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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Q. If an employee owes us money, can we collect it through deductions from his wages?
Independent contractors aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation, and their clients don’t have to pay into the unemployment compensation trust fund, as the following case shows.
The Minnesota Senate will hold hearings on the Constitutional Amendment for Equality (CAFE), a state-level equivalent of the federal Equal Rights Amendment that failed to win ratification in the 1970s and ’80s. In a statement, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party legislators said the amendment to the Minnesota constitution would protect women’s rights in ways statutes can’t.

Gonnella Bakery has settled with Mexican workers at its plant in Aurora who claimed they were harassed because of their national origin. The workers said one manager often made derogatory comments about Mexican workers and consistently assigned them more difficult duties and work schedules.

Q. We require certain employees to be on-call for customer service needs that arise after hours. Employees carry a pager while on-call, and are expected to respond to pages right away. Do we have to pay our employees regular wages, or a minimum number of hours and overtime for being on call?
Q. An ex-employee who we fired just filed an FMLA lawsuit against us. In addition to our company, he also named as co-defendants the HR, benefits and plant managers, along with me, the president and CEO. We believe the employee was legally terminated. Is there any risk in having our corporate attorney represent all of the defendants in the lawsuit?
Q. One of our employees recently took a company-issued BlackBerry with him on a business trip. The employee lost the BlackBerry while out on the town, and the company would like to have him pay for a replacement. Can we deduct the cost of a replacement BlackBerry from his paycheck?

Under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (PMWA), employees engaged in administrative work aren’t eligible to collect overtime pay. But what about employees who spend a lot of time in the field—calling on clients or prospects, for example?

It often becomes apparent that managers who were supposed to prevent discrimination weren’t doing an effective job. For the good of the company, it’s sometimes necessary to fire those bosses for tolerating discrimination or harassment. And those managers will probably sue, too. Good news: You can cite their attitudes to show they weren’t performing their jobs to your reasonable expectations.
Companies everywhere are scrutinizing their payrolls and full-time employee head counts with an eye toward cost-saving measures ... and independent contractors. Just be aware that you'll need a concrete policy for managers to steer clear of the IRS and legal headaches in hiring outside workers.
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