New 2024 DOL Salary Requirements: How to Prepare As A Small Business Payroll Manager

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Preparing for new 2024 DOL Salary Requirements

The upcoming 2024 Department of Labor (DOL) salary requirements bring a big change for small business payroll managers. With higher salary thresholds and different overtime rules set to start, it’s crucial to adapt quickly to avoid facing penalties for not following the rules. This strategic adjustment needs a thorough look at how employees are classified, possible salary changes, and clear communication with teams about the upcoming changes. But how can you make sure your business is fully ready to meet these new rules? Let’s look at the best ways to keep payroll in line with the rules and create a fair pay structure in your organization.

Exempt Employee Salary Threshold Increases

Managing the upcoming salary threshold increases for exempt executive, administrative, and professional employees is a vital task. The standard salary level is set to go up from $684 per week ($35,568 annually) to $844 per week ($43,888 annually) on July 1, 2024, and then to $1,128 per week ($58,656 annually) on January 1, 2025. These changes, approved by the Department of Labor (DOL), will significantly impact small businesses’ payroll management strategies.

The adjustments to the standard salary level may have significant financial implications for businesses. They must ensure that their exempt employees’ salaries meet or exceed the new thresholds, which might require budget reassessments and potential resource reallocation. Failure to comply with these federal regulations could result in hefty penalties and legal issues.

For businesses with exempt employees whose salaries are close to the new thresholds, there are different considerations. These organizations may need to weigh the cost of increasing employee salaries to meet the new threshold against reclassifying employees as non-exempt and paying overtime when necessary. This decision should consider not only the financial impact but also how it might impact employee morale and productivity.

Moreover, the sharp rise in the salary threshold from 2024 to 2025 requires early planning and ongoing evaluation. Businesses need to consider future payroll costs and the possible need for strategic staffing decisions.

Action Steps for Payroll Managers

  • Review Current Salaries: Compare the salaries of exempt employees with the new thresholds to identify who will need adjustments.
  • Budget Planning: Allocate budget resources to accommodate these increases without harming your business’s financial stability.
  • Transparent Communication: Clearly and promptly inform your employees about these changes to manage expectations and maintain morale.

Changes to Department of Labor Overtime Rules

In addition to the salary threshold adjustments, there are also significant changes to the overtime rules that small businesses need to be aware of. These changes mainly affect Highly Compensated Employees (HCEs) and involve automatic updates to salary and compensation levels.

Starting from July 1, 2024, the total annual compensation requirement for HCEs will see a substantial increase. It will go up from the current $107,432 to $132,964 per year. Just six months later, on January 1, 2025, it will jump even higher to $151,164 per year. These changes are significant and can have a big impact on small businesses’ payroll management strategies. Therefore, it’s important for payroll managers to plan ahead and adjust their payroll structures accordingly.

Adding to the complexity, the Department of Labor’s rule introduces automatic updates to these salary and compensation levels every three years. The first of these automatic updates is scheduled for July 1, 2027. This introduction of automatic updates means that payroll managers will need to stay alert and ensure they are up-to-date with the most recent salary and compensation requirements.

In essence, these changes to the overtime rules are likely to bring more complexity to the role of small business payroll managers. It’s recommended that businesses start preparing now for these changes, carefully recalibrating their payroll strategies and ensuring their financial planning is robust enough to accommodate these new rules.

Preparing for Compliance Changes

  • Stay Informed: Keep abreast of changes to the Department of Labor’s overtime rules.
  • System Updates: Proactively adjust your payroll systems to reflect these new thresholds and ensure accurate tracking of hours.
  • Financial Planning: Consider the financial implications of maintaining exempt status versus reclassifying employees as non-exempt, which could allow for operational flexibility but requires strict tracking of overtime hours.

The Crucial Role of Payroll Managers

Understanding the complexities of the 2024 DOL salary requirements, small business payroll managers have significant responsibilities. As the primary facilitators of payroll operations, they are expected to stay updated on the latest Department of Labor (DOL) regulations and their implications for payroll management. This responsibility involves comprehending the new requirements and keeping an eye on the changing labor laws landscape to ensure ongoing compliance.

A key duty they have is clearly communicating any changes in employment status or salary adjustments to affected employees. This task requires a deep understanding of the new salary requirements and excellent communication skills to effectively convey these changes. It’s essential for employees to understand how these changes impact their compensation and working conditions.

Moreover, small business payroll managers need to adopt best practices for timekeeping and payroll management to maintain compliance with the new rules. This includes implementing reliable systems for tracking employee hours, overtime, and other relevant factors. The goal is to maintain accurate records that can withstand a DOL audit if needed.

The role of the small business payroll manager is intricate, involving a delicate balance of technical knowledge, communication skills, and strategic planning. As we approach 2024, these professionals will play a vital role in managing the new DOL salary requirements, ensuring that small businesses stay compliant while also fostering a fair and transparent workplace for their employees.

Salary Basis Test Unchanged

Despite the introduction of new salary requirements in 2024, the DOL rule maintains the same standards for the salary basis test. This test remains a cornerstone of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in determining whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt from overtime pay. The rules state that employees must be paid on a salary basis, meaning they receive a predetermined amount of compensation each pay period, which is not subject to reduction based on the quality or quantity of work performed.

This stipulation brings predictability to employee compensation, safeguarding them from potential pay fluctuations due to varying work performances. From a payroll management perspective, this rule emphasizes the importance of maintaining consistent payroll practices and ensuring that employees are paid their full salaries for any week in which they perform work, regardless of the number of hours worked.

Although the salary basis test remains unchanged, the salary levels required for exempt status will increase significantly. Payroll managers need to ensure that all exempt employees meet these new thresholds to maintain their status and avoid legal complications.


In summary, the new 2024 DOL salary requirements require small business payroll managers to prepare and adapt diligently. By grasping the higher salary thresholds, understanding the overtime rule changes, and staying compliant, organizations can avoid penalties and ensure fair compensation.

Keeping accurate records, communicating effectively, and taking proactive steps in response to these evolving regulations are crucial for maintaining financial stability in the business. Therefore, these requirements demand a fresh emphasis on top payroll management practices.

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Christina Hageny

President - Valor Payroll Solutions

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Christina Hageny

President - Valor Payroll Solutions

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