WageWatch Ibrief Blog

Login

Blog Archives

DOCKING EXEMPT EMPLOYEE PAY

The application and rules for the federal FLSA salary basis test are often misunderstood and not administered accurately or consistently.

First, let’s understand what the term “salary basis” means.  An exempt employee that regularly receives a predetermined amount of base salary each workweek is paid on a “salary basis”.  This applies to employees who are determined to be exempt under the federal FLSA exemption tests including both the minimum salary test and qualifying under one of the duties tests (i.e., administrative, executive, professional, outside sales, etc.).  The minimum weekly salary that must be paid to ‘exempt’ employees under the federal rules is $455.  Please refer to your federal and state wage and hour for exceptions to the salary requirements.  The salary basis pay requirement for exempt status does not apply to some jobs (for example, doctors, lawyers, and schoolteachers are exempt even if the employees are paid hourly).

Now let’s talk about the Salary Basis Test.  An employee’s ‘exempt’ status can be jeopardized if the salary basis test rules are not followed.  The Salary Basis test provides rules regarding what pay deductions can and cannot be made to exempt employees’ weekly base salary.  Generally, the predetermined weekly salary cannot be reduced because of variations in the quality or quantity of the employee’s work.  Except for a few permissible deductions, an exempt employee must receive the full base salary for any work week in which the employee performs any work, regardless of the number of days or hours worked.  This includes any work done remotely such as checking email and voicemail.  An employer cannot make deductions from an employee’s predetermined base salary, because of a business slowdown or lack of available work.

The FLSA salary basis test applies only to reductions in monetary amounts.  Requiring an employee to charge absences from work to leave accruals is not a reduction in “pay,” because the monetary amount of the employee’s paycheck remains the same.

Full Day deductions from pay are permissible when an exempt employee:

  • Is absent from work for one or more full days for personal reasons other than sickness or disability
  • For absences of one or more full days due to sickness or disability, if the deduction is made in accordance with a bona fide sick leave or PTO plan, policy or practice of providing compensation for salary lost due to illness
  • To offset amounts employees receive as jury or witness fees, or for military pay
  • For partial week worked during the initial or terminal week of employment
  • For weeks in which an exempt employee takes unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act,
  • Deductions in pay are also permitted for intermittent FMLA leave when the weekly base salary is reduced to coincide exactly with the reduced work week
  • When an exempt performs no work for a full workweek.

For the following two permissible deductions, you should have communicated formal policy(s) detailing disciplinary procedures:

  • For penalties imposed in good faith for infractions of safety rules of major significance
  • For unpaid disciplinary suspensions of one or more full days imposed in good faith for workplace conduct rule infractions

It is important that as an employer, you have a clearly communicated policy permitting or prohibiting improper deductions from exempt employees’ base salary including a complaint mechanism and reimbursement to employees when improper deductions are made.  You should also have a clearly communicated policy for your exempt employees stating that under no circumstances should work be performed during unpaid time off.   The exempt status of your employees will be safe as long as you have clearly communicated policies in place, make good faith efforts to comply with the salary basis test and can show that willful violations have not been made.  For full details regarding federal FLSA, visit http://www.wagehour.dol.gov and links to your state labor department can be found at http://www.dol.gov/whd/contacts/state_of.htm.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practices data that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards.  For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

IT’S TIME TO ADJUST YOUR SALARY STRUCTURE

Maintaining a salary structure that aligns with the organization’s pay philosophy and is competitive to the labor market is imperative for any organization.  Most organizations update their salary structure every one to two years, as budget permits.  However, during the recent recession, some organizations chose not to increase their salary structures for cost containment and/or a lack of competitive pressure to do so.  For 2017, the stronger U.S. economy and increased employer confidence should continue to bolster job gains, and economists expect the previously sluggish wage growth to accelerate.  Whether or not you’ve adjusted your salary structure during the past few years, it is certainly time to do so now.

The review of your salary structure should determine whether it is still aligned with the company’s needs, pay philosophy and the labor market.  Salary structure adjustments maintain the structure’s competitiveness with the external labor market and protect an organization’s ability to compete in the market place for talented employees.  If the salary structure gets out of sync with the overall labor market, a company may find itself paying employees too much and needlessly increasing operating costs, or paying employees too little and having difficulty attracting and retaining talent.  Salary-structure issues are less expensive to address early on so it is best to review your salary structure annually for any needed changes.  If you wait two or three years to review and adjust, the labor market can move significantly upward in that period of time and the cost of salary range adjustments and resulting salary increases can be substantial.

Other business changes and events may warrant a review of the salary structure, such as the company’s merger or acquisition, or a competitor opening or closing a facility that impacts the company’s operations.  At times during the year hiring managers may alert you to possible salary-structure issues and their insight can indicate that specific areas of the salary structure are out of alignment.  But there may be other factors that the manager is not aware of, such as an organization’s strategic decision to set pay levels above or below the market median.

There are two basic methods for updating your salary structure and many companies will alternate the two methods, performing the ‘quick’ adjustment one year and the ‘in-depth’ adjustment the following year.

  1. The Quick Adjustment method is where you collect and consider trend or annual merit increase information, then adjust your ranges by a percentage you view as necessary to remain competitive. Trend and annual merit increase surveys are published every year and most companies rely more on average or median salary increase figures.
  2. The In-Depth Adjustment method is where you select a representative sample of benchmark jobs using currently published compensation surveys for your competitive market. Collect the competitive salary data, and then compare your salary range mid-points to the market medians or the percentile that you chose to compete with for the benchmark jobs. The results will help you determine the degree to which your ranges should be adjusted and also identify any jobs or job families whose pay is moving at a different pace than the rest of the market and may need re-graded. This methodology requires more data and time to complete.

Alternating annually between these two methods should maintain competitiveness, cost efficiency, and save time from performing the In-Depth Adjustment analysis every year.  Any resulting increases from the structure movement should be minimal and workable within the current budget year.

It is also important to remember that established pay grades, the jobs’ placement within the pay grades and well-maintained job descriptions are the nuts and bolts of the salary structure.  Companies change over time and job functions and duties can also change.  Keeping job descriptions accurate and reflecting the core duties of each position will be essential to appropriate and competitive salary ranges and pay.

Companies should consider the reassessment of their salary administration programs, along with all of their compensation plans, as a vital and ongoing part of the program’s success.  Assessing the program to ensure that it continues to meet your company’s needs is perceived as a credible and functional part of the Human Resources process, and will enhance your company’s ability to remain a competitive force in the marketplace.  When was the last time your organization reviewed its salary structure(s)?

At WageWatch, we offer accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data, salary reports and consulting services that will allow you to stay current with the times.  This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. WageWatch, Inc. is the leading compensation survey provider for the lodging and gaming industries with 6,000 properties participating in its PeerMark™ Wage Survey.  WageWatch also conducts compensation surveys for other business and industry segments including healthcare and non-profits.  For more information on our services, including market compensation data, benefits survey data, salary reports, and consulting services, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

 

BUDGET SEASON: ARE YOU PREPARED?

It’s that time of year again when companies are preparing their budgets for the upcoming year.   For HR professionals, it is probably not one of your favorite tasks, but by embracing the process, it can be an opportunity to reinforce the HR function as a strategic partner.

Budgets are used to monitor progress toward goals, help control spending, and predict cash flow and profit.  The challenge is predicting the future 100% accurately and in turn developing effective budgets.

It is valuable for HR to gain a strong understanding and appreciation for the value of good annual budgeting.  In most companies, employee costs constitute the majority of fixed costs and therefore the HR budget contains key and critical elements of the overall company budget.

Here are a few things you can do to make the budget process a smoother one:

  1. Throughout the year, ensure to include the CFO when reviewing such things as pay increases with the CEO.  This can go a long way to developing a partnership with the CFO.
  2. The credibility of the HR function is significantly improved when you can demonstrate real savings and value for HR projects and processes.
  3. Empower your HR team.  Every HR team member should own their line items in the budget.  For example, recruiting is responsible for their search firm fees, recruiting tools, and relocation.
  4. Link the development of your budget to corporate strategy.  This gives a clearer understanding of strategic goals.  And, in turn, should create greater support for the goals, and, a stronger company-wide performance. The key to linking the two is communication.  In order to communicate strategic goals, top management needs information about customers, competitors, technology, etc., and this information must come from support units such as Human Resources.
Budgeting requires the collection of many forms of data. From a human resource   perspective, listed below are some items that would be included in the budget:

Recruiting

  • Advertising & agency fees
  • Employee referral program
  • Background checks / drug testing
  • Recruitment expenses
  • Applicant tracking system costs

Training

  • Training programs
  • Travel expenses
  • Consulting fees

Compensation and Benefits

  • Payroll costs
  • Salaries  & overtime
  • Compensation surveys / benefit surveys
  • Incentive compensation
  • Health and welfare benefits
  • Retirement plan
  • Employee assistance program

Employee and Labor Relations

  • Recognition program  / Service Awards
  • Employee Opinion Survey
  • Performance appraisal software
  • Employment and Labor relations expenses (attorneys, consultants)

Other

  • Strategic planning (data/consultants)
  • HR databases such as HRIS/subscriptions/memberships/books

At WageWatch our compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs and help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives.  WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary surveys that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online .

TO CHECK OR NOT TO CHECK: A BACKGROUND CHECKS PRIMER

Conducting thorough pre-employment background checks are a critical tool in mitigating new hire risks. There are many types of background checks available to HR professionals that can be conducted in-house or externally by vendors who specialize in employment screenings.  HR professional should take a strategic view of onboarding as a process.  By doing so, several layers of checks and screenings are implemented to best reduce new hire risks.  It is the old adage that the result is more than the sum of its parts.

The new hire selection process starts with the job advertisement or announcement.  The announcement needs to be designed to attract specific skills and behaviors while discouraging those without.  Posting in the advertisement that the position requires a drug test or criminal background check is a potent deterrent.  Those still interested should be directed to a job application that captures information that will form the groundwork for the pre-employment screenings in the next recruitment phase.

The EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; Age Discrimination Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act; Equal Pay Act; and Title II of the Genetic Information Act.  Employers are welcome to use all manner of pre-employment screenings – as long as they comply with EEOC standards.  None of these Acts directly prohibit employment discrimination based on credit information, conviction records, previous employment, education, or psychological/behavioral profiles.  However, the EEOC has a published a Compliance Manual and provides guidance on a number of pre-employment scenarios, because of the disparate impact facially neutral policies can have on these numerous protected classes.

This is the tightrope that causes many HR professionals to gloss over background checks out of fear of inadvertently triggering an EEOC investigation.  What you don’t know, can hurt you.  HR has a duty to the company to traverse this tightrope and understand the often gray and contradictory playing field (between state and federal guidelines) in which they conduct pre-employment screenings.

Criminal Background Checks – Treat each criminal record individually in the context of the job sought, work environment and conditions, and risk to the organization. Ask the candidate about the situation. Deliberate omission and lies can be used a basis to disqualify the candidate.

Credit Check – Most commonly used for positions that have are executive level, have financial responsibility, or have access to confidential information such as social security numbers to reduce the risk of theft or embezzlement.  Allow candidates the opportunity to explain negative results as some reasons, such as medical bills, are protected.

Physical/Medical Exam – This screening is allowed only after a conditional offer of employment is extended and is used in specific jobs that require a proof of fitness in order to safely perform duties.  All candidates in the job category are required to have the same medical examination.  The candidate medical history is confidential and must be kept separate from employment records.  HR professionals need to keep in mind that the medical examiner does not make the final hiring decision.

Motor Vehicle Record – This is a critical check for positions that are required to operate a company vehicle as part of the job requirement.  In some states, DUI convictions are kept with the DMV not the criminal court system.  There are vendors that make multi-state verification easier by consolidating searches.

Work & Education History – Past performance is a strong indicator of future performance.  The goal of the work history and education background check is to establish that the glowing resume represented to the recruiter is factual and accurate.  On education, check with the governing body on the authenticity of the degree.  We recommend asking for full transcripts for recent graduates with a short work history.

As a company, it is important for you to understand the new regulations set forth by the EEOC and implement them in your hiring and workplace practices.  Additionally, for the good of your employees, it is helpful to analyze benefits survey data, compensation surveys, and salary reports.  Having this information at hand allows you to plan a budget, including competitive employee salaries and benefits, which will help you to hire and retain a happy, talented team.

At WageWatch, our expert evaluators provide businesses in a large range of industries with accurate and beneficial benefits survey data, compensation surveys, and salary reports to ensure that payment and benefits plans are on par with those in the industry. For more information on market compensation data, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

COMPENSABLE TIME

Employers need to ensure they count all worked hours as paid hours for their non-exempt staff. For example, when an employee eats lunch at their workstation or desk and their lunch is interrupted by work such as answering phones or email, the employee is working and must be paid for that time because the employee has not been completely relieved from duty.

If the employer has a policy that is expressly and clearly communicated to the employee regarding a specific length of time for a break, any unauthorized extensions of that break time do not need to be counted as hours worked. Bona fide meal periods (typically 30 minutes or more) generally need not be compensated as work time. However, the employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purpose of eating regular meals.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), doesn’t require employers to provide meal or rest breaks, though some states do require such breaks and the rules can also be different for younger workers. You can find a list of state meal and rest break laws at the Department of Labor’s website at http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/meal.htm and http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/rest.htm.

Employers that fall under the federal guidelines do not have to pay for meal or rest breaks unless:
• The employee works through or during their break
• The break lasts 20 minutes or less
• The break is interrupted by work

Some other compensable time under the federal rules can include waiting time, on-call time, attendance at meetings and training programs, travel time and performing work outside of work hours such as checking emails.

Waiting time may or may not be hours worked depending on the circumstances. If an employee needs to wait before a duty can start such as a firefighter waiting for an alarm, then the employee is ‘engaged to wait’ and this time is worked time and must be paid.

On-Call Time is paid time if the employee is required to remain on the employer’s premises. In most cases, the on-call time does not have to be paid when an employee is not required to remain on the employer’s premises. However additional requirements put on the on-call time that further limits the employee’s freedom could require the time to be compensated.

Attendance at meetings or training programs is paid time when any of the following conditions are true:
• It is during normal work hours
• It is mandatory (if the employee feels that they should or need to attend, then it is mandatory)
• It is job-related

Travel time may be paid time or not depending upon the kind of travel involved. Regular commute time to and from the work site is not paid time. When the employee works at a different work site location then any commute time that is greater than the employee’s regular commute time to their usual work site needs to be counted as paid time. Travel that is part of the regular work duties, such as travel from job site to job site during the workday, is work time and must be counted as hours worked. Overnight travel is work time and must be paid time.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives and that your pay practices are fair, equitable and non-discriminatory. We can provide your business with compensation surveys and salary reports to help you establish a budget for your merit pay program, including bonuses and incentives. Our innovative company is a leader in the collection of data for surveys and salary reports, which allows us to provide services to a wide range of industries in both the private and public sector. To learn more about our compensation surveys, salary reports, and other services, please call 480-237-6130 or contact us online.

MINIMUM WAGE UPDATE JULY 2017

Voters in four states Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington approved ballot measures that will raise their state minimum wage by between 43% and 60% over the next few years. Arizona, Colorado, and Maine will incrementally increase their minimum wages to $12 an hour by 2020. Washington’s will be increased incrementally to $13.50 an hour by 2020.

State increases that are effective July – December 2017 include Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Washington DC, and USVI.

State and City minimum wage increases continue to make front page news. An unprecedented number of cities and counties have moved to adopt higher local minimum wages. In addition, cities are proposing substantially higher wage levels than in past years. Cities with minimum wage ordinances include San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle (SEA-TAC), Montgomery County and Prince Georges County MD, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and others have already approved increases. Many other cities have ordinances that become effective in 2017 and beyond.

Follow this link to the WageWatch Minimum Wage Chart with details of federal, state and local minimum wage and pending increases: Minimum Wage Chart

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practices data that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

DO YOU PAY EQUITABLY AND FAIRLY ENOUGH TO SATISFY EEOC?

You may think you are paying your employees fairly and equitably until the EEOC comes knocking at your door to perform an audit. It is commonly known that EEOC requires that all employees are treated fairly regardless of national origin, race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy and sexual orientation), disability or genetic information. And for employers with 20 or more employees, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act requires that you treat workers over 40 the same and younger workers. To be in complete compliance with EEO regulations, none of these factors can be used when you are hiring, promoting, disciplining and laying off workers. Additionally, private employers with at least 15 employees who work for you for 20 weeks or more a year must also comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and if you have a federal contract or subcontract you may be subject to EEO guidelines. Less commonly known is that fair treatment must also be extended to employees who marry someone of a different national origin, race, religion or color. What you don’t know can hurt you and therefore periodic pay equity self-audits are essential.

All forms of pay are covered by these regulations, for example; base salary, overtime pay, shift differentials, discretionary or non-discretionary bonuses, stock options, profit sharing plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, travel expenses, and benefits. If an inequality in wages between men and women is found, it cannot be corrected by reducing the wages of either sex.

To properly analyze your pay practices, you need to identify all factors that influence all types of compensation. Influencing factors may include:

• Company seniority
• Length of time in position
• Service interruptions
• Skills and experience required for the job
• Education, certifications, licenses, etc. required for the job
• Performance ratings
• Pay grade or level
• Historic pay increases
• Market Location
• Employment status such as Full-time/Part-time

Pay equity analysis should be performed that includes analysis by job group or salary grade; if no formal salary structure is in place, group by jobs with similar value and worth. Also, analyze by race and by gender. Ensure all your pay decisions are well documented as well as having good document retention policies in place. Of utmost importance is that you apply your compensation practices in a consistent manner and in accordance with your policies and procedures. If audited by the EEOC, you may need to defend your pay decisions and consistency and documentation will be crucial.

To protect your organization as well as ensure fair and equitable pay to all employees, it is essential to understand and stay up to date with all the regulations, ensure policies and procedures are in place for compliance and to perform periodic compliance audits. Even if you are in compliance today, that can easily and quickly change as your organization changes and evolves. Mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures can significantly impact pay equity as well as the day-to-day business operations of hiring, terminating, promoting, transferring, and restructuring within the organization including the realignment of job duties.

At WageWatch our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs. We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

HUMAN RESOURCES: THE GATEKEEPER FOR COMPANY ETHICS

Business ethics are important to every business and are often a component of a company’s core values. However, that doesn’t mean that the organization as a whole is ethical. To build an ethical organization, leadership must establish, and model the company’s core values. Ethics must be woven into the fabric of the organization, fully supported by leadership and integrated into the company’s philosophies, values, policies, procedures, and practices. HR departments represent the employees, their concerns, and deal with employee fairness issues. HR’s role in ethics management should be central to ensure real benefits for the organization and the employees. Human resources deal with a variety of ethical challenges that if not handled properly can damage a company’s reputation, lead to serious legal issues, and lead to a potentially high-cost impact to an organization. For example, discrimination issues, sexual harassment, and unfair employment policies can damage a company’s reputation as well as lead to a severe financial impact.

However, HR departments should not be expected to manage ethics initiatives on their own. In order for ethical behavior to become part of an organization, there needs to be a collaborative effort that also includes Legal, Audit, the top management team, and the board of directors. HR should have a primary role in the development and integration of ethics programs into key organizational activities, such as the design of performance appraisal systems, management training, and disciplinary processes.

The first step to include ethics in company policy and strategies is to put ethics on the agenda, make it part of the conversation. This can begin the process for ethics to become part of the organization’s culture, business plan, and goals. HR professionals can help leadership define ethics for the organization. For example, what are the specific types of ethical issues that impact your organization, your competitors, and your industry? This process of defining what ethics means to your organization can help determine safeguards that can be included in policies and processes such as recruiting, on-boarding, and leadership training. Ensure ethics policies are in place for issues such as discrimination, sexual harassment. and employee fair treatment. Establish and communicate expectations for your employees to ensure each employee understands their role. Communications surrounding ethics and other core values should be on-going. And of course, lead by example. HR professionals are in leadership roles and employees look to the leadership to guide their own behavior. Organization leaders need to set the example by engaging in legal and moral behaviors, and by showing their respect for the employees and for the organization. It is critical to creating a supportive environment of trust and transparency. Employees need to see fair treatment across all levels and need to trust in order to come forward regarding ethical concerns. Ethics panels can be created for the review of issues and violations.

Treating employees ethically can bring tremendous benefits to an organization. It can earn long-term employee trust and loyalty. Loyal employees gain more experience, and master processes, and become more vital to the success of the organization. Loyal employees are happier employees and can also translate into increased productivity and efficiency as well as minimize recruiting and training costs. Putting a Code of Ethics in place and encouraging leaders to model desired behaviors are important first steps toward creating an ethical organization. Holding ethics high as a core company value is key to a company’s success and longevity.

Having the appropriate employee fairness policies and processes in place is critical to maintaining an ethical organization. But it is equally important that these policies and processes are supported by fair and competitive compensation practices. For the good of your employees, it is helpful to analyze benefits survey data, compensation surveys, and salary reports. Having this information at hand allows you to plan a budget, including competitive employee salaries and benefits, which will help you to hire and retain a happy, talented team. At WageWatch, our consultants provide businesses with accurate and beneficial benefits survey data, compensation surveys, and salary reports to ensure that payment and benefits plans are on par with those in the industry. For more information on market compensation data, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online (https://www.wagewatch.com/Contact/ContactUs.aspx).

WAGE AND HOUR POTHOLES

Every company should perform wage and hour audits periodically; minimally once a year and twice a year if possible. It is easier for you to catch and correct errors than to risk discovery from employees or in the event of a DOL audit. To remain compliant with wage and hour regulations it is valuable to have the appropriate checks in place, such as up-to-date written policies and procedures, periodic training for supervisors and managers, the establishment of effective complaint mechanisms, and a regular audit process should be established.

Wage and hour violations are not only costly from the standpoint of back pay and penalties but can also lead to serious employee relations issues if employees feel they are not being fairly compensated. Below are a few of the many wage and hour potholes of which you should beware.

Overtime Pay

Many missteps can occur regarding overtime pay, a few include:
• Misclassifying workers as ‘exempt’ from overtime
• Not paying ‘unapproved’ overtime
• Failing to count all hours worked, including pre and post work activities
• Failing to count certain activities as work time including working through a break
• Checking emails or performing other duties during time off
• Travel time and meeting and training attendance

Bonus or commission payments to nonexempt employees may impact overtime pay. A bonus should be included in the calculation of the regular rate of pay for the weeks which the bonus is earned. This will increase the overtime rate for these weeks. The weeks for which the bonus is earned includes all weeks covered by the bonus period. For example, if it is a quarterly bonus then all weeks in the quarter will apply.

Another consideration for computing overtime pay is when an employee works two or more jobs with different hourly rates at one or more facilities for the same employer in the same workweek. The employer must use the weighted average of the rates to compute the employee’s regular rate of pay for the purpose of calculating overtime pay.

Exemption Status / Salary Basis Test

Do you examine the duties of your salaried employees and not just their titles or how they are paid to determine whether they are exempt? Your exempt employees must pass one of the FLSA exemption tests in order to be exempt from being paid overtime. These exemption tests are based on actual worked performed and do not test based upon the job title nor what is written in the job description.

For a job to remain exempt it must pass the Salary Basis Test which ensures that improper deductions to exempt employee’s salary are not made. There are very specific rules to follow when making any deductions to an exempt employee’s salary. Also, a job that is exempt can lose exempt status when the duties and responsibilities change due to things such as staff reductions or organizational changes. Therefore it is advisable to retest jobs that are impacted by these types of changes.

Meal and Rest Period Compliance

Many state wage and hour laws require employers to provide their employees with meal and/or rest breaks. These laws specify the circumstances under which such breaks must be compensated. In some cases, state laws impose different requirements than does FLSA.

A few more potholes worth mentioning:

We have mentioned just a few of the many potholes HR professionals need to be aware when classifying jobs as exempt or nonexempt, overtime pay calculation, and rest period compliance. Here are a few more to keep in mind:
• Failing to pay employees on day of termination
• Failure to follow rules for On-Call pay;
• Improper use of ‘Comp Time’
• Unlawful deductions from employee paychecks.

Be sure to consult your federal and state wage and hour resources and/or your wage and hour counsel to ensure a thorough and correct understanding of wage and hour rules.

Remaining compliant with wage and hour regulations is an important task that Human Resources and Compensation department performs for an organization. Another important task performed is to ensure fair and competitive pay practices. For the good of your employees, it is helpful to analyze benefit survey data, compensation surveys, and salary reports. Having this information at hand allows you to plan a budget, including competitive employee salaries and benefits, which will help you hire and retain a happy, talented team.

At WageWatch, our expert evaluators provide businesses in a large range of industries with accurate and beneficial benefits survey data, compensation surveys, and salary reports to ensure that payment and benefits plans are on par with those in the industry. For more information on market compensation data, please call WageWatch at 888-330-WAGE (9243) or contact us online (https://www.wagewatch.com/Contact/ContactUs.aspx).

EFFECTIVE JOB DESCRIPTIONS

Job descriptions describe the major duties and responsibilities of a position or job and are an essential part of hiring and managing employees. They are tools to help your applicants and employees understand their roles and accountabilities. They can be used to establish a training checklist for new incumbents, as guideposts in the performance appraisal process, and as market benchmarks for compensation surveys. Job descriptions are not required by law, however, they can provide evidence of the essential functions of a job for purposes of complying with federal employment laws. They can also be used for disability and worker’s compensation claims. It’s good practice to get legal advice to ensure that your job descriptions are compliant. Below are some of the legal requirements to keep in mind while writing your job descriptions.

• Fair labor standards Act (FLSA): Exempt or Non-exempt classification should be included in all job descriptions.

• Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Working conditions and any required physical activity should be noted in all job descriptions.

• Equal Employment Opportunity: Include, “we are an equal opportunity employer” in all job descriptions.

• Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): Job descriptions should not indicate age preference.

The first steps in writing job descriptions are the data collection and job analysis processes which begin with questionnaires and/or interviews with both the supervisors and current employee incumbents to gather and determine the key facts about the job. You will need to collect information that will later be summarized in your job description template. Generally, the data will include Job Title, Immediate Supervisor, Department, Pay Grade, Working Hours, and Travel Requirements, FLSA Status, Mission/Summary, Essential and Non-Essential Tasks and Responsibilities, Supervisory Responsibility, Job Requirements (education, skills and experience required for the job), Working Conditions, Physical Demands, Equipment Usage, and Disclaimer for Management Ability to Modify.

A job description should be practical and summarize the key elements of a job in a clear, concise manner. Be specific and avoid using subjective adverbs or adjectives such as “frequently,” “some,” “occasional,” and “several.” It’s important to build flexibility into a job description and ensure that it is dynamic and functional. Flexible job descriptions will allow your employees to evolve within their positions as processes, technology, and organizational changes occur. A well-written job description will require an investment of time and effort to accurately reflect your organization and unique jobs.

The duties list should contain each essential job duty or responsibility that is critical to the successful performance of the job. The list should be prioritized with the most important listed first down to the least significant. Do not include tasks that comprise less than 5 percent of the overall time. Each Essential and Non-Essential Duty should be assigned a percentage of time and all duties together should total 100 percent. Each duty should be described in one to three sentences; the first sentence should begin with an action verb. Generally, there are one or two non-essential duties that total five to ten percent of the total time and are duties such as “Assist in special projects as required” or “Any other task assigned by the supervisor.” This provides flexibility to change duties over time and captures occasional and unforeseen needs that arise.

At WageWatch our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs. We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.