Having trouble complying with the countless workplace laws that exist? You are not alone! HR compliance is complicated. Not only is it difficult to thoroughly understand how to apply them appropriately to your business, even more challenging is the fact that these laws often change. But ignorance of the law is no defense, so it is critical that businesses understand which are the workplace laws that apply and how to apply them or you will find yourself and your business subject to expensive lawsuits and/or penalties.
For those that don’t know, the primary source of federal wage and hour regulation is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). One of the most common workplace lawsuits filed under the FLSA is when an employee claims that their employer has not paid him or her for all hours worked or for owed overtime. Employers found liable in these cases may be required to pay damages, including back pay, attorney fees, and civil or criminal penalties under both federal and state laws.
Absolute Plumbing LLC – a residential and commercial plumbing company based in West Palm Beach is a recent example. In this case, the Department of Labor (DOL) found that Absolute Plumbing had paid workers their straight-time hourly rates without regard to the actual number of hours worked resulting in employees not receiving the overtime pay they should have. Additionally, Absolute Plumbing was automatically deducting employee 30-minute meal breaks from their work time, regardless of whether they actually took the breaks – resulting in employees having worked through their breaks but not have been compensated for them, yet another major violation of the FLSA. In the end, last month, Absolute Plumbing found themselves having to pay $145,297 in back wages and liquidated damages for violating the overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the FLSA.
So what can you do to help protect your business and minimize your risk of being caught up in these types of violations? Here are a few recommendations:
- Keep accurate & detailed payroll records
- Record or closely monitor employee hours worked
- Require employees and managers to acknowledge when changes are made to a time record.
- Self Audit your internal pay practices or seek the assistance of an outside consultant to conduct the audit for you
Remember, businesses of all sizes are subject to fines for FLSA violations and common errors can lead to astronomical judgments. The unwary employer who fails to comply can quickly become the next FLSA statistic. If you are unsure about whether your business practices are in compliance with the FLSA – we’re here to help. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.