Benefits and Compensation

Supervisory Sin 7: Making Wage/Hour Blunders

[Go here for sins 1 through 6.]

Sin #7. Making wagehour blunders

We’re out of overtime. Can you clock out and then set up for tomorrow?
You’ll be working alongside our regular employees, but you new recruits are all independent contractors.
Tracy, make sure you stay close to the phone during lunch.
Sandy, keep your phone near you evenings for calls from the West Coast.

Wage and hour should be simple but it just isn’t. The most common supervisory sins are:

  • Overtime. You have to track it, pay it, and include bonuses in the “regular rate” for overtime calculations.
  • Off the clock. You have to pay for all hours worked, even if the employee volunteers and even if you’ve forbidden the employee to do work.
  • Misclassification. Many “independent contractors” are actually employees who need to be paid overtime. And many “exempt” employees have duties that do not meet the criteria for exemption.

Sin #8. Not knowing and not enforcing policies

We’re busy now. Talk to me about that harassment business next week.
If you think the work’s not safe, you’re free to quit any time.
Nobody in this department can talk about salaries or benefits with other employees or outsiders, especially online.

Supervisors and managers are the front line for interpreting and enforcing the company’s policies. But if they don’t know the policies and their associated responsibilities, even with the best of intentions, they’ll be setting you up for a lawsuit. 

Sin #9. Letting problems fester

Teresa’s crossing the line with her behavior, but she surely knows it—she’ll figure it out.
Oh, that’s just Jimmie. He means no harm—he’s just “old school.”

With bad behavior, it’s always tempting to ignore it in hopes that the behavior will improve on its own. But you know that’s not going to happen. Unfortunately, as time goes by, you appear to be condoning the behavior.


Wage/hour perfection? Experts say most employers are not in compliance. Join us January 16, 2014, for Wage and Hour Audits: Commonsense Tips for Spotting and Fixing Problems Before a WHD Visit. Learn More.


Sin #10. Making compensation “side agreements”

Stay after you clock out for the next 2 weeks until we get this job out the door, and I’ll make it up to you by writing in extra overtime next month when the budget switches over.
Take this transfer, and I’ll guarantee you a promotion at the end of the year.
I can’t pay you for this extra work, but you and your spouse can go out for a nice dinner on the company account.

Managers under stress may be tempted to make “side agreements” that either go against policy or consist of promises that likely won’t be kept.

Three problems arise with side agreements:

  1. They are illegal and there will eventually be lawsuits.
  2. Employees will be left feeling that agreements haven’t been honored.
  3. Others who didn’t get the special treatment or privilege may sue.

OK, that’s our top 10 sins of supervisors and managers. Avoid them, and stay hassle—and lawsuit—free.

Know Any Supervisory Sinners?

And how about your supervisory sinners? Any sins we’ve missed or expensive blunders you’ve encountered? Please share them with the share button or write directly to sbruce@BLR.com.

If even well-meaning supervisors are sinning, how do you find out before it’s too late? There’s only one way—audits. Fortunately, there’s timely help in the form of BLR’s new webcast— Wage and Hour Audits: Commonsense Tips for Spotting and Fixing Problems Before a WHD Visit. In just 90 minutes, you’ll learn everything you need to know about accomplishing your wage/hour audit.

Register today for this interactive webinar.


Learn how to conduct your own wage and hour audit—join us January 16, 2014, for an interactive webcast on Wage and Hour Audits: Commonsense Tips for Spotting and Fixing Problems Before a WHD Visit. Earn 1.5 hours in HRCI Recertification Credit. Register Now


By participating in this interactive webcast, you’ll learn:

  • In’s and out’s of DOL’s recent wage and hour-related enforcement activities, and what’s likely on the horizon for 2014
  • Why DOL’s “random” audits may not be as out-of-the-blue as they seem
  • Industries at high risk for wage and hour audits and how to tell if your organization could be particularly vulnerable to going under WHD’s microscope
  • The most common issues that may become the focus of a wage and hour audit
  • Wage and hour “gotchas” to avoid, so you don’t wind up having to pay out significant back pay and penalties as the result of an audit
  • Recordkeeping essentials to ensure your compliance with the FLSA
  • Best practices for responding to a WHD wage and hour audit
  • Self-audit action plan essentials
  • Tips on how to address internal complaints about wage and hour violations in a timely and effective manner so employees don’t report alleged FLSA infractions to the DOL
  • The costly liability you could face under federal law if you don’t have sound wage and hour policies and recordkeeping practices in place — and how to avoid it
  • And much, much more!

Register now for this event risk-free.

Thursday, January 16, 2014
1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Eastern)
12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (Central)
11:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. (Mountain)
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (Pacific)

Approved for Recertification Credit

This program has been approved for 1.5 recertification credit hours toward recertification through the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI).

Join us on January 16—you’ll get the in-depth Wage and Hour Audits: Commonsense Tips for Spotting and Fixing Problems Before a WHD Visit webcast AND you’ll get all of your specific questions answered by our expert.

Find out more

Train Your Entire Staff

As with all BLR/HRHero® webcasts:

  • Train all the staff you can fit around a conference phone.
  • You can get your (and their) specific phoned-in or e-mailed questions answered in Q&A sessions that follow each segment of the presentation.

Find out more