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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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.

Some jobs require employees to always show up on time. Nursing homes, day care centers, hospitals and the like are obvious examples. Draconian attendance policies may be necessary to ensure coverage. As long as they allow for FMLA leave and consider reasonable accommodations for disabled workers, such rules are fine.

Q. We recently fired an employee for misconduct. She now claims we have to buy out all the vacation time she had not used. Do we have a legal obligation to pay her for accrued and unused vacation time?
Employees who quit usually aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation. Only those who quit for “a good reason caused by their employer” are eligible for benefits.
Ignoring an employee’s persistent complaints that she’s being paid less than her male counterparts may amount to a willful violation of the Equal Pay Act (EPA). And willful violations add a year onto the two years of back-pay liability.
The federal Equal Pay Act (EPA) is supposed to ensure that men and women doing the same job aren’t paid differently based on their sex. But employees can’t win EPA lawsuits simply by comparing their rates of pay and job titles. Lots of factors unrelated to gender may in­­fluence pay.
California’s Labor Code requires employers to give covered em­­ployees a 10-minute break or rest period during each four-hour work period. Many em­­ployers have wondered how far they have to go to make sure employees take their breaks ...
California employees who report to work and then are sent home are generally entitled to at least a partial payment for that day. If you regularly have mandatory workplace meetings that fall outside some employees’ regular workday, consider scheduling those meetings for a specific time period. As the following case shows, that could save some money.
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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