DOL Attempts to End Confusion Regarding Bonuses and the Use of the Fluctuating Workweek

Background: The US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (DOL) is attempting to provide clarity and predictability to one of the most confusing areas of wage and hour law – the fluctuating workweek. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay non-exempt employees time and a half their regular rate of pay for hours worked over forty in each week. However, if certain conditions are met, the DOL allows employers to pay “a fixed salary for fluctuating hours” and overtime at a half-time rate. See 20 CFR 778.114. The general requirements for utilizing the fluctuating workweek method are: 1) an agreement with the employee to pay “a fixed amount” each week regardless of the hours worked, 2) that the employee’s hours fluctuate week to week, 3) that the fixed amount will be greater than the minimum wage for all hours worked in any given week and 4) the overtime rate is equal to half of “the amount of the salary” divided by the total hours worked in a week. The definition of the terms “fixed amount” and “amount of salary” within the regulation has led to disagreement among courts, and arguably the DOL itself, on whether any additional compensation would negate an employer’s ability to use this method of overtime computation. Where some courts have disallowed all bonuses and additional compensation, other courts attempt to resolve this by creating a dichotomy between “productivity based” (for example commissions) bonuses and “hours based” (for example night shift differential) bonuses, finding that only productivity bonuses are compatible with the fluctuating workweek method of compensation. However, there are bonuses (such as for retention, safety and referral) that do not fall neatly into either category. This confusion regarding additional compensation has dissuaded employers from utilizing this method of overtime compensation or not paying any supplemental compensation other than a fixed weekly amount. The DOL’s new proposed rule attempts to address this confusion. Continue reading

Non-Exempt Employees Traveling for Work: How to Manage the Time Clock

Douglas, Jeff - 300dpi
Jeffrey Douglas

There may be instances where non-exempt employees are required to travel for business.  This is a common practice in the fashion industry where regular trips to factories throughout the world are a regular part of the business.  Non-exempt employees traveling for business can create serious wage and hour implications that, if not addressed properly, can lead to unaccounted for compensable time and overtime liability.  Continue reading

Employers Should be Prepared for the Challenges of the 2019 Hurricane Season

Executive Summary: As Hurricane Dorian, the first hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic season, bears down on Florida, the approaching storm serves as a reminder that employers should be prepared to address storm-related issues if they are required to close their businesses and as they prepare to resume normal operations. For example, employers need to determine whether closing the office means having to pay workers who stay home, being on the hook for unemployment compensation, and whether workers’ compensation applies to weather-related injuries. Continue reading

What Issues May Employers Be Required to Address as Hurricane Florence Threatens?

florenceExecutive Summary: As the East Coast of the U.S. braces for Hurricane Florence, the approaching storm serves as a reminder that employers should be prepared to address storm-related issues if they are required to close their businesses and as they prepare to resume normal operations. For example, employers need to determine whether closing the office means having to pay workers who stay home, being on the hook for unemployment compensation, and whether workers’ compensation applies to weather-related injuries. Continue reading