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These days, travel agencies need all the good news they can get.
On May 19, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it would remove travel agencies from a “blacklist” that prevented them from claiming an exemption to federal overtime rules.
ASTA calls the decision a “landmark win,” and a decision that they have been lobbying for since 2016.
The DOL’s previous ruling set a salary threshold under which full-time employees must be offered overtime pay. Certain industries were granted a retail exemption to this rule, yet travel agencies were unable to claim the exemption due to its inclusion on an “blacklist” of establishments that lack a retail concept, according to the DOL. Other industries on the blacklist included dry cleaners, laundromats, roofing companies and more.
ASTA has been actively engaging with policymakers on this issue for the better part of four years, but this kind of successful advocacy work is a team effort.
ASTA has long argued that travel agencies do in fact carry a retail concept, and that keeping them on the blacklist could prove disastrous to small or family-owned businesses, especially if the salary threshold continues to increase.
“We commend the Department of Labor for recognizing that travel advisors frequently work irregular hours to help clients facing travel disruptions, as seen most recently during the COVID-19 crisis, and that travel agencies should have the same access to this exemption from the overtime rules as any other retail business,” said Zane Kerby, president and CEO of ASTA, in a statement.
This week’s decision to remove the blacklist is applicable across all industries — not just travel — and the DOL says the rule will “provide greater simplicity and flexibility to retail industry employers.”
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“While sustaining their businesses through the coronavirus crisis is our members’ primary focus right now, this welcome step will provide a measure of regulatory relief once business returns,” said Eben Peck, ASTA’s executive vice president for advocacy. “ASTA has been actively engaging with policymakers on this issue for the better part of four years, but this kind of successful advocacy work is a team effort. If you attended ASTA Legislative Day, if you responded to our grassroots calls-to-action, if you contributed to ASTAPAC, or even if you supported ASTA with your membership dues, you share credit for this victory.”
The DetailsAmerican Society of Travel Advisorswww.asta.org