Important Announcement regarding New DOL overtime regulations

Overnight a federal judge in Texas granted a temporary injunction which blocks the Department of Labor’s final rule regarding the FLSA overtime exemptions and salary threshold.  This means that until a final decision is reached employers may follow the existing rule.

If you have not yet taken action, there is no reason to do so at this time.  If you’ve already made changes, you may want to leave your decision in place until further guidance is issued.

For assistance in evaluating your individual company strategy, call the BCN HR Team at 800-891-9911 or email us at hr@bcnservices.com

 

Sincerely,

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How to address concerns when moving an employee from salaried to hourly

With upcoming changes increasing the federal annual wage minimum taking effect December 1, 2016 there may be some anxiety or discontent with some of your employees who will be moved from exempt (salaried) status to non-exempt (hourly).

The annual wage minimum requirement for salaried/exempt status will change from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $913 per week ($47,476 annually) under this legislation.

When moving employees to an hourly classification under the new regulations, it’s helpful to understand the employee’s perspective.  Although the intent of the Fair Labor Standards Act is to protect employees from being overworked and underpaid, many employees perceive an hourly classification as having a lower status compared with those classified as salaried.

In delivering this message, here are a few tips that may ease their concerns:

  • When explaining the reclassification, explain that this change is based solely on legislation enacted by the U.S. Congress and has nothing to do with their job performance. Assure them that this is not a demotion, but a pay reclassification.  Explain to them that the change to hourly status is intended to assure that they are paid for overtime hours they work.
  • There also will be an adjustment phase. Employees that are now salaried may not be used to tracking their work hours or using a time-keeping system.  It is important to stress that this will be the new norm and that they must report all hours worked, including work from home whether via remote web or phone calls.
  • Each company will have different interpretations of flexibility in the workplace, but if your employees are used to a certain level of flexibility when with their schedules, you may want to continue that practice. Explain to them that they will have the same flexibility for doctor’s appointments, long lunches with an old friend, or leaving early on a Friday during the summer.  Make it clear that when they work 40 hours for the week, their weekly pay will remain the same.  But be sure they understand that if they do not make up this flexible time, their check will be less.
  • Keep an open door policy with your employees to address their concerns. It’s a good idea to map out potential paths for them to move into positions that remain salaried positions.  Help them understand what those positions are and direct them towards achieving their goals so they are able to move into those jobs.  While doing so, however, be sure to stress that their value and responsibilities within the company in their current position has not changed.  Only their pay structure has.

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Frank Lewandowski, PHR, SHRM-CP

I-9 Compliance: How much is it costing you?

The federal Form I-9 is deceptively simple, yet crucial in every new hire process. The form is designed to help employers verify the identity and certify that each employee can legally work in the United States. Can you imagine being fined hundreds of dollars because an employee forgot to sign or date it? Multiply one mistake by hundreds or thousands of employees and the result is a huge burden for business owners who fail to realize the importance of properly completing the I-9.

The U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, referred to commonly as ICE has been hitting companies hard with I-9 audits recently, and there is no sign of them slowing down. According to a recent Associated Press article, audits of employer I-9 forms increased from 250 in 2007 to more than 3,000 in 2012, and this number will likely continue to grow. ICE handed out more than $13 million in fines in 2012 based on violations discovered during these audits.

The USCIS states that fines for improper completion and retention and not making I-9 documents available for inspection range from $100 to $1,100 for each I-9. Fines for purposely hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized employees range from $250 up to $11,000 per offense. Employers who show a continued pattern of hiring unauthorized workers are liable for criminal penalties of as much as $3,000 per employee and may be subject to a minimum prison penalty of 6 months.

All companies, regardless of size, state, or industry, are subject to an ICE I-9 audit. A large clothing retailer reached a settlement with ICE of more than $1 million dollars in fines regarding I-9 documentation violations discovered during a 2008 audit. A drywall company was fined $173,250 for 225 separate I-9 paperwork violations. Additionally, a worldwide staffing company has been fined $227,000 in civil fines for improperly completing the Form I-9.
As you can imagine, these fines have greatly impacted companies worldwide, and could have been prevented with proper training and knowledge.  So what can a business do to properly protect itself?

The rules around I-9 forms can be very specific and sometimes confusing. As your trusted HR partner, BCN takes pride in ensuring our clients are in compliance, and trained properly in the I-9 paperwork procedures, avoiding the headache and stress of massive fees and penalties. If you have any questions or would like more information about  Form I-9, contact your HR specialists at BCN Services.

 

 

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Taylre Reed, Partnership Manager

Though not federally mandated, give employees time to cast their ballots

Most people are aware that U.S. Election Day is Tuesday, November 8 in 2016.  With the presidential election taking place this year, voters may wait in long lines in order to cast a ballot.

Many employers are fielding questions from employees about whether they will be able to miss time from work to vote.  As an employer, it’s important to understand what’s required of your company when it comes to the voting rights of your employees.

Federal law does not mandate time off to vote.  Many states do have laws about allowing employees time off to exercise their right to vote.  These can include allowing employees time away from work  –  up to several hours of their working day in some cases  –  to be spent at the polls.  Some states even require that the time off of work to vote be paid for non-exempt employees.  (Exempt employees should be paid.)

The state of Michigan is an example of a state that does not have specific laws about allowing your employees to vote.  It’s important to know the laws of your state to ensure that you are providing them the opportunities that your state affords.  Although it is not a compliance issue  , it’s good employment practice to make sure your employees have the opportunity to vote without being penalized if their regular work schedule doesn’t allow sufficient time to vote, regardless of the laws in your state. Remember that, as an employer, you should never attempt to influence employees’ votes or their decision-making process.

Call the experts at BCN if you have questions about the laws of your specific state related to employee rights and voting, or if you want to discuss an employment policy regarding this issue. We are here to help.

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Trisha Crigger, HR Generalist