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October 29, 2010 | HR Compliance | Posted by Ascentis Thought Leadership

To Be or Not to Be (in Compliance, that is!)

With many apologies in advance to the liberties taken with the context of Sir William Shakespeare's work, we pose the following question to you, dear reader:

“To be (in compliance) or not to be (in compliance)? That is the question.”

“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous lawsuits…”

Or perhaps more to the point of this post, one worries that, “Wise men never sit and wail their loss, but cheerily seek how to redress their harms.”

Anyone following the recent time and labor management news has seen the articles warning that wage and hour lawsuits are on the rise and declaring that something is indeed rotten in Denmark – and every other city. It is no secret that the Department of Labor (DOL) and other government agencies are stepping up efforts to enforce labor laws. By increasing its enforcement budget for fiscal year 2011 and creating jobs for 250 new investigators in just 2010 alone, the DOL has clearly signaled its intent to see that employees are fairly paid. If your company has taken steps to assure wage and hour compliance, well, then you have nothing to worry about.

But if you haven’t, you’d better prepare. Take some simple, disciplined steps now to avoid unnecessary entanglement with the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the DOL. Three simple steps - education, delegation, and automation will help companies manage and minimize the potential for a WHD investigation or lawsuit.


Education prepares a company to comply with wage and hour statutes and regulations and prevents unnecessary exposure to risk. A central source of information can be found at the DOL WHD’s web site. Begin by understanding some of the larger issues like FairPay,  Recordkeeping Requirements, and Overtime Laws by State. The site provides a great deal of information, guidance, fact sheets and e-tools that can help you navigate the


Delegate to someone the responsibility for being aware of how labor laws affect your company. If your company does not use an HRIS, Payroll Software,  or Time and Attendance system have this person research the best options for you and choose one. Invest in your business’ success through their attendance of payroll and HR conferences. Subscribe to industry publications like HR Magazine, HR Executive, and Payroll Managers Letter.   Join local associations such as the Society for Human Resource Management, or the American Payroll Association. Have them regularly report on trends and appropriate actions that the organization needs to take to maintain compliance.


Automation minimizes the subjective influence of the human element. Implement a workforce management solution that consistently applies payroll rules and policies. When implementing an automated time and attendance system, identify and eliminate unwritten expectations and policies that conflict with published policies as well as local, state and federal labor laws and expose the company to compliance liability.

Wage and hour compliance is a very complicated issue. Diligence in education, delegation and automation combined with deliberate and decisive action by management, human resource, and payroll personnel will mitigate the risk to company coffers, capacity and camaraderie.

There are lessons to be learned from Shakespeare, as written in Julius Caesar Act 4:

“There is a tide in the affairs of men.

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat,

And we must take the current when it serves,

Or lose our ventures.”

Please see our updated comprehensive guide to HR compliance!

With more than 35 years of experience in providing Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, Ascentis thought leaders have become a respected source for insights, tips, and innovations in the Human Capital Management (HCM) space.