Balancing Labor Costs And Wage-Hour Laws

by Fisher Phillips
Contact

[author: John E. Thompson]

Employers' continued struggles with labor costs have led to additional hourly-rate cuts, salary reductions, furloughs, layoffs, and similar conventional measures.  But are there other potentially less-disruptive and legal options?  There might well be.

What Does The Law Really Require?

For one thing, management should purge pay plans and policies of any expensive misconceptions about what the law does and does not require.  For instance, some employers believe that non-exempt employees' unworked paid-time-off for holidays, sick days, or even vacation days must be counted as hours worked when computing overtime under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.  This is not so, and eliminating this unworked paid-time-off from FLSA overtime calculations could result in appreciably lower wage costs.

Also, some state wage-hour laws are considerably more employee-favorable than either the FLSA or similar laws in other jurisdictions.  Whether through misunderstanding or for other reasons, some organizations employing people in multiple states pay all employees as if they work in the jurisdiction with the highest wage requirements.  As an example, a multi-state company might pay non-exempt Georgia employees overtime for hours worked over eight in a workday (even though Georgia does not require this), because the company is legally obligated to do so for similar California workers.

What Pay Alternatives Might There Be?

Employers should also consider relatively-straightforward measures that could cut or at least minimize labor expense.

One illustration relates to the seven-day "workweek" that employers must select and document in order to comply with the FLSA's overtime requirement.  Most employers must of course pay non-exempt employees FLSA overtime premium for all their hours worked over 40 in a single workweek.  While the workweek cannot be changed retroactively or frequently to evade the FLSA's obligations, the workweek can be re-established on a lasting, going-forward basis.  And employers can choose different workweeks for different groups of employees or for different locations.  If patterns of activity unique to a particular department or facility typically add up to overtime hours under the workweek that applies company-wide, then the employer could consider whether adopting a separate workweek just for that department or facility would decrease or eliminate the overtime costs.

Management should also consider whether helpful FLSA exemptions, exceptions, or refinements might be available.  Some of these measures might affect wage costs directly.  Others might streamline the payroll process so as to reduce administrative expense.  Still others might tie compensation more closely to productivity so as to increase revenue (see our post on the Section 7(i) exemption, for example).  Of course, in today's legal environment, it is essential to evaluate these matters carefully before acting.  Possible missteps flowing from near-term financial pressures will ultimately be self-defeating or worse if they provoke million-dollar litigation.

As always, employers must be certain that whatever they decide to do for FLSA purposes is also permitted under all applicable state and local laws, under special "prevailing wage" requirements, and so on.

And whatever the law permits, employee morale is obviously an important consideration.  However, employees might well react favorably to measures that avoid more-stringent steps, such as layoffs.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Fisher Phillips | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Fisher Phillips
Contact
more
less

Fisher Phillips on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.