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Aug27

Time Off for Salaried Employee

A salaried employee who’s still in the 90 probation period asks for a week off work. Do they still get payed for full 80 hour salary pay check?

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

Under the FLSA, employees are either non-exempt or exempt. Non-exempt employees must be paid for all hours worked and are subject to overtime and minimum wage requirements prescribed by the FLSA. Conversely, exempt employees receive a fixed predetermined salary for any week during which work is performed regardless of the quantity or quality of such work. Exempt employees are excluded from overtime pay provisions.

Most salaried employees are exempt employees. However, it’s important to mention that hourly paid and salary are compensation terms. Non-exempt and exempt are FLSA classifications.

Exempt employees must receive their regular salary without regard to the quantity or quality of work performed. Deductions from an exempt employee’s salary are permissible in limited circumstances including:
• When an employee is absent from work for one or more full days for personal reasons other than sickness or disability;
• For absences of one or more full days due to sickness or disability if the deduction is made in accordance with a bona fide plan, policy or practice of providing compensation for salary lost due to illness;
• To offset amounts employees receive as jury or witness fees, or for temporary military duty pay;
• For penalties imposed in good faith for infractions of safety rules of major significance;
• For unpaid disciplinary suspensions of one or more full days imposed in good faith for workplace conduct rule infractions;
• In the employee’s initial or terminal week of employment if the employee does not work the full week, or
• For unpaid leave taken by the employee under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

Furthermore, an exempt employee is not entitled to his salary for a workweek during which absolutely no work is performed.

Thus, an employee not eligible for paid time off who takes a week-long vacation is not entitled to receive his salary for the week, assuming, of course, absolutely no work is performed.

Remember, under the FLSA, a workweek is 7 consecutive days. The workweek is different than the pay period an employer establishes as a compensation schedule. So, in this case, the employee is only entitled to one week’s salary out of the two week pay period.

August 27th, 2015, 12:10 PM |  Posted in: Compensation, Labor Laws |
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Aug27

Frequent Miles

We have a lot of employees that use company cards for business related charges. We have heard that most employees use their frecuent miles for personal use and they will go on vacations using those reward points. We do not have a policy about reward point usage with company credit cards. Are those reward points considered company property? what’s the best way to handle it? Thank you.

Any rewards system under a company credit card is generally for the benefit of and use by the company, not the individual cardholder. Whether the cardholder is entitled to redeem rewards is completely at the discretion of the employer.

Many larger companies allow their employees to use accumulated points as a perk of employment. Since claiming rewards points doesn’t involve additional expenses for the company, it’s an easy low cost benefit to provide to employees.

Smaller companies tend to use the points to offset business expenses. Often times, points are used to claim gifts for employee recognition efforts.

It’s really up to you to decide which method works best for your company.

Going forward, it’s important to adopt a clear easily understood policy on reward point usage and disseminate it to all applicable staff. Include an effective date for the policy and make it clear that from then on employees are expected to adhere to the policy.

August 27th, 2015, 11:56 AM |  Posted in: Benefits |
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Aug25

Travel Time

Is a full time (37.50 total hours) non exempt hourly employee entitled to travel time and expenses if going to a seminar/conference with her boss. Hourly rate is $20.00 and typical work day is 7.5 hours. The conference travel time will amount to an extra 4 hours on the employee’s day and train expenses.

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

Guidelines for compensable work time for non-exempt employees are established under the FLSA. Not all travel time is compensable but the general rule is any travel time that occurs during the employee’s normal work hours, even if the travel falls on a day an employee is not usually scheduled to work, the time is compensable.

The DOL provides the following information regarding travel time:

Travel Time: The principles which apply in determining whether time spent in travel is compensable time depends upon the kind of travel involved.

Home to Work Travel: An employee who travels from home before the regular workday and returns to his/her home at the end of the workday is engaged in ordinary home to work travel, which is not work time.

Home to Work on a Special One Day Assignment in Another City: An employee who regularly works at a fixed location in one city is given a special one day assignment in another city and returns home the same day. The time spent in traveling to and returning from the other city is work time, except that the employer may deduct/not count that time the employee would normally spend commuting to the regular work site.

Travel That is All in a Day’s Work: Time spent by an employee in travel as part of their principal activity, such as travel from job site to job site during the workday, is work time and must be counted as hours worked.

Travel Away from Home Community: Travel that keeps an employee away from home overnight is travel away from home. Travel away from home is clearly work time when it cuts across the employee’s workday. The time is not only hours worked on regular working days during normal working hours but also during corresponding hours on nonworking days. As an enforcement policy the Division will not consider as work time that time spent in travel away from home outside of regular working hours as a passenger on an airplane, train, boat, bus, or automobile.

Compensable work time must be paid to the employee and count towards the calculation of overtime.

There is no federal law that mandates employers to pay employees for travel expenses (i.e. mileage, accommodations, meals). However, it’s highly recommended to do so. Paying for travel expenses is standard practice in most industries and not doing so will deter good talent. Additionally, such expenses are tax deductible for the employer. It’s important to mention that some states, most notably California, have their own laws regarding travel expenses. So, make sure your knowledgeable of applicable state regulations. HTH!

August 25th, 2015, 8:38 PM |  Posted in: Compensation, Labor Laws |
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Aug25

Inner Office Comment

An employee noticed that someone that works in our office but not directly for our practice, was scheduled to come in and see the doctor the next day. The employee walked into the break room and said, in front of other staff, to that individual, “I see you are coming in to see Dr. XXXX tomorrow.” That individual responded with, “Word sure travels fast in this place.” The employee became defensive and said, “No, I just saw it on the doctor’s schedule.” The patient this employee confronted was not comfortable that said employee announced, in the break room in front of others, of her upcoming visit. Is this considered a HIPAA violation? And where can I find this?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandates that covered entities comply with requirements to protect the privacy and security of health information. A covered entity is an individual or organization that uses and/or exchanges confidential medical data. Common covered entities include doctors, clinics, company health plans and government programs that pay for healthcare.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects “individually identifiable health information”, including data that relates to:
• an individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition,
• the provision of health care to an individual, or
• the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to an individual;
and data that identifies an individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be used to identify an individual. Individually identifiable health information includes many common identifiers (e.g., name, address, birth date, Social Security Number).

Obviously, pointing out an individual is scheduled to see a specific doctor in a room full of other people is completely inappropriate and unprofessional. However, doing so doesn’t necessarily violate HIPAA. A HIPAA violation occurs when protected health information is shared without the appropriate permission. So, unless the employee stated the reason for the patient’s visit, potential prognosis, or any other health related data, a violation most likely didn’t occur. It’s worth mentioning that if the doctor specializes in a specific condition (i.e. oncologist) and the employee should’ve known that by simply stating the doctor’s name anyone in earshot would know the patient is being treated for cancer, then a violation may have occurred.

Information about HIPAA can be found at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/index.html.

The employee’s actions must be addressed. At the very least, counseling is warranted. If the doctor was a specialist as described above, more severe disciplinary action and appropriate HIPAA training is recommended.

August 25th, 2015, 8:21 PM |  Posted in: Labor Laws, Workplace Management |
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Aug22

Paternity Leave

Our company is < 50 employees. We have locations in WI, NJ, OH, and IL. Are we required to offer paternity leave?

The federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides qualified employees of covered employers up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job protected leave for specified family and medical reasons, including for the birth or placement of a child.

The FMLA applies to any private-sector employer who engages in commerce, or in any industry or activity affecting commerce, and who has 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius in 20 or more work weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. The law, regardless of the number of employees, also covers all public agencies (state and local governments) and local education schools, whether public or private.

Some states have implemented parental leave laws including Wisconsin and New Jersey. However, leave laws in both of these states apply to employers with 50 or more employees.

There are no leave laws for private employers in Ohio or Illinois.

Just to be clear, maternity leave generally refers to leave taken by women while paternity leave generally refers to leave taken by men. Keep in mind, employers who offer maternity leave to women must also offer paternity leave to men to avoid discrimination on the basis of gender.

Lastly, even though you may not be legally mandated to offer parental leave, it’s important to consider the advantages of doing so. More well-known and successful companies are offering parental leave now than ever because they understand the competitive advantage and cost savings of doing so. Quality benefits help attract and retain talent. Moreover, offering employees leaves instead of terminating them is actually less costly than the recruitment and staffing expense to replace them. So, carefully consider the cost-benefit analysis before dismissing offering a leave benefit.

August 22nd, 2015, 8:00 PM |  Posted in: Benefits, Labor Laws |
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