By Kate Kriner, PHRca

We are well into the 21st century and many of the workplace practices and benefits have been around so long we just assume they are based on laws, regulations and rules.  In fact, many of these practices have no legal basis. Let’s separate some fact from fiction, or what employees think is fact.

Fiction: If I work on a holiday, I should be paid at time and a half.

Fact: The answer is not always “yes.”

Note: There are no laws requiring holiday pay in the private sector. Employers may offer paid holidays or not, or offer extra payment for working on a holiday (i.e., time and one-half or double time) or not.  Payment for holidays depends on your policy.   If you, as the employer, wish to offer paid holidays, or have your business closed on holidays, have a clear established policy and communicate it to your employees.

Fiction: We have to wait three days of a “no call/no show” before we can consider an employee to have abandoned their job and consider it a voluntary resignation.

Fact: The employer can determine the length of time before termination for job abandonment. 

Note: Three days is a long time to wait to hear if an employee is a  “no call/no show” for some jobs. We’re seeing employers decrease what they consider to be job abandonment and a voluntary resignation change to one or two days of no call/no show.  If you choose fewer than three days for termination for job abandonment, we do recommend you be prepared to reconsider your decision if you learn of legitimate, extenuating circumstances as to why the employee did not show up to work and failed to provide notice. The number of days might differ depending on your industry and workforce.

Fiction: If I am “full-time” that means I am scheduled for and guaranteed 40 hours every week. 

Fact: This myth is likely based in the federal overtime provisions set back in 1938 (85 years ago!).

Note: There is no hard and fast rule on this one either. The number of hours worked per week to be considered a full-time employee is defined by the employer. Certain industries may see employees frequently scheduled for less than 40 hours and still considered full-time. One reason to do this is to limit employees working over 8 hours in a shift (40 in the week) and incurring overtime. And, of course, check your benefits plan documents as there might be another definition of what is considered full-time for benefit eligibility purposes (e.g., employees working 30 or more hours per week are eligible for health care benefits).

Fiction: I have to be scheduled to have two days off in a row.

Fact: No rules in CA on this one either.

Note: Employees are entitled to one day of rest in each workweek. But nothing prevents you from scheduling as needed for your business. 

Another favorite from an employee: “I am a non-exempt employee but I want to be exempt so I don’t have to report my time everyday. Just make me exempt.”

Fiction: The employee can choose whether they are exempt or non-exempt.

Fact: Employees don’t get to choose this one.  

Note: Most employees do not understand that in order to be classified as exempt, the duties must meet certain criteria to qualify as exempt from timekeeping, overtime and meal period/rest break requirements.  In California we have a much higher standard than the federal requirements.

If you have any questions or want to make any changes to your current practices or policies, give us a call!   (And remember, we are not lawyers, but we are California HR experts and have heard a lot of “fiction” in the name of good intentions.  We are happy to set the record straight.)