Remarks by U.S. Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith earlier this month have brought about some confusion as to when the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will issue the final revised rule on which employees are and are not eligible for overtime.

Smith suggested that the publication is unlikely before late next year, with speculation that it will come after the November presidential election. The DOL has been considering the revisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act for a while.

However, the primary responsibility for formulating the final regulations will come from the DOL’s Wage and Hour Divisions. Also complicating matters is whether electoral politics will guide any decisions.

Looking to the past, final exemption changes in 2004 took effect 120 days after publication, while Smith indicated that the new changes might allow only 60 days for employers to implement their compliance plan. “There has been some suggestion that a later-than-previously-anticipated publication date will offset the impact of a shortened ‘grace period,’” wrote attorney John E. Thompson in a blog post for the Fisher & Phillips law firm in Atlanta. “However, it does not seem to us that an employer’s having a longer period to ponder the many uncertainties presented by [the] DOL’s proposals is a meaningful substitute for adequate time to study and formulate actions in response to the actual, final regulations.”