Out of time on overtime

Noncommercial operators deal with the aftermath of a wage law in purgatory.

overtime payroll timesheet

Just eight days before Dec. 1, when operators would have to comply with the U.S. Department of Labor’s new overtime rules, a federal judge in Texas slapped an injunction on the regulation. The move indefinitely halted the rules that would have doubled the overtime threshold to $47,476, affecting nearly 4.2 million workers, according to the DOL. For some operators, the move was too little, too late. Now, they have to answer to employees who had been briefed on promised wage increases.

Kansas Memorial Union at the University of Kansas in Lawrence made changes ahead of the deadline and decided not to reverse course after the ruling. “Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, you can’t put it back in,” says Mark Petrino, KU’s director of dining. The rules affected 31 salaried staff members at a significant cost to the operations’ labor line, says Petrino. Dining gave eight people raises based on job duties, and converted the rest to hourlies, which would make them exempt. “Luckily, we have money in reserve for unforeseen matters,” he says. “Plus, we were aware of this last year during budget time, so we earmarked money just for this possibility.”

Only three members of the dining services team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign would have been affected by the law. The dining team had already met with each worker to discuss updating their salary, and decided to move forward with the plan. “We told each individual that we value them and recognize their contribution; as a result, they were increased,” says Dawn Aubrey, associate director of housing for dining services. “It was viewed as a promise that we would keep.”

Some operations are waiting on HR departments to give them the green light, funneling all worker communication about the matter through them. Only two hospitality services employees at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., fell under the scope of the law, because the department took steps to reign in overtime after a different regulation passed in 2010. “We control overtime pretty closely already,” says Randy Lait, senior director of hospitality services. “We had more of a strategic change in scheduling in response to the Affordable Care Act, which resulted in us scheduling 30 hours or less for many employees.”

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chefs

We started inviting chefs and FSDs from other districts to come prepare lunch. Through featuring different chefs and chef-inspired meals, I’ve found the students have been looking forward to coming into the cafeteria. They are willing to try new things with crazy names, and to ask for their favorite outside items turned healthy.

Ideas and Innovation
tapas

I’ve created a high school “focus group” to see what future college students will want in terms of foodservice. This year, I called up two now-seniors from the last group to get 10 of their friends together. I also include a sophomore or two so that I always have a contact for next year. Tapas, grain bowls and late-night breakfast all originated from this group.

Ideas and Innovation
making meals

This summer, we teamed up with a church to deliver meals to three housing projects. We brought the meals to the church, and then the church recruited volunteers to deliver the meals to the children. We’ve been very impressed with this new model, and it shows great promise in getting meals to children who otherwise would not be able to leave their housing project.

Industry News & Opinion
sharing love

Having never personally experienced a hurricane, I can only imagine the horrors faced by the millions of people whose lives were affected by Harvey and Irma in late August and early September. It’s a group that comprises uncounted noncommercial operations, including Houston Independent School District, which serves 215,000 students.

But from that tragedy has come one of the most impressive feats of foodservice I’ve seen since coming on board at this magazine, partially spearheaded by Nutrition Officer Betti Wiggins , who only just joined the district. For the entire school year,...

FSD Resources