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October 31, 2014

6 Easy Ways to Violate the FLSA – Mistakes 4-6

Filed under: Compease,Compensation,FLSA9:44 am

In yesterday’s blog, we discussed the first three mistakes that lead to Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations.  Today, we will take a look at the last three, featured that is; there are many more!

Mistake #4:  Asking Nonexempt Employees to “Work Off the Clock”

More recently, asking an hourly employee to “work off the clock” is considered wage theft.  The FLSA requires employers to keep accurate time records.  Tight budgets often prompt managers to request that employees “work off the clock” by asking them to come in early or stay late and not compensating them.  Such a practice can create huge liabilities for an organization.

Mistake #5:  Prohibiting Employees from Discussing Compensation Issues

Although many employers prefer that compensation rates and other pay issues remain private and even write policies to that effect, forbidding such discussion by employees may be in violation of the law.  The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits employers from banning wage discussions as it is interpreted as interfering with employees’ right to engage in protected concerted activity.  The National Labor Relations Board, the government agency that enforces the NLRA, has been watching these actions closely, especially with the more prevalent use of social media.

Mistake #6:  Failing to Properly Pay Nonexempt Employees for Meetings and Training

This is a puzzling one for many employers – knowing whether or not they are required to pay for meetings and training sessions.  Attendance at meetings and training is not counted as “hours worked” if all four of the following criteria are true:

  • Attendance is outside of the employee’s regular work hours;
  • Attendance is truly voluntary;
  • The course, lecture, or meeting is not directly related to the employee’s job; and
  • The employee does not perform any productive work while attending. 

Attendance is not considered voluntary, however, if the employee believes that his working conditions or employment opportunities would be adversely affected if he did not attend.

Even the most experienced HR professionals have difficulty navigating the FLSA.  However, failure to do so can be costly in terms of dollars, time spent fixing problems, bad publicity, and lower employee morale.  Focusing on a few of the most common FLSA mistakes and steering your organization away from them is definitely time well spent.

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