For regular readers of this blog, you know that my colleague, Tracey Truesdale, gave you some tips for properly paying employees in the event of a pandemic. That was on February 26, 2020. Since then, we’ve heard of employers sending entire offices of employees home to telecommute, restricting travel, and cancelling social events in reaction

The anticipated spread of coronavirus in the U.S. has many employers revisiting their emergency response plans. Depending on guidance from public health officials, some employees may be directed to work from home, temporarily furloughed, or work a reduced schedule. Some managers and executives may be pressed into service to perform more manual or routine tasks.

To paraphrase a favorite sign in my office, this is not the Department of Labor’s first rodeo, and there is existing guidance under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) implementing regulations on how employees must be compensated in these situations. Let’s look at some of the wage/hour issues presented when a business must alter its operations due to a public health emergency.


Continue Reading Coronavirus: How to Properly Pay Employees in the Event of a Pandemic

lunch9568375.jpgQ. We offer free lunches to our food service employees. Can we count the cost of these lunches as part of our employees’ compensation?

A. The short answer is yes, but as we all know, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, particularly in the world of wage and hour law. To explore the right way to do this, it’s helpful to take a look at some common mistakes that employers make. 

Suppose Jerry works at Bob’s Steak ‘N Beans as a line cook. Bob’s is located in Illinois, so the minimum wage for non-tipped employees is $8.25 per hour. Suppose Jerry works 45 hours over 5 work days in a week. For that week, he would be entitled to straight-time wages of $371.25. However, rather than paying that full amount in cash, Bob provides Jerry with a free Steak ‘N Beans Bonanza platter each day for lunch. The menu cost of the platter is $15, so Bob deducts $15 per day from Jerry’s pay, leaving him with $296.25 in straight-time pay. On Thursday, Jerry brought a salad from home, but Bob still charged him for the platter since it was available to Jerry even if he didn’t eat it. (Bob ended up serving it to a customer.) Bob didn’t just fall of the turnip truck, so he knows that he also has to pay Jerry overtime for 5 hours. So Bob takes Jerry’s total straight-time wages ($296.25), divides by 45, and divides by two to get an overtime premium rate of $3.29 per hour. Multiplied by five hours, he gets $16.46. Adding that amount to Jerry’s straight-time pay, Bob comes up with a total of $312.71. 

Can anyone spot the problems here?


Continue Reading What is the Cost of a Free Lunch? [Wage & Hour FAQ]

FAQs17489126.jpgRecently, two blog readers asked a question about the use of compensatory (comp) time in the private sector during a discussion about tracking exempt employees’ hours worked. One reader’s company tracked exempt employees’ hours worked, and permitted the employees to “flex” any hours worked in excess of a normal workweek, either later that week or in future weeks on an hour-for-hour basis, subject to work loads and scheduling requirements. Another reader wondered if banking “flex” time would be an illegal use of comp time by a private employer. Let’s debunk that myth: Can you offer comp time, flex time, or some other additional compensated time off to your exempt employees? Yes! This is legal and permitted by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations.


Continue Reading Can Employers Offer Compensatory Time to Exempt Employees? [Wage & Hour FAQ]

FAQs17489126.jpgAs you undoubtedly know by now, the Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division (WHD) finally announced its long-promised proposal to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Regulations and, in particular, those governing the “white collar” exemption for executive, administrative, and professional employees. For our comprehensive discussion of the changes in the DOL’s Notice

Note: This post relates to the Department of Labor’s proposed rules issued in 2015. For a summary of the final rules issued May 18, 2016, please check out this post, and see this post for a link to the recording of our May 23, 2016 webinar.

This morning, the Department of Labor’s Wage &