FLSA Changes: Updating Your Policies and Practices
Have you reviewed your policies and practices in light of the upcoming FLSA overtime changes?
Reclassified employees may have to follow procedures and policies that didn’t apply to them before—or that you didn’t have. Changing habits can be a challenge, but changing those of your formerly exempt employees with respect to hours worked and tracked is critical to preventing wage and hour violations.
Newly non-exempt employees are likely used to “running the clock” after hours. They may be in the habit of responding to work email, finishing up projects, taking client calls or engaging in other work tasks during non-work hours. It’s therefore advisable that your policies are clear about expectations and the organization’s commitment to recording all time worked by nonexempt employees.
_DOL RULES UPDATE
On November 22, a U.S. District ruled in favor of an injunction blocking the final overtime rules from being implemented on December 1, 2016. At this time, we are awaiting more information on updates to the rule and the final implementation date.
If you have implemented changes already, we recommend businesses not change any plans, pay structures, or policies that have been updated._
Consider that your previously exempt employees may not be familiar with your timekeeping procedures, such as tracking time to check emails and turning in recorded work time for each pay period. Review these procedures with them, keeping in mind that non-exempt employees must be paid for all time they are permitted to work. This doesn’t just mean time in the office, but all time, whether it’s approved by the employer or not.
As mentioned above, all hours worked by a non-exempt employee must be recorded and compensated, even those performed outside of the employee’s standard shift. Therefore, it’s critical to have a policy in place that informs employees that all time worked must be tracked, that off-the-clock work is prohibited and that employees may be disciplined for not following their scheduled shift. Please note that refusing to pay for unauthorized time worked—whether it’s regular or overtime—is not permissible.
Employees Using Their Personal Electronic Devices
Time a non-exempt employee spends doing work from their smartphone, tablet or personal computer is considered time worked, and employees may find this hard to resist if their phone is buzzing in their pocket every time a new work email hits their inbox. For this reason, you may want to prohibit a non-exempt employee from using their personal devices for work purposes at all, or only allow such use upon authorization from the company. For instance, if you’d like particular employees to check and respond to work email over the weekend, build that time into their weekly schedule so it doesn’t lead to unexpected overtime.
Meal and Rest Periods
Many states require meal and/or break periods for non-exempt employees. It’s important to inform employees of these breaks, explain the procedures for clocking in and out and remind them that no work should be performed during this time.
This is an area where it will be particularly important for your managers to be willing to manage. Employees who previously worked through lunch at their desk and could put in their eight hours between 9 and 5 might not want to take an unpaid lunch period or break, thus extending their workday. State law, however, may be indifferent to their feelings. If employees ask to waive their meal or rest periods, you’ll want to check state laws on break and rest periods. Sometimes these breaks can be waived, but sometimes they cannot. And waiving them sometimes requires special circumstances and agreements between employers and employees.
Now is the time to ensure that you’re familiar with your state and local overtime laws. Although most employers will only be subject to the federal requirement to pay time and one-half for hours worked over 40 in one workweek, Alaska, California, Colorado and Nevada each have daily overtime provisions, and Massachusetts and Rhode Island require some employers to pay a premium for work on Sundays and certain holidays. Employees and managers need to be aware of the rules for compliance. And you should make sure that your own expectations for overtime work are written in your policy and communicated to your employees.
Since non-exempt employees must be paid for all time worked, you may need to consider travel time for those customarily engaged in work travel. There are a few narrow exceptions when travel time isn’t payable (e.g. when the employee is a passenger in a vehicle outside of regular work hours or during a standard morning/evening commute), but it’s good to assess your non-exempt employees’ travel schedules to ensure proper pay.
An employee handbook that contains the most updated policies and procedures is critical to staying compliant. Learn more about Paycor’s HR Support Center, a comprehensive HR knowledgebase that provides handbook templates, sample job descriptions, useful checklists, law alerts and more. Or, contact us to see how we can help your organization prepare for new overtime regulations.
Source: HR Support Center
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