Time For Business

Increased Budget for DOL in 2015

Earlier this week, the White House released the Administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015, which begins on October 1, 2014. Of particular interest to employers, the budget calls for an additional $11.8 billion for the Department of Labor (DOL), including an increase of $41 million in funding for the Wage & Hour Division (WHD).

The WHD is the group tasked with enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and various other laws.

This money, which represents an 18% increase in the budget for the WHD, would be used to hire 300 additional inspectors. It would also allow the Division to upgrade their technology.

According to the budget, particular areas of focus for the WHD going forward will include:

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Temps Can Cost You More Than You Think

temps2

When a business has need for someone to help clear a temporary work backlog, cover for a permanent employee on vacation or leave, or handle a sudden influx of orders, they often turn to temporary or contengent workers, often called “temps” for short.

Temps can solve a lot of business problems while still allowing for staffing flexibility that might not be possible with permanent hires. But temporary staffing isn’t all rainbows, glitter and unicorns. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind if you want to prevent your temps from becoming your most expensive workers:

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Supreme Court Weighs in on Donning and Doffing

There’s been a lot of controversy over the years surrounding the issue of “donning and doffing” — that is, time spent putting on required uniforms, safety equipment and other gear at the beginning of a work shift, and taking it off again at the end of the shift — time which normally must be paid.

At issue was a clause in a section of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which was added to the law in 1949. In Section 203(o), the law allows an employer to not pay workers for time spent “changing clothes” before and after their shift — if the employees agree as part of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that this “donning and doffing” time is not compensable.

Just to Make Sure We’re Clear…

Under the FLSA “continuous workday” rule, time spent changing into and out of a uniform, protective gear or other required clothing, accessories or tools would normally be compensable. (The only time it wouldn’t be is if we’re talking about what the laywers term a de minimis amount of time — in other words, something that happens so quickly it doesn’t really matter. For instance, if we’re just talking about grabbing a lab coat and pair of protective goggles off the rack and putting them on, such that you could already be walking to/from your work space while you’re still “donning” or “doffing,” those few seconds you pause to grab the gear probably would be considered de minimis, and thus not compensable.)

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Easiest. Time tracking. Ever.

Acroprint BioTouch time clock

Could BioTouch be the easiest biometric time clock ever? Quite possibly, yes!

We just announced this clock last week, and already there’s a lot of excitement buzzing around. The thing is, if you know how to use Microsoft Excel®, you know almost everything you need to manage time with this clock.

Consider: configuring is as easy as filling in a simple spreadsheet using Excel. Save to the included USB memory stick, then plug the memory stick in to the clock.

BioTouch is self-contained. It doesn’t need a network connection or cables connecting it to a PC. All you need is an available electrical outlet to plug it in and you’re good to go. It can hang on the wall or sit on a tabletop or desk, so you can place it pretty much anywhere it’s convenient. (Indoors, of course — like most electronic devices, BioTouch isn’t happy when exposed to the elements.)

You choose how employees clock in and out:

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6 Ways to Increase Employee Loyalty and Morale Through the New Year

I’m pleased to offer another great post from guest author Persis Swift, Marketing Communications Specialist at CAI. If you’re interested in holding on to your top-performing employees, you’ll want to read this…

A high retention rate is a good indication that employees are satisfied with their jobs and that they have a good relationship with their employer. Top performing employees and job candidates aren’t willing to take just any job. They want to work for an employer that values the contributions they make for the business. Keeping your star performers for the long term and recruiting the best requires you to listen to their needs and goals, and appreciate who they are and what they offer your organization.

There are a number of ways you can strengthen your relationship with your employees. Helpful perks, good benefits, and open communication are ways to boost job satisfaction and employee morale. The six strategies below will help you hold on to your best talent throughout the New Year.

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It Isn’t Just the Fines You Have to Worry About

jail

I’ve written before about the risk of individual liability under the labor laws. In a nutshell, if you’re a corporate officer, there’s a chance you could be found individually responsible for wage and hour violations of the company.

Well, turns out that having to pay a fine and ante up some back wages might not be the worst thing that could happen to you in that situation.

You might also find yourself behind bars.

Doin’ the Jailhouse Rock

According to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, High Performance Ropes of America (a Texas-based company that makes heavy duty wire rope used in construction, mining, oil and gas, bridge suspension and ski lifts) underpaid their workers. As a result of not one, but two investigations, they company was ordered to pay over $165,000 in back wages, $12,000 in civil penalties and an additional court-imposed fine of $10,000. And the company was found guilty of a felony — making false statements.

Perhaps more notable, though, was what happened to the company owner, plant manager and office manager.

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Turns Out, Monitoring Really Does Improve Productivity

Monitoring and surveillance have been in the news a lot recently, particularly in relation to the National Security Agency’s call-tracking program. But there are many other forms of monitoring, some of which are actually good for business and productivity.

For instance, I recently came across this interesting study: Cleaning House: The Impact of Information Technology Monitoring on Employee Theft and Productivity, published by three academic researchers.*

Pennies

Photo by Joshua Davis

The paper reports on the result of a study the researchers performed involving the use of surveillance software at nearly 400 “casual dining” restaurants all across the country. In this case, the software was intended to monitor for possible employee theft. For instance, a bartender might serve customers drinks without ringing them up. He can then pocket the money from the customers as a “tip.”

The researchers reported that after installing the software, theft was reduced at each restaurant by a modest average of a little over $100 per week. But — and here’s the really interesting part — revenue at the monitored restaurants increased by an average of nearly $3,000 a week!

It seems that once the workers knew they were being monitored, not only did it discourage those who might be inclined to thievery, it also encouraged all the employees to do a better job of promoting the restuarants’ food (and earning themselves a bigger tip based on the larger check total).

“What can I bring you for an appetizer?” “Would you like to have the salad bar along with that entree?” “Care for some dessert to top off your meal?”

So what, you may be asking, does this have to do with time and attendance?

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timeQplus Now Supports ACA Reporting

Great news! The government shutdown is over… and timeQplus software now helps small and mid-sized businesses meet the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting requirements. (You know, the ACA… also know as “Obamacare.”)

timeQplus product suite

Yep, we recently released a shiny new update to our popular timeQplus software with a whole bunch of spiffy new features. And one of the big ones is the new Average Hours Worked report, which we specifically designed to help our customers with their ACA reporting. Whew! At least that’s one worry off your plate now.

We also included a whole slew of other improvements you’re sure to like. For instance, the software now supports three levels of user permissions:

  • Employees: You can now issue login IDs to employees so they can view and print their own timesheets, without having to track down a supervisor or payroll administrator. (This should save some time and hassles!) They cannot edit the timesheet, access any other employee’s information or change the system configuration.
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Clearing Up A Few Misconceptions

Just came across a terrific article covering come common misconceptions about the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) — misconceptions that might mean you’re paying your employees more than you have to.

Of course, as the authors note, the FLSA provides a floor, not a ceiling. For a variety of reasons, many employers choose to pay more than the minimum required by the law… perhaps in the interest of attracting and retaining better workers, or to reward top employees for their productivity, or simply to keep up with the labor market in their area.

What’s sad is when you come across an employer who incurs unnecessary costs simply because they have misunderstood the provisions of the FLSA.

So, what are these misconceptions?

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Are You at Risk? Individual Liability Under Wage & Hour Laws

From the North Carolina law firm of Ward and Smith, P.A. comes this important reminder: if you’re a corporate manager, officer or shareholder, don’t count on the “corporate veil” to protect you from personal liability if the company fails to pay employees properly.

Seriously. A lot of people seem to think as long as it’s “the corporation” that errs, the individuals who make up the corporation are protected.

However, as many supervisors, managers, corporate officers and directors have found to their chagrin, that belief is often dead wrong.

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