Monday, November 25, 2019

Workplace Tips for the Holiday Season

Happy Thanksgiving! With the holiday season upon us, we wanted to give you a quick refresher on some tricky workplace issues that are common this time of year.

Holiday Parties

While holiday parties can increase morale and provide an opportunity for team building, without planning and forethought, holiday parties can cause human resources issues that will follow you well into the new year.

Wage and Hour Issues

If you require non-exempt employees to attend a holiday party, you must compensate them for the time they spend there. If the party occurs during normal work hours, non-exempt employees are likely being compensated anyway, but pay is also required for off-hours parties if attendance is mandated. In addition, any mandatory time spent at the party counts as work time for overtime calculation purposes. The simplest way to avoid additional pay obligations, if desired, is to plan parties for non-work hours and to clearly communicate that attendance is optional for non-exempt employees.

Monday, November 18, 2019

This Holiday Season, Beware the Unpaid Volunteer

As Thanksgiving and the holiday season approaches, companies often look for ways to contribute to charitable causes within their communities. One way they might accomplish this worthwhile endeavor is by creating and encouraging their employees to participate in formal volunteer opportunities. This is a great way for companies to give back and for individual employees to take a break from the rigors of everyday business life and focus on helping others. Whether employees should be compensated for participating in these “volunteer” activities, however, is not always clear, and if companies aren’t careful, they could be the recipients of an unwanted gift this season — a wage and hour lawsuit.

There are a few key concepts under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that employers must be aware of when it comes to volunteers. An overarching principle is that individuals may not provide volunteer services to for-profit companies under any circumstances. That rule is easy to follow, but what about situations where an employer is “sponsoring” volunteer activities in the community and encouraging (or rewarding) their employees’ attendance at such activities? In that situation, caselaw and guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) suggests that a nonexempt employee performing volunteer services need not be compensated if each of the following criteria are met: