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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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Employees who work for technology/wireless communications firm BTS enjoy a unique vacation benefit: They can use a company-owned condominium in Florida—and $250 in spending money. That’s just one of the generous benefits that CEO Sean Lane says are important for attracting employees long on ideas and energy.
If your company has established top pay levels for each job classification, you probably end up giving some long-tenured (and, therefore older) em­­ployees smaller raises than less-experienced employees. But those older workers won’t be able to successfully claim age discrimination, as long as you can explain that the pay difference is due to your clearly documented wage schedules.
Q. We hired a nonexempt part-time employee, but for several months she’s been working about 40 hours a week. Are we required by law to convert her to full-time status and offer benefits if she averages near 40 hours?
The IRS has clarified that em­­ployers can take a current-year tax deduc­­tion for a fixed amount of bonuses that will be paid to employees during the following year, even though the amount that each employee will re­­ceive, and even the identity of employees, aren’t known until after the tax year ends.
Q. An employee’s spouse has become disabled. Even though this employee is younger than 59½, he’d like to take a distribution out of his 401(k) account. Can we accommodate him?
Q. We reimburse employees for the business use of their personal cellphones. To cut down on paperwork, management has suggested that instead of having employees submit their cellphone bills, we give them a flat allowance. This sounds like we’re giving them extra pay. Would those allowances be taxable?

Do your managers have limited discretion in setting pay? If so, you may have a built-in way to prevent large class-action lawsuits over equal pay. It’s all because of last summer’s big Supreme Court decision in Wal-Mart, Inc. v. Dukes.

If your company has a top pay level for each job classification, you probably end up giving some older workers smaller raises than less-tenured employees. That’s fine as long as you can explain that the difference is because of your wage schedules, not age discrimination.
Q. We hired a temp worker through an agency while one of our employees was out on a 12-week pregnancy leave. Five weeks after she started with us, she was injured at work. Are we responsible for her workers’ comp claim, or is the temp agency responsible?
Q. We are planning to change a salesperson’s pay from straight salary to a lower salary plus commission. Can we do this without violating wage laws?
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