Labor Department Answers Questions Regarding Academic Overtime

Labor Department Answers Questions Regarding Academic Overtime

Learn about what the Labor Department has decided in terms of awarding academic overtime compensation.

Previously, the Labor Department determined that adjuncts teaching face-to-face classes were not eligible for overtime.  Recently, the Department also ruled that online or remote instructors and postdoctoral fellows who do work outside of teaching were ineligible.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act states that nonexempt employees receive minimum wages and well as overtime pay for working over 40 hours per week.  Professors have historically been exempt from this act, meaning that they do not receive overtime pay.  However, it has recently been argued that adjuncts now do most of the teaching but lack the benefits and pay afforded to their full-time counterparts.  This is why they require the compensation offered by overtime pay.

Additionally, faculty advocates point out that lawmakers and administrators are underestimating the amount of time that adjuncts work because they focus only on the hours logged in the classroom.  When the time spent grading papers, preparing lectures, advising, and so on is taken into account, it’s clear that most adjuncts are working overtime without receiving compensation.

Despite the efforts of faculty advocates, the Department of Labor still ruled adjuncts as exempt from the provisions made in the Fair Labor Standards Act.  The following positions were listed as qualifying for this exemption:

  • Professors
  • Instructors
  • Adjunct professors
  • Faculty members who teach online or remotely
  • Athletic coaches
  • Librarians
  • Psychologists
  • Public accountants
  • Certified athletic trainers
  • Postdoctoral fellows
  • Graduate teaching assistants

Currently, a new overtime rule proposal from the Labor Department is expected to later this year.

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