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.

President Obama’s 2011 budget plan calls for the U.S. Department of Labor to hire 100 new enforcement personnel and gain $25 million in new funding to target employers that misclassify workers as independent contractors (ICs).

Northbrook-based Allstate Insurance has agreed to pay $4.5 million to 90 former agents who alleged the company’s move to turn employee agents into independent contractors disparately impacted older agents and violated the ADEA.

Here’s a cautionary tale that offers an inevitable lesson: When a supervisor’s harassment spills out into the greater workplace, the claims will grow exponentially.

Don’t, under any circumstances, use co-worker resentment over disability accommodations as a reason to transfer or terminate the disabled employee. If you’re intent on getting rid of a disabled employee, you’d better have a better reason than that.

The Texas Payday Act allows employees to sue for commissions earned but unpaid after termination. But that doesn’t mean that employees are always owed such commissions. If they violated their fiduciary duty to their employers by disclosing confidential information to a competitor, it’s legitimate to withhold pay.

Ohio’s workers’ compensation premium reform effort appears to be working. According to the Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC), half of Ohio’s private employers paid lower workers’ comp premiums in 2009 than in 2008.

Here’s an important lesson for employers: Judges don’t want to hear any excuses from employers that fail to pay back wages when ordered to do so. In fact, they’re perfectly willing to throw you in the slammer if you do. Example: Recently, the owners of a cleaning service were jailed when they didn’t make court-ordered payments of back wages owed to 385 workers.

With the IRS beginning a nationwide crackdown on employers that try to dodge payroll taxes, now’s the time to make sure your workers are properly classified. Starting in February, IRS auditors began poring over the records of thousands of employers to root out organizations that try to cheat the system by calling workers contractors when they’re actually employees.

HR Law 101: Don’t overlook state laws, which may provide more protection for independent contractors. While the IRS is largely concerned with the issue of who collects and who pays taxes on earnings, states have different interests to protect. Thus, some states may prefer for some contractors to be considered employees under the IRS rule.

As we enter a new decade, HR must pay more attention than ever to employment law issues. Reason: new laws taking effect, increased agency enforcement, more lawsuits spurred by a poor economy and an activist Congress. Here are 10 key trends and how to respond: