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BusinessColumnistsCarrie Mason-Draffen

Nassau job seeker can use Suffolk County One-Stop

Nina Ohakam, of Islandia, searches for job applications

Nina Ohakam, of Islandia, searches for job applications on a board posted at the Suffolk County One Stop Employment Center in Hauppauge on Sept. 6, 2012. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

DEAR CARRIE: I live in Nassau County but want to use the services of a Suffolk County One-Stop Employment Center. Is that allowed? -- Cross-County Help?

DEAR CROSS-COUNTY: It is allowed but with two big exceptions. You can use the centers for garden-variety stuff like creating a resumé or surfing the Web for your job search or even attending workshops.

"We can accommodate Nassau residents for most of our services," a Suffolk County spokeswoman said.

The exceptions are the more "intensive" on-the-job training and vocational training programs.

The vocational programs pay up to $6,000 for eligible unemployed residents to take courses to acquire such things as computer, health care, culinary or commercial-driving skills.

In the on-the-job training program, an employer who hires unemployed county residents is reimbursed up to $5,000 per hired worker during an agreed-upon training period.

Nassau residents have access to similar programs through the One-Stops operated by the towns of Hempstead and Oyster Bay.

"Therefore, Nassau residents are prohibited from accessing these Suffolk programs," the Suffolk Labor Department says.

DEAR CARRIE: I work for a nonprofit organization as an hourly employee. I was told at the end of March that I would be switched to a yearly salary. So after I put in my March hours, I was told that my January-March salary would be deducted from the yearly salary amount and the remainder divided among the next months. I was shocked. I told the president I thought the year would begin April 1, when the switch began, and go through March of 2015. Is this legal? -- Questionable Pay

DEAR QUESTIONABLE: The switch is legal as long as you wind up getting the salary you were promised for the year.

For a more detailed look at your question I turned to an attorney who represents employers, Carmelo Grimaldi, a partner at Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone in Mineola.

"While unusual -- and possibly shocking -- this arrangement is not prohibited by federal or New York State law, inasmuch as it appears to be applied [going forward]," Grimaldi said. "Also, you have not indicated this arrangement is prohibited by any agreement signed by your employer."

Based on the details you provided, Grimaldi offered an example to show how your company's calculations might play out. Assume that you earned $30,000 from January to March. And at the end of March you were promised a yearly gross salary of $120,000. Since you were already paid $30,000, that left a balance of $90,000 to be paid over the remaining nine months of the year, or $10,000 a month.

"There is nothing from your question indicating your employer refused to pay what you had earned from January to March," he said.

Even if the switch means you will earn less going forward, that would be legal, unless the reduction violated a union contract or employment agreement.

On the other hand, if your employer tried to take back what you had earned in the first three months of the year, that would be illegal.

"If your employer attempted to retroactively reduce your new salary . . . such action would be prohibited," he said.

Even though you are salaried, your company may still have to pay you overtime.

"Your employer must pay you overtime in any workweek you have worked more than 40 hours unless it can prove you are exempt from such overtime wages," he said.

Both your duties and your salary must satisfy all the criteria of an overtime exemption, he said.

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