BY HOWARD STEELE
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 requires that full time employees in America receive overtime-generally 1.5 times their “regular rate” once they work 40 hours in a work week. There are a few narrow exceptions where the employee is an executive, a professional, or an administrative (think office manager that has lots of discretion over the back office functions of a company). In those (and a few more smaller exceptions), if the employer pays the employee a “salary” and they actually perform those “duties,” the employer is exempt from overtime.
Since 2004, the “salary” had to be a minimum of $23,660. The “salary” also can not generally be reduced in a given work week. Starting January 1, 2020, the minimum required salary will be $35,568. The beneficiaries of this new rule will be employees that did not go to college, rural Americans, and older workers. Studies show that nearly 60% of workers over 25 who do not go to college, as well as a large percentage of rural an older workers make less than $35,000.
The new rule is expected to force employers to: (1) change the exempt status of over a million workers and (2) change the pay rate for many more employees so they can reach the $35,568 threshold.
What Employers Should Do:
You should immediately perform a Human Resources audit of your workforce (not just under the FLSA). If you have not performed a Human Resources audit recently, you should contact competent labor and employment counsel to give you some guidance. Many times, there are a number of audit items you can perform in house with the right guidance (think save money). In the alternative, counsel can do things you do not know how to do (or do not want to do), and reduce your stress. Preventative maintenance will always save an employer money, over flying blissfully blind into a disgruntled employee’s lawsuit in federal court.
Before you hire counsel, all employers should pull salary and job duty data on its entire workforce. Organizing this data for counsel will save a lot of money. You should immediately budget for the transition, i.e., “what will my labor cost be now?” Many times, employers have long thought that just because they paid an employee a “salary,” they did not need to worry about what the employee did (“duties test”). Just because you “call” an employee a manager in a job description or title DOES NOT necessarily mean they are exempt under the FLSA. Finally, employers should be ready for lots of questions and should be prepared to properly communicate to employees during the transition period to protect employee morale. Many employees put a lot of self esteem in being “salaried,” and may feel they are being demoted. A Human Resources audit will provide the employer the tools to successfully navigate this very important transition on January 1, 2020 so as to clean up these issues before problems occur.
The Overtime Rules are about to Change!
Why Hiring a Veteran will make your Company Stronger and More Profitable!
As a board-certified labor and employment attorney, during this past Veterans Day, I contemplated how we civilian employers could give back to the great patriots who keep us all safe and make America the greatest military in the world.
The current unemployment rate in America is at an all-time low in most demographic categories due to the very strong economy. With more than 200,000 men and women leaving military service each year, tapping into this very trained and disciplined workforce provides numerous benefits. In addition, there are numerous tax benefits to the savvy employer that does so. Plus, as stated, you are giving a big thank you to our veterans.
The Statistics show that Hiring a Vet is Business Smart
Numerous studies indicate that veterans are entrepreneurial, have a high need for achievement and success. They also assume high levels of trust. That ability to trust co-workers and superiors is directly correlated to high performing teams, organizations, as well as to overall morale.
Very comfortable at dealing with uncertainty and are resilient
Much of military training addresses reacting to different (and often very difficult) situations. This training thus provides an employer an employee that can react to very dissimilar situations without complaining ”well,, this is not how we have done it before,” or ”this is not in my job description.” Veterans (particularly combat vets) often have significant experience in dealing with uncertain situations and making executive decisions under extreme pressure.
Very technically savvy, and are more multi-cultural than the standard workforce
Based on the highly technical nature of today’s military, the training necessary provide veterans with a unique skill set that can often be utilized into the corporate workforce. Studies also demonstrate that veterans often speak more languages than the general workforce and are more sensitive to multi-cultural teams. The three top majors for veterans were Health, STEM, and Business, which all of course translate well into a civilian workforce.
The Numbers show that Hiring a Vet is Financially Smart
Businesses that hire eligible unemployed veterans can take advantage of a Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).The Returning Heroes Tax Credit now provides incentive of up to $56 00 for hiring unemployed veterans and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit doubles the existing WOTC for long term unemployed veteran with service-connected disabilities to $9,600.
Here’s the various veteran-related tax credits your company could qualify for:
Unemployment Tax Credits:
Qualified Long-term Unemployment: This is a credit for new hires that begin work on or after January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2019, during which the individual is employed no less than 27 consecutive weeks, and includes a period in which the individual was receiving unemployment compensation under State or Federal law. For WOTC-certified new hires working at least 120 hours, employers can claim 25% of the first year wages paid up to $6,000, for a maximum income tax credit of up to $1,500. For WOTC-certified new hires working 400 hours or more, employers can claim 40% of the first year wages up to $6,000, for a maximum income tax credit of up to $2,400.
Short-term Unemployment: A credit of 40% of the first $6,000 of wages (up to $2,400) for employers who hire veterans who have been in receipt of unemployment compensation for at least 4 weeks.
Long-term Unemployment: A credit of 40% of the first $14,000 of wages (up to $5,600) for employers who hire veterans who have been in receipt of unemployment compensation for longer than 6 months.
Wounded Warrior Tax Credits:
Veterans with Services-Connected Disabilities: Maintains the existing Work Opportunity Tax Credit for veterans with service connected disabilities hired within one year of being discharged from the military. The credit is 40% of the first $12,000 of wages (up to $4,800).
Long-Term Unemployed Veterans with Services-Connected Disabilities: A new credit of 40% of the first $24,000 of wages (up to $9,600) for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been in receipt of unemployment compensation for longer than 6 months. The credit can be as high as $9,600 per veteran for for-profit employers or up to $6,240 for tax-exempt organizations.
Certain tax-exempt organizations can take advantage of WOTC by hiring eligible veterans and receiving a credit against the employer’s share of Social Security taxes.
For more details on these credits see the Department of Labor website or the IRS website.
As the great NFL QB (and veteran) Roger Staubach stated: ”I invest in veterans not to do them a favor; they are actually doing me a favor, because the qualities they bring to workforce are invaluable.” Employers should take this Hall of Famer’s advice to the bank.
This article is published as part of a featured Guest Columnist at My Pearland News: https://mypearlandnews.com/2019/11/14/why-hiring-a-veteran-will-make-your-company-stronger-and-more-profitable-guest-columnist-attorney-howard-steele/