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5 Tips on Communicating Wage and Hour Policies to Your Employees

Posted April 17, 2017 by Justworks in Running a Business 101
Learn five of the most effective tips for communicating the importance of wage and hour laws and policies to employees, so everyone is on the same page.

When implementing wage and hour policies at your company, communication with your employees and managers is key. After all, your wage and hour practices and policies are of little use if your employees and managers aren’t aware of how those policies and practices work or are enforced.

Federal, state, and local laws that affect your wage and hour policies and practices are constantly changing. By consequence, you’ll regularly need to review and update your policies and practices and consult with outside counsel — but that’s only half the battle. To make sure that changes and updates are effectively implemented, you’ll need to regularly communicate with your employees and train your managers as well.

For example, if you’re making changes to your pay days, pay frequency, or wages, many states require advanced notice to affected employees. Similarly, the applicable state and federal laws regarding how an employee is classified (exempt or non-exempt) are subject to regular revisions and amendments. In both cases, it’s important to stay up to date, regularly review your policies and practices, and seek legal counsel to ensure you’re following all applicable laws.

Once you’ve updated your wage and hour policies and practices, it’s important to create a communication plan so everybody is on the same page. By taking the steps below, such as training your managers, you’ll help ensure a smoother rollout, which in turn helps you stay in compliance.

1. Train Managers on Wage and Hour Compliance

Your managers are responsible for implementing and enforcing your policies. Effective, regular training will go a long way to equipping them with the tools they need to keep you in compliance. For example, your managers should know:

  • Which employees are non-exempt
  • Timekeeping practices
  • How to keep accurate and complete time records for all your non-exempt employees

Similarly, if for example your paid time off policy provides two weeks of paid vacation each year, your managers should have a game plan for requiring employees to provide advanced notice of vacation. That way, there will be a workable plan to cover job duties when employees are out on vacation. Managers should also understand what recordkeeping is required to ensure that paid time off is recorded and paid according to your policies and in compliance with applicable law.

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2. Reinforce Training With Digital & Print Communications

After a presentation or discussion on specific wage and hour policies and practices, send out the slide deck or notes to managers in case people want to have another look.

Here are some other ways you can pass on communications:

  • Email - Send the attachment of the presentation, outline key takeaways, or link to verified third party sources like the DOL.
  • Printed Documents - Reinforce messaging through printed articles, company policies, or other relevant and accurate sources.

3. Train Employees and Give Information in Digestible Chunks

Spelling out all of your company’s practices and policies at once can be exhausting for employees. Instead, hold regular trainings (e.g., once a quarter or once a month) and pick a wage and hour topic for each meeting.

In one meeting, for example, you could train your non-exempt employees on their responsibilities to create accurate and complete time records. In another meeting, you could train your employees on their responsibilities to communicate with their managers when they are going to be away from work during scheduled work time.

                               

Above all, it’s important to make sure your employees understand their rights and obligations under your policies, and to present the information in a digestible way. The brain can only remember so much information in one sitting, so decide how to best train your employees on your policies and practices. Reinforce overarching ideas by repeating and highlighting them at the end of the presentation or information provided.

For example, if you’re reviewing some of the differences between exempt and non-exempt employees, including a visual representation illustrating the differences you are discussing will help. Reiterate what those differences mean and highlight the key takeaways at the end of the presentation.

4. Provide Opportunities for Questions and Feedback

It’s inevitable that your employees will have follow-up questions. You can open up the floor to questions during a presentation if you decide to go that route. You can also have an “Open Door” policy that encourages employees to discuss their questions with HR or with their managers. Here are some other ways to facilitate clarity:

  • Open office hours - Have a set time every week when employees know they can talk to their managers, HR, or other company leaders if they still have lingering questions.
  • Emails - Encourage employees to follow up with questions to their managers through email if they want to know more.

5. Continue to Educate Yourself and Stay Up-to-Date

Stay informed and up-to-date on federal, state, and local wage and hour laws. There is a lot of information available to you. You can subscribe to Justworks’ newsletter, and there are numerous HR and industry-specific blogs and internet resources. The Society for Human Resource Management website provides regular updates on laws that might impact your company’s wage and hour policies and practices.

You should also check with legal counsel, who can advise you best on how to stay compliant with applicable federal, state, and local wage and hour laws.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.