According to Susan Price, BLR's Legal Editor, these 10 strategies will help prevent or handle a wage and hour investigation:
1. Avoid unfair compensation practices. Be sure that your employees are compensated in a consistent manner. If your pay practices are consistent, complaints are less likely to arise and you will be in a better place if the DOL does launch an investigation.
2. Understand the regulations. It is important that employers take the time and make a concerted effort to understand and familiarize themselves with the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act). It's the law, and if you fail to follow the law, you may face litigation or a DOL audit.
3. Train your managers. Managers need to be fluent in the language of FLSA.
4. Analyze state vs. federal law. You need to follow the state law if the federal law conflicts with the state.
5. Pay past overtime due. If it is determined that an employee is wrongly classified as exempt, the employer should determine how many overtime hours the employee has worked in the past 2 years, then pay the employee the overtime due. Paying past overtime due to employees now will be far less expensive than paying them in a DOL settlement.
6 .Respond to internal complaints expeditiously. If an employee files a wage and hour complaint internally, the employer should take it seriously. Since many investigations are prompted by an employee's complaint, employers might be able to prevent an investigation by addressing an employee's initial internal complaint.
7. Seek compliance assistance from HR Advisors or your labor attorney.
8. Conduct a self-audit. Employers should demonstrate their willingness to cooperate with the DOL investigators and to adjust their procedures and policies as necessary to avoid violations in the future.
9. Cooperate. Employers should demonstrate their willingness to cooperate with DOL investigators and to adjust their procedures and policies as necessary to avoid violations in the future.
10. Keep accurate records. Employers are required to make, keep, and preserve employees' records including wages earned and hours worked, for a specified period of time. Records must include certain identifying information about each employee and accurate data about the hours worked and wages earned.