Archive for July, 2012

Comp Time Isn’t a Gift

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

All too often I have heard an employer say to employees “we offer comp time”.  Unfortunately private sector employer cannot substitute “comp time” for overtime or in lieu of wages. This is the law despite numerous studies that show employees would welcome the idea and since the 1970 federal and state employees have been allowed to substitute comp time in lieu of overtime wages.

If an employee is classified as non-exempt; then the employer must pay overtime. Overtime is sometimes referred to as premium time. The calculation of overtime is determined by federal and state law. The state law takes precedence if more advantageous to the employee than the federal law. There are also consideration as to the start and end date of the pay period with calculating overtime. The bottom line is that comp time in lieu of wages is not permissible under the law.

7 Safety Pitfalls in Your Parts Department

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

How would your Parts Department fare today, if you received a safety inspection? Our engineers have found 7 common areas where things go wrong. Some are pretty easy to spot, but some are less obvious. Let’s take a look at a few:

1) Unsafe storage on shelves 
If you have sprinkler heads in your Parts Department, make sure items stored on the top shelf don’t obstruct the sprinkler heads. If you don’t have sprinkler heads, keep two feet of clearance between the roof and the top shelf of your storage.

2) Electrical panels
Make sure you have at least three feet of clearance around all sides of your electrical panels. You may want to use caution tape, or something similar, to mark the area that must stay clear.

3) Batteries
Do you have used or warranty batteries stored in the Parts Department? Most dealers do. Make sure that they are in containers that eliminate battery acid spill on the ground. It’s also best to have baking soda on hand to make sure that any acid spills can be quickly neutralized.

4) DOT hazardous materials training
DOT training is required and due every three years. This applies to your Parts Department if they ship any kind of hazardous materials like seat belt pretensioners or air bag modules.

Want to guess what the other 3 pitfalls are?… There are also numerous hazards related to light bulbs, upstairs storage areas and forklifts.

To get more information on all these safety pitfalls, watch KPA’s 3 minute video.

Service Advisor Exemption Update

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

A House Appropriations Subcommittee voted today to reinforce that service advisors, the frontline employee-salespersons in the service department, remain exempt from overtime pay requirements. In 2011, the Department of Labor (DOL) attempted to reverse its own 1978 opinion and multiple court decisions and roll back the longstanding exemption. DOL is currently prevented from enforcing any change due to an identical restriction in the FY 2012 Omnibus Appropriations Act which preserves the exempt status of service advisors  until Sept. 30, 2012. National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) chairman Bill Underriner,  advocating for preserving the exemption status, has been working closely with the Department of Labor and with  Congressman Denny Rehberg, R-Mont on this issue.  The efforts of Mr. Underriner and Rep. Rehberg are highlighted in today’s NADAFrontPage.com. and press release. “Dealers across the country applaud Rep. Rehberg’s leadership. His focus on controlling regulatory costs and eliminating red tape helps give dealers the resources to expand their businesses and hire additional staff,” said Mr. Underriner in the press release. The FY 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill will now proceed to the full House Appropriations Committee for consideration.

Beyond FMLA, Should Employers Have Unpaid Leave Policies?

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Generally under federal and some state laws employers with more than 50 employees must offer unpaid leave. The FMLA* for example entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.  Employers must offer this type of leave, it’s the law.
Sometime employees in an effort to “be nice” or “offer additional benefits” create additional policies around unpaid leave. The question I have is why bother with an additional company specific policy if your company is a covered employer under the FMLA and/or state law? Smaller employers who are not required by law to have unpaid leave but are willing and able to offer unpaid leave may have an advantage when recruiting or retaining employees. However if an employer already has to provide FMLA leave what exactly is gained by having a policy on additional unpaid leave?  Having additional unpaid leave policies creates additional paperwork, and more opportunities for lawsuits for a low return. Unpaid leave of absence policies that are not required by law usually don’t guarantee job restoration or the continuation of benefits so again why bother to even have this type policy?

When developing policies and handbooks I typically recommend that a company not discuss additional unpaid leave of absences. If an employee needs to take time off beyond what is available through paid leave and  legally required unpaid leave then they can resign or be terminated.   If at a later date the former employee would like to return then the employer can rehire them. How simple is that!

*In addition to the Family Medical Leave Act there are other applicable federal and state laws related to required unpaid leave. Prior to developing and publishing any leave polices employers should consult with a qualified HR professional or legal counsel.

 

July Tip of the Month: Don’t let BYOD (bring your own device) become LFYO (liability for your organization)

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

 Compliance Tip of the Month“BYOD” stands for “bring your own device,” the practice of allowing employees and contractors to use personal devices, such as laptops, smartphones, home computers and tablets, to conduct the organization’s business.  The May 2012 Juniper survey shows that nearly nine out of ten business users, often referred to as “prosumers”, say they use their personal mobile device to access critical work information. This trend demonstrates a blurring of personal and professional technologies and creates significant concerns for management because it raises the question of liability. Many employees circumvent their employers’ official mobile device policies in the practice of BYOD, and the practice also leads to more frequent security breaches due to lost or stolen personal devices.

 

For these reasons and others, a thoughtfully drafted BYOD policy should:

  • Address ownership and control of business data,
  • Privacy expectations for personal data
  • Security requirements
  • Procedures for lost and stolen devices
  • Exit procedures
  • Consequences for violations of the policy.

 

Is a “NO BYOD” policy the answer? Perhaps, but consider that according to the same survey, 41% of over 4,000 mobile device users  admitted to using their personal device for business purposes without company support, so having a policy addressing this issue is critical for reducing your business’ liability.