By Laura Pokrzywa, HR Consultant, East Coast Risk Management
The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recently announced a new initiative that includes “heightened action to ensure that warehouse and logistics workers’ wages and workplace rights are protected.” This includes ramping up audits and investigations related to workers’ rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It will likely impact employers in other industries, as well.
The DOL says the initiative is designed to “help ensure that workers in these industries, including delivery drivers, truck drivers, and others are:
- Paid all their legally earned wages, including minimum and overtime.
- Safe from workplace harassment and retaliation when they claim their rights.
- Not prevented from taking time off from work under the Family and Medical Leave Act.”
The initiative will also target misclassification of employees as independent contractors. The WHD promises “vigorous enforcement to increase compliance and reduce industry violations.” They are backing that plan with an impressive 2022 budget increase of more than $30 million over the 2021 enacted budget. The DOL’s FY 2022 Budget in Brief clearly states the plans for the additional money: “This funding increase will enable WHD to aggressively combat worker misclassification, along with fully enforcing the other areas under its purview like prevailing wages and family and medical leave.”
The stakes are high when it comes to violations of wage and hour law. Employers who are found to be in violation of these complex laws may owe back wages, fines, damages, and attorney fees.
Given the DOL’s new initiative, it may be time to review your related policies and practices. Regarding misclassifications: Are you confident that all your employees are properly classified? Did you know that paying an employee by salary does not automatically eliminate the obligation to pay overtime if the employee’s duties do not meet the criteria required for an exemption from overtime? Are you sure your “independent contractors (1099s)” meet the legal criteria to be classified as such?
Regarding FMLA: Do you know if you are covered by the Act? If you are covered, you should review your FMLA policy to ensure: (1) that the policy complies with the requirements of the Act; (2) that all supervisors and managers have been trained on how to recognize the need for such leave; and (3) that you are properly and consistently administering all medical and family leaves, including any extensions that may be required under the Americans with Disabilities Act. You should also consider your FMLA forms and record keeping procedures to ensure you have everything in proper order should your organization be audited.
Clearly, compliance with wage and hour law requires knowledge of the laws and careful attention to detail. Our team of HR experts can help you address all of these concerns. Whether you need help classifying your employees or you’d like to hand off administration of FMLA and other medical leaves to our expert team, we will be happy to help. Employers can reach our team by email at email@example.com or by phone at 724-864-8745.
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