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Payroll Questions Keep on Coming

Payroll is one of the most complex administrative tasks employers face. And because of the tremendous importance of payroll to American households and the economy, there are many rules surrounding it. Here are answers to some payroll and employment questions you may have:

Q. Is an employer required to provide employees with pay stubs?

A. Not according to federal law, unless you work in agriculture. Employers are obligated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to keep accurate records of wages paid and hours worked, but they do not have to provide pay stubs. Many states, however, do require employers to provide detailed pay stubs.

When it comes to payroll and employment issues, federal law is often different from the laws imposed in individual states. Click here to access the labor offices for individual states.

Q. Can an employer change an employee’s hours without giving notice or getting the consent of the employee?

A. With the exception of certain child labor laws, the FLSA does not regulate scheduling of employees. That means employers do not need an employee’s consent and do not have to provide notice before changing work hours, unless the parties have a prior agreement that states otherwise.

Q. Suppose an employee gives his or her resignation, effective in three weeks, but you decide to accept the resignation effective immediately instead. Do you have to pay through the date of intended resignation?

A. Not unless your business requires notice of resignation. If you simply “request” a certain amount of notice, federal law doesn’t require you to pay the employee if you ask him or her to leave before the end of the notice period, although most employers do. But be careful. If you demand that the employee leave immediately after giving notice, you may turn a voluntary quit into a termination. If that happens, the employee could be eligible for state unemployment benefits for the notice period. It also may send a bad message to other employees who try to do the right thing by giving notice.

Q. Can you charge an employee for making mistakes?

A. If your business suffers some economic damage due to an employee mistake, you generally cannot expect the person to pay for the damage, according to the laws of most states. That is, unless  the error was attributable to gross negligence or a patently illegal act. Even if you think one of these circumstances applies, tread carefully, since it can be hard to prove.

Q. Do you know how to figure your employee turnover rate?

A. This is easy to calculate, although there are different methods. The Labor Department suggests using this formula: Determine the average number of employees on the payroll for the year and divide it into the average total number of departures (other than retirement).

Businesses with employees obviously have some turnover. Still, the costs of replacing a departing employee are often high so employers should attempt to hire wisely and make every effort to keep god staff members onboard.

reprinted with permission from Thomson Reuters 08.2021

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