Travel agencies now qualify for
an exemption to federal overtime rules for retail businesses after the Department of Labor eliminated a so-called “blacklist” that had included agencies.
ASTA has been lobbying for the change since 2016.
“We commend the Department of Labor for recognizing that
travel advisors frequently work irregular hours to help clients face travel
disruptions, as seen most recently during the Covid crisis, and that travel
agencies should have the same access to this exemption from the overtime rules
as any other retail business,” ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby said in a
Decades ago, the Department of Labor introduced a list of
businesses it said “lack a retail concept” and were unable to take advantage of
the exemption to overtime rules. The blacklist included travel
agencies, but ASTA has long believed many agencies do qualify as retail
establishments (a federal district court agreed in a 1997 court case brought by
a travel agency).
The Department of Labor said it made the change “to provide greater simplicity and flexibility to
retail industry employers.”
Now, so long as an agency meets the existing definition of a
retail establishment and other criteria, it can claim the exemption. The change
takes immediate effect.
The Labor Department’s action has the same effect as the
Travel Advisor Retail Fairness Act, a bill introduced in 2019 directing the
Secretary of Labor to revise the regulation and remove agencies from the blacklist,
ASTA said. The Society championed for the bill’s introduction.