WageWatch Ibrief Blog


Archive for May, 2019


Wage - PotholesEvery 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 relation issues if employees feel they are not being 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 in determining 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 work 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 the 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 the 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.


Posted in Uncategorized on May 29th, 2019 · Comments Off on WAGE AND HOUR POTHOLES


Millennials at work

It is predicted that Millennials will change the world more than any other generation, as stated in a recent Gallup report.  There are roughly 73 million millennials—born between the years of 1980 to 2000.  By 2020, millennials will represent 40-50% of the entire workforce.

This generation is defined by a lack of attachment to institutions and traditions which is one reason they change jobs more quickly.  One-fifth (21%) of Millennials changed jobs in the past year, costing the U.S. $3.06 billion.  It is estimated that 38% of millennials are actively looking for work and 43% are open to offers.  They are uncomfortable with rigid corporate structures and feel held back by rigid/outdated working styles.

To accommodate the change in values of the Millennial generation, organizations need to consider changing their culture.  The SIX key changes to consider include:


My Paycheck My Purpose
My Satisfaction My Development
My Boss My Coach
My Annual Review My Ongoing Conversation
My Weaknesses My Strengths
My Job My Life


  1. Millennials don’t just work for a paycheck, they want their work to have a purpose; a paycheck is no longer the primary driver.
  2. A key pursuit of millennials is personal development versus the pursuit of job satisfaction. They don’t need ping-pong tables or free food as a way to drive their satisfaction; they are more likely to see these tactics as condescending.
  3. A coach is preferred by millennials; bosses are viewed as being in command and control. A coach is someone who understands and will help build their strengths.
  4. An on-going conversation versus receipt of an annual review is the type of communication that millennials appreciate.
  5. Millennials don’t want to fix weaknesses, instead, they want to develop their strengths.  A focus on strengths leads to a millennial being able to contribute more to their role and to the organization.
  6. It’s not just a job to a millennial…it is their life.  Millennials value a role that allows them to use their strengths and want to be acknowledged for the contribution that they make as an individual.

Why is it so important to understand the change that millennials expect in the workplace?  They are the future of our workforce and if they are not engaged, companies suffer which creates a chain reaction in the entire U.S. economy.  It will be increasingly important for organizations to learn how to best tap into the strengths of the millennial generation.

Change can be challenging and demanding.  At WageWatch our compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs and help ensure your wages and salaries are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives.  In addition to our PeerMark Salary Survey for over 100 local lodging markets in the U.S. and Canada, we offer a National Benchmark Salary Survey. With over 9,000 hotels and 200 casinos in our database, WageWatch’s hotel and gaming salary surveys are the most comprehensive surveys available to Human Resource professionals.  For more information on our services, including consulting, salary surveys, benefit surveys, and custom compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 22nd, 2019 · Comments Off on MILLENNIAL INFLUENCE IS CHANGING CORPORATE CULTURE


Job Describe

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 Commission (EEOC):   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 begins 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 .



Link PayCompensation plays a critical role in organizations’ ongoing and increasingly challenging efforts to attract, retain, and motivate a talented workforce.  Compensation design and management play a vital role in aligning employee behavior with business objectives.  Human capital costs represent a significant part of most organizations’ cost bases and need to be spent as effectively as possible.  It is vital to understand the consequences pay decisions can have on your organization.

Salary structures are an important component of effective compensation programs and help ensure that pay levels for groups of jobs are competitive externally and equitable internally.  A well-designed salary structure allows management to reward performance and skills development while controlling overall base salary cost with a salary range cap.  Market pricing is the most common method companies use to design base salary structure ranges using external market data combined with a focus on internal pay equity.  The goal of market pricing is to keep the organization from 1) underpaying, resulting in losing talent to competitors, or being unable to attract the talent it needs and, 2) over-paying which wastes organizational resources and impedes desirable turnover.  The secret to effective market pricing is the ability to spot and adequately analyze and level the data anomalies and imperfections using both science and experience.

Some organizations elect to pay lower than the market and offset lower than market wages with offers of ‘good’ benefits, meaningful work and stability.  This practice can lead to employee disengagement and organizations risk losing people.  Also, the organization will likely attract people who couldn’t get ‘better’ jobs with higher pay.  One of the key determinants of job satisfaction or dissatisfaction is how employees feel their pay package compares to others.

Pay-for-performance programs are used to award employees for desired behaviors and outcomes and they take many forms, including cash bonuses, company stock, and profit sharing.  Pay-for-performance plans have a learning curve, and they require regular maintenance in order to be and remain effective.   Incentive compensation plans need to align with the company’s business strategy, mission, goals, and objectives.  They should address the root causes of performance and the goals must reflect a balance of financial results and the key business drivers.  Payout opportunities should be consistent with the performance value and meaningful to employees.

While pay-for-performance plans provide a financial incentive to employees, there can be disadvantages.   If not crafted carefully, they can cause employees to focus more on quantity over quality.  They may impede teamwork if workers view helping another employee as wasting valuable time that could be spent on reaching their own goals.  And just like base pay, incentive pay should be competitive with the market or it could fall short of motivating the employees.

Smart, successful organizations do regular planning and evaluating their compensation and performance rewards systems.  Compensation is visible and important to employees.  It is critical to have a solid and competitive pay strategy where pay decisions and policies match the objectives of the organization.  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.



Is your summer intern program ready to launch?  A review of some important information will help to make your program a success.  First, ensure your program is compliant with Department of Labor regulations regarding internships.  In the last couple of years, both the federal and state governments have been cracking down on the use of unpaid interns.  The use of ‘free’ interns has been significantly reduced since 2010 when the Department of Labor issued new criteria for employers using unpaid interns:

  • The internship needs to be structured as a training experience, similar to a classroom as opposed to the employer’s actual operations.
  • The training given to the interns must benefit the intern, not the employer.
  • Employers should see no immediate benefit from the intern’s work.
  • The intern cannot displace regular employees; they should work under close supervision.
  • In advance, establish that the internship is for a fixed duration of time and that the intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.
  • There should be a clear understanding by both the employer and the intern that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

If your program includes unpaid interns, consult federal and state wage and hour websites or legal counsel regarding regulatory compliance.  In addition to the regulations, many universities and colleges have specific requirements for the internship program up to and including providing educational credit.  If your intern program does not fit the regulatory criteria for unpaid interns, the same wage and hour guidelines that you follow for your hourly (non-tip) workforce will apply.  Interns are often paid at rates comparable to entry-level positions within the department or discipline in which the intern will work.  Local market or industry salary surveys can assist you in setting competitive pay rates for your interns.

In addition to the compliance component of your intern program, below are some best practices to consider integrating into your program:

  • Recruit the right candidates by having a clear and thoughtful internship description
  • Designate a program manager and a manager as well as a mentor for each intern
  • Provide structure, even when they aren’t paid.
  • Hold orientation sessions for all involved.
  • Provide interns with a handbook and/or website.
  • Provide interns with real work that is related to their major, that is challenging, that is recognized by the organization as valuable, and that fills the entire work term.
  • Consider offering flex time for the interns.
  • Host social events and activities for the interns.
  • Encourage team involvement.
  • Conduct exit interviews.

Today’s world moves fast, and as an employer, you should constantly be monitoring and adjusting your business operations to meet the ever-changing wants and needs of your employees. At WageWatch, we offer 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 market compensation data, benefits survey data and salary reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 1st, 2019 · Comments Off on INTERN PROGRAM BEST PRACTICES