Our Take on FLSA
By Lynese Hoffman, CGPR Executive Vice President, CFO and Founder
When founding Common Ground Public Relations more than 13 years ago, in an industry where a standard work week often requires 50 or more hours and tracking your time down to 15 minute increments is routine, we decided to base the firm’s business model on a 40-hour work week for all staff. We also structured our firm to give everyone an equal amount of paid time off and holiday pay (about 34 days a year) – whether you are an owner or a new staff member.
In doing so, we have created an atmosphere that allows the staff to learn, grow and consistently provide results for clients. We removed hierarchy and work collaboratively as a team. We give back to the community by taking on pro bono clients, and we advocate for our staff to join boards and attend professional development seminars as part of the 40-hour work week. Of course, there are plenty of weeks that require us to work more than 40 hours; often, a special event or launch of a new product can tip us over the threshold. Because we agree as a team to take on these projects, we are happy to put in the extra hours needed to garner results for our clients.
Yet here we are, facing the arrival of U.S. Department of Labor’s revised overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). As with most professional services firms, we have employees above and below the Department’s threshold (again, all privy to the same benefits, time off and professional perks). This means that from now on, we will be required to have the 40-hour regulation at the forefront when making new project decisions, we will have to be very precise in hourly estimations, and we may ultimately be forced to view pro bono work in a different light.
While the Department may have intended to aid workers toiling in lesser working conditions, the regulations are far reaching and carry the potential to do harm by way of limiting entry level hiring and curtailing over-service and pro bono work.
We’ve taken a lot of pride in how we created this agency and have deliberately created an environment that focuses on attracting the most talented people who are sincerely interested in delivering results for our clients.
What to do? We refuse to let the new overtime regulation change our philosophy, turn us into micromanagers or erode morale of our staff …so, we will walk a new fine line to balance the regulations, the needs of our clients, and our business.
We strive for work-life balance at CGPR; we are a well-managed firm and enjoy working hard, and that absolutely will continue.
For more information about the December 1, 2016 compliance deadline visit the Department of Labor.