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 California Supreme Court has issued a decision in a closely watched construction liability case that involved an independent contractor’s injury. It concluded that true independent contractors working in construction are responsible for making sure the workplace is safe and can’t claim that the hiring contractor or owner was liable for any resulting injuries.
Chicago-based Standard Parking Corp. recently settled a wage-and-hour lawsuit brought by current and former California parking attendants, valets and cashiers. The company will pay more than $4 million to some 7,100 employees.
Q. We have always paid our waiters less than the minimum wage because of the tips they earn. Are we permitted to count tips as part of the minimum wage as long as we notify our employees of this practice and their actual tips equal or exceed the tip credit?

The DOL is stepping up efforts to encourage and support certain types of wage-loss claims by low-income workers. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced this spring that the department was rolling out its “We Can Help” campaign to address this issue. If you employ relatively low-wage workers, you need to be aware of this program.

The DOL has raised the penalties for employers that violate the nation’s child labor laws. Fines for employers with workers under the age of 12 now start at $8,000. Minimum fines for hiring 12- or 13-year-olds now stand at $6,000 for each violation. In cases where 14- or 15-year-olds are illegally hired, the fines range between $6,000 and $11,000 per violation.

Which of your workers are eligible for overtime pay? Which are independent contractors versus employees? It soon won’t be good enough to guess … get ready to document and show proof.
Employers can’t use an employee’s undocumented status as an excuse for not paying minimum wage or overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act, as the following case shows.

While Congress ponders the Employee Misclassification Prevention Act, several states are studying ways to target employers that misclassify their employees as independent contractors. Illinois is part of a joint task force studying the misclassification problem.

If you use independent contractors, make sure they have the freedom to work for other clients and largely set their own schedules. Those criteria are important for determining whether someone is eligible for unemployment.

Always prepare accurate job descriptions for each position. That way, if an employee challenges pay differences, you will be ready to show that jobs and duties that sound similar at first blush aren’t really comparable. That can come in handy if an employee claims some form of discrimination based on race or other protected characteristic.