Ironic as it may seem, if you are searching for a job, the Department of Labor may be a good place to look. Why? Because they are increasing their team of workplace investigators like nobody’s business! They are ramping up their workforce in an effort to more closely monitor employers’ classification of exempt and non-exempt employees when determining who qualifies for overtime pay.
Realistically, it seems that almost every employer can be found guilty of some infraction of employee classification when it comes to exempt and non-exempt rules. The DOL investigators are able to just show up at your door and ask to speak with specific employees. They will then start ask questions about the duties they perform and hours they work.
You won’t be surprised to learn that the questions are designed to elicit answers that reveal shortfalls in employer classification of workers. The questions that DOL investigators ask employees are leading, and employers’ legal counsel are not allowed to be present at these interviews with employees.
Informing Your Employees
Because of this, it is critical that your employees know how they are classified and why, especially if they are exempt from overtime pay. For example, if an employee has no decision making authority and strictly follows the direction of others, they are not exempt from overtime. If that exempt employee reveals to a DOL investigator that they simply do what they are told, the investigator will find the employer in violation of the laws and penalties will be enforced.
The best way to avoid penalties is to perform your own internal audit on your staff. If you find misclassifications, correct them immediately. A DOL auditor that finds a misclassification that has already been addressed and corrected is much more likely to find favor with an employer and recognize the employer’s act of good faith.
Visit the Department of Labor for more information on exempt and non-exempt classifications.