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Question Corner (October 2019)
October 31, 2019
Parsons Behle & Latimer Legal Briefings


Compensation Required for Time on Work Premises

Q.  If a company requires employees to punch in every day 15 minutes prior to the beginning of their shifts, total hours worked are 41.25 for a 40-hour workweek. Can the company avoid paying employees the additional 1.25 hours worked every week? Is this legal?

A.  The company would be violating federal law if it refused to pay employees for the additional 15 minutes worked per day. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires an employer to pay for all time an employee is required to be on premises, even if that time exceeds the employee’s scheduled shift or hours. 

Q.  A college financial department sent us a form to complete for an employee, asking what his salary is. He hasn’t given permission to disclose this information. Can we disclose his salary without his consent?

A.  While the company may have reasons to request the college to keep the information confidential, the company is under no obligation to obtain consent prior to disclosing information regarding its compensation to employees.

Q.  Can we institute a written policy that states if an employee driving a company vehicle is found to be at-fault for an auto accident, or receives multiple moving violations, he will be required to take a defensive driving class? If so, who would pay for the class, and would we have to pay him for his time?

A.  The company may adopt a company vehicle policy requiring attendance at a defensive driving class under these circumstances. However, if the policy requires the defensive driving class, it must be provided at no cost to the employee.  Also, the FLSA states that the employer must pay for the employee’s time during the training or seminar, as attendance would be mandatory. An employer is relieved of its obligation to pay an employee for time spent at training only if four factors are met – i) attendance is outside regular working hours; ii) attendance is voluntary; iii) the training is not directly related to the employee’s job; and iv) no productive work is performed during attendance. The obligations would be different if the vehicle policy were instead framed to prohibit use of a company vehicle if the employee was found to be at-fault for an accident or if he or she receives multiple moving violations while driving the company vehicle with reconsideration of the decision only possible upon evidence of the employee’s attendance at a defensive driving class. 

Q.  When an employee married a non-U.S. resident in January 2019, we couldn’t add her to his insurance because she didn’t have a Social Security (SS) number. In August, he presented her SS card, but we couldn’t add her because he was out of the life change event window, which ended 30 days from the date of marriage. He is appealing, asking us to allow him to add her. How should we respond?

A.  The Affordable Care Act does allow for an appeal for a limited list of exceptional circumstances and complicated situations, but there is not a direct regulation related to this circumstance. I recommend informing your employee of this, and without guaranteeing any result, request the insurance carrier get involved to see if the spouse could enroll. Unfortunately, my reading of the statute suggests that the Secretary of Homeland Security would have to be involved in waiving the requirement to provide a social security number.

Jason R. Mau is an attorney in the Boise office of Parsons Behle & Latimer. He can be reached by calling 208-562-4898 or send an email to jmau@parsonsbehle.com

 

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