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Nov20

Paying an Employee on Leave

An employee just returned from an unpaid personal leave. It wasn’t FMLA. He was out of the country managing a personal matter. He wasn’t supposed to be working but now he’s claiming he did work and he wants to be paid for the time. He’s non-exempt so I know we would only have to pay him for the hours worked but are we legally required to do so since he was instructed his leave was unpaid?

Whether the employee must be paid for the time he claims to have worked while on an unpaid leave of absence depends on the work performed. Time spent on work that is insignificant or de minimis in nature need not be compensated. For example, spending less than 10 minutes briefly responding to emails or checking voicemails periodically. However, time spent doing more significant work must be paid. For example, taking an hour to help coworkers resolve a problem or sending detailed emails regarding a work situation.

So, consider the work the employee performed. Ask him to explain in detail what work he performed and how long each task took to complete. Use your best judgment deciding which hours require compensation. Keep appropriate documentation. Remember, it’s always safer to pay more the employee may be entitled to in order to avoid a wage claim.

In the future, consider adding a clause to your personal leave policy prohibiting employees from working while on unpaid leave. And remember to reiterate the policy to any employee taking leave.

November 20th, 2017, 1:16 PM |  Posted in: Compensation |
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Nov20

Overtime for Holiday Hours

We’re closed this Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving. We pay all our employees for those days but we have a few employees insisting on working overtime today, tomorrow, and Wednesday. They want to keep up with their work which we’re grateful for but do we have to pay them overtime pay since they’re getting holiday pay Thursday and Friday?

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes recordkeeping standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments. Unless exempt from overtime requirements, employees must receive overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 in a given workweek.

This requirement applies to hours actually worked. Holiday pay is compensation for time not actually worked. Thus, there is no requirement to count holiday hours towards an employee’s total number of hours worked for the workweek for the purpose of calculating overtime. Of course, if an employee actually works over 40 hours in the three days then overtime pay is due as normal.

November 20th, 2017, 12:39 PM |  Posted in: Compensation |
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Nov20

Holiday Schedule

We want to change our holiday schedule this year. We usually give our employees off the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas. But this year we want to stay open. Is it ok to change our policy?

There is no federal law that requires employers to give employees paid holidays. Such a benefit is a matter of agreement between employer and employee. So, yes, you are permitted to change your holiday policy.

Keep in mind any paid time off benefit is often considered a significantly important benefit to most employees. Thus, changes to any paid time off policy should be done well in advance.

Since it’s the week of Thanksgiving consider keeping the policy the same for now if you can. The best approach would be to change the holiday policy effective January 1, 2018.

If you absolutely must stay open those days, then notify employees as soon as possible. Consider asking for volunteers to work the days. Be prepared for some backlash and consider ways to ease any resentment. Maybe offer holiday pay or provide lunch on those days.

November 20th, 2017, 12:32 PM |  Posted in: Benefits |
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Nov20

Falsification of Time

I’ve learned that non-exempt employees are, what I call, falsifying their time cards. Their supervisor told them that if they spent 15 minutes working on a project, they should bill the client more time, from 30-60 minutes. This has resulted in the employees turning those additional minutes into time worked on their time cards. There are reasons for the billing of time to the client. A question I have, is it legal for them to turn in the additional minutes as time actually worked and be paid for it?

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes recordkeeping standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.

Under the FLSA, employers must keep certain records for each non-exempt employee. Such records include the hours worked each day and the total hours worked each workweek.

The law is meant to protect employees; specifically to ensure that non-exempt employees are being paid for each and every hour worked. Employers are ultimately responsible in ensuring time records are accurate. Falsification of time records is an offense that warrants termination with many employers while others may issue warnings.

The employees in question may think if the client is being billed for 30 minutes of their time then their entitled to be paid for 30 minutes regardless of how much time they actually worked. Of course, this is not always how it’s done. They may just need to be explained that billing a client for certain times doesn’t necessarily mean they should put those inflated times on their time card.

So, prior to disciplining the employees explain how client billing works and what is expected of them. Future occurrences may then warrant appropriate disciplinary action.

November 20th, 2017, 12:08 PM |  Posted in: Compensation, Workplace Management |
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Nov19

W-4 Signature

What is allowable to “sign” a W-4 other than manually? i.e.digital signature..?

The IRS allows for either a written or electronic signature on Form W-4.

An electronic signature must meet requirements prescribed by the IRS. The electronic signature must identify the employee completing the electronic form and authenticate and verify the filing. The electronic signature can be in any form but it must be the final entry in the W-4 submission.

HTH!

November 19th, 2017, 3:33 PM |  Posted in: Human Resources Management |
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