Archive for the ‘FAQs’ Category

FAQs About FLSA From the US DOL

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

faqs on employee screening blogWhew! That’s a mouthful of acronyms, but it means we have some great information for you. As an employer, you might be facing unprecedented challenges to keep your business running and your employees paid. If you’re furloughing employees, or reducing hours and/or leave, you need to be sure you’re within legal guidelines. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has published a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to help employers stay within the guidelines of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Here’s how to handle a few situations you may not have encountered before:

Q: If I’m having trouble meeting payroll, do I still have to pay non-exempt employees on the regular payday?
A: Yes. In general, an employer must pay covered non-exempt employees minimum wage and overtime due on the regularly scheduled payday. Failure to do so is a violation of FLSA.

Q: Is it legal to reduce the wages or number of hours of an hourly employee?
A: The FLSA does not address reduction of hours or wages for non-exempt employees. It does require that they receive at least the Federal minimum wage for all hours worked. It is not a violation of the Act to reduce wages or hours of non-exempt employees.

Q: Am I required to pay an hourly employee for a full day of work if they don’t work a full day, due to lack of work?
A: No. An employer is not required to pay non-exempt employees for hours they do not work.

Q: Can an exempt employee’s salary be reduced during a business slowdown?
A: In general, the reduction of an exempt employee’s salary will cause a loss of exemption; they must then be paid minimum wage and overtime for all hours worked. In some circumstances, reduction in salary may not cause a loss of the exemption. As long as the employer is not attempting to avoid salary basis requirements, the exempt employee’s salary may be reduced. However, deductions to salary may not be made by the employer based on the operating requirements of the business. This is a complicated question, and full details can be found here.

Q: Can an employer reduce an exempt employee’s leave?
A: Yes. Employers can substitute or reduce an exempt employee’s accrued leave for the time an employee is absent from work, even if the absence is directed by the employer because of a lack of work.

Q: Can a salaried, exempt employee volunteer to take unpaid leave due to a lack of work?
A: Yes, if the employer asks for volunteers to take time off due to insufficient work, and an employee volunteers to take a day or days off for personal reasons (other than disability) the employee’s salary may be reduced for one or more full days of missed work. The employee’s decision must be completely voluntary.

Labor laws can be tricky. This list is meant to be an overview, not a legal guide. For full regulations, please see the Wage and Hour Division website . Remember to check your state’s labor laws as well. Always seek professional legal advice whenever you are in doubt about employment law.

Are Employers Ever Required to Background Screen Employees?

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Depending on your business, there may be requirements in state or local laws and/or licensing that require screening of employees. This would most likely occur if you provide services to vulnerable populations (such as youth, the elderly, or disabled). You may also have contractual obligations imposed by your insurance carrier, or if you contract to use any facilities owned by your city or county government. Government facilities that serve vulnerable populations often have clauses in their contracts requiring screening of all personnel using the facility.

How Many Employees Do I Have to Have Before FCRA Applies to Me?

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Unlike some other HR-related regulations, the FCRA does not make any distinction between a small business owner and a large corporation. If the information you want to receive on a current or potential employee meets the definition of a consumer report, and is obtained through a consumer reporting agency, FCRA applies no matter how many employees you have.

Why Should I Use Background Screening to Hire New Employees?

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

There are several really important reasons to carefully screen potential new employees:

  • If your business itself handles personal data, such as financial and health information, you must comply with electronic data privacy requirements. It becomes even more important to know who your employees are under this situation.
  • An increasing concern is negligent hiring lawsuits, where employers can be held liable for actions of their employees, especially if you don’t check that employee’s background and suitability for the job.
  • A more obvious concern is simply the reliability of the employee. A background check (including credit) is often a good indication of an individual’s reliability. Just keep in mind that a decision not to hire cannot be based solely on whether the applicant has filed bankruptcy.

Is it Okay to Request Date of Birth for the Purpose of Background Screening?

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Job applicants today expect not to be asked for date of birth, because of laws prohibiting age discrimination. As an employer, however, you’ve probably learned that effective background screening often depends on knowing date of birth, and perhaps race as well. It is permissible to request those pieces of information, as long as you keep in mind the following information. All applicants for the same type of work need to be treated the same (request the information and do background checks on every applicant you consider). Get the information on a separate ‘tear-off’ part of the application, and make it clear that the information will be disposed of as soon as it is used for the background check. It cannot become part of the employee’s permanent file.