Your Wage and Hour Questions Answered by the DOL Itself

Can I deduct wages from a salaried employee who is on FMLA?

Can I avoid overtime if someone is working two different jobs for our company? If not, how do I calculate that?

Do I have to pay for travel-to-the-job-site time if the job will involve overnight time?

When is the DOL going to double what a salaried person has to be paid to stay exempt?

On March 15, Tuesday, you can ask the DOL these questions yourself! The Central Maine Human Resources Association is hosting the DOL at its March meeting, which will feature Patty Colarossi from the federal Department of Labor explaining wage and hour laws. The program takes place on March 15, 2016, from 7:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Ramada Inn in Lewiston. Cost of the program is included with CMHRA membership and is only $25 for non-members, which includes a full breakfast. Feel free to email questions in advance to

Think your company is not covered because it’s small? Even if the entire enterprise is not covered, one still needs to see if individual employees are covered by federal law. There is individual coverage for workers engaged in interstate commerce, production of goods for commerce, closely related process or occupation directly essential to such production of goods, or domestic service. An individual is engaged in interstate commerce (and therefore protected by federal law) if he or she makes telephone calls to other states, types letters to send to other states, processes credit card transactions, or travels to other states, for just a few examples. What falls under the definition of “interstate commerce” is quite broad.

Common wage and hour problems

Common pitfalls identified by the DOL include:

  1. Assuming that all employees paid a salary are not due overtime
  2. Improperly applying an exemption (and, as a result, not paying overtime)
  3. Limiting the number of hours an employee may record as time worked
  4. Failing to pay for all hours an employee is “suffered or permitted” to work
  5. Failing to include all pay in the “regular rate” that is then used to determine what the overtime rate is
  6. Making improper deductions from wages that cut into required minimum wage or overtime such as deductions for shortages, drive-offs, damage, tools, uniforms (note that a number of these items are illegal to deduct at all under state law regardless of whether the deduction affects whether the employee is receiving enough to meet minimum wage and overtime due)
  7. Treating an employee like an independent contractor

Finally, despite the delay of the deadline for the DOL’s implementation of its new rule regarding how much an employee must be paid in order to be exempt (the proposal is that they must be paid up to $50K!), it is not too early to start looking at what employees are being paid who are treated as exempt (not paid overtime). Determine how many salaries can be increased within budget and how many others will need to change to hourly, with some mechanism to deal with overtime. Look at whether the hourly rate could be lowered to keep the employee receiving about the same even with overtime…..but keep morale in mind too. Morale and turnover both come with their own costs which, while harder to calculate, still exist and still affect the bottom line.

This article is not legal advice but should be considered as general guidance in the area of employment and corporate law.  Rebecca Webber is an employment attorney; others at the firm handle business and other matters. You can contact us at 784-3200 (telephone).  Skelton Taintor & Abbott is a full service law firm providing legal services to individuals, companies, and municipalities throughout Maine.  It has been in operation since its founding in 1853.