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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With the IRS beginning a nationwide crackdown on employers that try to dodge payroll taxes, now’s the time to make sure your workers are properly classified. Starting in February, IRS auditors began poring over the records of thousands of employers to root out organizations that try to cheat the system by calling workers contractors when they’re actually employees.

HR Law 101: Don’t overlook state laws, which may provide more protection for independent contractors. While the IRS is largely concerned with the issue of who collects and who pays taxes on earnings, states have different interests to protect. Thus, some states may prefer for some contractors to be considered employees under the IRS rule.

As we enter a new decade, HR must pay more attention than ever to employment law issues. Reason: new laws taking effect, increased agency enforcement, more lawsuits spurred by a poor economy and an activist Congress. Here are 10 key trends and how to respond:

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, with jurisdiction over California employers, has ruled that the federal Rehabilitation Act covers discrimination claims brought by an independent contractor. The Rehabilitation Act applies to federal agencies, government contractors and organizations that receive federal funding.

Q. We’re a nine-physician medical clinic, and we employ a salaried business manager. Her duties include personnel, hiring, firing and office work. We don’t give her comp time or overtime pay. If she takes a partial day off, she must use vacation time (paid time off). Are we handling this correctly?

Here’s a powerful reason for managers and supervisors in New Jersey to understand the ins and outs of discrimination and labor laws. If they commit a discriminatory act, they could be personally liable.

The Equal Pay Act makes it illegal to base unequal pay on gender. If an employee can show that a violation was “willful,” she has up to three years to sue after the last allegedly discriminatory paycheck; only two years if it’s not willful. Heads up: Courts will probably call any obvious wage disparity a “willful” violation.

Sometimes it seems like supervisors and employees work in entirely different places. Several recent studies show that bosses and front-line employees have widely varying views about their organization’s priorities, morale, compensation and benefits. Here are seven key flashpoints:

Starting Feb. 1, the IRS will begin intensive audits looking into the employment tax compliance of 6,000 randomly selected employers. One key target: identify employers that are improperly misclassifying employees as independent contractors. If your company is selected for audit, follow good IRS examination management practices.

The cost cutting and staff reductions may not be completely over, but as the economy begins its recovery, HR will be dealing with new challenges in 2010. Here are 10 trends to expect in the coming year, plus tips and tools to help you respond to each.

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