Payroll Legal Alert

As you gear up for employees’ summer vacation requests, remember that the FLSA has a lot to say about working hours, calculating overtime when employees take a day off during the week, and uniform policies. Here’s help navigating these choppy waters.

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Question: Included in our new employee handbook is a standard payroll deduction agreement, which employees must sign and return to Payroll. There’s a clause in the agreement that says employees’ consent to payroll deductions includes, but isn’t limited to, miscellaneous deductions—faxes, phone calls and so forth. HR has told employees that if they don’t sign the agreement, then no deductions can be made. What does Payroll tell employees?

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Q. Some of our Illinois employees have taken out payday loans and now expect the Payroll department to set up a payroll deduction to repay the loans … We’d like to discourage this behavior by charging these employees a fee for servicing these loans. Can we?

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The DOL has a new fact sheet covering illegal retaliation against employees who complain about possible violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Reminder: The FLSA’s anti-retaliation pro­vision applies to all employees, not just non­exempts.

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Clean breaks are always the best. You don’t want any pay problems lingering after an employee terminates. What you must pay a terminating employee, in addition to any final wages, is determined under state law. And mistakes can be expensive. Two recent cases illustrate.

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Q. We are a social services organization. After employees make home visits to clients, they must file reports within 24 hours, even if that means they must work on weekends. Most of these employees have two-year associate degrees; some have bachelor’s degrees. Can we treat these social workers as exempt employees under the FLSA?

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A federal appeals court has ruled that an employee whose wages were subject to a federal tax levy can’t sue his employer for violations of his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights or for theft of money under state law.

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Under the IRS’ Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP), you may change workers’ status from independent contractors to employees for future tax periods on favorable tax terms, without in­­curring penalties or interest. Now, however, new questions have arisen. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers.

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The IRS keeps track of your company’s tax liabilities as separate modules in its Business Master File. If, say, your corporate income tax module is short, the IRS can offset that shortfall with an overdeposit from your payroll module. Worse: The IRS can make these offsets without telling you.

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Final IRS regulations exclude from taxpayers’ gross income damage awards for personal physical injuries or illness received from a lawsuit or in settlement of legal claims. The regs delete the requirement that to qualify for the tax exclusion, damages must be based on a tort or tort-type right.

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