Although the National Labor Relations Act was initially established to assist unions in organizing employees, its scope is much broader as it also protects employees’ rights to engage in “protected concerted activity.” The NLRB’s interpretation of what constitutes protected concerted activity has fluctuated over the years and, in particular, under the Obama administration it expanded
The National Labor Relations Board found that a union committed an unfair labor practice by repeatedly blocking ingress and egress to a hotel for periods of one to four minutes. The opinion provides details about the union’s picketing efforts as a part of an organizing campaign. The blockage occurred during at least ten separate occasions…
On December 14, 2017, the National Labor Relations Board (the “NLRB” or the “Board”) overruled Obama-era precedent involving two highly controversial decisions governing employee handbooks and joint employment standards.
Earlier this year, President Trump appointed two Republicans to the five-member NLRB resulting in a 3-2 Republican majority for the first time in a decade. As anticipated, the new “Trump Board” is beginning to dismantle a series of decisions that many believed to unfairly favor unions.
New Standard Governing Employee Handbooks
In a split 3-2 decision, the Board majority in . overturned its 2004 Lutheran Heritage standard, which had been used in recent years to render countless employer policies and rules unlawful. The former standard provided that a policy or rule is unlawful if employees could “reasonably construe” the language to bar them from exercising their rights under the NLRA, such as discussing terms and conditions of employment. For the past several years, the Lutheran Heritage standard has been heavily criticized for failing to take into account legitimate business justifications associated with employer policies, rules and handbook provisions in addition to yielding unpredictable and sometimes contradictory results. For example, the standard has deemed unlawful policies that require employees to “work harmoniously” or conduct themselves in a “positive and professional manner.”
Missouri’s new Republican governor has indicated that he fully supports right-to-work legislation, which failed to get past previous governor Jay Nixon in its last go-round. With that being the case, what would a right-to-work law mean for the employers in the state who have collective bargaining agreements with labor organizations?
First, right-to-work legislation does not…
Executive, Professional and Administrative employees are exempt from overtime requirements if they meet three tests: the salary level test; the salary basis test; and the duties test. As I am sure you have heard, new overtime regulations raise the required annual salary level from $23,660 to $47,476 (or $913 each week). Under the new salary level test, which goes into effect on December 1, 2016, exempt employees paid less than $47,476 no longer qualify for exempt status. So what is an employer to do? Here are some potential options:
1. Retain Exempt Status. Increase the employee’s annual salary to at least $47,476 and the employee will remain exempt. Please note, however, that the rules establish a mechanism for automatically updating the salary and compensation levels every three years; thus, you may be required to again increase the employee’s salary in three years to meet the new threshold. Additionally, the employee still needs to meet the duties test, and this is a good time to review compliance with that test. This is the only option that does not require the employer to track the employee’s work hours.
a. Example. Currently an exempt employee has an annual salary of $41,600 ($800 weekly) and, therefore, no longer passes the new salary test. Employer raises the employee’s annual salary to $47,476. Employee retains the exemption from overtime pay under the new regulations.
2. Convert to Hourly. Convert the exempt employee from a salary to an hourly wage and begin paying overtime for more than 40 hours worked in a week. The employer must begin tracking the hours worked by the employee. Overtime hours can be controlled by limiting or forbidding overtime without the employer’s express approval.
a. Example. Currently exempt employee has an annual salary of $41,600 ($800 weekly). Employer converts the employee to the equivalent hourly wage of $20 an hour ($800 ÷ 40 hours). The employee’s overtime rate would be $30 an hour ($20 x 1.5). Thus an employee who works 45 hours during one week would be paid $950 (($20 x 40 hrs) + ($30 x 5 hrs.)). Assuming the employee averages working 45 hours a week during a year, this equates to an annual salary of $49,400 ($950 a wk x 52 wks). Under these particular facts, it would be cheaper to pay the employee the $47,476 annual salary and have the employee remain exempt.
3. Remain Salaried, but Pay Overtime. Have the employee remain on a salary, but pay overtime when the employee exceeds 40 hours in a workweek. This will require the employer to track the employee’s time. The regular rate will be calculated by dividing 40 hours into the weekly salary and then paying 1 ½ times that amount for overtime hours. This may be a good option where an employee enjoys the status of a salaried employee and doesn’t want to become an hourly employee. Overtime hours can be controlled by limiting or forbidding overtime without the employer’s express approval.
a. Example. Currently exempt employee has an annual salary of $41,600 ($800 weekly). Employer retains the employee at this salary, but pays the employee overtime for any hours worked over 40 in a week. The employees overtime rate would be $30 an hour (($800 ÷ 40) x 1.5). Thus, an employee who works 45 hours during one week would be paid $950 ($800 + (30 x 5)). Assuming the employee averages working 45 hours a week during a year, this equates to an annual salary of $49,400 ($950 x 52). Please note that the employee is paid the same amount whether he is paid hourly or paid a salary. Under these particular facts, it would be cheaper to pay the employee the $47,476 annual salary and have the employee remain exempt.
4. Fluctuating Workweek Plan. Use the Fixed Salary/Fluctuating Work Week plan, which is approved by the DOL regulations. Under this plan, the employee is paid a fixed salary that covers the straight time for all hours worked, including overtime hours. Thus, overtime is paid at a ½ time rate (compared to 1 ½ time rate) for the hours worked over 40 hours. Under this plan, the regular rate must be calculated each week (by dividing the total number of hours worked by the fixed salary). Certain conditions, including prior employee agreement and paying the same salary when the employee works less than 40 hours in a week, are necessary to use this plan.…
As you may recall, The Davis-Bacon Act applies to contractors and subcontractors performing on federally funded or assisted contracts in excess of $2,000 for the construction, alteration, or repair of public buildings or public works. This week, The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down an attempt by the DOL…