GOAL IS SMOOTH
If you are responsible for approving time sheets or signing off on alterations to the hours reported by employees take note: It is not just your organization that risks a big fine and costly litigation. Your personal assets are also at risk, as a new court ruling shows. The Fair Labor Standards Act allows employees to sue their bosses, execs, and HR professionals for personal liability for altering pay records. For that reason make sure supervisors do not tolerate or worse encourage off the clock work or altering time records. US Department of Labor officials announced last year that they are receiving more complaints about employees forced to work through breaks. For breaks to be unpaid, employees must be completely relieved of their duties. This is a good reason to discourage employees from having lunch at their desk.
Recent case: a group of living assistants at a home for the disabled worked a 48 hour weekend and were required to check on each resident every two hours, around the clock. When those employees turned in their time sheets, managers routinely deducted 8 hours because each living assistant supposed to two four hour breaks. The CEO then signed off. The problem: The employees could not leave the building during breaks and had to call the main office once an hour. Because the time was not their own, the court said they should be compensated. The court held the CEO personally liable, ordering him and the company to pay more than $500,000 to the employees, including a $150,000
The new overtime rules: 5 things to do now
It is the biggest overhaul of US overtime law in history, and HR professionals are scrambling now to get in compliance and revise their compensation plans. At the heart of the proposed changes: a doubling of the salary threshold below which white collar employees are automatically eligible for overtime pay, up to more than $50,000 per year from $23,660.
The US Department of Labor estimates the changes, which will likely take effect in late 2016, will make at least 5 million more Americans eliglble for time and a half overtime pay for the first time. In addition to raising the salary threshold, the proposal calls for annual upward adjustment to that number based on US income levels. In response
to the upcoming changes, employers face a host of questions: Which employees will become eligible for overtime? how can we adjust schedules, hours, and pay to minimize the impact? How will the rule affect our hiring and promotion plans?
Here are five things employers should do now:
NEW OVERTIME RULES
ABUSE OF FMLA
Employees are becoming well versed in the FMLA game and you are paying the price. Unschduled intermittent leaves now account for a huge portion of all FMLA leaves of absence. While the law does allow employees to take FMLA leave in small bites for a doctor's visit or to care for a sick relative, it does not give them unfettered rights to random work breaks or to arrive late without a good excuse.That is why employers can demand medical certifications for all FMLA leaves and challenge intermittent leave requests to create a less disruptive schedule. As a new court ruling shows, the FMLA was not intended to cover random breaks that damage an organizations's productivty.Case: Call center employee Kenneth Mauder, who has diabetes frequently arrived late to work. His diabetes medicine caused temporary uncontrollable bowel movements. He demanded unfettered permission to take lengthy restroom breaks. The company denied his request because those breaks hurt the call center's responsiveness. After the company fired Mauder for performance reason, he sued, alleging he was entitled to FMLA leave for restroom breaks. The court disagreed, saying that such breaks were no the sorts of things the FMLA protected unless he actually was too incapacitated to come to work at all.
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During the hiring process, never note applicant's race, sex, religion, age, or national origin information on their applications or any other pre-offer document unless you are required to do so under affirmative action laws. If you are reqauired, it is best to use a tear off sheet that is kept separate from application files. Advise hiring managers to refrain from writing anything on applications or resumes. Since you must retain those documents, making notations of any kind, including secret codes, or private rating systems that could identify or categorize recruits, could create a dangerous paper trail that may be tough to explain later Example Suppose you circled an applicant's 1971 college graduation date on his resume. Could be evidence of age bias.
Recent case: after a farming supply company gave applicants written tests, it noted the applicants race and sex on the test. The well meaning goal: assess whether the test had a negative impact on minority hiring. A group of applicants sued for hiring bias. The company argued that it merely observed the race and sex. The court did not buy it. While the company did not formally request the data, it still required the information for employment. As a result the court let the applicant group pursue a class suit.