- Can I mandate that my employees do not discuss wages with their co-workers?
No. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) considers discussing wages and working conditions as protected concerted activities. If you take disciplinary action against employees who discuss these topics with their co-workers you may be in violation of employment law and affected employees may file a complaint against you for unfair labor practices. This situation should be avoided for both workplace productivity and to reduce the risk of potential legal action.
- Can I discipline an employee for posting negatively about my organization on social media?
Similar to question #1, an employee who posts online complaining about working conditions or wages to another employee is given the same NLRA protections as a regular discussion that takes place at work. You may be in violation of the NLRA if you try to intervene by taking employment action against employees who demonstrate this behavior.
- Do I have to file an EEO-1 (Equal Opportunity Employer) report?
Any company with 100 or more employees must file an annual EEO-1 report that summarizes the statistical demographic data in regard to their pool of applicants for open positions as well as the individuals they hire. Making willfully false statements on an EEO-1 report is punishable by a fine or imprisonment.
- What are the differences between an exempt vs. non-exempt employee?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines exempt and non-exempt as follows:
Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay and one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay when they work more than 40 hours in a work-week. It is important to track non-exempt employees’ hours so that you can demonstrate compliance with overtime payment laws.
Exempt employees do not qualify for overtime pay requirements. The primary advantages of classifying employees as exempt are that you don’t have to track their hours or pay them overtime, no matter how many hours they work; they receive an established salary amount for each pay-period regardless of hours worked. There are specific requirements that must be met in order to classify a position as exempt from overtime.
- Do I have to pay overtime if an employee works more than 8 hours in a workday?
If the number of hours worked in a work-week by an employee is more than 40 hours, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) stipulates that employers must pay overtime pay to non-exempt employees at the rate of one-and-a-half times the employee’s regular hourly rate.
- Can I pay a salary to avoid having to pay overtime?
The FLSA has strict definitions of employee classifications for exempt and non-exempt employees. Failure to comply with these regulations leaves a business owner vulnerable to penalties for violating employment law.
- Do I have to pay a non-exempt employee for all of the time they spend away from home on a business-related trip?
For a non-exempt (hourly) employee you only have to pay an employee for the hours they work (typically an 8-hour workday) and for driving if they are actually operating the vehicle in which they are traveling for work-related purposes. Otherwise, if the non-exempt employee is a passenger in a vehicle or other means of transportation they do not need to be paid for their travel time that spans outside of their normal work hours.
- Which type of companies have to follow the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guidelines?
Any company with 50 or more employees are subject to the FMLA guidelines. Keep in mind that if you have a multi-site business the 50-employee threshold is based on the aggregate number of employees you have at all of your locations within a 75-mile radius.
- Does my company need an Affirmative Action Plan (AAP)?
An AAP maps out your organization’s policies and procedures in relation to its commitment to providing equal opportunity in all aspects of employment. Federal contractors and subcontractors with at least 50 employees and $50,000 in government contracts are required to have and implement an AAP.
- I can’t afford to offer medical insurance to my employees. Am I required to?
If you have 50 or more employees, under the Affordable Care Act, you must provide health insurance for your staff.
- Can I mandate that only spouses of my employees who do not already have their own health insurance are eligible to enroll in our group plan?
An employer can require that employees provide proof that their spouse who is seeking coverage under the company’s health insurance plan does not have access to their own coverage through another means.
- Am I required to offer COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act)?
Employers with 20 or more employees must offer certain separated employees the opportunity to continue their health insurance coverage under the employer’s group plan for a period of 18 to 36 months at their own cost of premiums plus up to 2% administration fee.
- Is it illegal to release information about a former employee’s work performance when asked for a reference?
As long as you stick to the facts about the former employee’s work habits and overall performance, you can provide the person seeking the reference with the reason why someone was terminated from your company without violating the defamation of character rule. For example, if an employee was terminated for violation of a company attendance policy, it is perfectly acceptable to release that information during a reference check.
- I recently terminated an employee for embezzlement. Can I garnish their wages to get the money back?
As an employer, you have an agreement and an obligation to pay your employees for the time they have worked. Restitution for embezzlement and other crimes must be handled through the court system.