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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When New York-based telephone directory-assistance provider kgb needed to hire part-timers who would work from their homes, it put the word out to the spouses of deployed military. The organization found them by partnering with the Army Spouse Employment Partnership, a program created in 2002 to help military spouses find jobs.

Q. We currently pay employees for time spent driving from the office to work sites. We pay minimum wage for that driving time, but we don’t count those hours toward “total hours” worked for the week. That keeps overtime down because their hours aren’t accumulating until they arrive at the job site. Is this OK?

The FLSA allows employers to round off an hourly employee’s arrival or departure time to the nearest five minutes, tenth of an hour or quarter of an hour. But your rounding practices can’t always favor the employer. Rounding must be neutral or it must favor the employee. That means if you round down, you must also round up. You have several ways to make rounding fair:

President Obama’s 2011 budget plan calls for the U.S. Department of Labor to hire 100 new enforcement personnel and gain $25 million in new funding to target employers that misclassify workers as independent contractors (ICs).

The Texas Payday Act allows employees to sue for commissions earned but unpaid after termination. But that doesn’t mean that employees are always owed such commissions. If they violated their fiduciary duty to their employers by disclosing confidential information to a competitor, it’s legitimate to withhold pay.

Ohio’s workers’ compensation premium reform effort appears to be working. According to the Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC), half of Ohio’s private employers paid lower workers’ comp premiums in 2009 than in 2008.

Northbrook-based Allstate Insurance has agreed to pay $4.5 million to 90 former agents who alleged the company’s move to turn employee agents into independent contractors disparately impacted older agents and violated the ADEA.

Here’s a cautionary tale that offers an inevitable lesson: When a supervisor’s harassment spills out into the greater workplace, the claims will grow exponentially.

Don’t, under any circumstances, use co-worker resentment over disability accommodations as a reason to transfer or terminate the disabled employee. If you’re intent on getting rid of a disabled employee, you’d better have a better reason than that.

Here’s an important lesson for employers: Judges don’t want to hear any excuses from employers that fail to pay back wages when ordered to do so. In fact, they’re perfectly willing to throw you in the slammer if you do. Example: Recently, the owners of a cleaning service were jailed when they didn’t make court-ordered payments of back wages owed to 385 workers.

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