Ensure Protection from Hour Claims with EPL Small Business Insurance
Dan Levenson August 01, 2014
The phrase “9-to-5” in reference to working hours in the U.S. is somewhat of a misnomer. The law doesn’t compel businesses to stick to a 9-to-5 schedule. As long as the total number of work hours per workweek falls within the law-mandated 40 hours, office work can start at any time. An extension of work hours is negligible if it’s used for breaks or lunch.
If an employee must work beyond hours, whether after work or a weekend, the law requires offices to pay extra for the trouble. This sounds okay for occupations with regular schedules, which is why those with irregular schedules cry unfair. Despite compensation, however, the afterhours are finally taking their toll on workers physically, mentally, and socially.
Enter H.R. 5159, also known as the Schedules that Work Act. This legislation aims to end on-call schedules by giving workers more rights to flexible work schedules. Proponents aren’t asking to change the law-mandated 40-hour work schedule. They only want to be given a heads-up every time they receive a valid reason to work after hours.
The Act also states that businesses have the right to refuse a change in the work schedule as long as they have a “bona fide business reason.” These include, but are not limited to, costs of productivity loss, inability to meet demand despite best efforts, and inability to settle conflicting requests to change work schedules.
Hour Claims on the Rise
The hospitality and retail industries are among those most impacted by H.R. 5159, especially hotels, 24-hour shops, and food joints. Confusion regarding the coverage of related laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has caught many businesses off-guard. This resulted in a rise in wage and hour claims, namely in 2010 to 2011 where filed lawsuits went up by 15 percent.
Overtime pay as defined by the FLSA must be 1.5 times the regular hourly wage in excess of 40 hours a week, but it’s not that simple. Occupations that make commissions (real estate agents, for instance) have higher overtime pay, resulting in conflicting wage and hour claims. Businesses thus need to find ways to protect themselves from costly litigation.
Fortunately, wage and hour practices fall under the realm of employment practices liability (EPL). Businesses can get EPL small business insurance to cover the costs of settling wage and hour claims. It’s imperative for EPL insurance carriers to report these claims to the EEOC prior to filing insurance claims.
Business owners are encouraged to inquire about and purchase EPL insurance from a reputable small business insurance agency such as InsureYourCompany.com. After all, it pays to be protected from the financial repercussions of the law.
(Source: Big Labor wants ”schedules that work” — just not for them, Washington Examiner, July 24, 2014)