Time For Business

Avoiding Telecommuting Wage & Hour Pitfalls

There’s a lot to like about telecommuting. Employees who work from home are often more productive and generally report greater job satisfaction. Organizations who allow employees to telecommute can save money on office space, supplies, utility costs, employee turnover and more.

But there can be issues with telecommuting, as well. Especially when the telecommuters are overtime-eligible employees.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to keep accurate records of work time for all non-exempt employees. If they work more than 40 hours during any single week, you’re required to pay them overtime at the rate of one-and-a-half times their “regular rate of pay.” In some states, you may be required to pay overtime if they work more than eight hours in a single day.

Some states also require employers to furnish lunch and/or breaks if employees work over a certain number of hours in a day. How do you prove employees have taken the required breaks when those workers aren’t in your office?

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On the Road Again: Travel Pay for Non-Exempt Employees

An interesting question: when you you need to count toward “work time” the travel time incurred by non-exempt employees? The answer may not be as simple as you might think.

Obviously, normal commutes to and from the employee’s standard work location at the beginning and end of the work day are usually not compensable. You’re not going to include the time an employee spends sitting in morning rush hour traffic toward her work time.

business-travel

And most everyone knows that travel between work locations during the day does count. So when an administrative assistant drives from the satellite office where he normally works to set up for a company event at the corporate offices across town, that travel time counts toward his work hours.

But what happens when you need to send an overtime-eligible employee out of town? What (if any) of their travel time counts toward their work hours?

There are a couple of situations to consider:

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Four Steps to Limiting Wage and Hour Liability

Wage and hour violations have been big news for a long time now. Almost every day you can read stories of companies that have been assessed fines and penalties for infractions of wage and hour rules. Finding yourself in that situation is not just embarrassing — you could face a huge assessment that might threaten the very viability of your business.

This is not a position you want to find yourself in.

Where do violations happen?

According to a study cited by the Compensation Daily Advisor, some types of employees and employers are more likely to be involved with wage and hour violations than others. For instance, among others:

  • Companies with fewer than 100 employees are more likely to experience violations than larger companies. This may be due to these companies not having a full-time HR department to monitor compliance and help ensure they’re up-to-date on current laws and regulations.
  • Employees who are paid a flat weekly rate are more likely to experience violations than those who are paid by the hour. Employers might not track their time, thereby missing overtime incurred by these workers.
  • Foreign-born workers are more likely to experience violations. Sadly, some unscrupulous business owners and managers take advantage of immigrant workers, sometimes threatening them with deportation if they complain of any wage issues.

A prudent business owner or manager should be on the lookout for any potential wage and hour problems. Even if your business has a dedicated HR department, they can’t be everywhere and see everything. Every manager and supervisor has the responsibility to make sure their department operations comply with the law.

What kinds of violations should we look out for?

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Are You a Victim of Time Theft?

According to a Careerbuilder survey released in 2014, 48% of employers expect their workers to be on time every day. Nearly one third of employers (35%) have actually fired an employee for excessive tardiness.

But according to the same survey, 23% of employees admit to being late once a month on average, while 15% say they’re late to work at least once a week. According to the employees, 39% of the time they’re late because of traffic.

Have you been a victim of time theft?

If your company doesn’t track employee work time and simply assumes everyone works a full day unless they say otherwise, it’s possible you have experienced time theft. While most employees are honest and will accurately report when they’re late or if they have to leave early, there’s really little way of telling if one or two bad apples are taking advantage of the situation.

While it may not seem like a big deal, a quick bit of math will show you that even a few minutes of “stolen” time per day can add up rapidly. For instance, if an employee arrives late, leaves early or takes long breaks for a total of 15 minutes per day, by the end of the year you’ve paid that employee for over six days of time they didn’t actually work! It’s like giving them over a week of extra vacation. Multiply that by just a few employees, and you can see the dollars flying out the door.

Even if your company does try to formally track employee work time, there are still ways workers can potentially get away with arriving late, leaving early or taking a long lunch without reporting it:

Read the rest of Are You a Victim of Time Theft?

Volunteering, Part 2

Last time, we talked about the problems with for-profit organizations trying to make use of volunteers. We learned there are very specific criteria that must be met for an activity to be considered a legitimate volunteer opportunity. As it turns out, while they can organize volunteer efforts for charitable organizations and/or encourage their employees to volunteer their services individually, it’s virtually impossible for a profit-making organization to use volunteer labor directly.

For non-profits, on the other hand, the situation is a bit different. Not necessarily less complicated, but different.

Motivation is key

For non-profits, they can make use of volunteer labor, as long as the volunteering individual is motivated by “personal, civic, charitable, humanitarian, religious, or public service reasons.” According to the Department of Labor, such “ordinary volunteerism” is not compensable.

So how do you know if an activity qualifies as “ordinary volunteerism”? In general, there are no hard-and-fast rules, but by following certain guidelines a non-profit can maximize the chances that the DOL will regard their workers as true volunteers:

Read the rest of Volunteering, Part 2

Volunteering Can Be Risky (For) Business

When it comes to business expenses, what manager or owner doesn’t want to save money? There are a lot of ways to go about cutting expenses. IF you’re a for-profit company, though, asking employees to volunteer their services generally speaking isn’t one of them.

Does this mean your company can never sponsor volunteer opportunities or participate in volunteer events as a group? Not at all… but the Department of Labor has very strict rules about when and how employees of for-profit enterprises can legitimately be treated as volunteers (as opposed to employees who are entitled to be paid for their work time).

What does a legitimate volunteer opportunity look like?

In order for an event to be considered a real volunteer opportunity, it must meet the following criteria:

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6 Essential Features to Look For in a Time Tracking System

Many organizations these days are looking to upgrade to a modern automated time tracking system to help monitor and manage employee work time. Is yours one of them? If so, wise choice! Automating your time and attendance has the potential to save your company time, money and headaches.

If you’ve ever watched one of those television programs where people go shopping for a new house, you know the prospective home-buyers always have a “wish list” of the features they must have — a large kitchen, an open floor plan, a certain number of bedrooms or bathrooms, that sort of thing. Similarly, you should have a list of must-have features in mind when you go shopping for a new time and attendance solution.

Here are six features I recommend you include on that list to ensure you’ll get the most benefit from your new system:

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Are Your Employees Covered by the FLSA?

I talk a lot about the Fair Labor Standards Act. And it’s important for most businesses to pay attention to the provisions of the FLSA, because many (most?) employees are covered by the provisions of this law. But not all employees…

There are two different set of criteria used to determine if an employee is covered by the FLSA: “enterprise coverage” and “individual coverage.”

Enterprise Coverage

Enterprise coverage applies when the entire organization is subject to the FLSA. Generally speaking, for this to happen, two things must be true: Read the rest of Are Your Employees Covered by the FLSA?

Four Reasons to Take Your Payroll to the Cloud


Photo by 401(K) 2013

Have you seen the TV commercial where the couple decides to store all their “things” in the cloud? They load up all their stuff in boxes connected to balloons and release them into the sky. As you can probably imagine, it doesn’t end well.

A lot of businesses are also taking to the cloud, not only for document storage and sharing, but also for running mission critical applications such as time and attendance tracking and payroll processing.

Unlike the experience of the TV commercial couple, though, it turns out this use of “the cloud” actually can be a pretty good idea!

Here are four reasons you should consider taking your payroll processing to the cloud with AcroTime:

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That’s a Lotta Dough!

gavel-money

According to a September 15 press release from the U.S. Department of Labor, the DOL has awarded grants totaling $10.2 million to 19 states to help fund their efforts to crack down on misclassified workers.

States receiving the funds include California, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin. According to the release, the funds will be used by the states’ Unemployment Insurance tax programs to identify instances where employers improperly classify employees as independent contractors or fail to report the wages paid to workers at all.

Read the rest of That’s a Lotta Dough!

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