Monday, March 31, 2008

Q. What is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and why should I be concerned with it?

A. FLSA defines the 40-hour workweek, sets out the federal minimum wage, states requirements for overtime, places restrictions on child labor and outlines recordkeeping requirements. You may be violating the statute without even knowing it.
For instance: Have you recently reviewed your job classifications? Have you thoroughly evaluated those employees who are independent contractors? Are you paying all your respiratory therapists as non-exempt, hourly employees? Do you “control” the workflow for an independent contractor or PRN employee? Are you confident that employees who are now being paid as exempt salaried employees and who are not being paid overtime qualify under the statute? How are you treating the breaks your employees are taking? Do any non-exempt employees work “off the clock”? The answer to these questions could be important in helping you understand whether or not you are in compliance with the FLSA.
The exposure most companies have can be significant. If a current or former employee files a complaint, the U.S. Department of Labor can call for a full-scale investigation. If violations are uncovered the employer may be required to make changes to current employment practices and to come into compliance with the act. In addition, the department may request the payment of any back wages due to employees going back several years. Willful violators can be prosecuted criminally and fined up to $10,000.
The DOL provides several “tests” an employer can perform to determine if certain employees can be classified exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA. If you have questions, you should consult with an employment attorney who can help with job classifications. It is best to be proactive in uncovering possible exposures rather than waiting for a complaint and investigation. HME
Richard Davis, SPHR, is the director of human resources for Barnes Healthcare Services in Valdosta, Ga. Reach him at