Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that there has not been a lot of Kansas-specific content lately. No, we haven't forgotten that this is the Kansas Employment Law Blog. But when the legislature is not in session, and the Kansas Supreme Court and Kansas Court of Appeals are not cranking out decisions in employment-related cases, there simply are not a lot of state-specific new developments to talk about. And most employment law and employee benefits issues are, by their nature, federal in scope. So we've been feeding you a steady diet of federal law developments, practical advice based on general employment law principles, and my musings on pop culture, statistics, and wacky cases (all with an employment law nexus, however strained).
To provide more Kansas content, we are starting a new, semi-regular feature called Do You Know? These articles will discuss various contours of Kansas employment law that are often overlooked or misunderstood. We'll start with the Kansas Wage Payment Act's notification requirements.
Do you know that upon an employee's request, a Kansas employer must furnish the following information in writing:
- Rate of pay and date and place of payment;
- Any changes in rate of pay or date and place of payment prior to the date of such changes;
- Employment practices and policies regarding vacation pay, sick pay, and any other benefits to which the employee is entitled and that have a direct bearing upon wages payable; and
- An itemized statement of deductions made from the employee's wages for each pay period deductions are made?
In some states, like California and New York, employers are required to provide employees with notice about certain information regarding wage rates and frequency of pay, even if the employee does not ask. In addition, the federal FLSA requires employers to inform tipped employees when the employer elects to use tips toward employees' minimum wage requirements.
Aside from these legal requirements, it's good practice for employers to clearly and regularly communicate wage and benefit information to employees. This is not only good for employee relations, it can help avoid misunderstandings that could give rise to liability. Such notices should be provided when the employee starts, receives a promotion, or changes jobs; whenever pay or benefits change; and, in any event, at least annually. Under Kansas law, any changes in wages or benefits that negatively impact an employee must be communicated prospectively.
Wage notices do not need to be long - a single page or less should suffice. The notice should contain the following:
- Job title;
- Exempt or non-exempt status;
- Base rate of pay, stated as an hourly or weekly (for exempt salaried employees) rate;
- Any additional compensation, such as shift differential, bonuses, commissions, tips, etc.;
- Day and frequency of payment;
- Manner or place of payment; and
- Specific reference to written policies covering vacation pay, sick leave, paid time off, and other benefits bearing on wages, as well as written bonus and commission plans or policies.
If your organization doesn't have written policies that cover bonuses, commissions, vacation pay, sick leave, and other paid time off, then get these in writing now! As the old saying goes, an oral policy isn't worth the paper it's written on.
Make sure to have an experienced employment lawyer help write or at least review your organization's wage notices and policies, to ensure legal compliance and that you don't inadvertently promise to pay something more than you intend. Federal wage-and-hour laws and state wage-payment laws are highly technical and filled with traps for the unwary.