In Brief-Why I don’t sympathize with your wage and hour issues

Editor’s note: I’ll be the first to admit that the wage and hour regulations for exempt employees are a bit more complicated. So for the purposes of this blog post I’m limiting the scope of my rant to non-exempt hourly employees.

It seems as if a week can’t go by without getting an e-mail alert or webinar promoting what a company can do to help you avoid getting sued for wage and hour violations.Personally, I delete them ASAP. They bother me because for three basic reasons:

  1. Compliance regulations governing payment of wages are pretty clear.Some states have unique wrinkles that you might need to iron out, but regular and overtime pay guidelines are pretty standard. Regular pay up to 40 hours a week and OT for hours worked in excess of that amount. Simple and straightforward (unlike COBRA, for example).

  2. Enforcement, prosecution, and damages have significantly increased.

  3. Why would any organization choose to infuriate its people by messing with their money?

People will work under the most uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous conditions without complaint, but if you short their pay-watch out. And can you blame them? At the heart of a relationship between an employer and employee is the concept of receiving agreed upon compensation in exchange for service rendered. It’s one of the few things that everyone, from the rank-and-file to the CEO, agree upon. And in tough economic times people become even more sensitive to this. People are working to preserve their standard of living so if they’re doing their part then pay them what they’re due.

So please, if you suspect that there might be an issue at your organization, do the following:

  • Get your head out of the sand
  • Determine the size and scope of the issue
  • Research federal and state guidelines
  • Consult legal counsel before making a decision on how to address and rectify the problem
  • Make the affected parties whole and communicate effectively
  • Document your actions
  • Don’t do it again

If there’s anything I glossed over or if you want to share your opinion please leave a comment. Thanks!

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