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New minimum-Wage law: Beware the ‘Poster pretense’

by on
in Compensation and Benefits,Employment Law,HR Management,Human Resources

With a new federal minimum wage kicking in July 24—the first change in 10 years—it’s time to change your FLSA poster. Your inbox (both e-mail and on your desk) is probably overflowing with offers from organizations hoping to sell you such posters.

But before you buy from one of these vendors, take note: Some are fly-by-night mail-order companies that will sell you posters that won’t put you in compliance. Plus, you probably don’t need to buy a poster at all—you can download most necessary posters for free off government web sites.

Background: On July 24, the federal minimum wage jumped from $5.15 per hour to $5.85. That wage floor will rise again to $6.55 on July 24, 2008, and to $7.25 on July 24, 2009.

The increase is considered a change in federal labor law, which means any organization with at least one employee must make some changes to comply with the new law. Even if all your employees are salaried, you must display the current federal and state minimum wages.

The maximum fine for leaving up your outdated posters: a whopping $17,000.

Reputable organizations that sell HR posters can automatically notify you whenever a law change requires you to update your federal and state posters. Before you rely on such a firm though, find out if the organization knows its stuff:

  • Ask whether its posters meet exact federal and state specifications for font size, poster size, color and layout.
  • Choose a firm that employs labor-law experts and attorneys qualified to interpret the posting requirements.
  • Check the organization’s rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Beware of wasting money on posters and forms. In the past year, federal agencies have issued alerts notifying business owners that they don’t need to pay for most workplace posters and forms.

For example, OSHA warned employers not to be misled by ads suggesting that employers must buy OSHA workplace posters from private companies.

Some private companies try to sell government documents using official-looking web sites. But web sites ending in “.gov” are the only official government sites.

Posters are typically available free on government web sites. Visit the U.S. Labor Department’s main poster site, www.dol.gov/compliance/topics/posters.htm, to download most posters, including the new minimum-wage poster.

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