Benefits of Revisiting Employee Wage and Hour Policies

Benefits of Revisiting Employee Wage and Hour Policies

The pandemic has brought on many changes in the workplace. So, it is a good time to revisit wage and hour policies during these uncertain times.

Running a business can be tough, especially during these tough times. However, a business owner needs to always be in the know and keep up with new policies. They also need to adapt and make any changes needed to keep up with the new circumstances. Remember, always look to better your business and keep the best interest of your employees in mind. 

Since telecommuting has become more popular, more employees working from home means policies need to be updated. These policies need to describe these changes and set new telecommute policies and boundaries in place. 

Keeping Track of Time Worked

Even though employees are working at home, punch clocks and other protocols need to be enforced. It can be difficult to manage hours worked, any overtime worked, and any breaks taken. Luckily, you can easily amend these policies to better fit the current telecommunication circumstances.

How can you achieve this? By setting schedules, using timekeeping management, and establishing clear work hours. The key is to be consistent with these new policies and communicating them to your employees. 

Make sure to set clear expectations of responsiveness and availability to avoid any conflicts. Changes may need to be made as things continue, but you can still roll with the punches for an efficient workday. 

Help Employees Avoid Distractions

It may seem strict, but setting schedules and making sure that work is actually done on the clock and not off the clock, might be needed for some employees. 

Employees face many additional distractions when working from home. This can make it difficult for them to manage their time. Help them eliminate distractions and stay on track by sticking to a strict schedule. 

To help keep track of things even more, always require approval for overtime work since this is very hard to manage remotely, especially for hourly workers. 

Encourage Documentation

Of course, you want to encourage employees to document everything accurately. This is when you might want to invest in management software to help keep track of projects, deadlines, and hours… all in one place. Have questions regarding current labor laws or employee wage policies? The team at Hernandez Law can help point you in the right direction.

What Are My FMLA Rights in Arizona?

Employees in the state of Arizona are eligible for unpaid leave for health and caregiving reasons under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This act allows employees who qualify to take up to 12 work weeks in 12 months leave. This can be renewed every 12 months if qualifications are continued to be met. FMLA can be taken for reasons such as caring for a sick family member, caring for your own illness or even bonding with a new child. Many families benefit from this greatly.

Who Is Covered By FMLA?

Federal law requires all employers who have 50 or more employees to offer FMLA. In order to be covered by FMLA you must also qualify under the following circumstances:

  • You must have had worked for the company for at least a year.
  • Your employer must have at least 50 employees that work at locations within a 75-mile radius.
  • You must have had worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous year.

What Are Circumstances That Qualify For FMLA?

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FMLA is only provided to employees who meet certain qualifications. The following are reasons you can get FMLA:

  • If you need to care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition.
  • If you recently gave birth to a child.
  • If you have a newly adopted or foster child.
  • If you have a serious health condition that requires you to take medical leave from work.
  • If you have qualifying exigencies because your spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty or is called to active duty as a member of the National Guard or Reserves for a military operation.

How Do I Give Notification That I Need FMLA?

In the best circumstances you should be able to tell your employer 30 days before you need to take leave, although in some emergency situations that may not be possible. Tell your manager or HR department as soon as possible in all cases. Your employer will review your FMLA policy and you will be required to fill out some paperwork.

What Happens When I Return To My Job?

When you return from your leave, your employer is required to give you that same or similar job back with the same salary and benefits.

What Does The New Minimum Wage Law Mean For Arizona Employers?

On November 8, 2016, Arizona voters voted to enact the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act. This Act made amendments to the minimum wage laws. It provides a raise in the minimum wage for Arizona workers beginning January 1, 2017. It also gives workers the legal right to use a minimum amount of sick time pay benefits each year. This begins in July 2017.

Increased Minimum Wage in Arizona

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Who Does it Apply To?

The minimum wage increase applies to all Arizona employers, except small businesses that earn less than $500,000 in gross sales and that are not involved in interstate commerce. The provision of paid sick time applies to all employers, regardless of their business’s size.

Minimum Wage Increase

For Arizona workers not exempt from the minimum wage raise, the requirements to raise minimum wage are as follows:

  • $10.00 per hour on and after January 1, 2017 ($7.00 per hour plus tips for tipped employees);
  • $10.50 per hour on or after January 1, 2018  ($7.50 per hour plus tips for tipped employees);
  • $11.00 per hour on or after January 1, 2019 ($8.00 per hour plus tips for tipped employees);
  • $12.00 per hour on or after January 1, 2020 ($9.00 per hour plus tips for tipped employees); and,
  • Continued incremental increased based on the cost of living on January 1st of each following year.

Mandatory Paid Sick Time

Any employer that does not already have a paid sick time policy will be required to create one,or revise their policy to meet the new standards before July 1, 2017. The Act also requires that employers include the amount of their employees’ acquired PST, the amount of PST used by employees and the amount of pay an employee has received as earned PST on employee pay statements.

Under the new act, PST acquires at a rate of no less than one hour for every 30 hours actually worked by the employee. If an employee is not full-time and working less than 40 hours per week, his or her PST accrues based on the actual number of hours worked in that normal workweek.

Can My Employers Make me Work Overtime with No Pay?

Oftentimes, the corporate world can seem pretty brutal. If you’re working 40 hours a week and your boss doesn’t think it’s enough, it may seem even more taxing. We’re here to clue you in on the good news in this situation: your boss is required to pay you for every hour you work beyond 40 hours a week!

FSLA Over-Time Work Ruling

FSLA (Fair Standards Labor Act) pertains to employers who make $500,000 or more in sales annually, or participate in interstate sales. The FSLA says employees are to be paid time-and-a-half for any time they work beyond 40 hours a week. There is no limit on how many hours your boss can ask you to work (50, 80, 100) in one week, but there are laws that regulate the pay. No employer (included under the FSLA’s reach) can ask an employee to work for free or regular pay beyond their 40 hour work week. As with all laws, there are some exceptions. For example, there are some professions that the FSLA doesn’t take into account: movie theater workers, railroad workers, farm workers, commissioned sales, and taxi drivers.

In addition to employers being able to ask employees to work unlimited hours in a week, there is also no limit on how many hours in a day an employee can be asked to work. Your employer doesn’t have to pay time-and-a-half for more than 8 hours of your time a day unless the 9th hour also happens to be the 41st hour of the week. In other words, you can work 16 hours in one day without being paid time-and-a-half. FSLA only rules employers pay that once you’ve hit beyond 40 hours in a work week.

As usual, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the law. There are always loopholes and exceptions. If you have legal questions on your employment or think your employer might be violating employment laws, contact our office today.

Have I Been a Victim of Employer Discrimination?

Employer discrimination is characterized as prejudice of an existing or potential employee based on certain characteristics, most commonly including:

  • Race
  • Sex
  • Pregnancy
  • Religion
  • Political views
  • Nationality
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Financial status

Although the principle of these laws might seem fairly straight forward, it’s often difficult to tell whether you have been a victim of employer discrimination yourself. However, a better understanding of the employment laws AZ observes can provide some clarity on the situation.

Identifying Discriminating Behavior from Employers

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Discrimination can happen in potentially any professional setting, making it hard to identify. Most commonly it has been cited in situations of hiring/firing, compensation hearings, use of company property or facilities and additional fringe benefits.

Arizona employment discrimination laws are in place to ensure an equal playing field for all working professionals. If you believe any of the characteristics listed above factored into an employer’s decision to hire/fire you or withhold opportunities to earn higher pay, you potentially have the basis of a claim.

It’s equally important to understand what behavior does not classify as employment discrimination. If an employer has a legitimate reason to terminate your position based on poor job performance or the company is experiencing widespread layoffs, you may not have a valid claim to justify legal compensation.

Ultimately, the best way to determine whether your employment discrimination claim holds weight is by speaking with a licensed professional — experienced attorneys who specialize in such cases. Consulting with an attorney allows you to explore the legal options available to you and plan a course of action.

Their legal counsel can also prevent you from putting together a frivolous lawsuit that might not hold up in court.

Filing a claim is much easier with the help of an experienced attorney. Relying on their assistance, you can expedite the process and move quicker with your legal proceeding. You can avoid hiccups like paperwork and filings that would otherwise hinder you from executing the motion in a timely matter.

Do you believe you’ve been the victim of employment discrimination? Should you ever find yourself in an unthinkable situation in your professional career, don’t hesitate to take legal action — contact us to assess your claim.

Wrongful Termination Laws in Arizona

In Arizona, there are safeguards in place to prevent employees from being wrongfully fired. These laws are commonly referred to as wrongful termination laws. If you believe your employer has violated any of these laws when terminating your employment, you may have a strong case. There are three main categories under the Arizona wrongful termination laws:

lawyer for wrongful termination

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Breaking a Contract. One way an employer can violate wrongful termination laws is if the employer breaks a contract between them and the employee. The contract does not need to be written. It can be a contract made verbally or an implied contract. A written contract would be the result of a contract hiring, whereas an implied contract is when the employer gives the assumption the employee would maintain employment beyond the date they were fired. If an employer breaks a contract you had with them either verbally, written, or implied, they are in violation of the laws.

Discriminatory Firing. Under Arizona Law, an employer cannot fire an employee based on discrimination. They cannot discriminate based on sex, pregnancy, age, race, national origin, citizenship status, disability, or genetic information. The specifics regulations under these laws depend on the individual and the size of the company. For example, an employee cannot claim discriminatory firing based on age if they are not over 40 years old. A company’s size also determines how closely they must follow these laws. Most discriminatory laws apply to businesses having 15 or more employees, but others may vary. A company with as little as 4 employees can be persecuted for firing an employee due to discrimination based on citizenship status, while a company must have at least 20 employees to be accountable for firing based on age.

Wage and Time Off. If an employer does not follow the Arizona minimum wage law and pay for employees working over 40 hours a week, they are also in violation of Arizona laws. Further, employees must follow certain time off programs such as military leave, jury duty, voting time off, and medical leave. If an employee is fired based on taking time off for any of these areas, they have a strong possibility of having a wrongful termination case. To read more information about the laws regarding time off in the workplace, visit the Employment Law Handbook.

If you feel your employer has fired you in a way that violated any of the above laws, give us a call today. Our experienced team can gather all the required information to help you build a strong case.