Making lasting overtime changes requires clear communication

Controlling email could be one way to facilitate adoption of overtime policies.

Controlling email could be one way to facilitate adoption of overtime policies.

A major recent issue for HR professionals and employers in general has been the proposed Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA), which would potentially re-configure overtime practices, reaching almost 5 million new workers after just a year in effect, as well as setting the stage for more enduring overtime standards as wages continue to change. Although it follows as part of a general government plan to encourage fair pay, there have been many concerns voiced recently about adopting a policy and making it work for the employees.

One way for companies to get smarter about their overtime payments, regardless of whether or not this proposal passes, is to focus on more detailed overtime policies within their offices that address often overlooked issues. In an article for the Society of Human Resource Management, attorney Michael Schmidt addresses the ways email curfews may potentially make it easier for employees to distinguish between when they are and aren't included in overtime coverage.

With the right wording and execution, an email curfew could send a strong message about when employees don't have to respond to work email. Schmidt specifically says that this ambitious of a policy needs to be enforced in a way that makes the repercussions clear.

Employee communication is needed for a proper overtime strategy.Employee communication is needed for a proper overtime strategy.

"Because manager/employee e-mail use has become a matter of culture as much as it is an easy mode of communication, employers should consider creating and rolling out an effective e-mail usage policy separate in time and announcement from other HR-related policies," he said.

Hundreds of people have reportedly commented on the proposal since it was announced, and the National Retail Federation wants the Department of Labor to extend its comment period by nearly two months. With the current stage underway, businesses have to create an HR process reengineering.