You’ve no doubt heard about the explosion in wage-and-hour lawsuits — and the culprits are usually well-meaning managers trying to keep payroll costs down.
Jonathan Segal of the law firm Duane Morris, writing in a recent blog post, cautions that “it takes just one manager to edit down an employee’s time to stay within budget and the legal ball may start rolling.”
Here’s Segal’s 10-step plan to gird yourself against these potentially devastating lawsuits:
- Train supervisors that they cannot require, encourage or even suggest that non-exempt employees work off-the-clock.
- Let supervisors know that, if they break this rule, they will be subject to discipline, up to and including discharge.
- Train supervisors to report to HR if they know, or have reason to know, that an employee may have worked off-the-clock (even if the employee has not said anything).
- Develop a procedure by which HR speaks with employees about whom reports are made to determine if they have worked off-the-clock and then sure that they are properly paid.
- Develop a policy that prohibits off-the-clock work which makes clear that employees must record all time worked.
- Develop a complaint procedure with appropriate assurances of non-retaliation so that employees can report concerns that they may have in this area without fear of retribution (broadly defined).
- Determine whether you can build some sort of communications avenue in your timekeeping system to query employees about any work performed off-the-clock. Armed with that info, you can follow up with the employees, capture any time worked but not recorded and then pay them for it.
- Establish clear rules about whether and when employees can work remotely, such as checking e-mail, and how to ensure time is properly documented and paid.
- Establish clear rules on when overtime can be worked (for example, only with permission or if emergency circumstances); if an employee works overtime that he should not have, manage his/her performance, not his/her pay.
- Review supervisory changes/edits periodically to make sure that supervisors do not reduce the time of their subordinates so that they come in under budget.
Segal recently authored an article on the eruption of wage-and-hour actions in Fortune magazine. You can find the story here.