Wage & Hour Issues During a Pandemic

March 26, 2020

The current global pandemic has all of us working in unchartered territory and working on creative solutions that allow us to continue to serve our customers and provide for our employees. As we work on solutions, it’s helpful to be aware of some common wage and hour issues:

  • Scheduling options:
    • Work flexible schedules and hours
    • Relax your telework policy (to allow additional employees to work from home who might not otherwise qualify because of seniority or non-exempt status)
    • Work reduced hours for non-exempt employees
    • Consider a shared work or furlough program through employment security, which allows you to recall employees at a certain point
    • Provide leave to employees who may use paid leave benefits which would otherwise be paid out upon separation
  • Employees cannot volunteer in a for-profit business, no matter how earnestly they want to help their employers get through a difficult time.
  • Employees may volunteer time to charitable non-profits under certain limited circumstances (but they cannot volunteer in the same capacity in which they are employed).
  • Exempt employees must be paid for the entire week in which any work is performed. If the business is closed part of any week, the exempt employee must still be paid for the entire week. However, exempt employees who are absent from work due to illness may be paid from a bona fide sick or paid time off bank without jeopardizing their exempt status.
  • The FLSA, as well as many state laws, require reimbursement for office expenses for non- exempt employees if the cost of the expense would reduce the hourly employee’s wage below minimum wage. While flexible schedules are permitted, non-exempt employees must still be paid for all hours worked, including overtime for any time worked over 40 hours in a workweek. Hours should also comply with any applicable union contracts.
  • Remind hourly employees that all time must be recorded and paid.
  • Remind hourly employees that they must still take breaks and meal periods, even though they are working from home.

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