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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Two years ago, Congress passed a three-step boost in the federal minimum wage. On July 24, the last of those increases takes effect, rising another 70 cents to $7.25 per hour. President Obama has advocated increasing the federal wage floor to $9.50 per hour by 2011.

If discrimination has always been a head-in-the-sand issue for you and your organization, it’s time to get serious about your policies and practices. Discrimination complaints of all types—race, sex, age, etc.—have climbed as steeply in the past year as the economy has fallen. Don’t get caught flat-footed.

You don’t have to tolerate foul language ... Customer gripe caused firing? Get it in writing ... Ledbetter Act already spurring more pay cases ... Track when you notify worker of firing ... No signature? Settlement may still be binding.

A bill before the Minnesota Legislature would allow the state to suspend prevailing wage requirements on state-funded construction projects if November budget projections show a 1% or greater deficit. State prevailing wage legislation is patterned after the federal Davis-Bacon Act, which requires federally funded construction projects to pay the “prevailing wage” for specific job classifications.

If you haven’t looked carefully at how you determine compensation, here is another reason to do so soon. Employers that can show a court they set salaries based on logical, fair and unbiased factors are likely to win Equal Pay Act lawsuits. That’s because the EPA outlaws sex discrimination in pay, but allows employers to use factors other than sex to set pay rates.

Commissioned salespeople are hurting in this economy, but their employers may be feeling the pinch, too. Take, for example, Rick Case Enterprise, a company that owns several Broward County auto dealerships.

Employers naturally want to stay out of court. That’s one reason so many organizations have their employees agree to arbitrate claims rather than take them to federal or state court. But if those arbitration agreements aren’t carefully worded, they may be useless.

Major railroads announced more furloughs of employees in recent days as they try to decide between getting rid of workers completely or keeping them on retainer in hope the economy will improve soon.

Q. We are having trouble making payroll and have asked our employees to give up pay for 20 hours per month while they work their regular schedules. Can we do this? Or should we just cut their salaries or hourly wages to make up the difference?

When provided descriptions of each presidential personality, here’s who American workers compared their bosses to. (Which best describes your boss?)

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