Q Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), how do I pay nonexempt employees for travel time when they are required to stay overnight in another city?
A The FLSA regulations are clear on this issue. Travel time associated with overnight stays generally is considered compensable work time when the business travel cuts across the nonexempt employee’s normal work hours, regardless of what day of the week the travel takes place.
For example, if Meg normally works Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and she is required to travel on a Sunday for business in another city, her travel time on Sunday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. is compensable.
However, there are caveats. Regular meal period time is not counted. And the Department of Labor (DOL) notes that as an enforcement policy, it will not consider as work time the time spent in travel away from home outside regular working hours as a passenger on an airplane, train, boat, bus or automobile.
Compensable hours spent traveling for business are counted the same as any other hours worked and may result in overtime.
Remember too that some state laws define work hours. For example, a Colorado wage order provides that all travel time spent at the control or direction of an employer, excluding normal home-to-work travel, is considered time worked.
But the wage order also provides that when an employee’s “tour of duty” is 24 hours or longer, up to eight hours of sleeping time during the shift can be excluded from overtime compensation under the following conditions:
There is an express agreement that excludes sleeping time.
- Adequate sleeping facilities for an uninterrupted nights sleep are provided.
- At least five hours of sleep are possible during the scheduled sleeping periods.
- Interruptions to perform duties are considered time worked.
A District of Columbia law states that “working time” includes all the time an employee is required to travel in connection with the business of the employer. And a Massachusetts law provides that if an employee who regularly works at a fixed location must report to another location, the employee must be compensated for all travel time that exceeds his or her ordinary travel time between home and work with allowance for associated transportation expenses.
North Dakota law provides that the time spent on a plane, train or bus after normal working hours is not work time, reflecting the DOL policy.
For more state law definitions of work hours, see the online version of this item at www.shrm.org/kc.
Q How are employers affected by the new Medicare Part D provisions for prescription drug coverage?
A All employers with group prescription insurance plans are responsible for sending noti- fications to covered employees, spouses and dependents who are eligible for Medicare. These notifications should indicate whether the employer’s drug coverage is considered “creditable coverage” for Medicare Part D.
Individuals who are eligible for Medicare Part D have until May 15, 2006, to enroll without penalty. Those who fail to do so are subject to a 1 percent surcharge on their monthly Part D premium if they enroll later.
However, they may avoid this surcharge if they can show that the reason they failed to enroll is that they had actuarially equivalent coverage elsewhere. To facilitate this, employers are required to provide certificates of creditable coverage if the employer’s drug coverage is determined to be as good as or better than Medicare Part D.
Employers also are required to furnish notification that coverage is not creditable if the coverage is not equivalent to Medicare Part D.
Notices for the 2006 enrollment deadline had to be provided by Nov. 15, 2005, and subsequent notices must be provided each year to coincide with Medicare annual enrollment periods. Notices also should be provided whenever employer drug coverage begins or ends for an employee, and on request of a Medicare beneficiary.
Sample notices are available in the Society for Human Resource Management’s Retiree Drug Subsidy Toolkit.
For a link to the toolkit, see the online version of this item at www.shrm.org/kc.
Q We are committed to recruiting a more diverse staff. Do you have any ideas on how to do so?
A Advances in technology have helped the world seem smaller, facilitating a shift to a global economy. With an increasing number of qualified immigrants, minorities and women in the U.S. workplace, many prudent employers realize that understanding and recruiting a diverse staff is more critical now than ever before.
Among other benefits, recruiting a diverse group of employees can help an employer compete for and meet the needs of a more diverse customer base. And according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2005 Workplace Diversity Practices Survey, most employers are committed to recruiting a more diverse staff and hope this will improve their profitability.
“If organizations want to remain competitive in the marketplace, diversity has to be a part of their strategic goal,” said Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR, president and CEO of SHRM in an Oct. 25, 2005, statement when the survey was released. “With baby boomers expected to work long into retirement and the population growing more diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, organizations should use strong diversity initiatives now to maintain their competitiveness.”
The following list of tips on ways to diversify recruiting, while not exhaustive, may help you start to expand your search for candidates:
- Ask employees who are in an underrepresented group to help recruit.
- Participate in job fairs at colleges, universities, places of worship, social clubs and community-based organizations where minorities are in a majority or in attendance.
- Advertise in community bulletins for clubs, sororities, fraternities and places of worship where minorities are in a majority.
- Place job ads on television, radio and web sites and in newspapers and magazines that target a particular group.
Other diversity recruiting tactics include trying to recruit from other labor pools that too often are overlooked, such as veterans and older workers. (See the HR Solutions columns in the October 2005 and December 2005 issues of HR Magazine.)
Shari Lau, SPHR, GPHR, is manager of SHRMs Information Center. Amy Maingault, SPHR, and Ruhal Dooley, SPHR, are information specialists in the center.