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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. A long-standing employee recently took FMLA leave to give birth, but her son has many medical complications. She exhausted her eligibility under our disability carrier and isn’t eligible for long-term disability because she herself is not disabled. We want her back, but she can’t commit to even 20 hours a week. What are our obligations under the FMLA, and would our employee be entitled to unemployment compensation if we terminate her?
Here’s another reason to act fast when an employee complains about offensive graffiti in the workplace: He can quit and collect unemployment compensation benefits.

You may think that a long-term arrangement with an independent contractor to provide professional services will never be considered an employment relationship. But that’s not true if you exert too much control over the way the work is done. And according to a recent Commonwealth Court decision, it doesn’t take all that much control.

Disabled employees may have trouble doing their jobs without an accommodation. If you simply tell the employee to figure out a way to perform the job and refuse to help find an accommodation, the em­­ployee may quit and apply for unemployment.
If an employee isn’t working as hard as you expect, reducing his pay might conceivably provide enough of a kick in the pants that he’ll pick up the pace. As long as you carefully document why you are making the pay cut, he won’t win a discrimination case even if his pay puts him at a lower level than others outside his protected class who perform the same job.

These days, employees are getting braver about discussing their pay. Part of the reason is that the National Labor Relations Board has done a good job publicizing its stance that discussing pay is concerted activity protected by law. Be prepared for the inevitable lawsuits with solid reasons for all pay decisions.

California’s Wage Theft Prevention Act, which went into effect Jan. 1, criminalizes willful violations for nonpayment of wages and sets civil penalties for failure to pay minimum wages. It also requires employers to provide employees with wage notices ...

When and how much to pay employees for their travel and commuting time is a tricky subject. What's considered working time when employees are traveling? How do you deal with weekends that may combine business and personal travel and with requests for reimbursements when company vehicles are used for "commuting"?
Q. I’m confused about what we can do to restrict gossiping over pay. We think it’s nobody’s business and our pay rates are based on a number of factors. Can’t we tell new employees that we consider compensation levels confidential?

Summer is still a long way off, but you can be certain employees are already eyeing the July calendar in hopes of grabbing the prime weeks to block off for their summer vacations. You’ll probably be stuck refereeing who gets which days. Here’s some help from HR pros:

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