With the new year comes the latest revisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This round of revisions effects both exempt and non-exempt employees. What are these changes? Let's dig in.
Exempt workers, who are not paid overtime, will see their "salary threshold" (or "standard salary level") increase from $455/week ($23,660 annual) to $684/week ($35,568 per annum). The "Highly Compensated Employee" threshold will also move from $100,000/year to $107,432.
The focus of this post, though, are non-exempt workers: who can either be paid hourly or salary and are entitled to time-and-a-half overtime pay, as they will see a few changes, as well. Because of these changes, it may be wise for employers to consider updating their policies to reflect the government's changing regulations.
All Work = All Pay
Non-exempt employees must record and be paid for all hours worked—even if hours are worked outside of the employee's standard shift. Therefore, we recommend that you institute a policy which, depending on your company's specific situation, either allows or prohibits non-exempt employees from working outside their regular hours. If they are permitted to work outside regular hours, they should have a method for recording those hours. Refusing to pay employees for time worked, even if that time was unauthorized, is unlawful.
What about electronic devices? FLSA's new rule is that any time a non-exempt employee spends working from their smartphones or personal computers is considered time worked which they must be paid for; again, even if it occurs outside of work hours. Because of this, you may want to institute a policy prohibiting employees from working from their personal electronic devices or, for example, if you know an employee will need to monitor emails for a weekend, consider building that time into the weekly work schedule.
In many states, non-exempt employees are required to have meal and/or break periods. If you're in one of these areas, inform employees of these breaks, explain clocking in and out procedures, and remind them that they should not be working during lunch breaks—actually take a break! Employees may ask if they can work through their lunch break, but, legally speaking, they should not be allowed to. Though there is a process through which this requirement can be waived, but it often requires special circumstances.
The FLSA updates will add rules about overtime (though this is mostly a state-by-state basis), so make sure you're up to date with regulations. Also, work-related travel time is, in the eyes of the law, work that the employee must be paid for (there are exceptions to this, though, such as a morning commute).
If updated policies are not covered in your employee handbook, adding them now or distributing them as amendments would be wise and have employees sign-off on the changes. And if your policies are already in the handbook, remind your employees of the changes. Taking these steps will help you and your company stay within the boundaries of the law.