General Business

Hour Requests, Bonuses & Paychecks

Ask the Experts

In the latest installment of New Jersey Business Magazine’s Ask the Experts column, HR professionals working with the New Jersey Business & Industry Association respond to executives’ inquiries on three interesting workplace issues:

An employee let us know they got a part-time job and would like to change their hours. Do we have to change their schedule?

No. An employee who wants to change their hours because they got a second job is not something you’re required to accommodate. Even so, we wouldn’t recommend immediately giving the employee an ultimatum to keep working their current schedule or resign. Instead, we’d suggest talking with your employee about different options to see what you can make work. They may have some scheduling flexibility with their new job. One of their coworkers at your organization may be willing to change or swap their shift. There may also be additional shifts within your organization that the employee could work instead of seeking additional income elsewhere.

If you exhaust these options and are still unable to accommodate the employee’s requested schedule change, you may just need to tell the employee no and let them decide what to do.

A new employee told coworkers that she received a signing bonus. Now, the coworkers are upset, saying they’ve been here longer and haven’t gotten anything extra. What should I do about this situation?

First, don’t reprimand the new employee who shared her salary information. Discussing pay is a protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act. You can read about this law and what protections it provides to employees on the platform.

Second, it may be worth thinking about why you offer signing bonuses, but not retention bonuses, and whether you can afford to do both. If you’re offering sign-on bonuses because it’s hard to hire right now, realize that not offering matching retention bonuses may ultimately lead to more open positions if your long-term employees decide to leave over these kinds of inequities. Additionally, be aware that offering one type of bonus, but not the other, could create pay disparities between employees who do similar work, which could expose you to discrimination and pay equity claims.

Third, be transparent about pay decisions as appropriate. Sharing your reasoning with employees can provide clarity and understanding, helping to prevent surprises and speculation.

An employee let us know their paycheck was short. Can we wait to pay the difference on their next check?

Don’t wait. If the employee was underpaid, it is in your best interest to pay the employee the difference immediately. Wages are due on the regular payday for the pay period covered, as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act. State law may apply as well. When an error occurs and results in an underpayment, the employer is technically in violation of the law, even if it was a system error or caused by an employee’s timekeeping mistake.

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