Benefits and Compensation

Set Boundaries to Make PTO Work

Marques, an associate in the New York office of Holland & Knight LLP, offered her PTO tips at a recent webinar sponsored by BLR® and HR Hero®.

  • Make sure that all parts of the company are on the same page. Payroll, posted policies, and employment handbooks should all agree, says Marques.
  • Make sure the payroll system can account for accruing PTO time.
  • Avoid individually negotiating different benefits from the established policy. All peer employees should be getting roughly the same benefits. Sometimes, new candidates negotiate that they want what they had at their old job, and the temptation is to say, OK, that’s fair, but try not to do that, Marques advises.
  • Make sure that supervisors are well-trained to address abuse of the PTO system before it gets out of control. Remember that they are not HR professionals, but they still have to deal with these issues, says Marques.
  • Be consistent to avoid claims of discrimination with sticky issues like religious holidays, disabilities, or other disparate treatment where employees can claim that they are being treated differently because of membership in protected categories, different childcaring responsibilities, age, etc.

Boundaries for Paid Time Off

Make sure your supervisors are aware of wage and hour issues concerning employees who are out on leave.

For example, says Marques, be careful about calling or e-mailing workers who are on vacation. They may claim that they are due wages or they are due back the day off. (You might say, “I’m just sending this now, I don’t expect you to act on it until next week when you are back to work.”)

Also be aware of remote access, which can create similar problems, Marques says.

Are class action lawyers peering at your comp practices? It’s likely, but you can keep them at bay by finding and eliminating any wage and hour violations yourself. Our editors recommend BLR’s easy-to-use FLSA Wage & Hour Self-Audit Guide. Try it for 30 days … on us.

State Leave Law Topics

Pay particular attention to state laws, says Marques. They may have provisions concerning such areas as:

  • Time to vote
  • Bone marrow donor
  • Family medical leave
  • Jury duty
  • Military leave
  • Sexual assault or domestic violence victim

Watch Out for Furloughs

Private employers need to be careful with exempt employees, says Marques. Under federal law, an employer may establish weeklong furlough periods in which no work is done by exempt employees for the entire week. However, these periods may not be a means to evade the minimum salary test.

Only under certain circumstances may long-term furlough plans that reduce exempt work schedules be lawful, and the minimum salary test must still be met for exempt workers, cautions Marques.

For hourly employees, watch for eligibility for unemployment on a weekly basis, says Marques.

Furloughs—just one more of the numerous wage and hour challenges all comp pros face. Wage and hour should be simple, but it’s just not. Complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is one of the most confusing and challenging things comp managers have to do. How can you tell if they are doing it right?

There’s only one way to find out what sort of compensation shenanigans are going on—regular audits.

To accomplish a successful audit, BLR’s editors recommend a unique checklist-based  program called the Wage & Hour Self-Audit Guide. Why are checklists so great? It is because they’re completely impersonal, and they force you to jump through all the necessary hoops, one by one. They also ensure consistency in how operations are conducted. And that’s vital in compensation, where it’s all too easy to land in court if you discriminate in how you treat one employee over another.

Experts say that it’s always better to do your own audit and fix what needs fixing before authorities do their audit. Most employers agree, but they get bogged down in how to start, and in the end, they do nothing. There are, however, aids to making FLSA self-auditing relatively easy.

What our editors strongly recommend is BLR’s Wage & Hour Self-Audit Guide. It is both effective and easy to use, and it even won an award for those features. Here’s what customers like about it:

  • Plain English. Drawing on 30 years of experience in creating plain-English compliance guides, our editors have translated FLSA’s endless legalese into understandable terms.
  • Step-by-step. The book begins with a clear narrative of what the FLSA is all about. That’s followed by a series of checklists that utilize a simple question-and-answer pattern about employee duties to find the appropriate classification.

All you need to avoid exempt/nonexempt classification and overtime errors, now in BLR’s award-winning FLSA Wage & Hour Self-Audit Guide. Find out more.

  • Complete. Many self-audit programs focus on determining exempt/nonexempt status. BLR’s also adds checklists on your policies and procedures and includes questioning such practices as whether your break time and travel time are properly accounted for. Nothing falls through the cracks because the cracks are covered.
  • Convenient. Our personal favorite feature: a list of common job titles marked “E” or “NE” for exempt/nonexempt status. It’s a huge work saver.
  • Up to Date. If you are using an old self-auditing program, you could be in for trouble. Substantial revisions in the FLSA went into effect in 2004. Anything written before that date is hopelessly—and expensively—obsolete. BLR’s Wage & Hour Self-Audit Guide includes all the changes.

You can examine BLR’s Wage & Hour Self-Audit Guide for up to 30 days at no cost or obligation. Go here and we’ll be glad to arrange it. 

1 thought on “Set Boundaries to Make PTO Work”

  1. “I’m just sending this now, I don’t expect you to act on it until next week when you are back to work.” I don’t know how effective of a defense this would be in front of a jury. Probably better to play it safe and just not send it until the employee is back at work.

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