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Recently I have become reacquainted with a story of amazing leadership. It is the story of Sir. Ernest Shackleton – a polar explorer from the early 1900s - a story of amazing challenges met by extraordinary leadership. It reminds me that during the good times, leadership is nice to have, but during times of crisis, strong leadership is essential for survival of the organization and its employees. Here is the kicker. As in the life of Shackleton, there is usually little to no warning that we are shifting from smooth sailing to stormy seas.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the New Tax Law) made many changes in tax code. The New Tax Law substantially lowered tax rates on all businesses, whether they pay taxes as a C or S corporation. In exchange for the lower rates, the New Tax Law also eliminated or reduced some popular and widely used business deductions. The New Law also raised many questions and created some confusion as to what is and is not a deductible business expense.

I love this time of year. I am a fan of the leaves turning, the heat fading, and the grass slowing its growth. But the thing I love most about the Fall is college football. I do have a team I pull for, but if I tell you who it is, half of you will tune me out - the other half already have tuned me out when they heard me talking about sports. But not so fast. My goal with this blog is to bring sports haters and lovers together. In order to do that I invite you to join me at the stadium as we evaluate what is happening.

One of the first actions by the Department of Labor (DOL) under President Trump’s administration was to withdraw the prior administration’s interpretation that “most workers are employees” and not independent contractors. For more information, see Independent Contractors—Another BUT Welcome Change, at The Law, The Floor, and You (June 12, 2017)  

Three states and at least fifteen localities have increased their minimum wage effective July 1. 2018. Listed below are the minimum wage levels for these states and localities. This list is compiled from available information with some conflicting information. In addition, there may be other localities that have raised its minimum wage that was not included in this list. It is therefore key that you check with your state Department of Labor for rates and wages specific to your location.

STATES

At the end of your career and life, you will not be defined so much by your failures or achievements, but by the opportunities to fail that you were determined to turn into successes. Those who know me will not be surprised to find that I believe we are all endowed with an innate desire not only to survive, but to thrive. You may ask, “If that is the case, why doesn’t everyone succeed?” I believe the answer is found in our response to challenges. Common sense tells us that if success was easy, we would all achieve it. The truth is, success is hard, but well worth the effort. 

The requirement on wages and overtime are often confusing and misunderstood. Does minimum wage apply to commissioned employees? When is overtime due? What information must be proved to employees and what records must be kept? Do you have to pay for the time an employee is being trained or on breaks? Is overtime due if I pay an employee a piece rate or a fixed salary? And what about comp time? Make a mistake on one of these issues, and an employer could be liable for back wages, interest, attorney fees, and penalties.

The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) launched a new pilot program to facilitate resolution overtime and minimum wage violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and without litigation. Referred to as the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) program, it is a six-month pilot initiative that allows employers to conduct self-audits of their payroll practices and voluntarily report underpayments to WHD, who would supervise the back payments.

A year and a half ago, the industry was a buzz over revisions to the federal wage and hour regulations that require managers be paid overtime if they made less than $47,476 a year, more than doubling the prior $23,660 wage requirement. See Do You Pay Your Managers Overtime? You May Need to Under New Federal Regulation WFCA’s Premier Flooring Retailer (July/August 2016). A week before the rule was to be effective, a federal court enjoined the rule and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Of all of the traits that leaders possess, I find the least understood and cultivated is the power of their influence. As a leader, it is imperative that you be aware of how your voice resonates, your actions motivate, and your dreams instigate change that challenges others to break from the status quo and stretch their boundaries. You may not have asked for this responsibility, but it comes with the position. Embracing this can produce long term positive benefits for you and those fortunate enough to fall under your scope of influence.