Colorado businesses overall are concerned about a talent shortage, meaning there appears to be a lack of skilled employees for small businesses to choose from, even though there are a great deal of people entering the state. This means companies will be challenged to do more things than usual to both acquire and keep the best hires for their needs.

The talent shortage cuts across many industries, including tech, as well as construction and medical. However, it’s not all bleak; economic forecasts point to another strong year of job growth, which will continue to help Colorado enjoy unemployment rates and decreased consumer inflation.

A Different Kind of Competition
Despite the pressing issues of housing and a talent gap, small businesses in the Denver area are also presented with a unique opportunity; they can leverage to get the people they want, while at the same time out-witting their competition. Because people aren’t always motivated by just money, employers have a chance to offer other things that could attract the ideal hire. People cite the “Work/Life Balance” as something that drives them towards certain opportunities, as well as versatile framework in which to get the work done. Employers can offer work-from-home or flextime schedules, on-site daycare, and a host of other perks that might help them secure just the perfect next hire. Small businesses that can tap into some of the intrinsic needs of their employees will inevitably be the ones that entice the right people to work for them, even if they have to live out in the suburbs.

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email:

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Real Estate Services for Business Owners

Elizabeth Lewis provides the following real estate law services to small and medium sized business owners in Denver and throughout Colorado:

  • Commercial real estate purchases
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