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Posts Tagged “compensation data”

STRATEGIC ISSUES AND THE PAY MODEL

Perceptions of compensation vary.  It is seen as a measure of equity and justice.  Stockholders are focused on executive compensation.  Legislators may view average annual pay changes as a guide to adjusting eligibility for social services.  Employees see compensation as a reward for their services and a job well done.  Managers will view compensation from the perspective of a labor cost, but also from a competitive perspective that enables them to recruit, engage and retain employees.  The four basic compensation policy decisions that an employer must consider in managing compensation are: 1) internal consistency, 2) external competitiveness, 3) employee contributions, and 4) administration of the pay system.  The balance between the four policies becomes the employer’s compensation strategy.

It is valuable for companies to link an organization’s overall goals and strategiesPay Model with the Human Resource strategy.  Not doing so, can lead to serious issues of employee retention, engagement, and productivity that can be laborious and expensive to repair.  Compensation for many organizations is the single largest business expense and is visible and important to employees, managers, and stockholders.  Therefore it is important to strategically plan and regularly evaluate compensation systems.  Working with your company’s executives is critical to ensuring your compensation philosophy is supporting business objectives.  Strategic objectives will include significant challenges and priorities now and over the next two to five years.  Some examples are business growth plans, key talent and training objectives, market competition, and whether or not you are in a union environment.  Some other key considerations for your compensation program are:

  • Attracting the appropriate skill sets and types of employees when needed
  • Rewarding employees for their efforts, such as increasing workloads, taking on new tasks and projects
  • Employee morale and perceived value of a company’s benefits, incentives, and work environment
  • A mix of base pay, incentive pay, work environment and benefits that makes the most sense for the organization
  • The link between base and incentive pay with performance
  • Legal issues such as wage and hour

An example of a compensation strategy that aligns with other Human Resource initiatives is matching pay ranges to the desired outcome.  If quality, experience, and a sophisticated skill set are a strategic advantage to an organization, then it will not be successful in hiring employees significantly below the market rate.  Determining whether the organization wants to lead, lag, or match the market is a key decision.  A ‘mixed market position’ approach has become more common as employers realize that a one-size-fits-all strategy does not fit the entire workforce.  For example, location and market competitiveness will impact your pay levels and certain key or hard to fill or retain positions may require pay well above the market, while other positions may be ok with a lag approach.

A successful compensation program will focus on top priorities, guide employees to where their effort can create the most value, create financial and non-financial consequences for success and failure, drive and reward the development of skills and encourage teamwork and collaboration.  Many organizations today keep an eye toward aligning workers’ interests with company goals through innovative types of rewards in the workplace, including skill-based pay and goal sharing.  The right total rewards system is a blend of monetary and nonmonetary rewards offered to employees and can generate valuable business results.  These results range from enhanced individual and organizational performance to improved job satisfaction, employee loyalty, and workforce morale.

Maintaining a competitive advantage and being able to retain key employees is increasingly important.  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 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.

ALIGNING COMPENSATION WITH COMPANY CULTURE

Comp - Culture

Many organizations today are focusing on their company’s culture including determining their culture, deciding what it should be, aligning with strategic goals, and transitioning to the desired culture.  Culture is important because it reinforces the values of the organization, which in turn shapes team members’ behavior.  There are many success stories of companies with cultures that are aligned to their business goals including Google, Zappos, and Patagonia.  These companies have not only developed a culture that supports their business but they have fully embraced their culture.

Organizational culture is the collective behavior of the people who are part of the organization and has important effects on the morale and motivation of the organizational members.  It includes the values, norms, systems, beliefs, attitudes, and habits of the organization which impacts the interactions of the employees with each other, and with customers.  Even before you define it, you know it is there and that it has an impact on your business. This is why it is so important to internalize the culture and understanding when company activities are in sync or not in sync with the culture.

Once the company values and desired culture are defined, compensation can support and help drive the values and corporate culture.  The role of compensation in an organization and the compensation strategy need to be well-defined.  For example, where does the organization want to set pay levels in comparison to the competitive market?  Perhaps the organization’s culture is strong in training and developing its employees, acknowledging their successes and offering advancement opportunities. This, in turn, may allow the organization to set lower pay levels than what is paid in the market.  Of course, when recruiting it is important to align the compensation strategy to support the values of the culture through highlighting performance management, performance appraisals, and the goal-setting process for each team member.

Once values, business objectives, and desired behaviors are determined then compensation plans can be put in place to support the culture.  For example, if the business objective is innovation and the desired behavior is risk-taking, then short term incentives may be the compensation strategy.  If the goal is for a highly trained workforce and the behavior is learning and upgrading skills, then skill or competency-based pay may be the compensation strategy.

Corporate culture is about people’s behaviors – how goals are accomplished – so to establish a culture that drives company success, organizations should link a significant component of their compensation systems to behaviors.

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 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 .

 

 

IMPACT OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA ON EMPLOYERS

Courts historically found a marijuana-positive drug test sufficient grounds to terminate an employee or refuse to hire someone; employers were safe to move forward without worrying about an individual being approved to use medical marijuana or if an employee was impaired at work.  Problems arise when federal law conflicts with state law.    Based on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I illegal drug—even for medical purposes.

 

Many states and local jurisdictions have enacted anti-discrimination laws concerning marijuana use.  Generally, such laws prohibit employers from taking adverse action against an employee who uses marijuana in conforming with local marijuana laws, if an employee does not consume it and work and is not impaired while on the job.

CMJ Mapurrently, there are 33 states and the District of Columbia with recently approved ballot measures legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.  The state laws for medical use varies significantly and not all of them recognize marijuana-approved patients from their states.  The states with medical marijuana laws and their guidelines for usage varies widely.  Some states require patients to register, others don’t allow dispensaries, and not all of them recognize marijuana-approved patients from their states.  In addition, some states allow employers to enact employment policies that prohibit the use of marijuana; these states do not force employers to make accommodations for employee use of marijuana.

 

In terms of recreational marijuana use, employers can have policies that prohibit the drug’s use and possession while employees are at work.  In addition, employers can prohibit their employees from being impaired by marijuana at work.  In these states, employers must comply with federal and state laws and provide employees with a safe and productive workplace.  At the same time, employers must accommodate employees with disabilities that may require medical marijuana.  Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are required to make a “reasonable accommodation” to employees with disabilities—especially when workers have a doctor’s note that allows them to use it.
The differences in state laws require Human Resources to be aware of the legal issues involved and the changing legal landscape to ensure drug testing policies are legal and enforceable.  The following steps can ensure that your organization maintains a safe working environment with regards to employee medical marijuana use while reducing the risk of costly legal claims:

  • Review the company’s current drug testing policies to the extent that they test for marijuana, and determine whether state law requires exceptions to testing policies as a reasonable accommodation
  • Train managers on how to handle reasonable accommodation requests by disabled employees who are certified, medical marijuana users
  • Review policies regarding illegal drugs and disabilities to ensure that each complies with your state’s current medical marijuana laws
  • Ensure that managers and human resources employees are properly trained on how to determine (and document) employee impairment when an employer suspects that drug use (legal or otherwise) is causing workplace issues

WageWatch 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, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

 

 

U.S. HOTEL INDUSTRY WAGE GROWTH OUTPACES NATION

With unemployment shrinking to 3.7%, as recently reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor market is the tightest it has been in 50 years.

New job openings continue to exceed the numbers reported as unemployed, which puts finding and retaining talent front and center for the hotel industry as hotels compete for new employees with each other and with other industries such as healthcare, food service and retail.

The forecast by STR, parent company of Hotel News Now, of new hotel openings at or around 2% a year through 2019 means hotel room count will increase by an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 rooms by the end of next year.  In terms of housekeepers alone, this equates to another 10,000 to 13,500 new employees just to clean the rooms. Overall, the hotel industry has reached a new employment high every month since the end of the Great Recession and the recovery of the hotel industry beginning in 2010.

The tight labor market also has driven up wages across the country.  Salaries for jobs ranging from line positions at front desks and restaurants to GMs have increased well above the general wage increases experienced across the U.S.  Average annual wage increases in the hotel industry began to exceed 3% a year in 2014 and in 2018 surpassed 4%, compared to a national average wage increase of 1.9% in 2014 and 2.8% in 2018, according to data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and WageWatch.

Wages-U.S._Hotel

Even with wage increases in the hotel industry substantially higher than those in the private sector, human resources departments at hotel companies are finding it difficult to obtain and retain new employees.  Some of the issues that are repeatedly reported across the country include:

  • Difficulty hiring quality candidates who can pass a background check and a drug screening
  • New employees have a difficult time adhering to company attendance policies
  • High expectations by new employees of accommodations to be made by employers
  • A trend of applicants not showing up for job interviews
  • New millennial hires seem to be continually looking for their next gig

Looking ahead to 2019, wages in the hotel industry could see increases of 4% to 4.5% across the country, which could have a significant impact on bottom lines.

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.

 

 

Posted in Economy, Wage Forecast on December 19th, 2018 · Comments Off on U.S. HOTEL INDUSTRY WAGE GROWTH OUTPACES NATION

THE IMPORTANCE OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IN HUMAN RESOURCES

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is about an individual’s ability to recognize and understand emotions and how it impacts their behavior and attitudes.  Individuals who have a high degree of emotional intelligence are more in tune with their own emotions as well as the emotions of others.

In the workplace, emotional intelligence involves being sensitive to and perceptive of other people’s emotions and having the ability to intuitively improve performance based on this knowledge.  Individuals with high emotional intelligence are observed and measured as having higher productivity, they are better at conflict resolution, and they build strong bonds with co-workers as they can more easily understand the desires and needs of other people.

In the modern workplace, it is important to have open communication, teamwork, and a mutual respect among employees and their supervisors.  Emotional intelligence bears an important impact on the self-development of the manager and their leadership qualities.  Its impact is visible in building positive relations and gaining the emotional commitment of employees.  At a higher level, emotional intelligence helps to strengthen organizational culture, sharpen its resilience, and stretches its flexibility.  Managers who possess emotional intelligence approach supervisory responsibilities from a different perspective than an authoritarian manager. They understand the importance of communicating effectively with staff members, and of treating each employee with respect.

Human Resources can help create a more emotionally intelligent workforce by hiring employees who exhibit a high emotional intelligence, by evaluating employees using emotional intelligence criteria, by integrating emotional intelligence into performance management systems, and by offer training to improve emotional competence.  An emotionally intelligent organization in which employees share strong connections and are able to work more effectively with each other should result in greater productivity.

Managers and business owners can’t let themselves lose sight of the fact that their employees are people, with real lives and emotions that impact how they think, feel, and act.  Managers with emotional intelligence understand that their staff members are people first and workers second.  Incorporating emotional intelligence into your personal and organizational management philosophy may be the best way to retain key employees and help with overall organizational success.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date HR metrics, 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. The PeerMark™ Wage Survey is a custom-built survey tool that allows individual survey participants to select their competitive set for comparison purposes.  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.   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 in 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 2018, 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 marketplace 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 in 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 companywide 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.

 

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 employees, their concerns, and deal with 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 on an organization.  For example, discrimination issues, sexual harassment, and unfair employment policies that 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 of 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, onboarding, 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 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.

MINIMUM WAGE UPDATE – JULY 2018

The U.S. Federal minimum wage has not increased since July 2009, as such, many states, cities, or counties have decided to vote into law, their own increase in the minimum wage.  Some states have decided to gradually increase their minimum wage to $15.00/hour over the course of several years.  While the majority of increases occur at the beginning of the year, others wage increases begin mid-year, starting July 1.

An overview of the states, cities, or counties which have minimum wage increases beginning July 1, 2018 include:

  • California – Not statewide; increases in the following cities:
    • Emeryville
    • Los Angeles City
    • Los Angeles County, Unincorporated
    • Malibu
    • Milpitas
    • San Francisco
    • San Leandro
    • Santa Monica
  • Illinois – Not statewide, two local jurisdictions:
    • Chicago
    • Cook County
  • Maryland – Not statewide; one county:
    • Montgomery County
  • Minnesota – Not statewide:
    • City of Minneapolis
  • Oregon – State law change; varies by area: General, Urban, and Nonurban
  • Washington D.C.

For more detailed information click here:  MINIMUM WAGE CHART.  Review the tab for California to review specific city increases.

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.

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 work week.  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 on 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 consultants provide businesses, across 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.