Chronoblog
Category: Department of Labor
How to Be Safe in the Summer Heat According to OSHA

OSHA, Safety, HeatToday is the first day of Summer and in many parts of the country, especially the South and Southeast, it’s a scorcher. We want to pass along some advice to the thousands of remote employees who use our mobile timekeeping system to clock in and out who do work outside. These landscapers, painters, construction tradesmen, lifeguards, security guards, groundskeepers, farmers, etc., need to take every precaution to stay safe. OSHA wants to help.

OSHA released a short video to highlight a few simple steps to hopefully prevent heat-related problems.

Please take 87 seconds to watch it and pass along the tips to your most valuable assets-your employees! And have a great and safe Summer!

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#7 Business Pitfall to Avoid: Miscalculating California Overtime

California overtimeIt’s been said that “as California goes, so goes the country.” This certainly seems true with culture, but California is relatively unique in one aspect: its overtime laws. While most states enforce overtime pay of 1.5 times regular pay for weekly hours over 40, California overtime has extra layers, like a Mission Burrito. These extra layers and their impact on almost 20 million California employees is what we will discuss today in our 7th installment of Avoid These 8 Major Pitfalls to Succeed in Your Business. 

According to California’s Department of Industrial Relations website, the following overtime rules apply to non-exempt employees:

  1. One and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of eight hours up to and including 12 hours in any workday, and for the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek; and
  2. Double the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 12 hours in any workday and for all hours worked in excess of eight on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.

That’s a lot of factors to manually track on paper. Did any of my employees work more than 40 hours last week? How about over 8 hours in a day? Did anyone go over 12 hours? Oh, and I almost forgot, did anyone work 7 days in a row? And did any of them go over 8 hours on the 7th day? Do you have heartburn yet? You can’t afford to be wrong in any of your calculations or suffer an oversight. As we mentioned in our last post, #6 Business Pitfall to Avoid: Overtime Lawsuits,  since January 2007, employers have paid out $3.6 billion to settle wage and labor disputes, with most lawsuits related to overtime. Websites exist for the sole purpose of soliciting employees to join class action overtime lawsuits in California. As a small business with remote, hourly employees, the burrito is stuffed against you.

You need a smart solution. Chronotek is a remote employee clock in, clock out time tracking system that can automatically apply the California overtime rules to our time card reporting. The same benefits we mentioned in our last post: tracking overtime exempt PTO items, easy semi-monthly pay period processing, splitting time cards across the midnight hour, and choosing the day and time your workweek starts are available along with correct California overtime reporting.

20 million California employees are 20 million opportunities for a lawsuit.

Protect your business and at the same time take the pain out of doing payroll.  In our 8th and final post in this series we will talk about our QuickBooks Integration and several payroll company exports we have for your use (ADP, Paychex, Paycom, generic).

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#6 Business Pitfall to Avoid: Overtime Lawsuits

overtime lawsuits

32,900 results in .31 seconds.

I did a Google news search on “overtime lawsuits” and that’s how many hits the Google machine returned faster than I can type “holy moly”. Businesses are being sued at an alarming rate for failing to properly pay overtime. Between 2000 and 2015, wage and labor dispute lawsuits skyrocketed by 358%.1   A lawsuit can derail your business dreams, but this doesn’t need to happen to you. In our 6th installment of Avoid These 8 Major Pitfalls to Succeed In Your Businesswe discuss how our clock in, clock out employee management system keeps the lawyers off your front steps with accurate and easy overtime reporting.

If you track employee hours with handwritten timesheets, you know it’s a nightmare. Then if you have overtime in the mix, it’s a wonder you get any rest. Toss in a semi-monthly payroll, and factor in non-overtime payroll items like sick leave, holiday and vacation time, and you have a full-blown hot mess to deal with every pay period. Wouldn’t you like a payroll report that calculates regular and overtime for all pay cycles? If the timekeeping system knows that PTO hours are overtime exempt, that’s even better, right? And what if your pay period starts at any other time than midnight, say 5am? Or you have employees who work across the midnight hour and you need to split their timesheets into 2 days, and these 2 days could split a week?   Manually calculate that, and the probability of being an overtime lawsuit statistic is high.  All of these variables affect correct overtime reporting, but they can all easily be handled by a Smart Time Tracking system.

It’s time to get smart about overtime reporting and not leave it to chance with handwritten timesheets and manual calculations (or any timekeeping system that can’t help you with all of the issues above.) Since January 2007, employers have paid out $3.6 billion to settle wage and labor disputes, with most lawsuits related to overtime.2    If you end up on the wrong side of an overtime lawsuit, you need accurate, organized and automated reports to back you up. You need a smart solution. Our online timekeeping system can keep your small business dreams safe. Let us help you get started with a 30 day free trial.

Our next post will talk specifically about California overtime. We can help with that, too.

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  1. Lydia DePillis, “Why wage and hour litigation is skyrocketing”, Washingtonpost.com, November 25, 2015
  2. Larry Downing, “Get ready for an explosion in overtime lawsuits, America”, Quartz.com, May 18, 2016
#2 Business Pitfall to Avoid: Not Paying Required Travel Time

Travel-Time-GPS-tracking-timesheetsIf your remote, hourly employees travel from job site to job site and you don’t pay travel time, we need to have a talk. You may be unaware that this travel time is required pay by the U.S. Department of Labor.  According to its website, “Time spent traveling during normal work hours is considered compensable work time.” Travel time is a serious matter and companies are being sued for failure to comply. Today in our new series, Avoid These 8 Major Pitfalls to Succeed In Your Business, we hope to steer your company towards compliance with the travel time laws and away from trouble. It’s a pitfall that can easily be avoided with our time and labor management system  that offers a powerful timekeeping solution, with full travel management as well.

Most service-based businesses have hourly employees who work at multiple sites each day. The easiest way to insure that you are compliant with the travel time laws is to pay your employees from the time they start their days to when they end. But the easiest way is seldom the best practice. Your employees may need to take a lunch or pick up laundry between job sites. You don’t want to pay for this personal time. But don’t you want to know how much time your employees work at each job site? How much time is spent working versus time driving? Wouldn’t it be great to know that your employees actually show up to each job site and on time? These are all important questions to make sure that your customers’ needs are met and to avoid other pitfalls. A break down of employee time on each site compared to time driving between sites could reveal that your employees aren’t spending enough time doing the work. Or maybe too much time. But only tracking a start time and an end time to every employee’s day doesn’t give you this vital information. Perhaps you are super-conscientious like one payroll admin we talked to and you manually calculate the travel time between every job using Google or Map Quest. We applaud your painstakingly diligent and time-consuming efforts, but we are here to your rescue!

An easy solution and the best solution to the travel time issue is to use our online and telephone-based clock in, clock out system. Employees clock in and out at each job location and our system automatically creates travel time records. Pay by the actual time between jobs or use what Google MapsTM says the travel time should be between each site. Our Travel Manager feature with Google MapsTM can also capture mileage. Use our job reports to analyze the time spent on the job against the time driving between jobs. Your concerns about travel time compliance are easily solved by simple clock ins and outs on our mobile app or by calling a toll-free number. And you get critical answers to the questions previously mentioned.

Let us help you avoid this major pitfall with travel time. Insure compliance with the U.S. Department of Labor, get accurate time with great job reporting, save money and stay focused on growing your business. Try us free for 30 days and see if we can change your life.

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Speed Up Payday with Hassle-free, Automated Drive Time and Mileage

drive time and mileageYou look at the scattered piles of employee handwritten timesheets on your desk and panic begins to set in.  You have to get payroll turned in tomorrow.  The law requires that these employees be paid for their travel time, but tracking it all is a logistical nightmare.  It might surprise you to know, our research shows that you may be paying up to 17 minutes too much on every travel trip, for every employee.  For a small company with just 10 employees making 1 travel trip 5 days a week, that’s over 61 hours a month in inflated travel time.    This inflated drive time and mileage is driving you crazy and draining your profits!

At Chronotek, we get it.  We hear stories all of the time from small business owners who have hourly, off-site employees.

Maybe your story is you pay your employees from the time they start working until they finish. Of course, you have no way of knowing what they do in between jobs. Pick up their laundry? Attend their kids soccer games?  Take a nap?  All on your dime. It’s a bad idea because you don’t know how much time is spent at each job or if every job gets covered. But who needs accurate job reporting?

Or you work yourself into a frenzy trying to get the right information and end up with incomplete, illegible and unreliable handwritten time cards.  Then you have to manually add up all of the work hours, and your task still isn’t complete.  Do you rely on the handwritten odometer readings and drive times between jobs, or do you look up every trip with a map program?  Stop!

What if we told you there is one solution that automates your employee drive time and mileage while also eliminating the hassle of handwritten time sheets?

Yes, we hear the shout of hallelujahs!

Use Chronotek’s timekeeping system to automatically create drive time and mileage records when your
employees clock in and out with simple phone calls or via our mobile app. Our Travel Manager tool empowers you with Google MapsTM technology that estimates the drive time and mileage between job sites. Pay by these estimates and it doesn’t matter if your employees get sidetracked with personal errands between jobs.  It’s an easy way for employees to take unpaid lunch breaks, too.  If Google MapsTM estimates a job is 12 minutes from the next job, but your employee takes 60 minutes, the travel time card automatically shows 12 minutes.  Automatically apply the drive time to your customer’s jobs to insure that you are capturing all of the costs associated with your contracts. It’s quite easy to see that Chronotek is the smart way to handle employee travel time and mileage!

Put your travel time and mileage on cruise control.  Sign up today for a free 30 day trial to simplify, save, and start enjoying your business again.

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Surprise Announcement About New FLSA Rule

Surprise-Announcement-FLSA-Overtime-Ruling-DelayedJune of this year we posted about the new overtime rule in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that was scheduled to take effect on December 1. The new rule would have impacted more than 4.2 million Americans by raising the exempt salary threshold to $47,476.  In a surprise announcement last Tuesday, November 22, 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Amos L. Mazzant granted an order temporarily barring the rule from going into effect on December 1.  He found that the 21 plaintiff States (and an additional 50 small business groups ) established standing to have their case heard.

The crux of the rule doubles the salary threshold from $23,660 to $47,476 to determine which salaried workers are eligible for overtime. Employees with salaries less than the new rate of $47,476 (or $913 a week) must be paid time-and-a-half overtime for every hour over 40.

The plaintiffs stated that the new OT rule would cause monetary damage by forcing them to substantially increase labor costs.  This could affect state services due to budget cuts and layoffs.  The States also argued that a plain reading of the FLSA shows that Congress intended the new rule for white collar workers such as, professionals, administrators, outside salespeople and executives.   And they claim the Department of Labor exceeded its authority by applying the rule to all classifications of workers based on salary alone.

The judge also struck down the provision that would automatically raise the exemption level every 3 years.

The Department of Labor can appeal the injunction to the U.S. Court of Appeals, or can litigate the issue on its merits. The incoming new administration can also make changes. For now, small businesses and state governments can hold tight, and insure that they are in compliance with the existing FLSA requirements. It may also be a good time to evaluate current pay standards in an effort to keep your best employees.

Stay tuned and stay in touch by following us on Facebook. We will provide updates as they come.

New Overtime Rules – Don’t Panic

The Department of Labor is affecting business owners in a big way.  We are privileged to have this detailed explanation from Matt Lapointe, a business lawyer with Wetherington Hamilton, P.A. in downtown Tampa, www.whhlaw.com.  Matt advises business owners on regulatory compliance, financing, contracts and many other areas.   

 

NEW OVERTIME RULES

DON’T PANIC –

Employers Have Until December 1, 2016 to Figure This Out

On May 18, 2016, the Obama administration announced the publication of the Department of Labor’s final rules updating the federal overtime regulations.  We knew these rules were coming.  In 2014, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the DOL to update these regulations and on July 6, 2015 the DOL published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.  These final rules differ a bit from what the DOL proposed in 2015.  This article will bring you up to date and will suggest some strategies to comply with the new rules.

Mandatory overtime for certain classes of employees is required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (the “FLSA”).  The FLSA regulations establish two categories of employees:  exempt and non-exempt.  Exempt employees are exempt from the overtime requirements; non-exempt employees must be paid overtime for hours worked in excess of forty hours in any given week.

Many employers erroneously believe that if they pay an employee a salary, the employee is not eligible for overtime pay.  This is and always has been WRONG.  To be exempt from the overtime requirements, three tests must be met:  (1) the employee must be paid a fixed salary, (2) the amount of the salary must exceed a certain amount, and (3) the employee’s actual job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative, professional, computer, or outside sales duties.  All three tests must be met for the employee to be exempt.  Even if an employee is paid a salary that exceeds the minimum amount (tests 1 and 2), if that employee’s actual job responsibilities do not fit within one of the job duties exemptions (test 3), then that employee is entitled to overtime for hours worked over forty hours in a work week.

The new rules have changed test 2.  The current rules set the minimum salary amount at $455 per week, or $23,660 per year.  The new rules, which go into effect December 1, 2016, raise the minimum salary to $913 per week, or $47,476 per year.

The new rules did not change the so-called “duties tests.”  The DOL has published a number of “Fact Sheets” providing helpful information on the various duties tests.  See https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/fact_sheets.htm  For example, to qualify for the administrative exemption, the employee must meet a 3-part test:  (1) the employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis at the new rate (effective 12/1/2016) of not less than $913 per week or $47,476 per year, (2) the employee’s primary duty must be the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operation of the employer or the employer’s customers; and (3) the employee’s primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.  It is this last one that trips up a lot of employers.  DOL Fact Sheet #17C states:  “The term ‘matters of significance’ refers to the level of importance or consequence of the work performed.  An employee does not exercise discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance merely because the employer will experience financial losses if the employee fails to perform the job properly.’

We recommend that employers take another look at all employees who are currently classified as exempt and review the duties tests for each exemption. If an employee does not meet the applicable duties test, then he or she is currently misclassified and should be re-classified as non-exempt. Assuming all of the currently exempt employees meet the applicable duties tests, the next step is to determine whether any of them do not receive a salary of at least $913 per week or $47,476 per year.  Beginning as soon as possible, these employees falling under the minimum salary threshold should begin tracking their time, to determine whether or how often they exceed forty hours per week.  Once the time data has been collected, the employer will need to decide whether it makes sense to raise the salaries of certain of those employees so that they will remain exempt starting December 1, 2016 or whether such employees will be re-classified as non-exempt as of December 1, 2016.  If the employer decides to re-classify currently exempt employees as non-exempt beginning December 1, 2016, the employer needs to have a reliable method of tracking those employees’ hours to determine overtime compensation or to ensure that such employees do not work more than forty hours per week.

These new regulations are expected to impact approximately 4 million workers.  Fortunately, there is adequate time for employers to plan for the impact of the new regulations.  Employers should discuss their options with their legal counsel.  The lawyers at Wetherington Hamilton stand ready to assist.  Feel free to contact Matt Lapointe at 813-676-9075 with any questions.

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