Compensation and Benefits

Compensation and benefits topics – whether it’s minimum wage, workers’ compensation laws, or employee pay – if properly handled, can help you retain workers and recruit new ones.

Use our advice to craft independent contractor agreements that keep independent contractors – and your bosses – happy.

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The holiday spirit is spreading! A new survey shows that more than 83% of employers are planning year-end holiday parties this year, up from 68% in 2011. But for us worrywarts in HR, all that good cheer means more fretting about alcohol-fueled liability. Here are 12 tips for making spirits bright without having to call a lawyer — plus a rundown of the 10 worst workplace party fouls.

A controversial study of employment practices in the New York City region, Chicago and Los Angeles has found that employers routinely stiff low-paid workers, breaking wage-and-hour laws and illegally thwarting union organizing efforts.

Q. We employ a husband/wife team to clean our office. We pay them on a monthly contract basis and provide a Form 1099 at year-end. Would we be liable for an injury they might suffer while cleaning?

Sometimes it seems like supervisors and employees work in entirely different places. For years, researchers have known that bosses and line workers have widely varying views about things like priorities, performance ratings, communication and benefits. Here are eight areas for which recent studies have revealed major disconnects between what employees want and what their bosses think they want:

Q. I know employees can be required to waive their rights to sue to resolve employment-related disputes, either through a negotiated release or binding arbitration agreement. Can an employer also require employees to agree to waive their rights to file EEOC charges?

If H1N1 flu threatens to shut down businesses nationwide, employers are going to need contingency plans to make sure they keep running. Flexible work schedules, temporary shutdowns and telework can all help—but all have unexpected wage-and-hour implications. Here’s guidance from the Department of Labor on how to handle these tricky issues.

Sometimes, it makes financial sense for companies to engage workers as independent contractors rather than as employees. It can have advantages for workers, too. But whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor has nothing to do with the desires of the organization or the worker. Not even a written contract can make someone an independent contractor if that status isn’t legitimate.

This summer, Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed a bill raising fines for employers that knowingly fail to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. The new law also sets higher penalties for employers that misrepresent employees as independent contractors.

Q. An employee who recently quit has not returned a company-owned laptop computer worth more than $1,000. Can we withhold the value of the computer from the employee’s last paycheck?

Here’s a wage-and-hour problem that may trip up Minnesota employers: Employees who have to pay their own travel expenses may end up making less than minimum wage. Allowing this to happen when the expenses exceed $50 may also violate Minnesota’s prohibition on deducting more than that amount for employee expenses.

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