Weekly HR News – Budgets
Increase In Salary Level for Exempt Employees Will Affect 2016-2017 City Budgets
By now, most of you have heard about the Department of Labor’s (DOL) changes to the regulations that mandate which executive, administrative, and professional employees are entitled to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime pay protections. The current regulations were last updated in 2004, and stated that an employee must make at least $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to be exempt from overtime. With the new change, which is effective December 1, 2016, the DOL has updated the salary level required for exemption to $913 per week ($47,476 annually), with automatic increases every three years to maintain the level at the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage census region.
Both KLC and the National League of Cities (NLC) are very aware of the impact that these changes have on cities and as such, submitted comments last August in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The two primary recommendations were (1) to use a regional approach (due to variations in pay based on location) and (2) to implement the change over the course of three years. Here is an excerpt from the Final Rule discussing the concerns:
“After considering the comments, the Department has made several changes from the proposed rule to the Final Rule. In particular, the Department has modified the standard salary level to more fully account for the lower salaries paid in certain regions. In this Final Rule, the Department sets the standard salary level equal to the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region (currently the South).”
What does this mean for city budgets right now? Any of your employees that are currently making less than $913 per week would be entitled to overtime for any hours worked over 40. As cities begin budget preparations for the coming fiscal year they should include the increased overtime costs based on the passage of this rule or consider an increase in wages for employees that may be close to the threshold. However, be aware that an increase in compensation, whether it is salary or overtime, could result in pension spiking issues penalties.
The Department of Labor is offering several free webinars to review these changes. More information on the webinars can be found on the DOL website. In addition, KLC is offering an all-day training June 1 that will offer in-depth discussions on this topic as well as many others. Information and registration for Part I of this training can be found on the KLC website.
If you have any questions about this or need any additional information contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, KLC personnel services specialist.
Weekly HR News – ALERT! CORRECTION!
Increase In Incentive Pay For Police and Fire Will Affect 2016-2017 City Budgets
We recently ran the following article regarding increased overtime costs for police and fire based on the change in incentive pay effective July 1, 2016. The article incorrectly stated that incentive pay is only included in unscheduled overtime for police and fire; the correct statement should have been that incentive pay is included in all police officer overtime and only included in unscheduled overtime for fire department members. See the full article as corrected below:
Included in the passage of the Commonwealth’s budget was an increase in incentive pay for police and fire. The current amount of $3100 will increase to $4000 per year effective July 1, 2016.
What does this mean for city budgets? Most importantly, this change will affect the payout of all overtime for police and the unscheduled overtime for fire. As cities begin budget preparations for the coming fiscal year they will have to factor these increased costs.
As a refresher, unscheduled overtime for fire personnel includes any hours worked over 40 in a workweek that are not part of an established work schedule. The hourly rate addition for unscheduled overtime is determined by dividing the annual amount of the supplement ($4000) by 2,080. For example, if a firefighter works 54 hours in a week where he or she is normally scheduled to work only 48, the firefighter has 6 hours of unscheduled overtime. The city will have to pay overtime on the supplement for the 6 hours of unscheduled overtime.
Incentive pay for all others (police, EMS) should be included in both scheduled and unscheduled overtime.
For more information on this service or any other personnel-related matters, contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, KLC personnel services specialist.
Hiring and retaining the best employees can be one of the most important tasks that a city can undertake. Employees can be the heart and soul of a successful city. Therefore, it is essential that cities hire the best employees and work to retain them.
Another reason to do this right the first time has to do with the costs of hiring and training new employees, not to mention the time that this takes. The costs to publish an advertisement, background checks, drug tests, as well as the time it takes to sort through applications and the interview process can be detrimental to the city budget. In addition, there are the costs associated with and time it takes to train a new employee and it can also place added pressure on the remaining employees that must take on additional tasks. To avoid these issues make sure you make every effort to hire right the first time.
Some of the ways to hire the best employees start with a current and accurate job description. When creating the advertisement for the position, having a current job description is crucial. The advertisement should be based on the essential functions of the job. What must the potential employee have in order to qualify to do this position? By identifying these requirements prospective candidates know whether or not they have the skills, education, training and background to do the job, and it enables the city to weed out those who do not.
The next step is the application and the interview process. Be certain that both the employment application and the city interview process do not contain any questions that may violate state, federal or local law. Don’t ask any questions that may be related to race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, age or their status as a smoker or nonsmoker (only in Kentucky).
Interview questions should be prepared in advance and should be based entirely on the ability of the candidate to do the job for which they are applying. Make sure that the interviewers know what questions are completely off limits.
Once the interviews are complete, have a process in place to guide the decision makers to identify the best potential employee. Also, be aware of any required pre-employment testing or background checks that the city may have to do once an offer is made. Ascertain ahead of time what can and cannot be done as well as what information should be gathered from the testing and used in the final decisions.
After the employee has been hired, have an onboarding process that assimilates the employee into the city work environment. Don’t give him or her a stack of papers and leave them alone. Make this an interactive process where they are immediately made to feel like part of a team. Make sure that the new employee understands the personnel policies, the city ethics ordinance, and how the city’s form of government works.
One of the most important things that a city can do to retain good employees is to make sure that anyone in a supervisory position has management skills training. Do they know their roles and responsibilities? Do they have effective communication skills? Do they know how to effectively delegate job assignments? Can they provide effective performance reviews? This information is crucial to a successful supervisor and for happy employees.
Other important issues to consider are wage and hour laws and the misclassification of employees. What is required in regards to meal and rest breaks? What is considered a full-time employee? How do you determine if the employee is entitled to overtime? What about compensatory time? Are you ready for the new overtime laws? What is considered the city’s workweek? Do we have to pay for travel time? (As well as hundreds of other laws!) Failing to follow the state and federal laws, as well as the city policy, or the misclassification of city employees can cost the city in back wages, court fees, fines and penalties. Knowing what is required of you as a city official is your responsibility.
All of these things combined put your city in the best possible position to hire and retain the best employees and to limit your liability exposure. Being proactive on the front end will make your job as a city official a little easier, as the best employees will have to be disciplined less and the city can avoid hiring for the same positions over and over.
If you want more information on these topics, KLC will be providing an all-day training June 1 that will offer in depth discussions of each of these topics as well as provide sample forms. Information and registration for Part I of this training can be found on the KLC website.
For questions on this or any other personnel matters, contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, KLC personnel services specialist.
Hiring – The I-9 Form Expired March 31st
The current version of the Form I-9 expired on March 31, but until further notice employers should keep using the expired form until the new form is available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
On March 28, 2016, the USCIS published a second round of proposed changes to the form in the Federal Register, giving the public 30 days to comment. Once that comment period has ended more changes may be made and then it will be sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review and approval.
The purpose of the proposed changes is lessen technical errors for which employers may be fined, and include:
- A start over button, which will allow the user to start over more easily.
- Instant access to the instructions through the use of hyperlinks.
- Anti-discrimination notice, which states that employers cannot specify the forms that the employee presents for validation.
- Each section will also have a “click to finish” button that will validate that the information has been entered correctly.
- Will only require other last names used instead of all other names used.
- A QR code, that can be used to streamline audit processes.
- Automatic formatting of the SSN.
- Immigrants authorized to work will only need to provide either their Form I-94 number, foreign passport information or alien registration number.
- Added spaces to include the names of multiple preparers and translators.
- A dedicated area to enter supplementary information that employers are presently required to write in the margins.
KLC will send out a notice once the new form is officially required. For questions on this or other personnel matters, contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, KLC personnel services specialist.
Drug Testing Changes for 2016
Effective as of January 1, 2016, the minimum annual percentage rate for random controlled substances testing is 25 percent of the average number of driver positions. The minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing will remain at 10 percent.
Cities that drug test CDL employees have been testing at 50 percent of the average number of CDL positions, so at this point, cities have the option of amending their policies to 25 percent or keeping it at 50 percent.
More information from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration can be found at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/enforcement/annual-random-controlled-substances-testing-percentage-rate-calendar-year.
Questions regarding this or any other personnel policy changes can be directed to Andrea Shindlebower Main, KLC Personnel Services Specialist.
Weekly HR News –
Spring Forward … Straight time or overtime?
That can be the question when clocks are set forward one hour March 13th
The arrival of daylight saving time requires clocks to be moved forward one hour at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 13. Shift workers who are on duty at that time and who normally work an eight-hour shift will actually work only seven hours.
"Some employers decide to pay the normal eight hours of pay for that shift as a matter of policy, but under the Fair Labor Standards Act, they are not required to include the additional hour of pay when calculating an employee's regular rate for overtime," noted Heidi Henson, JD, CCH workplace analyst.
For example, if someone actually works 40 hours in the week, the additional hour's pay for that daylight-saving hour would be at straight time, not overtime. Even if the employee works over 40 hours in the city defined workweek, that one hour would not have to be included in the overtime calculations, unless the city policy states otherwise.
For more information or sample policies on this or any other personnel related matters contact Andrea Shindlebower, personnel services specialist.