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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.

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Employers, beware if you don’t stay on top of the intricacies of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The fact is, the law is still developing and employers that don’t keep up will be caught. Consider the following case involving the seemingly old question of “donning and doffing” clothing and gear before and after clocking in:

When was the last time you reviewed your company’s bulletin boards in the break room or alongside the time clock? Do they show the correct, updated federal- and state-law posters? A little time spent seeing what’s there—and what’s missing—will keep you in compliance with state and federal laws.

A New York City broker of apartment rentals and sales may face legal liability for alleged age bias—not because it discriminated, but because its independent contractor did. It’s a cautionary tale for any organization that outsources hiring.

If your organization uses independent contractors, watch out: Starting in February, the IRS will begin intensive audits of 6,000 randomly selected employers. One of the key targets: Determining whether employers are improperly misclassifying workers as independent contractors to save on taxes and legal risks.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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