Area businesses feel law’s impact

By CHRIS BUCHER, Freeman Staff

Dec. 3, 2016

WAUKESHA - The Waukesha County Business Alliance would be one of the organizations affected by the overtime expansion law.

Because of the many events it offers to its member base, the number of hours its employees work varies daily. To make up for that difference, Waukesha County Business Alliance President and CEO Suzanne Kelley said they offer employees a short week during the summer to make up for the longer hours, closing at noon on Fridays.

However, that flexibility could become problematic with the new overtime law as it stands.

“We developed a plan, but we’re relieved we don’t have to implement it at this time,” Kelley said. “The way (the law proposal) was written, it created some hurdles for an organization like ours. We knew what we’d do if it went into effect, but it wouldn’t have had a positive impact on the alliance or our employees.”

Kelley added that an unintended consequence for the organization could also be decreased attendance at its many business-oriented events.

“Businesses are less likely to send employees to an early morning or lunchtime program if they had to pay overtime as well,” she said. “Right now they come and have a great time. If a program were to start at 7:30 a.m., it wouldn’t be so flexible. Some employers wouldn’t bother to send employees.”

Among other companies that would be most affected by the overtime expansion, small businesses and nonprofit organizations are at the forefront. That’s mainly because businesses that fall under those categories typically have fewer resources available compared to larger corporations and less “wiggle room.”

“We have heard from some that the financial impact, particularly on nonprofits, might be significant given how they’ve established their salaries for their exempt staff,” MRA Human Resource Government Affairs Director Kathryn Helmke said.

“I would say the real small business owners, employers with 25 employees or less, they too would have been more challenged by these rules as the nonprofits,” Laurie Greenlees, human resource business advisor/ manager for MRA, said.