The FLSA is a set of federal laws regarding minimum wage, overtime, and other important workplace practices. The rules aren’t always easy to understand, however, and sometimes they get misinterpreted by business owners and even by the courts. (As an example, the supreme court recently had to step in and give the final word on a type of overtime exemption.) This is why the Department of Labor has provided opinion letters to help clarify some of the more confusing scenarios.
On March 6, 2018 the Department of Labor launched a pilot program allowing employers to audit their own pay practices and catch and report their own wage and hour mistakes. It’s called the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) Program and will operate for six months as a pilot program.
Prior to now, wage and hour mistakes would land employers in court where they would have to pay court and lawyer fees, back wages, and liquidated damages. With the PAID program, if mistakes are caught independently and in good faith, employers can avoid the extra costs and simply pay employees back for the mistakes made.
Employers hear a lot about overtime violations and other wage and hour offenses. There are so many rules to learn and so many cases in the news. It can be a little scary to think about the consequences of getting an employee’s payroll wrong.
There’s some good news and some bad news for employers in this regard.
Owners of very small businesses often do everything themselves. They don’t have an HR person reminding them what’s legal and what’s not and so they try to keep up with the changing federal and state laws on their own. The problem with this approach is that many small business owners don’t even know what to watch out for. It’s hard to be compliant with wage and hour labor laws when you don’t even know them. Employers running very small businesses should be familiar with wage and hour best practices so that they can avoid labor lawsuits.
Overtime violations fit into a category called wage theft. And the thieves are, in this case, not the poor or needy, but the more fortunate business owners. While they would hardly call themselves thieves, they essentially steal wages from the poor and the needy: their low-wage employees. Sometimes business owners and managers do this by accident but most of the time they are trying to cut corners and save money by either:
- Withholding overtime
- Making employees work off the clock
- Tip withholding
- Paying employees under the minimum wage
Every company needs to keep track of employee time – whether that’s accomplished with antiquated paper timesheets or sophisticated web-based applications, it is needed in order to know how many hours to pay their employees.
Time sheet documents are also required by the DOL and they can keep a company out of trouble if ever they are subpoenaed.