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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.

Since Congress passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, employers have again been in the position of having to defend paying men and women differently—and sometimes that means going back many years, to the time when pay scales began to diverge. If you can’t show a court that the decision you made years ago was legal under the Equal Pay Act, the employee may win.

Sometimes, employees prefer to work longer than eight hours a day in exchange for more days off. Ordinarily, changing schedules to accommodate such a request would mean paying overtime for the additional hours in excess of eight per day under California law. But now, in a unique case, the 9th Circuit has ruled that, in limited circumstances, changing the hourly rate for those who want the longer shifts doesn’t violate the law ...

The Equal Pay Act (EPA) makes it illegal to base unequal pay on gender. Employees have up to three years to sue after the last allegedly discriminatory paycheck if their employer’s violation was “willful,” and two years if it was not. Unfortunately, any obvious wage disparity is probably willful.

Q. While one of our employees was on workers’ compensation leave, she received disability payments. Due to a clerical error, we failed to take her off the payroll during that time, and she continued to receive her regular paychecks while on leave. The employee now refuses to sign an agreement to return the money on a payment schedule we were willing to set up. As a result, we would like to dock her pay for the overpayments. Are we allowed to do so?

Do you have a progressive disciplinary system? Don’t short-circuit it!

If your business relies on hiring casual laborers and you routinely pay a set price for a day’s work, don’t assume your workers are independent contractors. If one of them falls or is injured, chances are a court will conclude he’s an employee due workers’ compensation benefits. If you don’t carry workers’ comp insurance, you’ll be on the hook for big bucks.

Disciplining employees often requires making tough calls, especially when the disciplinary action is based on the word of co-workers. You may be forced to choose whom to believe. Don’t be tempted to ignore the complaint just because you can’t be sure who’s right. As long as you are honest, courts will be reluctant to second-guess you.

Beware breaking wage-and-hour laws if you employ drivers who cover expenses for the vehicles they use to make deliveries. If your hourly rate minus those expenses yields a figure lower than the minimum wage, you may be violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

As you gear up for a new year, here are some key to-do’s that will minimize the risk of lawsuits: Make sure your company has considered how a potential flu pandemic could affect your operations ... Get to know GINA ... Keep an eye on the feds ... Beware hasty terminations ... Watch wage-and-hour issues ... Make the ADA interactive ... Focus on union issues ... Manage social media ...

If your organization uses independent contractors, watch out: Starting in February, the IRS will begin intensive audits of 6,000 randomly selected employers. One key target: identify employers that are improperly misclassifying employees as independent contractors. If your company is selected for audit, follow good IRS examination management practices: