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Memo to Managers
Ignorance Is Not Bliss When It Comes to Pay
When it comes to pay, employers want to get it right. But before you can get it right you have to first know what “right” is – that means understanding your organization’s policies and ensuring that you consistently follow the guidance provided. Staying informed is one of the simplest ways to prevent rule violation.
Although the rules can be complex, these 3 steps will help you and your employees stay informed:
1.Don’t Assume, Check Your Policy
Rules are different depending on whether employees are “exempt” or “non-exempt” from overtime. Know the status of each member of your team and if you manage non-exempt employees, be sure that you know the specific policies set by our organization. In general, employers must pay non-exempt employees at least a minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime as required by the law. But, there may be additional rules that dictate things such as timing of meal periods and/or breaks during an employee’s shift. Overtime rules may also vary by state. For example, is it after 40 hours during the week or after a certain amount of time each day?
2.Inform and Educate
Ensure that employees also know the rules about their own work hours and reinforce the importance that they adhere to them. It is easier to hold employees accountable to policy when they know exactly what is expected of them. This goes double for managers. See next step.
3.Cultivate a “Speak Up” Culture
Create an environment where employees feel respected enough to speak up and approach managers with questions regarding policy. In a “speak up” culture there is a comfortable dialogue in which employees trust managers to be knowledgeable and forthright about external work-hour regulations and internal policy guidelines.
Innocent mistakes and ignorance of the rules do not protect us from liability when errors in pay happen – so it is important that you understand what is expected, ask questions and get issues resolved properly. You don’t have go it alone. Employees and managers need to work together to ensure both understand and follow an organization’s policies. Managers should not be shy when it comes time to raise questions or concerns about pay or hours.
Questions of the Month
Q: Can employees voluntarily work extra time without being paid?
Whether it's an ambitious employee staying late to finish a project or a worker required to come in early to help set up a worksite, "off the clock" work, work that is unpaid or doesn't count toward overtime, is often illegal. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which applies to most workers, requires that employees be paid overtime when working beyond 40 hours a week for all work done for their employers.
Q: Which takes precedence, state or federal wage & hour regulations?
Many states have their own minimum wage and overtime laws that may provide higher wages or more protective wage and hour policies than federal law. The wide variety in wage and hour practices across states and localities demonstrates that multistate employers cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach.
As a general rule, federal wage and hour laws do not pre-empt state laws. Therefore, an employer must comply with each applicable law and, if the state and federal law impose different requirements, the employer must adhere to the standard that is most beneficial to employees (see Wage and Hour Policies and Practices at XpertHR.com for more details).
Mitigate risk by learning about fines and penalties that can be incurred by organizations as well as how the government enforces regulations in specific areas.
Using Compliance Communicator
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