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We received a wage garnishment for child support that the employee doesn’t want us to follow. What should we do?

Valid wage garnishments need to be followed regardless of the affected employee’s feelings on the matter. In this case, you should go ahead and follow the instructions from the garnishing agency, withholding and sending them the specified amounts. The instructions should tell you what kind of notice you need to provide to the employee and provide a contact number if you have questions about remitting the payments. You may want to have a separate conversation with the employee so you can explain your legal obligations and why you cannot refuse to withhold the required amounts. If the employee wishes to get the garnishment discontinued or altered, you can refer the employee to the garnishin

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During an exit interview, a departing employee accused one of our managers of harassment. Should we investigate even though the accuser is no longer employed here? The manager has been with us a long time, and we’ve never heard any complaints about him before.

Yes, I would recommend investigating the allegations even though the accusing employee has left the organization. If your investigation shows that harassment occurred, I would recommend taking disciplinary action as appropriate.  Federal law obligates employers to prevent or stop unlawful harassment. Harassment happens when behavior is unwelcome and based on a protected class such as race, gender, age, religion, national origin, or disability. It becomes unlawful when it is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment. In this case, since you’ve been made aware of alleged sexual harassment, failing to investigate the allegations could invite risk, especially if

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Federal Law Alert

Reminder—New Minimum Salary for Exempt EmployeesStarting January 1, 2020, most employees who are classified as exempt under the executive, administrative, professional, and computer employee exemptions will need to be paid at least $684 per week or $35,568 per year. See our full report in the News Desk of the HR Support Center for more information.  Minimum Wage Increase for Federal ContractorsOn January 1, 2020, the minimum wage for employees doing work on or in connection with federal contracts will increase to $10.80 per hour. The minimum wage for covered tipped employees will increase to $7.55 per hour.  New W-4In the new year, employers will need to provide the redesi

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Three Ways to Effectively Manage Your HR Responsibilities

The workplace – whether it’s an office, a salon, a restaurant, or a medical facility – is full of complexity. And many of those complexities are managed by the Human Resources Department. Sometimes the HR Department is a team of people with deep expertise, but often it’s one person who wears many hats in the organization and has no formal HR training. If your HR department looks more like the latter, and you could use a little help keeping it all together, we recommend the following three practices: Inventory who is doing whatBecause HR covers so many different tasks, those tasks are often assigned to different people in the organization. It’s common for owners, managers, and o

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I’ve heard serving alcohol at company parties can be a liability. What steps can we take to protect our organization and our employees?

Yes, alcohol can be a liability. Partygoers who overindulge could cause an accident or act in ways that violate your harassment policy. Here are some practices you might consider: Employers may be liable for employee misconduct and negligence when the employee is acting “in the course and scope of employment,” so make these kinds of events optional and clearly communicate that attendance is neither expected nor required.Don’t plan to have any work-related activities at the event.To further support the non-work nature of the event, hold it off-site and outside of regular business hours, and allow employees to bring a guest.Set expectations around respectful behavior and encourag

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Four Ways to Show Employees That You Appreciate Them

Saying thanks and showing appreciation shouldn’t be limited to special occasions. Here are four ways to create a culture of appreciation in your workplace: Involve your employees in the big decisions and strategic planning of the organizationSolicit their ideas about the direction you’re headed. Discuss the future of the company with them, along with their place within it. Consider what they have to say and give them credit for their input. By doing all this, you show your employees that they’re important to you and to the success of the organization.  Invest in your employeesOffer opportunities for advancement. If promotions aren’t possible, then help employees up-level

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Our busy season starts next month. Is there anything we can do to help our employees reduce their stress?

There is! Here are a few things you can do to make the busy season run as smoothly and stress-free as possible: Remove or reassign non-essential work duties: Before the busy season begins, ask employees to make a list of tasks that others could feasibly handle for them or that could be put on hold. Then work on reassigning those tasks or simply hold off on non-essential tasks until business slows down.  Allow for flexible scheduling: If employees need to work longer hours on some days during the week, consider allowing them to work fewer hours other days of the week. Be aware, however, that some states have daily overtime laws.  Budget for overtime: Employees may need to

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How Employers Can Address Mental Health in the Workplace

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half the people in the United States will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives, and one in five Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year. It’s therefore not surprising that mental health has a significant impact in the workplace. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health conditions like depression and anxiety cost the global economy a trillion dollars per year in lost productivity.  Those who have never suffered from a mental illness often have a hard time understanding the depth of the problem or the inability of a person to “snap out

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Can we send employees home early because there isn’t any work to do?

Yes, you can send employees home early due to a lack of work. Just keep in mind that exempt employees would need to be paid their entire salary for the day. Non-exempt employees would only need to be paid for actual hours worked, unless you operate in a state with reporting time pay requirements. If you do operate in a state with reporting time pay requirements, employees may be entitled to reporting time pay for a certain number of hours even if they just show up and do no (or very little) actual work. This pay requirement is intended to lessen wage loss that is not the fault of the employee, as well as encourage employers to not over-schedule, since overscheduling and then canceling sh

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What is an employee’s regular rate of pay? Is it just what they make per hour of work?

Not exactly. An employee’s “regular rate of pay” is the amount used to calculate their overtime rate for a given time period. You might think of it as an average, of sorts. An employee’s regular rate is determined by adding up the amount paid for their work, as well as earnings from non-discretionary bonuses (such as those tied to performance or retention), then dividing that amount by the total hours worked.    For example, let’s say Anna earns $10/hour for inside sales work and $15/hour for bookkeeping work. This week, she worked 24 hours in inside sales and 20 hours as a bookkeeper. She also received $50 in commissions that are attributable to this workweek. Her

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