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Know your rights! Myths and facts about labor law.

December 2, 2009

HR professionals hear all sorts of myths, rumors and legal misinterpretations. Here is a list of the biggest misconceptions. Stay tuned in the New Year for a list of strangest misconceptions.

Myth: I don’t have to worry about saving; if I get laid off my employer will pay me severance.

Fact:  There is NO requirement for severance pay in the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act). You employer isn’t required to pay severance but you may be eligible for unemployment benefits.  Call your local Unemployment insurance agency right away to start your claim. Make sure you understand why you were terminated. You will need documentation if you need to appeal the state’s unemployment benefit decision.

Myth: I worked Thanksgiving Day. I’m due holiday pay.

Fact: There is no requirement in he FLSA for holiday pay, vacation pay, sick pay or for any other time that is not worked, even if it is a federal holiday.  Make sure you know what your company’s policy is prior to taking time off.

Myth: I don’t need to worry about my health Insurance if I get laid off.

Fact: The DOL allows employees to continue to use their employer’s group health plan after termination but it will cost you.  Your former employer will expect you to pay the full cost of the health benefit plus a 2% administration fee. The average cost of individual COBRA coverage is $403. ARRA has provided some relief to these costs. If you were laid off between September 2008 and December 2009 you may be eligible for a COBRA subsidy of 65% of your cost. When you leave your position make sure you talk with HR about your coverage options and the costs. And remember- your former employer is legally obligated to provide you with COBRA information within 60 days of your termination date.

Myth: I’m just a temp. I have no proof of anything the agency told me.

Fact: The laws vary by state but in Illinois and New York, state law requires staffing agencies to provide you written notice of your hourly wage, assignment location and supervisor contact information.  In states without notification regulations, you should always expect clear communication about wages and work locations regardless of employment status.

Myth: Managers just have to wing it. We don’t have required training.

Fact:  Most states require training for mangers in specific industries, but many states including California and Virginia, require training for everyone in management positions. Check with the DOL in your state for requirements. In California, for example, you are required to be trained in sexual harassment and discrimination.  If you aren’t getting required training contact your HR department. Fines for non-compliance are high!

Myth: I just got fired. I should be paid right away.

Fact: the rules regarding final paychecks vary by state. Depending on where your employer is located it can take as long as 30 days (in Wisconsin) to process a final paycheck. Other statutes (including Indiana’s) require you to demand you final check.

Myth: I just got summoned to jury duty. My employer will pay me for that time.

Fact: Jury duty is also regulated by state. There is no federally mandated compensation for jury duty. Currently, Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut require employers to pay for all or part of an employee’s wages for jury duty absence.

Myth: I’m pregnant. I should be getting paid leave.

Fact: Maybe if you live in Canada. In the US FMLA provides 12 weeks of leave, but your employer doesn’t have to pay you. Your employer sponsored health benefits must be maintained and your job is protected. You would only be paid if your company has a policy in place to pay employees on leave.

Make sure you know your company’s policies. Don’t assume you will be paid for hour not worked. Talk to your HR department if you have questions about your company’s policies.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 17, 2009 8:35 pm

    This is very helpful to the public, often times, employees feel as if their obligated to certain things but under certain New York state laws, this is not necessarily the truth. Great Post!

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