By Tommy Mann Jr. – For The Record

Orange County Commissioners are following a federal mandate to make changes to the employee pay matrix for certain exempt status employees to go into effect later this year.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Orange County Commissioners, the court unanimously approved a change to the pay matrix which is utilized by select exempt status employees. The change, which will go into effect on Dec. 1, 2016, will impact certain Exempt level 1 (E1) and Exempt level 2 (E2) employees with Orange County.

“This is a federally mandated change based on a recent update from the Department of Labor,” said Orange County Judge Brint Carlton. “It will help make sure employees aren’t being taken advantage of based on whether they are salary or hourly or to keep from paying overtime hours.”

According to the United States Department of Labor website, the Department of Labor proposed an update to regulations governing which executive, administrative, and professional employees, also commonly referred to as white collar workers, are entitled to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime pay protections. The Department of Labor last updated these regulations in 2004, and the current salary threshold for exemption is $455 per week, or $23,660 per year.

With this proposed rule, the Department of Labor has updated the salary level required for exemption to ensure that the FLSA’s intended overtime protections are fully implemented, and to simplify the identification of non-exempt employees, thus making the executive, administrative and professional employee exemption easier for employers and workers to understand and apply.

Currently, an E1 employee in Orange County starts at $38,022.40 per year. Based on Department of Labor mandated changes, the new annual salary for an E1 would be $47,476 per year. An E2 employee starts at $43,971.20 currently, but once the new change goes into effect in December, it will increase to $48,214.40.

Changes to the pay matrix base salary for an Orange County E1 employee with one to four years of service will change from $41,267.20 to $49,210.20; five to nine years of service will change from $46,196.80 to $50.944.40; and 10-14 years of service will change from $50,294.40 to $52,678.80. The salary of $54,412.80 for an E1 employee with 15 or more years of service in the county will not change.

For an E2 employee with one to four years, the base salary will change from $48,214.40 to 51,386.40 per year. The pay matrix rates for E2 employees in subsequent year blocks will not change.

There are no changes being made to the pay matrixes for E3 or E4 employees, non-exempt (NE) employees or professional employees.

The amount of employees who will be eligible for the pay matrix change in December will be minimal, according to Carlton, as he stated the majority of E1 and E2 employees with Orange County have 15 years or more of service.

Approximately seven E1 or E2 employees are anticipated to be impacted by the approved change to the pay matrix table.

County employees exempt from the Orange County Employees Pay Matrix classification system include those under the Orange County Auditors Department matrix, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office matrix from Collective Bargaining Agreement, and the Orange County Elected Official matrix.

In other county news, Carlton announced the county’s Emergency Management Coordinator’s position has been filled with the hiring of Charlie Cox, a 36-year employee with the Beaumont Fire Department, whose experience includes assisting with the wildfires in Bastrop, Hurricane Sandy along the East Coast and much more.

Carlton also said Missy Pillsbury, who had served as the county’s interim Emergency Management Coordinator, had been promoted to become the new Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator.