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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Restaurants and retailers often have strict dress codes for employees; for example, black polo shirts and khaki pants. These aren’t uniforms—there aren’t any logos on the shirts—but the goal is to create a consistent look for employees. The best approach may be to pay for employees’ clothing rather than risk class-action litigation over who should be covering the cost.

When an employee owes the company money, it may be tempting to simply deduct it from his or her next paycheck. But in New York, that can be a big mistake. Over the past couple of years, the New York State Department of Labor has issued several opinion letters that significantly narrow its interpretation of New York Labor Law Section 193.

Employees who quit after being told they may be terminated aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation. That’s especially true if quitting provides another benefit, such as the ability to use the employer as a reference.
Employees who have been fired generally qualify for unemployment benefits unless they were terminated for misconduct. But “misconduct” is broadly defined. It can even include rude or snippy behavior that shows an employee doesn’t really care.

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, has agreed to settle a gender pay discrimination claim, and the con­sent decree that spells out the terms of the settlement could affect New Jersey women who work for the company. Under the settlement, 124 female pharmaceutical sales specialists will split $250,000.

Q. Occasionally, when we receive a big order, our nonexempt employees are required to work through their lunch break. Although we do not pay them overtime for this work, we buy pizzas and sodas for all the affected workers. Is this lawful?
Q. We have received résumés from many college students looking for unpaid positions this fall. Would we need to pay these interns?
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has clarified who can sue for unpaid benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
A federal court has rejected a bid by two former employees to represent other similarly situated employees, based on the employer’s claim of conflict of interest. The court agreed that these particular employees weren’t the best choice to represent other workers.
The Court of Appeal of California has finally clarified how much em­­ployers owe employees who don’t get their required meal and other breaks. The penalty is two hours of pay per day if workers missed both types of breaks.
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