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Exploring Overtime Expansion: Commissions and Bonuses

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This blog is part of an ongoing series that answers questions most frequently asked during Paycom’s free webinar covering overtime expansion.

All right, so maybe it’s not that complicated. But, if you’re planning to implement a pay structure that includes bonuses and commissions – or if you already have one – it’s important to understand how the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) updated overtime rule may impact it.

A tale of two terms

When it comes to remuneration that’s given in addition to employees’ regular pay rates, the U.S. Department of Labor maintains that most payments can be classified as either discretionary or non-discretionary bonuses.1

Discretionary bonuses are given at the discretion of the employer and are not expected by the employee. On the other hand, non-discretionary bonuses are designed to incentivize and are expected by employees if predetermined criteria are met. Commissions typically fall into the non-discretionary category.

Changes for white-collar employees

Previously, neither discretionary nor non-discretionary bonuses generally could be included toward satisfying the standard salary threshold. But now, employers are permitted to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary requirement with non-discretionary bonuses, incentive payments and commissions, provided these forms of compensation are no less frequently than quarterly.2

It’s important to note that the percentage amount is derived from the new standard salary threshold. In other words, no more than the equivalent of $91.30 per week ($913 x 10%), or $4,747 annually, can apply toward meeting the standard salary threshold.3

For example, Beth is a store manager who makes a base salary of $865 per week ($44,980 per year). Last quarter, she earned the equivalent of $192 per week in performance-related bonuses. Of that bonus, only the equivalent of $91.30 per week is allowed to be used to push Beth’s weekly salary above the new threshold. Under this scenario, Beth likely meets the standard salary level requirement for exemption, because her $865 base weekly salary plus $91.30 of allowable non-discretionary bonus totals $956.30, which exceeds the $913 required minimum under the rule.

As another example, Jason is an assistant manager in the same store. He makes a base salary of $730 per week ($37,960 per year). Last quarter, he received the same performance-related bonus of $192 per week. While this bonus would push his weekly earnings to the equivalent of $922 – which is above the standard salary threshold – his employer is limited to using only $91.30 of nondiscretionary bonus toward the total weekly salary requirement; his $192 weekly bonus exceeds the 10 percent requirement. Adding the maximum allowable $91.30 per week to Jason’s weekly pay rate of $730 totals just $821.30, less than the weekly threshold requirement of $913. Therefore, under this scenario, Jason does not meet the standard salary level requirement for exemption.

A slippery slope

It’s easy to see how this could cause concern for employers. Nondiscretionary bonuses are the only type of bonuses that can count toward satisfying the standard salary threshold, meaning individual employees’ performance potentially could cause them to slip in and out of exempt status.

Enter the new, quarterly catch-up payment. According to the rule, if at the end of the quarter, the sum of the salary paid plus the nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments paid does not equal the standard salary level for 13 weeks, the employer has one pay period to correct the shortfall.4 An employer has the option to pay the employee a lump sum to raise an employee’s earnings for the quarter equal to the standard salary level. If an employer chooses not to do this, an employee would be entitled to additional compensation for any overtime hours worked in the relevant quarter.

Highly compensated employees

While things have changed for employees under the standard exemptions, the rules surrounding how non-discretionary bonuses apply to highly compensated employees largely are the same:

  • Non-discretionary bonuses, commissions and other incentive pay can apply toward calculating total annual compensation.
  • Non-discretionary bonuses, commissions and other incentive pay cannot apply toward the standard salary requirement.5
  • Catch-up payments for highly compensated employees can occur on an annual basis.6

Inside and outside sales employees

The final rule also doesn’t change how the FLSA applies to employees who meet the outside sales exemption or the Section 7(i) retail exemption.7 For more information on these exemptions, check out this Paycom Blog post.

Ultimately, the rules surrounding nondiscretionary bonuses can be complicated, and are often case-specific. Consulting legal counsel is your best bet to ensure pay structures that include bonuses and commissions are in compliance with the FLSA.

For additional information on overtime expansion and how it may impact your organization, stay tuned to the Paycom Blog. For additional resources, check out the Paycom Overtime Expansion Calculator or attend our free webinar.

The content of this blog is intended to keep interested parties informed of legal and industry developments for educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal opinion or tax advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for legal or tax advice.


Amy Double

by Amy Double


Author Bio: Amy, a tenured professional in sales and marketing with over 10 years of experience, is dedicated to creating content focused on helping organizations achieve their business goals. As an experienced writer, Amy is committed to researching and blogging about topics that affect businesses across multiple industries, including manufacturing, hospitality and more. Outside of work, Amy enjoys reading, entertaining and spending time with family.

Just 2 Steps to Being More Productive

You Are 2 Steps Away From Being More Productive

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You Are 2 Steps Away From Being More Productive

Productivity often is touted as the Holy Grail of today’s workforce. Countless books and apps are packed to the brim with tips promising to make you more efficient, while today’s managers scour for — and promote — candidates with past episodes of grand productivity.

You would think that with such pushes, a steady increase in individual and workplace productivity would exist. You would be wrong.

The Myth of Productivity

In a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the productivity change between 2007 and 2016 in the nonfarm U.S. business sector increased 1.1 percent, an all-time low since the 1940s. Scholars give a myriad of reasons for this dip, ranging from a decrease in innovation to repercussions from the Great Recession; however, this stark stat likely makes even the most motivated worker feel defeated

But the thing about leaders is they have something others lack: foresight. Leaders see the bigger picture. They believe that their actions actually matter, and in fact, that those actions can inspire others.

You can’t control the changes that come with working in a knowledge economy, but you can control what you do each day. Below are two proactive ways to incite productivity in your daily life.

  1. Prioritize Time

Think back to a time when you felt like you were crushing it.

Perhaps you were working on a report or managing a team, and you were completely engrossed in your task. Now think through your typical day: Likely, there are moments of productivity … and then you get a text or an email or a meeting request, perhaps all at the same time. Information is everywhere; it clouds our lives. A 2015 Deloitte study noted that in a single day, people exchange more than 100 billion emails, yet only one in seven of those emails could be qualified as extremely important.

Although technology has made space for innovation and ease, it also has been a metaphorical shock to the U.S. workforce’s system. Indeed, many experts who study time management have changed the ubiquitous phrase of “multitasking” to the more apt “rapid toggling” to communicate the futile effort of doing multiple things at once, even when technology promises we can.

Studies have shown that if you want to do deep work that puts you in a state of flow and ahead of your competitors, then you must prioritize uninterrupted, focused time. In fact, a recent article in Harvard Business Review outlined the importance of restorative silence for busy individuals: “Recent studies are showing that taking time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy and conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive to the complex environments in which so many of us now live, work and lead.”

You may ask (while frantically scanning your bursting inbox), “How do I do this?”

Start by identifying a time during your day when your presence isn’t really required. Perhaps you need to attend that recurring weekly meeting only every other week, or maybe you can send an employee in your stead. Assess your daily rituals — maybe that morning stroll around the office where you chat with everyone could happen later in the afternoon so your mornings are free from distraction. Is your office door always open? See what happens if you shut it for 30 minutes. Chances are no one will notice that time you’ve stolen away for yourself, and you’ll have space to focus on what really matters.

  1. Prioritize Values

There is a reason that successful companies put such stock in their values and vision: Clarity makes space for progress. In 2015, General Electric executive took time to verbalize the company’s values, after feeling the business was becoming too complex. Known as “the GE Beliefs,” those values acted as a road map for them to plot out and execute their top priorities.

A Deloitte University Press article noted, “The GE Beliefs play a large role in leadership development and are also used to change how GE recruits, how it manages and leads and how its people are evaluated and developed.”

GE is just one example of many companies putting emphasis on clearly articulating core values in order to spur output. And if successful companies are doing so, why wouldn’t you?

According to Inc. 500 entrepreneur Kevin Daum, “Much like company core values, your personal core values are there to guide behavior and choice.”

How do you craft a list of personal values? Glance over your job description, reassess your passions and future goals, and then put pen to paper. The list of values doesn’t have to be long, but it must be clear. To spur ideas, look at examples from companies like Zappos and Facebook.

Once you have your values nailed down, certain tasks that have been consuming your time likely will lose their urgency. For example, if innovation is part of your purpose, but the last time you researched new advances in your field was six months ago, then it’s time to reassess either your values or how you’re spending your time.

Productivity can be tricky to quantify, but creating a conducive environment is a great place to start. Making crucial space and aligning your daily tasks to your vision are two steps in the right direction.

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Posted in Blog, Featured, Leadership, Talent Management


Author Bio: Oden-Hall is an award-winning public relations, communications and marketing professional with over 20 years experience driving corporate strategy for Fortune 500 companies. Her Oklahoma roots and passion coupled with her global experience and creative flair have helped her drive numerous successful strategic initiatives. She joined the Paycom team as Chief Marketing Officer in April of 2012.

What do Millennials and Today’s CEOs Have In Common?

What Do Millennials and Today’s CEOs Have In Common?

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What Do Millennials and Today’s CEOs Have In Common?

HR industry experts have devoted a lot of time and research into demystifying millennial employees, only to discover that this younger generation has more in common with mature, seasoned employees than once thought.

This is especially true when it comes to the desire for day-one productivity. The C-suite values new hires who can become contributors faster; millennial employees, who were born between 1981 and 2000, crave the opportunity to do just that.

So, the goal they share is desire to be immediately productive – to be a valued contributor as soon as they walk through the front door.

Getting an early start

Growing up when technological advances made instant gratification a way of life, millennials have come to expect it in almost every aspect of their lives, including work. Young employees want to feel purposeful in their jobs, and nothing meets that need quite like getting the chance to work on the first day, instead of filling out form after form and memorizing the alarm code.

One way to get there is by designing an onboarding process that gives new hires the ability to complete onboarding tasks efficiently, either on or before day one. Consider incorporating the following strategies into your plan:

  • “Preboard” new hires.

    Allow them to complete new-hire paperwork and train electronically, via an employee self-service portal. They can get the groundwork done before they even start in order to hit the ground running on their first day.

  • Assign goals and expand training.

    According to Gallup, half of employees don’t understand what’s expected of them at work. To prevent this type of uncertainty from affecting a new hire’s productivity, include training on his or her individual role, and what his or her job looks like when done well.

  • Introduce your culture.

    Understanding what your company values can help new hires feel confident about making smart decisions. Not only can this boost early productivity, but it can help build long-term engagement, too.

Just a few tweaks to the traditional onboarding process can help new hires devote more time and attention to the activities that will help them become a valued contributor sooner than later. And that’s something both your C-suite and millennial new hires will love.

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Posted in Blog, Employee Engagement, Featured, Leadership, Pre-Employment, Talent Management


Author Bio: Oden-Hall is an award-winning public relations, communications and marketing professional with over 20 years experience driving corporate strategy for Fortune 500 companies. Her Oklahoma roots and passion coupled with her global experience and creative flair have helped her drive numerous successful strategic initiatives. She joined the Paycom team as Chief Marketing Officer in April of 2012.

Oregon State Retirement Plan

Oregon Creates Landmark State Retirement Plan

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Oregon Creates Landmark State Retirement Plan

This year, the state of Oregon will launch a landmark, statewide retirement program: OregonSaves. This program requires private employers to automatically enroll employees in retirement accounts. The goal is to benefit almost 1 million Oregonians who currently lack access to employer-sponsored retirement programs.

OregonSaves has been in the works for the last few years and will officially kick off in July 2017 with a volunteer pilot phase. Full program implementation is scheduled to begin in November 2017, starting with employers who have 100 or more employees.

What This Means for Oregon Employers

Employers that do not offer retirement plans are required to inform employees about the program and automatically enroll them. Additionally, they will have to:

  • Provide employee data to the state to allow the state to set up accounts for the employee.
  • Setup payroll deductions for employees participating in OregonSaves.
  • Track employee decisions as to contribution levels or to opt out.

Employers who already provide retirement options do not have to offer OregonSaves. Those employers will complete a simple certification process.

What’s Next?

Oregon is the first state to offer a program of this nature. California and Illinois likely will launch similar programs by 2019. It is important to note, however, that there are currently bills pending in the federal legislature to overturn rules that make it easier for states to create such plans. If these bills pass, state programs could be stalled. Oregon does plan to move forward with its retirement plan regardless of how the legislature acts, so employers should be prepared. Paycom’s Benefits Administration Suite can help employers accurately track the data they will be required to transmit to OregonSaves.

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Posted in Blog, Compliance, Employment Law, Featured

Alyssa Looney

by Alyssa Looney


Author Bio: As a compliance attorney for Paycom, Alyssa Looney monitors laws, rules and regulations to ensure that the Paycom software is up to date, specifically regarding immigration law and state law developments in the Western United States. She holds a JD and an MBA from Pennsylvania State University, as well as a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University. Outside of work, Alyssa enjoys cooking, being active, playing with her puppy and exploring Oklahoma City.

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