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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.

For employers and job-seekers alike, unpaid internships seem like an attractive option. But internships come with risks. Before you begin taking on interns, do a thoughtful and careful analysis to make sure state and federal law allows you to classify an individual as an unpaid intern rather than a paid employee.

Q. Let’s say I do the payroll for a company and know that we are misclassifying employees (exempt vs. nonexempt; independent contractors vs. employees). And let’s say I advised the owner, but he chose to leave it as is. Could I be held liable as the payroll administrator?
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is stepping up efforts to encourage and support certain types of wage-loss claims by low-income workers. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced this spring that the department was rolling out its “We Can Help” campaign to address this issue. If you employ relatively low-wage workers, you need to be aware of this program.
If you use independent contractors, make sure they have the freedom to work for other clients and largely set their own schedules. Those criteria are important for determining whether someone is an “employee” and, thus, eligible for unemployment.
When the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster began, hundreds of Panhandle workers signed up to receive training on how to safely clean up the mess. Now that they have completed the program, some are complaining that they can’t start working because their employers are withholding the certificates. OSHA is looking into the complaints ...
Test your knowledge of recent trends in employment law, comp & benefits and other HR issues with our monthly mini-quiz ...
Sometimes, you really do need to recruit someone from outside the organization—someone who may already be earning more than you usually pay your employees. When making a hire like that, make sure you document why you chose to top existing salaries, especially if the new hire is the opposite sex of any incumbents.

On paper, internships are good for everyone. Interns learn a business and make connections in organizations where they hope to one day get jobs. In turn, businesses pay nearly nothing for work that needs to be done. However, the U.S. Department of Labor recently issued a fact sheet that casts that equation into doubt.

The more control an employer tries to assert over a worker it intends to treat as an independent contractor, the more likely that worker is actually an employee. That’s why you should make sure independent contractors have the leeway to work for others and maintain their own schedules.

Q. Our organization requires employees to wear uniforms on the job. Do we have an obligation to pay for the uniforms?