Penalties for noncompliance with
laws can add up surprisingly fast, says attorney Christopher C. Hoffman. And
it’s surprisingly easy to run afoul of
many tricky requirements. (See yesterday’s CED to read Hoffman’s tips on rest periods
and meal breaks in
the regional managing partner of Fisher & Phillips, LLP in
Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference and Exhibition, held recently in
A Typical Example of Minor
Infractions Meaning Major Fines
example, says Hoffman: A manager deducts 60 minutes a day for a meal period,
but the employee only takes 20 minutes. If that happens for 4 years, with a
penalty of 1 hour of pay per violation and a pay rate of $10 per hour:
violations a week at $10.00 = $50 per week
times 50 weeks -$2500
times 4 years = $10,000
there’s 40 minutes of off the clock work each day at the overtime rate is
another $10,000 over 4 years
incorrect pay stub penalties
that’s just for one employee,” Hoffman says.
Accurate Time Records Are Critical
have no records, Hoffman says, you’re at the employee’s mercy. Courts may well
believe whatever the employee tells them. You are responsible for the accuracy
of the records.
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the particular problems Hoffman sees over and over:
herding cats problem. Many
employees just don’t like to keep time records.
exact same time every day problem. An employee who is in at exactly 8, out at 12, in at 1, out at
5 every day of the year is suspicious).
automated system problem.
Automated systems have blind spots, Hoffman says. “Eliminate all
artificial restrictions. Deal with
early punch-ins with discipline,” he says.
bad incentives problem.
This happens, Hoffman says, when for example, supervisors are judged
solely by department efficiency. That’s a powerful incentive to hide
and hour seems like it should be easy, but it never is. Hours worked, rest
breaks, exemptions, independent contractors, the list goes on and on. There
are, however, good resources to help you out.
one our editors recommend is our brand-new Special Report, Independent Contractors:
Avoiding Costly Lawsuits Through Proper Classification.
leads you step-by-step through the process of evaluating whether a worker
should be classified as an employee or an independent contractor.
various tests for determining a worker’s status and presents 12 steps you can
take to minimize the risk of misclassifying a worker. It also provides
information about how to deal with the consequences of misclassification, as
well as a sample, customizable legal agreement that you can use with your