Planning for the New Overtime Rule…
by Kim Keene
HR pros should know whether they will reclassify workers or raise wages should DOL finalize its proposal. The Department of Labor which oversees the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is proposing a pretty large increase to the FLSA’s overtime threshold. The change was proposed in August, 2023 and would change the salary threshold for overtime eligibility from about $35,000 now to about $55,000. The period of time that the DOL accepted comments on this new proposal has now ended. What does this mean for your business?
It means that any exempt employee that is being paid less than $1,059 per week ($55,068 per year) will not be exempt any longer.
If this occurs and is approved and put into effect, what do employers do?
- You can reclassify your employees affected by this change as nonexempt. That means you will need to pay them overtime for anything over 40 hours in a workweek. If you’re in states that have more stringent overtime rules, please check with your HR pro. Employers may consider removing some work related duties from these employees to reduce the chance of overtime occurring.
- You can increase employee’s salaries affected by this change. You will need to pay them at least $55,068 or more per year.
Remember that an employee’s FLSA exemption classification is not just based on their salary. Employers must ensure that an exempt employee meets not only the salary threshold but also the duties test. For more information on the FLSA exemption classifications, please see: DOL Fact Sheet 17a
The Department of Labor could make changes to the overtime/exempt rules before it is finalized, or keep in mind that any changes made would likely face judicial challenges. It’s important for employers to plan ahead. Employers do not need to make changes now but what happens if the salary basis jumps by $20,000 in a year? How do you budget for that?
For assistance with navigating this process, please reach out to your HR Consultant.
Sources: SHRM.org and DOL.gpv
Ways to Manage Employee Absences
by Christine Muller
Employee absences are a normal part of work life. They can even be healthy when it means people are taking time off to rest and recover. But unexcused or frequent absences can be problematic.
Unaddressed absenteeism causes others to have to take on the extra work, typically with teams that are already stretched thin. Monitoring absenteeism allows organizations to identify issues such as engagement, burnout, training opportunities and workforce distribution.
Here are 5 tips for managing employee absences:
1. Study the Data – figure out the absentee rate of individual employees or the whole company and search for troublesome patterns. Rate formula: Divide the number of absences by the number of workdays in a set period and multiply by 100 to get a percentage.
a. Trends to consider:
i. How much leave time has each employee used, compared to what they’ve accumulated?
ii. Do absences occur on the same days of the week or at the same time of year?
iii. How many absences are unscheduled versus scheduled?
2. Discover the Reasons – Meet with the employee to find out why their attendance has changed and explain how absences impact the team and business overall. Consider reasonable accommodations if something has changed in the employee’s situation.
3. Be Proactive – Watch for problems that lead to absenteeism. These can be things such as workplace harassment, burnout, stress, childcare challenges, and lack of engagement. Seek feedback from your employees!
4. Be Flexible – rigid or unrealistic attendance policies, such as points-based systems that don’t consider extenuating circumstances, can set up the employee for failure. There are some different options such as bundling sick days and vacation days together – gives the employee more control over how they use their PTO. Offer a condensed, four-day workweek, adjust start or end times. Employees are often overworked due to staffing shortages, ensuring they have the rest and mental health resources they need is critical to success.
5. Recognize Employees’ Efforts – Don’t underestimate the power of a genuine, well-placed thank you. Can be simple things like buying an employee lunch for their birthday or giving a gift to mark a work anniversary. Helping employees realize their purpose is also key! Start mentorship or career path programs to give employees a sense of their futures with your company.
Source: 5 Ways to Manage Employee Absences, SHRM HR Magazine, Fall 2023. Jennifer Thomas.
by Christina Carmona
When an employee experiences the death of a loved one, their manager and colleagues often reach out—they send flowers, a condolence card, maybe attend the funeral or bring a casserole to the co-worker’s house. But once the initial shock of the loss fades, the employee likely is still grieving, even after resuming their job. The holidays can be especially hard, no matter how much time has passed, because the person’s presence may be missed amid the otherwise joyous festivities.
Just because your employee returns to work doesn’t mean they are ready to be fully present on the job. Some employees come back to work when they are not ready, either because they feel isolated or empty at home or simply because they have exhausted their paid leave. That can affect their work performance, making it very difficult to concentrate and be productive. Employers spend over $113 billion due to reduced productivity and on-the-job errors because of mishandled grief.
Supporting the Grieving Employee
The first holiday after losing a loved one may be especially difficult. However, sometimes the second or third year of grief is noted to be even harder because people believe the mourner should be over the loss and we either forget to acknowledge the grief or judge the one still grieving. The mourner may experience more isolation and sadness. The death of a loved one can be a major, life-changing event and grief has no timeline. It can catch a person in the middle of the day. Someone could say something in a meeting, or a colleague shares a photo on their phone of their child, and suddenly the tears spill out.
Recommendations for employers/managers:
Understand this is a very sensitive topic. The employee is not going to come and tell you they can’t bring their whole self back to work yet or they’re struggling with their first holiday without their spouse, parent or other loved one.
Provide the flexibility the employee needs to deal with the aftermath of death.
The funeral, handling probate, closing accounts, cleaning out and selling a house, and many other responsibilities, etc. It can take 18 months to wind down the affairs of someone who dies. It’s like taking on a second job, so allow flexibility for the employee’s phone calls and meetings about those matters.
Calibrate your approach to the employee’s performance review.
The employee’s concentration, attendance and performance may decline during this time. An employer wants this employee to stay for the long run, so it’s imperative to work with them. Coaches don’t let someone go on a sports team because they’re injured, they work with them during their recovery.
Talk to your employee.
Make the conversation part of your regular one-on-one meetings and share your own experience. It may be as simple as the manager noting it took them some time to get their bearings after the death of a relative or close friend or ask how the employee’s family is doing. Managers need to make the employee feel like their workplace is a safe place to share things.
Underscore your organization’s benefits.
If you think the company’s employee assistance program (EAP) would be relevant to the employee two years after a death, recommend it. If you don’t have an EAP program, implement one. Companies need to establish eligibility guidelines for bereavement leave, but conversations with the employee can provide insight as to when the rules can be bent. For example, if the employee’s step-grandfather raised the employee because the biological parent wasn’t around, then it’s best to bend the policy.
Don’t forget about your team.
On average, a death impacts nine of the grieving employee’s team members. A colleague may need to temporarily take on the grieving worker’s responsibilities, affecting their own work. Team members also may need guidance about if and when they can reach out to an employee on bereavement leave. The team had a loss, so now they’re all doing it together.