Friday, May 22, 2015

Flexible Strategies Can Help Increase Employee Retention and Productivity

“Workplace flexibility” is a relatively new buzzword for business solutions that help employers retain existing employees, expand the pool of potential employees, and increase workplace productivity.

Basically, workplace flexibility concerns strategies and tools that permit employees to:

  • vary the times that they perform theirs tasks – ex. flexible work hours, job sharing, and compressed work weeks

  • alter the place at which they perform job duties – ex. telecommuting, satellite offices, and travel between various locations throughout a territory

  • change the manner in which they perform certain tasks – ex. use of technology and strategies to accommodate disabilities

Innovative use of workplace flexibility tools can help an employer attract or retain talented employees who cannot work a traditional Monday – Friday, 8 am to 5 pm schedule for various reasons.  Workplace flexibility strategies can also increase employee productivity through less distraction and higher job satisfaction.  Additionally, employers can benefit financially from programs and tools that permit employees to work from a variety of locations, thus decreasing the need for large (and often expensive) office lease space, reducing time-consuming and stressful commutes to a centralized workplace, or increasing customer contacts in a global environment.

The US Department of Labor has created a website to help employers and employees obtain ideas and tools, as well as share and discuss the outcome of various strategies, for workplace flexibility at:

By: Cynthia W. Veidt (

Friday, May 1, 2015

Employment Law for Texas Employers: Welcome to eVerify!

This blog has previously discussed the employer’s duty to avoid “illegal workers” by verifying that its employees are eligible to work in the United States. See

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has created a free, online system to check on a prospective employee’s status:

However, this eVerify program does NOT replace the employer’s obligation to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each employee. Make sure to retain the required documents, whether in paper or electronic form, so that you can demonstrate compliance in the event of an audit.

Rather, eVerify is a cost-free method for employers to determine whether the information on their employee’s Form I-9 matches information contained in the databases of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.

Most employers are not required to use eVerify at this time. Federal mandates may occur during the congressional debates surrounding immigration reform, however. Employers should review their employment verification procedures periodically to ensure that they remain in compliance with all federal and Texas statutes.  

By:  Cynthia W. Veidt,

Friday, April 10, 2015

Employment Law Basics for Employers: Calculating Overtime Pay

When an employee does not meet any exemption from overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), an employer must identify the number of hours of overtime worked in any given week.  But this determination involves a very convoluted process.

Calculating Hours Worked in a Given Week – a non-exempt employee is entitled to overtime pay for any “working time” above 40 hours in a given work week. The beginning and end of the work week is set by the employer and generally should not vary from week to week.  For example, you may define a “work week” as Sunday through Saturday, Monday through Sunday, or any other combination of seven days that makes business sense in your industry. 

In calculating working time, an employer is generally not required to include:

  •        Waiting or “on call” time unless the employee is unable to use such time for his or her own purposes.  If employees are expected to be “on call,” you should consider a written policy or agreement detailing the way such time must be recorded/reported and how you will determine whether that time is compensable.

  •         Meal breaks that are at least 30 minutes long, provided the employee is completely relieved of duties during their break. However, rest or “coffee” breaks of 20 minutes or less are usually considered as part of the employee’s working time.

  •         Paid or Unpaid Holidays unless the employee was actually working.

  •         Paid or Unpaid Time Off (such as sick leave, vacations, furloughs or suspensions).

  •         Normal travel time spent commuting from the employee’s residence to their designated workplace.

  •      Travel time spent as a passenger outside normal working hours, even if that travel is required to attend a business conference or sales meeting, unless that employee serves as the driver for other employees or the employer has a written agreement concerning compensable travel time.

However, each of the foregoing scenarios are subject to change based on specific facts and circumstances.  When in doubt, you should contact an attorney or human resources professional, as well as consult the US Department of Labor’s website for specific regulations and guidance.

Friday, March 20, 2015

OSHA Compliance Saves Employer’s Money!

A new study conducted by business school economists and published in Science magazine came up with some surprisingly good news for even small and mid-sized employers – engaging in randomized OSHA inspections not only reduced workplace injury claims, it saved the employers an average of 26% on workers’ compensation costs (or $355,000 on average). 

The study looked at over 800 companies in the state of California and found “no evidence that these improvements [to employee health and safety] came at the expense of employment, sales, credit ratings, or firm survival.”

A link to the study itself:

By: Cynthia W. Veidt (