There is so much buzz over the upcoming changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in regards to overtime pay. Yes, the salary threshold will be increasing and some of you will be faced with changing an employee’s status from exempt to non-exempt. This just means you will now have to track that individual’s hours. The other option, is to make some changes and increase their salary to remain compliant with the exempt status requirement.
But this article is not going to get into the nitty gritty here. Let’s talk about the buzz and the fear being created around working after hours. This means answering emails, taking phone calls, working from home, etc.

Don’t Stress and Fear!

Do not give into the stress and fear being created by numerous articles about after hour work! You can manage this!
First, let’s think about your expectations of your employees. Who is absolutely required to be checking emails and working after hours? Your Managers, Directors, Executives? Ok, are any of your managers going to change status? Probably not!

BREATHE!

So what about your other employees? I mean those who are and will be eligible for overtime pay. Well, the FLSA calls for overtime pay for hours worked over 40hrs a week. If a task needs to be completed, whether home or at work, you may be paying overtime anyway.

It is important to take into consideration your particular business operations, its needs, and the morale of your employees when it comes to overtime.

Try this: IF IT IS NOT VITAL, IT CAN WAIT TILL MORNING

Many employees do not need to be checking email or getting ahead at home. Setting a clear expectation here, or incorporating a “leave work at work” culture can be a great help if you want to keep things simple.

What’s The Hardest Part?

The hardest part is really about recording overtime properly. Do you trust your employees to honestly report time worked outside of the office? Do you have a system for these employees to access from home? Are you willing to give employees the discretion to work from home and record overtime because they feel like reading their emails before coming into the office?

Sometimes it is easier for a small employer to not get involved with allowing such activity. It is easier to regulate hours worked while on the premises. So if you have all employees working in your office, it may be best to keep work at work.

Well, what about any on-call staff? Yes, they need to be tracking their time if non-exempt, but don’t freak out yet! Evaluate your current procedures and find a way to make any necessary changes that make both you and your employees comfortable with recording time.

And…what about if I really need to get a hold of someone after hours? In case of an emergency, or during a really busy time, talk with the employee of how to keep track of their hours for that particular situation. You have the flexibility to make company policies that are comfortable for you in regards to tracking hours. The law just wants fair compensation to those eligible.

How To Easily Make Changes

Change can be hard to implement, but YOU CAN DO IT! After the law is made clear, you should:

  1. Set and communicate clear rules to those employees eligible for overtime
  2. Include when it is and is not appropriate to work from home and answer after hour emails or calls
  3. Talk to your entire staff of any changes in operations to reduce uncertainty and potential overtime charges
  4. Allow for employees to voice their concerns
  5. Be willing to make exceptions based on business needs
  6. Certain projects and times of year may require you to communicate with your non-exempt staff the possibility of working after hours and what is required for time keeping

What Does This All Mean? What Do I Need To Do?

  1. Evaluate your staff and business operations in regards to the new FLSA regulation
  2. Implement the easiest (most comfortable) solution to remain compliant yet fit your business needs
  3. Communicate with your employees what is expected of them in regards to the new regulation
  4. Stress the phrase: IF IT IS NOT VITAL, IT CAN WAIT TILL MORNING
  5. Don’t freak out!
  6. Ask for help from professional if you are still unclear about what to do
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