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Flu season means wage-and-hour headaches, too

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in Office Management,Payroll Management

February is the apex of flu season, which means employees will be calling in sick. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has a lot to say about your sick time policies.

Sick time for nonexempts. Nonexempts who call in sick and who don’t work from home may use their accrued time off. If they don’t have any accrued time left and they can’t borrow time, you need not pay them. If they work overtime during a week they’re out and use their accrued time off, don’t include that payment in their regular rates when calculating their overtime rates. Reason: The payment is for idle time, which isn’t included in the regular rate calculation.

Nonexempts who worked from home must submit time records. It’s easy to lose track of time when working from home, especially when you have 103° fever, so you should be wary if the work they completed doesn’t jibe with their recorded time. Key: Tell employees that every work hour must be recorded and that estimates aren’t acceptable.

Sick time for exempts. Exempts who are out sick don’t need to be paid their full salaries, if your bona fide sick pay plan pays them for the lost salary. Exceptions: Exempts need not be paid their full salaries if they haven’t yet qualified under your sick pay plan, they have already used up their benefits for the year or they haven’t yet actually received any benefits. They may use other accrued time, if they have any.

Exempts who work from home because they’re taking care of a sick child or spouse must be paid their full salaries. Flip side: Exempts who stay home for full days, and who don’t work, can use their accrued time; if they’ve run out of accrued time and can’t borrow from the next allotment, they can take an unpaid day off.

ACHOO! The FLSA is only your starting point. Employers in California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Oregon and Vermont have paid sick leave laws. Many more municipalities have sick pay ordinances. Check your municipality’s website to see if you’re covered. And don’t forget the FMLA and any state family leave laws; they may allow employees to take off to care for a sick child or spouse.

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