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Child Labor Laws

Are there any exceptions for hiring my own 14 year old child in the construction industry?

According to the federal Department of Labor, 14 and 15 year olds cannot work in the construction industry. The only exception is that they may perform office or sales work when not performed on transportation media, on an actual means of transportation, or at the actual construction site.

The DOL also states that federal child labor laws don’t apply to children under 16 years of age employed by their parents in occupations other than manufacturing or mining, or occupations declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. Hazardous occupations include:

Manufacturing and storing of explosives.
Motor-vehicle driving and outside helper on a motor vehicle.
Coal mining.
Occupations in forest fire fighting, forest fire prevention, timber tract operations, forestry service, logging, and sawmilling.
Power-driven woodworking machines.
Exposure to radioactive substances.
Power-driven hoisting apparatus, including forklifts.
Power-driven metal-forming, punching, and shearing machines.
Mining, other than coal mining.
Operating power-driven meat processing equipment, including meat slicers and other food slicers, in retail establishments (such as grocery stores, restaurants kitchens and delis) and wholesale establishments, and most occupations in meat and poultry slaughtering, packing, processing, or rendering.
Power-driven bakery machines including vertical dough or batter mixers.
Power-driven balers, compactors, and paper processing machines.
Manufacturing bricks, tile, and kindred products.
Power-driven circular saws, bandsaws, chain saws, guillotine shears, wood chippers, and abrasive cutting discs.
Wrecking, demolition, and shipbreaking operations.
Roofing operations and all work on or about a roof.
Excavation operations.


There are other considerations to keep in mind. Here is a good resource:

Also, many states have adopted their own child labor laws. So, it’s important to be aware of any applicable state laws.

September 20th, 2016, 12:45 PM |  Posted in: Labor Laws |
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Vacation Time

We are evaluating our vacation policy and would like to know how much vacation time other associations give to their employees.

The number of vacation days offered to employees varies based on a variety of factors including: the size and location of the employer, company culture, and employee demographics.

The average number of vacation days offered to employees is 10 days. When paid time off, which includes vacation, sick and personal days, is offered the number increases to 15 days. Also, many employers offer a vacation plan based on years of service, meaning the longer an employee works for you the more vacation days provided.

You may consider the researching the amount of vacation time offered by other similar employers in your area. You can do this simply by reaching out to them directly or registering with your local chamber of commerce.

Keep in mind paid time off/vacation time continues to be a highly valuable benefit to employees. So, consider soliciting feedback from your employees via a staff survey. Find out what type of benefits would most interest them. Then, consider what you can afford to offer.


September 20th, 2016, 12:31 PM |  Posted in: Benefits |
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Employee Didn’t Return from Leave

We had an employee who took maternity leave with STD pay. She was supposed to return to work after 8 weeks. She didn’t and I have to find another employee since this is a medical office. We have only 13 employees. What should we do? Thank You.

With only 13 employees you’re not required to comply with the federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). But, let’s briefly touch on them.

The FMLA entitles eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave for certain family and medical reasons, including childbirth and baby bonding, within a 12-month period. Employers with at least 50 employees must comply with the FMLA.

The PDA prohibits sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. Under the PDA, an employer that allows temporarily disabled employees to take leave must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition to do the same. Further, employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy related absence the same length of time that jobs are held open for employees on sick or temporary disability leave. Employers with at least 15 employees are covered under the PDA.

Though you may not be obligated to comply with either of these regulations, many employers choose to do so as a benefit to employees and to ensure consistent, fair and non-discriminatory practices.

Also, keep in mind that some states have adopted their own leave and discrimination laws that must be considered.

With that said, the problem in your case is that you’ve provided 8 weeks of leave and the employee hasn’t returned to work. Have you attempted to contact the employee in any way? If not, that should be your first step. If she’s unresponsive to your calls/emails then send her a certified letter explaining that she was expected to return to work on a specified date per your mutual agreement and if she fails to contact you within a specified time frame her position will be terminated. Once the timeframe (usually a week) passes then termination may be warranted and you can fill her position.

Remember to treat this employee in the same manner you’ve treated other employees on leaves of absence. Have you allowed other employees to remain on extended leaves with no contact with you? Treating employees fairly and consistently is not only good business practice but will reduce the chances of discrimination claims.


September 19th, 2016, 2:27 PM |  Posted in: Attendance Management |
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Sick Leave Pay and OT

If a non-exempt employee has a combination of 35 hours of regular time and 7 hours of paid sick leave do we have to pay 2 hours of time and a half for overtime or is OT paid only on the regular hours if over 40 hours in that week?

The 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, non-exempt employees are due overtime wages for any hours actually worked over 40 in a given workweek. Holiday, sick, or vacation time are not time actually worked. Thus, such time is not considered when calculating overtime for the workweek.

In this case, the employee would receive 42 hours of regular time.

Let’s say the employee actually worked 41 hours and had 7 hours of paid sick leave in the same workweek. In this case the employee would receive 47 hours of regular time and 1 hour of overtime.


September 19th, 2016, 2:10 PM |  Posted in: Compensation |
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Travel Time and OT

Should an employee who is provided a company vehicle and travels from one work area to another be compensated OT for travel over 40 hours in the week? Even for Texas Department of Transportation contracts?

We can’t speak to the specifics in any contracts. But, we can inform you of federal and state law. Texas law follows the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The 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 classified as 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.

Any time a non-exempt employee is suffered or permitted to work must be compensated.

Commuting time spent traveling to and from work is normally not considered hours worked and is not compensable. However, if the employee is required to report to a check in location prior to reporting to the worksite, then the commuting time to the reporting site is not compensable but the time spent traveling from the reporting site to the work site is compensable.

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.

Non-exempt employees must be paid at least the applicable minimum wage ($7.25/hr) for all hours worked and be paid an overtime rate no less than one and a half times their regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 40 in a given workweek. Any hours worked including travel time is included in the total number of hours worked in the workweek for the purpose of calculating overtime

Employers are permitted to pay a lower wage for travel time as long as the employee receives at least minimum wage for the time worked. Just keep in mind that doing this complicates the calculation of overtime. Feel free to review our previous posts on overtime calculation with multiple rates of pay for more information.


September 19th, 2016, 2:01 PM |  Posted in: Compensation |
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