Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Earth Calling

Many of the posts here at The Citizen, I do admit, tend to be reflective and not always immediately usable at the ground level - where reality is usually calling. So, thank goodness for a very succinct and practical HR article on exempt worker mis-classifications which came across my desk today from the International Society for Performance Improvement; a bit of employee classification 101 which keeps appearing on sites everywhere as a reminder that this is an ongoing issue for just about all workplaces - including the domestic staff industry, which provides no shortage of horror stories about good working relationships gone bad, with once-productive and happy employees pressing the speed dial on their phone to their attorney after realizing the past several years of their service were not, in fact, exempt from being paid overtime - and suspect their employer knew better all along, resulting in a lawsuit (or a threat of one), one which displays quite a large number on the settlement check.

Employment relationships are, IMHO, very much like marriages... no one enters into them with visions of having a horrible realization a few years down the road about what the other person has done, and the resultant bevy of attorneys, threats, distrust, expense, and other such turmoil eating away at everyone's sanity for months, years, and perhaps even longer as peoples' estates continue to sue one another even after each others' ultimate demise. How sad that much of these feelings of inequities and persecutions can be avoided if both parties will become aware and follow a few human resource law basics (or at least have their trusted HR/payroll professional and/or attorney to review on a frequent and regular basis). The biggest of which always seems to be:

Employee exempt/non-exempt classification.

Don't rely on your workers' job titles 
or outfits, to determine their exempt status.
Now, before you click off the page, or quite understandably fall asleep here, hoping perhaps this would've turned into another fun and reflective posting by now, it's worth the few minutes of time required to instead understand just what exempt classification is - and here's a DOL primer that will get you going in the right direction.  

Basically, employers are exempt from paying a worker overtime - if the job position meets certain criteria. Having a big, impressive job title isn't one of them; what the government (and attorneys on both sides during that nasty lawsuit) will examine is the actual duties themselves. And with the current trend for employers assigning executive-type job titles to non-executive type domestic roles (i.e., calling your housekeeper a Chief of Staff simply because she's been around the longest), I anticipate this issue to be the largest human resource legal problem in the domestic staff industry for quite some time. 

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