Workplace Predictions- All Eyes on Pay in 2019

The Washington Post recently published Five workplace predictions for 2019. Here’s what they think is in store for employers this year:

  • There will be more pressure to provide better data protection for employees
  • Companies will expand family leave coverage to cover non-parents who are caring for aging parents, or a sick spouse/child
  • Pay transparency will make the wage gaps between new and existing workers a real headache and necessitate more frequent pay adjustments
  • Offices will have more “phone booths” or “privacy pods” for people to have private conversations without taking up an entire conference room
  • Messaging tools like Slack, and Microsoft’s Teams will take the place of email as the most efficient (and preferred) communication method in the workplace

The Post’s ‘pay transparency’ prediction is particularly telling as all eyes seem to be focused on pay practices as we begin the year. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division recently released two opinion letters concerning pay practices under the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act). The first letter covers ‘varying average hourly rates’ a topic which employers should be aware of this year.

In a National Law Review article, Jeffrey H. Ruzal of Epstein Becker Green, explains that the letter  FLSA2018-28  “reaffirms the principle that an employee’s average hourly rate can vary from workweek to workweek as long as it exceeds the FLSA’s minimum wage requirements for all hours worked” and that “the regular rate cannot be arbitrarily selected; it must be based on an actual “mathematical computation.”

In other words, the average rate of pay matters most, but employers should sweat all the details when applying FLSA principles to overtime and minimum wage.

Another hefty pay change in 2019 will be the much-anticipated release of the DOL’s (Department of Labor) Final Rule for overtime. The DOL is reevaluating salary levels for employees who are counted as ‘exempt’ and do not qualify for overtime pay. In addition to new salary thresholds, the Rule (expected in March) will define the process employers should use when calculating salary levels going forward.

With compensation and payroll compliance a top concern in 2019, employers should keep a keen eye on updates. Sign up for C4CM’s E-News (it’s free) to keep abreast of all the changes.
Happy New Year!

By V.L. Brunskill

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