There are two common areas of complaints received by the Department of Labor (DOL) each year that all employers should be aware of. Periodically performing self-audits to ensure pay practices are accurate could save time, money and the difficulty of unproductive conflicts. These two area are:
Job Descriptions that do not reflect the work the employee is actually performing
- At issue is whether the employee is paid appropriately for the work that s/he is doing. Employees may be entitled to a different pay rate than they are receiving, based on their actual work and responsibilities. Whether the pay would be different or not, false job descriptions may leave the employee with unclear expectations about their performance and create a perception of unfair treatment.
Hourly worker pay practices (non-exempt) resulting in not being paid for all the hours worked
- Hourly workers should be paid overtime for hours exceeding 40 in a workweek. Offering time off in the future in lieu of pay for work performed is not a good idea. If workers are on site waiting for work they should be paid for those hours. Since s/he is unable to do whatever s/he wants or consider this their own personal time, you should consider them on the clock! !
Employee concerns about their pay may be subtle. Their comments may not sound like formal complaints, but rest assured, you are being put on notice as an employer. Managers and HR need to listen carefully when comments are made by employees regarding pay rate, their jobs, and hours worked. When you hear comments, it is your responsibility to ask questions to better understand what the employee is not directly saying. Uncover concerns, objectively assess the situation, and take action as needed.
Best practices are to update job descriptions if essential work requirements change in a job. Provide a new job description when an employee changes jobs. Pay your hourly workforce for all hours worked in a workweek, including overtime when 40 hours of work is exceeded. As the employer, you can put standards in place for overtime pre-approval and work scheduling to manage labor costs. However, always pay for the work you received and address violations separately.