Earlier this month, the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor reissued 17 opinion letters from the Bush administration.  The letters provide employers important guidance on a wide-range of issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The reinstatement marks the first publication of opinion letters since the DOL announced last June that it would bring back that form of guidance.  The Obama administration had eliminated the practice and withdrawn many existing opinion letters, including many of those reissued this month.

The reinstated letters do not upend any existing laws, but they provide important guidance and a possible safety net to employers facing similar situations. Many of the reinstated letters concerned application of Section 13(a)(1)’s overtime exemption for executive and administrative employees.  The letters also discussed whether certain bonuses must be included in the regular rate for purposes of calculating overtime and whether certain on-call time qualified as compensable working hours.

The letters contain a cover letter noting that someone had specifically asked the DOL to reissue that particular opinion letter.  Thus, employers who would like to rely on previously withdrawn opinion letters should consider asking the DOL to reissue them under its new policy.