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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.

If H1N1 flu threatens to shut down businesses nationwide, employers are going to need contingency plans to make sure they keep running. Flexible work schedules, temporary shutdowns and telework can all help—but all have unexpected wage-and-hour implications. Here’s guidance from the Department of Labor on how to handle these tricky issues.

Q. I know employees can be required to waive their rights to sue to resolve employment-related disputes, either through a negotiated release or binding arbitration agreement. Can an employer also require employees to agree to waive their rights to file EEOC charges?

Sometimes, it makes financial sense for companies to engage workers as independent contractors rather than as employees. It can have advantages for workers, too. But whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor has nothing to do with the desires of the organization or the worker. Not even a written contract can make someone an independent contractor if that status isn’t legitimate.

Q. An employee who recently quit has not returned a company-owned laptop computer worth more than $1,000. Can we withhold the value of the computer from the employee’s last paycheck?

Here’s a wage-and-hour problem that may trip up Minnesota employers: Employees who have to pay their own travel expenses may end up making less than minimum wage. Allowing this to happen when the expenses exceed $50 may also violate Minnesota’s prohibition on deducting more than that amount for employee expenses.

Have you audited the employee bulletin board in your break room or next to your time clock recently? Have you ever done so? A little time spent seeing what’s there—and what’s missing—will keep you in compliance with North Carolina and federal laws.

This summer, Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed a bill raising fines for employers that knowingly fail to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. The new law also sets higher penalties for employers that misrepresent employees as independent contractors.

Several states peg the minimum wage to the cost of living. For decades, inflation has meant cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) that delivered regular pay raises. But what's happening now that the cost of living has declined 1.3% so far this year?

Ten states tie increases in the minimum wages to the inflation rate: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Since the cost of living has actually declined this year, none of those states will see an increase in their minimum wages.

Sometimes, it pays to take the time and spend the money to have legal experts carefully review your proposed actions. That’s especially true if your company is changing the way it does business in a fundamental way and wants employees to sign off on changes that dramatically affect how they are paid or whether they remain employees.