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Posts Tagged ‘wage & hour’

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Interpretation on Independent Contractor Misclassification

July 28, 2015 Leave a comment

ela_indexThe Administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) Wage & Hour Division issued a formal Interpretation to provide “additional guidance” concerning the misclassification of workers as independent contractors under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Businesses continuing to utilize independent contractors need to understand that combating misclassification is a priority for DOL and this latest action may lead to increased misclassification litigation.

To learn more about this important issue read our Employment Law Advisor.

Paid Sick Leave Law Creates New Employer Obligations for Intermittent, Temporary and Seasonal Workers, Including Interns

July 7, 2015 Leave a comment

MBBP's Wage & Hour Tip of the MonthEmployers who use temporary or seasonal employees including summer interns should already be aware of the importance of ensuring that those employees are paid in compliance with federal and state law. Massachusetts employers should also be aware that the new Massachusetts Earned Sick Leave Law (the “Law”) has created additional wage and hour obligations for some temporary and seasonal workers, including summer interns. (Generally, the Law requires that employers with more than 11 employees offer both full and part-time employees paid sick time; employees with fewer than 11 employees are required to offer unpaid sick time).

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s regulations addressing the Law include a provision which entitles temporary and seasonal employees like interns who work intermittently for an employer (e.g., work for the same employer for multiple summers) to sick time. The result of these regulations is that employers covered by the Law now need to track the accrual of sick time for temporary and seasonal workers, and permit those employees to take sick time once they have worked for the employer for more than 90 days.

Under the regulations, an employee with a break in service of fewer than four months will maintain the right to use any unused earned sick time accrued before the break in service. If the employee has a break in service of between four and 12 months, the employee will maintain the right to use earned sick time accrued before the break in service, but only if the employee’s unused bank of earned sick time equals or exceeds 10 hours. Employees with a break in service of greater than 12 months will not retain any accrued sick time.

Although temporary or seasonal employees are subject to the Law’s provision that employees are only entitled to use accrued sick time 90 days after the employee’s first day of work, employees with a break in service of fewer than twelve months will maintain vesting days from the employer and will not need to restart the 90-day vesting period upon their return to the employer before they can use earned sick time.

For example, an intern who works full time for an employer from June until August will likely have accrued more than 10 hours of sick time. If that intern returns to the employer the following June, he or she will (upon working 90 total days for the employer, including days worked before the break in service) be entitled to use that accrued sick time.

For more information on the use of temporary or seasonal employees including interns or the accrual of paid sick time, please contact a member of the Employment Law Group.

Tip of the Month: Implement a Payroll Deductions Policy to Take Advantage of the FLSA “Safe Harbor”

April 13, 2015 Leave a comment

Last month’s Tip of the Month reminded employers that communicating and maintaining an overtime policy can minimize liability for unauthorized overtime hours. This month, we focus on a second way employers can protect against wage and hour liability: the inclusion of a payroll deductions policy to take advantage of the “safe harbor” protection against liability for misclassification of employees based on the failure to pay employees on a salary basis.

As you recall, to be exempt from overtime, an employee must be performing duties recognized as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and must be paid on a “salary basis.” To be paid on a “salary basis” the employee must receive a predetermined amount of compensation each pay period (at least $455/week) which cannot be reduced due to variations in the quality or quantity of the employee’s work. An exempt employee must receive the full salary for any week in which the employee performs any work, subject only to certain limited deductions.

Employers jeopardize employees’ exempt status by making improper deductions from salaries. A payroll deductions policy which meets certain requirements provides employers with the opportunity to reduce overtime liability which might otherwise accrue under the FLSA if improper deductions are made and employees are therefore found to be inappropriately treated as exempt.

A payroll deduction policy only provides a safe harbor if the employer: (1) has a “clearly communicated” policy prohibiting improper deductions, including a complaint mechanism; (2) reimburses employees for any improper deductions; and (3) makes a good faith commitment to comply in the future. The safe harbor is not effective where the employer willfully violates the policy by continuing to make improper deductions after receiving employee complaints.

A good payroll deduction policy should include an explanation of how exempt employees will be paid on a salary basis, with only limited deductions for certain reasons permitted by law, including for social security, taxes, participation in company-sponsored benefit and retirement plans, absence from work for one or more full days taken in compliance with the company’s sickness or disability policy, absence from work which is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, absence due to certain types of suspensions, and full or partial days not worked during the initial or terminal week of employment.

For more information on implementing or reviewing a payroll deductions policy, contact a member of the Employment Group.

Employers Should Maintain and Enforce Overtime Policies

March 25, 2015 Leave a comment

Both Federal and Massachusetts law require that employers pay their non-exempt employees overtime wages whenever employees work more than 40 hours in a workweek. The law requires that employers pay overtime when they knew or should have known that the employee worked more than 40 hours. As a result, employers can be liable for overtime hours which they did not specifically authorize. Employers can minimize this liability by establishing an overtime policy and a mechanism for requesting and reporting overtime.

Overtime policies should include: who is eligible for overtime; what, if any conditions apply to the authorization of overtime; a specific mechanism for employees to request authorization to work overtime; and a specific mechanism for employees to report overtime hours which have been worked. Any policy should be clearly and conspicuously communicated to employees, and consistently enforced. Managers should not, under any circumstances, instruct employees to falsely record time or avoid reporting overtime hours worked.

Maintaining an overtime policy will not only result in transparent workplace expectations but it could also help an employer defend against an expensive wage and hour claim. In Vitali v. Reit Management and Research, LLC, SUCV2012-00588-BLS1 (Mass Super. June 2, 2014), a Massachusetts employee claimed she had worked through her lunch regularly and as a result often worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, entitling her to overtime. However, her employer had an overtime policy in place which required advanced approval for working overtime, as well as mechanisms for reporting overtime hours, which the employee had not followed despite her familiarity with the policy. The employee presented no evidence that management knew that the employee was working through lunch. Because the employer had clearly communicated rules and policies in place, and because the employee had failed to follow them, the employee was not able to maintain her claim for unpaid wages and the employer escaped a potentially expensive claim.

For more information on overtime policies, please contact a member of our Employment Law Group.

Employment Law Clip: Employee Terminations Under the MA Wage Payment Law

March 17, 2014 Leave a comment

Massachusetts employers, are you preparing to terminate employees? If so, watch this brief video highlighting important aspects of the Massachusetts Wage Payment Law that you may not be aware of when firing or laying off an employee or employees.

Want more information? Try some of our other resources on this topic:

Please feel free to contact any member of our Employment Law Group with any questions on Massachusetts wage payment laws.

MBBP’s Employment Law Clip Series provides quick, easy-to-digest snapshots of common Employment issues, as well as practical information on how to avoid complicated, expensive and time-consuming pitfalls. Stay tuned for the next topic on Restrictive Employment Agreements.