Archive for the ‘Compliance’ Category

Don’t Overlook the True Value of Your Employee Handbook

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Employee handbooks are a vital part of outlining and communicating your company policies while creating a “picture” of your company culture and mission.  All companies–regardless of their size, industry, or number of employees should have an employee handbook in place, be it hard copy, e-version, or on-line. A company handbook can be as robust and detailed or as simple and short as needed depending on your business and culture. Let’s review several of the major purposes and benefits of having a company handbook.

Legal Protection: A handbook should outline the company’s position on important legal or regulatory issues such as At-Will Employment, anti-harassment or discrimination policies, wage and hour compliance or drug testing policies. Should one of these situations become a workplace issue, an employer can support their actions based on what is outlined in their handbook. Handbooks are a great tool in helping set employee expectations.

Company Culture/Mission: A handbook provides employees with an understanding of the company’s mission and culture. By placing an emphasis on aspects of employment that the company values (volunteerism or code of conduct) the employees will have a better idea of the culture that is desired and supported by senior management. Understanding the company’s culture will allow employees to have clear and consistent expectations of conduct and performance.  The handbook is also a great place for the CEO to “tell the story” of the company to help employees understand why the company exists.

Guide for Employees: An employee handbook should be written with the employee in mind. The handbook should outline policies, practices and other key information that is pertinent to the employee.  Providing relevant and pertinent information to employees allows employees to understand and manage that what is important to them (such as benefits, pay cycle information, vacation schedules, etc.) as well as develop an understanding of the expectations and consequences of their actions.  An employee handbook can also serve as a source for creating positive employee relations such as internal dispute resolution rather than through an external source such as government agency.

Guide for Supervisors/Managers: Managers and supervisors need reference materials in order to help them lead their teams. Having an understanding of policies such as PTO (how to earn it, when to use it, what happens if it isn’t used at the end of the year) is just as important as reviewing the company’s discipline policy or time management policies. A handbook is a great starting place for supervisors and managers but they should refer to specific company policies and or consult with their HR team.

CAI members have access to handbook guides to help you get started. Our Advice & Resolution team also provides complimentary handbook reviews and our HR On Demand team can work with you to create a custom handbook for your organization.

Emily’s primary area of focus is providing expert advice and support in the areas of employee relations and federal and state employment law compliance as a member of the Advice & Resolution team for CAI. Additionally, Emily advises business and HR leaders in operational and strategic human resources areas such as talent and performance management, employee engagement, and M&A’s. Emily has 10+ years of broad-based HR business partnering experience centering around employee relations, compliance & regulatory employment issues, strategic and tactical human resources, and strong process improvement skills.

How HR Can Balance Compliance and Engagement

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Whether you are an official HR professional or the person tasked with HR duties at your organization, your organization needs two primary things from you: Compliance and Engagement.  Call these terms what you want, but both are important to company health, growth, and survival.  Compliance is a straightforward term I think.  I’m using “engagement” to refer to all the things you do to attract, retain, reward, motivate, and develop employees and leaders. We should strive for a good balance.  Focusing too much on compliance creates a workplace no reasonable person would want to work at.  Total compliance isn’t achievable anyway.  Focusing too much on “engagement” without much regard to compliance could create unwelcome charges / litigation that can also damage your brand.  Whether you’re a generalist or a specialist, this balance is important.

We often see companies out of balance.  This imbalance is painful for employees, HR and Management and leads to many unwanted outcomes.  Turnover, low morale, poor communication, inability to find people, etc.  These things have many causes, but often at the root is the imbalance.  For example, many times when I talk to a company that “can’t find good people” I find their recruiting processes feel more like a compliance exercise than one aimed at attracting good people.  Only 3% of EEOC charges relate to “hiring,” yet many companies focus more on screening people out to avoid liability than screening good people in.  I had one client tell me they couldn’t change anything in their recruiting process without first getting it approved by their legal counsel.  Anything!  Again, imbalance.

How can you achieve balance?  Acknowledging your imbalance is the first step.  It may be that you’re the one out of balance, too focused on one these worlds at the expense of the other.  Or it may be you’re pretty balanced but your management team is out of balance.  I recently had an HR person tell me his management team didn’t care anything about compliance.  Either way, fixing the imbalance should be near the top of your list.

CAI can help you achieve balance.  We have the people, tools, and resources you need to balance things out.

  • Our Advice & Resolution team is authoring over a hundred practical guides on most every HR related compliance issue. You’ll find thoughtful insights from our senior Advice & Resolution advisers based on their subject matter expertise, years of experience, relationships with regulators, and daily interactions with our valued members.
  • Strategic HR services.  As a CAI Member, you have unlimited access to senior HR executives who can help you assess, plan and solve operational and strategic organizational issues. Beyond assessments and advice, they also offer a series of 1:1 virtual coaching sessions to help you implement new initiatives.  They bring expertise in areas such as: Realigning HR to better support the business; Aligning people to business goals; Succession planning; Developing robust leadership pipelines; Creating a results based and high performing workforce; Attracting, developing, and retaining top talent; and Improving organizational capability.  

A membership in CAI can help get your company balanced…find out how we can help you and your organization today!

Doug Blizzard brings a wealth of knowledge to CAI, serving as Vice President of Membership. During his first 15 years at CAI, he led the firm’s consulting and training divisions and counseled hundreds of clients on HR and Employee Relations issues. If he isn’t speaking at North Carolina conferences, teaching classes on Human Resources or consulting clients on EEO and Affirmative Action, Doug is leading the company’s membership services.

FMLA – Needed to Care For a Family Member

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

The FMLA allows leave for an eligible employee when the employee is needed to care for certain qualifying family members (child, spouse or parent) with a serious health condition. (The definition of son or daughter includes individuals for whom the employee stood for or is standing “in loco parentis.” The definition of parent includes individuals who stood for “in loco parentis” to the employee. The term “in loco parentis”, Latin for “in the place of a parent”, refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent.  Under FMLA, it specifically references a relationship whereby an individual takes on the role of “parent” to a child who is under the age of 18, or an adult (18 years of age or older) who is incapable of taking care of themselves due to a mental or physical disability.  No legal or biological relationship is necessary, provided the individual can satisfy the “in loco parentis” requirements under FMLA. 

An employee must be needed to provide care for his or her spouse, son, daughter, or parent because of the family member’s serious health condition in order for the employee to take FMLA leave. “Needed to care for” encompasses both physical and psychological care. It includes, for example:

    • Providing care for a qualifying family member who, because of a serious health condition, is unable to care for his or her own basic medical, hygienic, nutritional or safety needs, or is unable to transport himself or herself to the doctor, etc.;
    • Providing psychological comfort and reassurance that would be beneficial to a child, spouse or parent with a serious health condition who is receiving inpatient or home care; or
    • Filling in for others who normally care for the family member or to make arrangements for changes in care (transfer to a nursing home, for example).

The employee need not be the only individual or family member available to care for the qualifying family member. The need to care for could result in an employee’s need for intermittent leave or a reduced leave schedule to care for a family member where either the condition of the family member itself is intermittent or the employee is only needed intermittently (ie., other care is normally available or the care responsibilities are shared with others, family or third party).

For questions or issues regarding FMLA and how it pertains to employees within your company, CAI’s Advice & Resolution team, can help. Learn more about becoming a CAI member here.

 

CAI’s Advice & Resolution Advisor Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI members with practical advice in a wide range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.

Immigration Compliance and Form I-9

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Pursuant to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) employers are prohibited from hiring or continuing to employ foreign nationals who lack authorization to work in the United States. That law requires employers to verify the identity and work authorization of all new hires, and it establishes civil and criminal penalties for noncompliance. IRCA establishes a system of employment eligibility verification procedures that all employers must follow when filling a job. Employers are obliged to be an integral part of the government’s efforts to reduce illegal immigration.formi-9

IRCA makes it unlawful for any employer in the United States to knowingly “hire or to recruit or refer for a fee” or to knowingly “continue to employ” an individual who lacks authorization to be employed in the United States. The law applies to any employee hired after November 6, 1986. Employees hired prior to November 7, 1986, are “grandfathered,” and their status need not be verified.

To comply with the law, employers must verify the identity and employment authorization of each person they hire, complete and retain a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for each employee, and refrain from discriminating against individuals on the basis of national origin or citizenship.

Employers must require all newly-hired employees to confirm their identity and eligibility to work in the United States.  Employers must complete Form I-9 for each person hired to perform labor or services in the United States in return for wages or other remuneration. Remuneration is anything of value given in exchange for labor or services. I-9 forms must be retained for specified periods of time including even after the employment relationship has ended, and it must be made available in the event of an audit or inspection. These compliance requirements apply to every new employee regardless of citizenship or alienage, even if there is no doubt as to the individual’s identity and employment authorization.

To confirm identity and employment eligibility, every new hire must produce an original document or a combination of documents that are designated by the federal government to satisfy that requirement.  A list of the acceptable documents is found on the last page of the Form I-9. The employer must accept whatever document or combination of documents from the List that the employee offers, so long as the document is original, unexpired, relates to the employee and shows no signs of tampering or counterfeiting.

The employer must ensure that the employee completes Section 1 of Form I-9 at the time of hire. “Hire” means when employment begins in exchange for wages or other remuneration begins. The time of hire is noted on the form as the first day of employment. Employees may complete Section 1 of Form I-9 before the time of hire, but no earlier than acceptance of the job offer. Review the employee’s document(s) and fully complete Section 2 of Form I-9 within three business days of the hire.

As you perhaps know the current I-9 form technically expired this past March 31.  However, until further notice employers should continue using this version until the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approves and issues an updated I-9 form. The public was able to provide comments on the proposed I-9 changes until April 27, 2016.  For a detailed summary of the proposed changes, see USCIS Seeks Comments on Proposed Changes to From I-9 webpage.

If you need help thinking through an Immigration issue or want to dive deeper into this topic please reach out to our Advice & Resolution team.

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CAI Advice & Resolution team member Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI members with practical advice in a wide-range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.

Handling Third Party Harassment

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Employers have the responsibility to protect their employees from workplace discrimination and harassment, whether by other employees or third parties.  Handbooks typically include EEO policies, and anti-discrimination/harassment policies, as well as reporting procedures and a commitment to investigate and resolve any issues.  Clearly these provisions cover co-worker situations, whether a peer or management employee, and the company has more control over that process.  But what do you do when the alleged discrimination or harassment complaint involves a customer, vendor, contractor or other third party?  All of these situations are tricky, but perhaps the most difficult is when the alleged harasser is a customer.  If you’re a B2C company selling to the public, the “customer / alleged harasser” is typically one individual and you won’t have to work with another company to resolve it.  If you’re selling B2B the alleged harasser is an employee of your customer so the lines of responsibility can get blurred.  Both situations present unique challenges.  Let’s focus on a B2B scenario today since that situation can be more tricky. thQE06GKOF

First and foremost, regardless of who is doing the harassing, you want it to stop.  You’re obligated to provide a harassment free workplace.   If that’s not clear at your workplace, it needs to be. However, determining if harassment occurred and if so making it stop will be handled differently when a customer is involved.

Do You Notify the Customer?  Short answer – Yes. With customers it’s a more difficult conversation, but of course, no customer, client, vendor, etc. is more important than the legal rights of your employees. While conversations with clients about these issues are surely uncomfortable, people interacting with your employees need to realize that it is not appropriate to engage in this way with staff of the company and it must stop. If the behavior doesn’t stop, the employer needs to take such action as removing the client/customer from the workplace in the future.  Now that’s an answer you would expect me to give right?  But many of you are thinking – “If only it were that easy?” What if an important customer is involved?  Will you get blamed for jeopardizing the account over potentially a frivolous charge?  What will your Sales Director say – should you tell him?  Will your Leadership team / board / your boss stand behind you? What if the customer’s employee claims your employee was actually doing the harassing?  Questions like these usually make it hard for you to just swiftly and unilaterally take action in harassment cases involving a customer.

So now what?  Let me start here – if you are a member and find yourself in this situation, give anyone on our Advice & Resolution team a call. These cases are tricky and can go in many different directions based on your situation.  Here are the steps I would generally recommend you take:

  1. Conduct what I call a “pre-investigation.” You want to quickly get an idea of what you’re dealing with here. Take no more than a day, two at most.  Get the employee’s statement regarding the inappropriate conduct, date, times, and witnesses and ideally in writing.  Talk to available witnesses.  As with any harassment case, it’s critical that you understand the nature and context of what has occurred. Is this an affair gone bad?  Or does it involve a series of inappropriate comments? Were both parties engaging in the inappropriate behavior until one day a line was crossed?  Is the harassment on-going or has it stopped?
  2. At this point, you should have a reasonable idea as to what was going on, and who is at fault, at least from your side’s vantage point. That will shape how you approach the customer.  I wouldn’t pick up the phone and call the customer just yet.  You need another leader involved.  Ideally your boss.  You don’t need to divulge names, but you want to make sure they are aware you received a compliant, you investigated it, your general findings, and your planned approach with the customer.  I’m not suggesting you get permission, however, they might not agree with your course of action and good to have that discussion now.  They may also have relevant suggestions for you.
  3. After you have received all relevant information about the complaint and made sure that information is included in written form, the allegations should be promptly referred to an appropriate customer representative.   Since the alleged harasser is a customer’s employee, the customer is obligated to investigate.  The person you choose to contact should be considered carefully and should be in a position to both understand the implications of what has occurred and have the authority to take appropriate action. Appropriate contacts could include human resources, an officer or a manager. When in doubt, in most cases, the HR Manager should be contacted.  The person to whom you report the complaint should never be implicated in any way in the harassment that’s been alleged. When you report the complaint, you should ask that the customer investigate, take whatever corrective action is necessary and keep you informed. You want prompt corrective action to be taken if warranted. If it appears that the customer is dragging their feet, you should discuss that issue with the customer.
  4. Sometimes these cases go smoothly – the complaint is clear, it’s definitely harassment, the harasser is clearly guilty, and the customer takes swift action to stop the behavior. Other times, two very different accounts of what has happened exist and two very different courses of actions are proffered.   If you find yourself in the latter case, you’ll be glad you involved your boss / leader in the case.  The customer may believe your employee is equally at fault and advises you to take action against them.  Any move initiated by the company should not appear retaliatory.  Or they may refuse to take any action.  You may have to get attorneys involved.  Make sure on your side that if appropriate based on your investigation to remove contact between the employee and the harasser.  You may ultimately have to make a decision as to the future of your relationship with the customer.

One old axiom of business is that the customer is always right.  As we see here that may not always be true.  When a customer engages in harassing behavior, you need to act, but the path isn’t always clear.   CAI will help illuminate your path to the right resolution for your business.

Drug Testing Can Greatly Reduce Workers’ Compensation Costs

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

According to CAI’s most recent Policies and Benefits survey, 30% of employers are not conducting drug tests.  Besides the obvious benefits of having a drug-free workplace, another side benefit from drug testing is that it may reduce your workers compensation costs.  On the one hand, employees who are under the influence are more likely to experience injuries to themselves or others.  So the knowledge that you conduct post-accident drug and alcohol testing will dissuade most employees and therefore reduce accidents and costs.drugfreezone

Also, under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, no compensation will be paid for a workplace injury or death if it was proximately caused by, among other things, the employee’s intoxication, provided the intoxicant was not supplied by the employer (company social event) or being under the influence of a controlled substance listed in the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act (G.S. 90-86) unless it was prescribed by a doctor and the prescribed dosages were being followed.  Note, there isn’t an automatic denial of claims due to intoxication but odds are in the employer’s favor unless it can be proven the accident was in no way related to the “altered state” so to speak.

The best way to increase the odds that such claims will be denied is to incorporate a comprehensive drug and alcohol testing policy. Without such a policy, denial of workers compensation claims due to being under the influence may be harder to achieve.

North Carolina employers who drug test are required to comply with the NC Controlled Substances Examination Regulation Act which regulates notice requirements to examinees, requires approved laboratories and chain of custody safeguards, specifies conditions for applicant and employee testing, requires confirmation tests on positive samples, and entitles an employee who tests positive to have a retest, if requested, of the same sample at the employee’s expense.

Many states have a provision in their Workers’ Compensation law disqualifying an employee for compensation if the injury was caused by being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  A number of states also give discounts on Workers’ Compensation premiums (generally 5-7%) for implementing a Drug-Free Workplace Program.  CCH, the Members-only resource, provides State Law Summaries on Workers’ Compensation laws.

The US Department of Labor has resources for developing a drug-free workplace program.  While this is a requirement for federal contractors, the resources are helpful to all employers.  Consult the state law for specific requirements in other states.  Our drug-testing partner, PDSS, is also a resource for policy development, testing, and in-depth expertise in this area.

CAI encourages drug-free workplaces. Learn how drug testing programs can increase the efficiency and productivity of your organization at CAI.

Joint Pain in the Workplace

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News & Observer column, The View from HR

Can an employee work for two employers at the same time?

The Federal Court of Appeals in Richmond just decided how easy it is for someone to be a “joint employee” of two employers (Butler v. Drive

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Automotive). The case involved whether a temporary service employee (Ms. Butler) was also employed by the manufacturer where she was assigned.  Could she sue that manufacturer for sexual harassment and termination under laws protecting only employees?  The court said yes.

Most courts say if both entities have enough control or economic connection to the individual, (s)he is employed by both.  This Appeals court fashioned a broad, hybrid test for joint employer status including whether each had some power to hire, fire, or supervise in a meaningful way, and where/how the work takes place compared to regular employees.  In my view, nearly all extended work placements through temporary services (involving hiring by the service and some training/supervision by the customer or both) create joint employers.

A similar issue arises with direct hired contract workers.  Some employers use an in house group of contract workers to handle fluctuations in volume or to serve as a pool for future full-time hires.  Whether temp or direct, a special group of workers is created who do not enjoy the same working terms of regular employees.

There are many good reasons to use long-term temporary and contract workers, but these challenges are often ignored:

Unintended Consequences

Lawsuits, injury claims and expensive benefits make full-time employee status costly.  Some employers manage “headcount”, risks and costs by restricting full-time hires, preferring either part-time employees or other solutions such as direct contractors. It is just not that easy.

By substituting significant, extended work from these temporary and contract workers, employers may avoid one set of costs and create a new, unbudgeted set of costs.  If we could reliably reduce the extra costs of employing people just by calling them non-employees, then none of us would work directly for an employer!

Employee Relations

If we expect the contractor/temp group to be happy with their non-employee status long term, we might be dreaming.  Too often, managers treat the contract group as expendable.  “Just let them go” some say, rather than address problems.  The same physical separation, different uniforms and procedural techniques used to prove these workers are NOT employees may in fact cause serious dissatisfaction . . . without establishing the desired legal separation!

Poor (or zero) onboarding, second-class status, ignoring complaints, little communication about next steps and limited performance feedback are common problems.  Remember, despite efforts to mechanically avoid employee status, the pressures of work and output usually confuse the worker’s status.

The costs of hiring regular employees can be managed and the risks contained.  When an employer is surprised to learn after a claim is filed that the law views it as an employer of temporary and contract workers, it is too late to prepare or insure.   Employers using these relationships as long term solutions should carefully assess the total costs.

18 Tips for NC Employers to Reduce Unemployment Costs

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Employees in North Carolina who lose their jobs through no fault of their own are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits if they worked and reduce_unemployment_costs had sufficient earnings in the base period, and are actively looking for work.  Employees who are terminated for misconduct are disqualified for the duration of the unemployment period.  While it may appear that employers have little control over unemployment decisions and costs, there are steps that you can take to manage the cost of your unemployment insurance and the outcomes of your hearings.

  1. Hire the right people.   Many unemployment problems stem from hiring the wrong people. Screen job applicants for skills, experience and training required for the job.  Present candidates with a realistic picture of the job and company culture.  Conduct assessments to assist in determining job fit. Do background checks.
  2. Provide onboarding, training, and a work “buddy” to help mentor the new employee for a successful start.
  3. Ensure that employees acknowledge in writing receipt of the Employee Handbook that outlines policies that will guide their employment.
  4. If you make a hiring mistake (everyone does at some time), you are an experience-rated employer, and the employee lacks the skills to perform the job, terminate within 100 days of hire and request non-charging.
  5. Request non-charging if the reason the employee left was because of domestic violence or military spouse relocations.
  6. Train managers on providing and documenting performance feedback to employees.
  7. Train managers on documenting policy violations and disciplinary actions in a timely manner when necessary, and how this can impact unemployment claims.  For the employer to prevail on a claim for discharge for failure to perform work duties, there must be at least three performance warnings in the 12 months prior to termination.
  8. Conduct employee opinion surveys to identify and resolve workplace issues, engage employees, and increase retention.
  9. Respond promptly (within 14 days of receipt of NCUI 500AB) to DES with detailed documentation to avoid penalties for failure to respond timely and/or providing inadequate information.
  10. If the employee was terminated for misconduct and/or failing to follow established company policies or procedures and the initial DES decision is for the employee, appeal. (See other reasons that disqualify the individual for misconduct).
  11. Review charges to your account.
  12. Advise the DES if a former employee refuses a job offer.  (Even if you are not the base period employer, some company is).
  13. Upon receipt, review the NCUI 551 form that is sent to each base period employer.  Verify that the employee worked for you (check name and social security number), and that dates of employment and earnings are correct.
  14. When work is slow, offer employees the opportunity to volunteer for unpaid personal time off, consider temporary pay reductions, and other measures to postpone or avoid a layoff.
  15. When permanent layoffs are unavoidable, consider what assistance you can afford to help employees with locating other jobs (resume writing, outplacement assistance, calling other employers regarding former employee availability and skills).  The sooner former employees find employment, the lower your unemployment costs.
  16. Report and pay unemployment taxes promptly to avoid penalties.
  17. Report unemployment fraud. NC Department of Commerce – Division of Employment Services
  18. Support the Employers Coalition of North Carolina (ECNC) in efforts toward unemployment reform.  http://www.ecnc.us

    If you have questions about reducing your company’s costs associated with unemployment, let us help.  Visit CAI to learn more about how we partner with NC employers to grow and manage their HR departments.

Transgender Bathrooms, Overtime Rules and Odor-free Workplaces, oh my!

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

yellow-brick-road-elton-john-mc3a1gico-de-ozFor North Carolina companies, trying to stay in the know about recent federal and state employment and labor laws can be a bit like navigating the yellow brick road.  You never know what perils lie ahead… And, with aggressive enforcement activities by government agencies, staying compliant is more important than ever.

New overtime regulations from the USDOL…expanded definition of protected concerted activity by the NLRB…broadened expectations on “reasonable” accommodations under the ADA… These are just a few reasons why it is more important than ever for employers to ensure that they understand recent employment and labor law and regulations changes.

We know that keeping your organization protected can be both time consuming and frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be.  Sure, you can sift through the vast amount of federal and local regulatory information on your own, with online searches or by visiting government agency websites, but how much is your time worth?  Take just two short days out of your busy schedule and we promise that the knowledge you gain from our industry experts and top labor law attorneys will help you make the best decisions for your company throughout the coming year.

Join us for our 2016 Employment and Labor Law Update on May 18 and 19 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh.  Conference topics include:

New Overtime Regulations

Transgender Issues

Use of Independent Contractors

The Expansion of “Reasonable” Accommodations

Employee Theft, Embezzlement, and Other Criminal Conduct

Perils of the Digitally Integrated Employee

FMLA Intermittent Leave Abuse

Handbook Headaches

NC Legislative Update and more!

Will Employees Be Working for Free on Leap Day?

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

February-29While February is known for its famously short 28 days, every four years the month extends itself an extra day on the 29th of February. This year, this extra day will fall next Monday. While many employees may wish for a Leap Day Holiday off of work, most will still make their way to the office. But the question remains: Is Leap Day good or bad for employees? Well, that may depend on who you’re asking.

For hourly, non-exempt workers, coming into work on Leap Day may be a welcome occurrence: their employers will pay them for hours worked, and if they work an extra day this year, that’s roughly eight more hours of paid work on their paychecks this year than in a non-Leap Year.

Sounds like a win-win, right? Well, for salaried, exempt employees, the situation might be a little different.

If salaried workers earn a set amount each year irrespective of hours worked, yet there’s one extra day of work this year, does that mean they are working for free on Leap Day? The answer to this question can be puzzling, and it turns out even employment experts cannot come to a general consensus on the issue.

Daniel Schwartz, an employment attorney, believes employers could be getting a day’s worth of work for free from their employers.

“For the extra day, the employer really isn’t paying anything more for an exempt worker. The annual salary is just that, and the paychecks just reflect the portion of the year. Many employers thus get a ‘free’ day of work from exempt workers because they are not paying anything more than in non-Leap Years,” he wrote on the Connecticut Employment Law Blog.

Frank Heinz, a reporter from NBC, begs to differ.

“The short answer is no, you aren’t working for free on Leap Day … you’re just working for less than normal,” Heinz writes.

“Let’s assume you make $50,000 per year in a non-Leap Year.  If we take that salary and divide it by the 261 work days, that breaks down to $191.57 gross income, per day,” he goes on to explain. “During a Leap Year, with 262 work days, that breaks down to $190.84 gross income, per day.  That means during a Leap Year you will make .73 cents less per day in order to fund your salary on Feb. 29.”

But what the issue really may come down to is how your company’s pay schedule is set up.

A typical year will have 52 weeks plus one day, but a Leap Year has 52 weeks plus two days.  If your company’s designated payday falls on this extra day, it could mean an additional paycheck for your employees.

More than likely, employers will build this extra day into the yearly salary, and reduce a worker’s paycheck installment in order to make it all come out even at the end of the year.

However your business structures its payroll, whether it’s through weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly installments, it is imperative for HR professionals to take the time to examine whether their employees’ pay will be affected by the upcoming Leap Day.

If you find that it will alter your pay structure, be prepared to discuss the issue and how your business will respond with your employees. It is, after all, their right to know how their pay could be affected.

For any further questions on how Leap Day might affect your payroll, don’t hesitate to give our Advice & Resolution team a ring at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746. Have a Happy Leap Day everyone!