Most Popular Articles

The Dirty Dozen Myths of Non-Exempt Pay

"Overtime after 8 hours? Double time for holidays? There are many myths of wage and hour and they are widely believed by the rank and file. In today’s Advisor, we’ll dispel a dozen of them."

Myth #1—Employees get extra pay for working nights and weekends.

The Facts: The FLSA does not require extra pay for weekend or night work. This policy is a matter of agreement between the employer and the employee (or the employee’s representative).

The only FLSA extra pay requirement is that covered, nonexempt workers be paid not less than time and one-half the employee’s regular rate for time worked over 40 hours in a workweek.


Can You Pay at Different Hourly Rates? (Sure, but …)

"Employees who do two different types of tasks may be paid different hourly rates during the workweek. Or, an employee may work in two or more different positions during the same workweek at different rates of pay. But how do you calculate the overtime?"

The general rule is that all hours worked in all positions and at all rates are counted toward the weekly total for the purpose of determining whether the employee is owed overtime.

When an employee receives different hourly rates of pay throughout the week, generally, you determine the regular rate by dividing the total compensation received during the workweek by the total number of hours worked. This will product a “weighted average” or “blended rate.”


Overtime and Part-Time Pay Myths Debunked

"Yesterday’s Advisor debunked eight myths of pay for non-exempts; today, four more plus an introduction to the best way to ferret out pay practice errors before the feds do."

Myth #8—Employees must be paid overtime for more than 8 hours a day or for weekend work or holiday work.

[Go here for Myths 1 to 8.]

The Facts: For covered, nonexempt employees, the FLSA requires overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times an employee’s regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work in a workweek.


Incentive Comp Threatening Your Organization? Think AIG

"The recent economic meltdown has ushered in a new sobriety, says expert Jack Dolmat-Connell, designed to prevent (or at least mitigate) what many view as one of the primary sources of the collapse—excessive compensation."

In spite of the old saying that a salesperson cannot be overpaid, it seems that one indeed can be. And they were, says Dolmat-Connell, president and CEO of compensation consultants DolmatConnell & Partners. He points to AIG as a prime example of where things went wrong. 

“They had traders whose pay was $100,000 a year, but had the potential of earning $20 or $30 million bonuses,” he says. “That caused excessive risk for the organization. When faced with that kind of potential for financial gain, people sometimes do unnatural things.” 


Can You Forbid Discussions of Salary and Pay?

"Much as most employers would like to impose a ban on discussion of pay (not to suggest that there are embarrassing inequities in your pay structure), it’s not legal because the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) says it interferes with Section 7 rights."

It’s all part of NLRB’s new expansive view of its role.

For insights about the overly aggressive NLRB and the recent court decision concerning the legitimacy of President Obama’s recess appointments, we spoke with Patricia Trainor, BLR’s senior managing editor, HR.

“There’s a very interesting situation at the NLRB now: A court has ruled that Obama’s interim appointments were invalid, so any actions the board has taken may be invalid as well,” says Trainor.


The 6 Most Common Wage/Hour Violations—and How to Avoid Them

"What are the most common violations found by DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD)? Time clocks, rounding, training time, and break time are among the top six."

By law, employees must be paid for all “hours worked.” In general, “hours worked” includes all time an employee must be on duty, on the employer premises, or at any other prescribed place of work. Also included is any additional time the employee is “suffered or permitted” to work.

Note: There is no federal requirement for payment of holidays, vacation, sick or personal time.


Number One Stay-Out-of-Court Training Topic? Wage/Hour

"We’ve identified the six key manager/supervisor training topics for staying out of court, and—no surprise—wage/hour is number one."

1. Wage/Hour/FLSA

Why it’s a challenge: Supervisors and managers think they know the rules, but the rules are more complex than they think they are.

Typical manager/supervisor blunders:

  • “I won’t pay for unauthorized overtime.” In most cases you must pay for all hours worked even if you forbid workers to work. You can discipline them for disobeying, but you have to pay them.
  • “Yeah, they grab the phone now and again when they’re home.”If non-exempt workers are spending more than a de minimus amount of time answering business phone calls after work hours, they probably need to be paid.
  • “I’m not recalculating overtime just because I gave a little bonus at the end of the month.” Overtime must be paid on the “regular rate” which includes many bonuses and other payments. If the bonuses are awarded after pay for the period has been made, you must recalculate and pay the additional amount.


Advantages and Disadvantages—Team Goals vs. Individual Incentives?

"In yesterday’s Advisor , consultant Katie M. Busch offered tips on incentives for nonexempts. Today, her take on team vs. individual awards, plus an introduction to the wage and hour guide that solves your problems before the feds do."

Busch, whose remarks came at a recent BLR-sponsored webinar, is owner of HR Compensation Consultants, LLC. Here are her suggestions about team and individual incentives.

What Are Team-Driven Incentives?

Team-driven incentive are intended to foster a collaborative environment in which team members are focused on helping one another. They are:


Job Description Alert—Disparate Impact Lawsuit Lurking

"Job descriptions don’t seem as though they would be lawsuit generators, but poorly written or out-of-date job descriptions can set you up for a nasty disparate impact lawsuit, says attorney Susan Fahey Desmond."

For a more detailed explanation, we turned to BLR/HRhero’s HR Guide to Employment Law, written in part by Desmond, who is a Partner in the New Orleans, Louisiana office of Jackson Lewis LLP.

You could set yourself up for a disparate impact suit, Desmond says, if :

  • Your listed requirements on the job description are not necessary for the job, and
  • They disqualify those in a protected class at a disproportionate rate.


Who’s Using HRIS? Whose Are They Using? Survey Says …

"Are HRISs taking over for HR and compensation manages? Who’s using such systems, whose systems are being used, and what are they being used for? BLR’s recent HRIS survey provides the answers."

In June 2012, BLR’s HRIS expert, Holly Jones, surveyed BLR customers on their HRIS use. An audio conference download was offered as premium for survey completion. Just under 600 HR Daily Advisor and HR Hero Line readers responded. According to Jones, important findings included:

  1. About half of respondents use an HRIS system and about half of those use systems that are cloud-based or SAAS.
  2. Almost 80% of HRIS users have 100 or more employees.
  3. Of survey respondents who use an HRIS, 28% are logged in for more than half of the day.
  4. Reporting data, payroll management, PTO/leave tracking, and benefits management were the most common uses among respondents
  5. ADP was the most popular system used by respondents, with 21 percent of respondents


15 Ideas in 15 Minutes—Attract, Engage, Retain

"A much-appreciated session at BLR’s recent Advanced Employment Issues Symposium was a panel presentation during which panelists offered quick, real-world-tested ideas for attracting, engaging and retaining employees."

The original talk was called “30 Ideas in 30 Minutes,” but we’ve culled the best fifteen ideas for our readers. The panelists were:

  • Andrew Botwin, head of Human Resources for accounting firm Rothstein Kass
  • Kathy Brooks, VP of Employee Experience, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
  • Michael Burchell, Vice President, Global Business Development, The Great Place to Work Institute
  • Rob McElory, General Manager, Daphne Utilities
  • Liz Wilson McKee, Internal Communications Manager at law firm Baker, Donelson PC


Lunches and Breaks—‘Little’ Violations, But Fines Add Up Quickly

"In yesterday's Advisor, we covered two of the most common wage/hour violations; today, more violations plus an introduction to a timely webinar covering one of comp's greatest bugaboos—non-exempt travel pay."

Wage/hours violations like lunch break payments seem like small potatoes, but multiply by 250 days a year and a thousand employees and add penalties—you’ve got a big-dollar fine.

Common Violation #3—Meal Breaks

Bona-fide meal periods (typically 30 minutes or more) are not work time, and an employer does not have to pay for them. However, the employees must be completely relieved from duty.


Everything I Need to Know About Managing … I Learned From My Mother

"In his keynote speech at BLR's Advanced Employment Issues Symposium, held recently in Nashville (AEIS Las Vegas is November 17-18), BLR CEO Dan Oswald told an appreciative crowd about the 10 critical management lessons he learned from his mom."

Lesson #1: Honesty is the best policy

Oswald told the story about getting in trouble in school and having to bring a note home for his mother to sign. He found the girl in his class with the best penmanship, and had her sign the note. The next morning, he couldn’t bring himself to go to school, so he told his mother he was sick. Eventually he admitted the truth.


Organizational Development? Start with the Janitor, says Al Gore

"In yesterday's Advisor we got Steve Forbes' and Al Gore's take on critical management issues. Today, Gore on OD, compensation, and short-term thinking plus an introduction to the "Compensation Bible.""

Challenge # 4: Organization Development

[Go here for challenges 1 to 3.]

Gore worked on the "reinventing government" program at the country’s largest employer, the US Government. He says the key to finding better ways of doing things is to start at the bottom.


The 6 Most Common Compensation Mistakes

"As companies grow, seat-of-the-pants payroll systems that did the job for a while suddenly start to look a little messy. That’s where consultant Bill Erdle of William J. Erdle Compensation Consulting ( enters the picture. "

He typically finds that some employees are paid too little (and likely to jump ship at the first opportunity) while others—whose specialties were desperately needed—make more than they should (and that’s robbing profits). To make matters worse, he says, no one knows which is which.

Here are six of the most common compensation mistakes Erdle sees:


Audit Turns Up Turnover Nightmare Sorry, One More Critical Task for Comp—Audit Time

Despite the fact that most comp managers are crazy busy, it’s time to add a task to the mix, says Dorf—a thorough compensation program audit. And, yes, in spite of what could be construed as a self-serving suggestion, he wants you to hire someone else to do it. Dorf is managing director of Compensation Resources, Inc. in Upper Saddle River, NJ.,


Leopard Teams Are $800 Million Better than Layoffs

""I used to be the next president of the United States" Al Gore quipped, addressing a 10,000 person crowd at the Society for Human Resource Management's recent Annual Conference and Exposition in San Diego. As the laughter died down, he added, "I don't think that's very funny.""

Leopard Teams

Gore was followed by Wayne Cascio, winner of the Michael R. Losey Human Resource Research reward, who related to the Advisor a story of "responsible restructuring." He says that in his research he found that when faced with financial challenges, CEOs tend to fall into one of two camps:


Retaining Your Best Employees—Five Key Tips

"In yesterday’s Advisor, we found the first of the “15 tips in 15 minutes” from expert panelists at BLR’s Advanced Employment Issues Symposium. Today, more tips plus an introduction to a special product just for smaller or even one-person HR departments."

The original talk was called “30 Ideas in 30 Minutes,” but we’ve culled the best fifteen ideas for readers. The panelists were:

  • Andrew Botwin, head of Human Resources for accounting firm Rothstein Kass
  • Kathy Brooks, VP of Employee Experience, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
  • Michael Burchell, Vice President, Global Business Development, The Great Place to Work Institute
  • Rob McElory, General Manager, Daphne Utilities
  • Liz Wilson McKee, Internal Communications Manager at law firm Baker, Donelson PC


Implementing Pay Grades and Ranges: Common Pay Structure Issues

"Do you utilize pay grades? If you’re just starting to implement such a system, you may be confused about where to even begin."

You also may find yourself facing employees who don’t fit into the standard pay grades for one reason or another or who have maxed out at their existing pay grade. You may even have an employee who is pointing to online salary information and claiming she’s not getting paid enough, which is a position HR professionals are finding themselves in quite often, especially as the economy improves and employees are starting to look around to see what else is out there. How do you implement a fair pay structure without complicating your payroll process?


Terminations: ‘Maybe’ Involve HR? No, Always Involve HR

"In a recent CBSmoneywatch article about how not to fire an employee, columnist Amy Levin-Epstein notes that it’s often a good idea to involve HR when terminating. I’ll say. But the rule should be: always involve HR."

Consulting with HR before any termination should be an absolute. And not just to help with the firing itself; HR needs to be involved long before that.

What sorts of things can go wrong when HR’s not involved in the decision to terminate? Let’s list a few of the expensive problems that can crop up:


401(k) Fiduciary? There’s Personal Liability If You Get It Wrong

"Changes to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) mean that sponsors of 401(k)s and other retirement plans have new responsibilities. If you are a fiduciary, and you get it wrong, your own personal assets could be at risk."

The changes, which take effect July 1, 2012, are big. As a plan sponsor, you will receive new information about fees paid by the plan. You will also need to give participants some new information. For guidance, we turned to a recent BLR publication, the 401(k) Fee Disclosure Compliance Download Report.


Unannounced WHD Inspector on the Way to Your Office?

"If you’ve got hourly workers, eventually you’ll hear the dreaded “There’s someone at reception from DOL’s Wage/Hour division (WHD). Something about all our payroll records.” Here’s what happens and what to do to be prepared."


Early Retirement Plans: Win-Win IF You Follow Rules

"ERIPs (Early Retirement Incentive Plans) achieve a “win-win” for both employer and employees, say attorneys Chris Anderson and Sarah C. Maxwell, but there are legal pitfalls when the rules aren’t followed exactly."

ERIPs are a win-win, the attorneys say, because:

  • Employers benefit from reducing wages and other costs associated with senior workers, and avoid the negativity associated with a RIF
  • Employees benefit because a portion of that cost savings is passed to retiring workers who can retire earlier than they otherwise might.


Obama and Romney Agree, Affirmative Action Needs to Change

"Here’s the second in our series of “Eye on the Election” posts which are focused on helping employers prepare for post-election changes, no matter who is elected."

Eye on the Election

For today’s topic of likely changes to affirmative action after the election, we turned to Susan Schoenfeld, J.D., Senior Legal Editor for BLR’s human resources and employment law publications.

Schoenfeld was formerly an attorney with the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in Washington, D.C., where she advised federal agencies, drafted regulations, conducted inspector training courses, and litigated cases for DOL.


#1 Liability? Still Wage/Hour Says Mr. Please Sue Me

"What's comp's number one legal exposure? Still wage and hour, says expert Hunter Lott. And the DOL is trying to make it easier and easier for employees to sue."

One of Lott’s attorney colleagues who represents unhappy employees says that wage and hour is 70 percent of his business. The attorney says, “It’s low hanging fruit—I make a phone call, the company writes a check, I get 30 percent.“

Lott, a lawsuit avoidance expert found at, offered his tips at the SHRM Annual Conference and Exhibition held recently in Las Vegas.