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 FLSA requires employers to pay the minimum wage and the correct amount of any overtime. Violate the law and you’ll have to pay double what you owe—unless you can show you acted in good faith and with the reasonable belief that you were following the law. That’s a tough sell unless you can show you followed legal advice.

Q. Our company is hiring temporary workers for a big upcoming job. Do we have to treat them as employees?

As with many other federal employment laws, the Fair Labor Standards Act includes a retaliation provision that protects workers who complain that their employer has violated the law. Until recently, it wasn’t clear what kinds of complaints actually triggered the FLSA’s protections. That’s now changed.

WRS Compass is the latest company to face an EEOC lawsuit after failing to rein in workplace racial harassment. According to the complaint, one black worker found a noose on his steering wheel, and a white employee displayed a noose on his car. When workers complained, a white supervisor replied, “Maybe, he just likes nooses.”

If you read only headlines, you may think U.S. employers are slashing employee benefits to the bone. Not so. But the weak economy is forcing organizations and their employees to make some tough choices, particularly in compensation and benefits. Here are seven key HR trends to look for, plus tips on how to respond.

True or false: Employees are either creative or they’re not—creativity isn’t a skill you can teach. False. Managers can play a key role in creating an environment in which employees will want to look for new ideas. Share this article with your supervisors to help tap employee creativity.

As the recession drags on, many employers have begun trimming compensation. If you plan to cut pay for exempt employees, do so with care. Handle it wrong, and you could run afoul of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the federal law governing wage-and-hour practices. The worst-case: Cutting pay and hours could turn exempt employees into nonexempt hourly workers.

Q. One of my employees who recently quit has failed to pay back a personal charge he made on our corporate credit card. Can I simply deduct the amount of the charge from his last paycheck or withhold his final paycheck until he pays for the charge?

Exotic dancers at suburban Minneapolis’ King of Diamonds club pay the club a fee of $20 to $100 every night they work. King of Diamonds maintains the dancers are independent contractors and “pay for the pole” in order to earn tips. The club does not pay them an hourly wage. Attorney E. Michelle Drake sees things differently.

Q. We have some employees who are earning the maximum salary for their job classifications. Can we cut their pay if we feel they’re overpaid?