DEAR CARRIE: My son is a store manager for a national sportswear company. He's on a set salary with possible bonuses. That's the attractive part of the job. Less attractive are the 60 hours he works per week, with no overtime pay for the extra hours. The regional manager refuses to hire additional assistant managers because he is afraid of what the extra cost will do to his budget. So my son must put in those extra hours when he should be at home with his family. Shouldn't he at least be paid for the overtime hours? -- Worried Dad
DEAR WORRIED: I hope you're sitting down, at least for the first part of this answer. If your son is a bona fide manager, he doesn't have to be paid overtime, no matter how many extra hours he works each week. As a manager he belongs to a category of workers that under federal and state labor laws is exempt from overtime. While those workers generally have to earn a set salary every week, they don't have to be paid overtime. To meet the definition of manager, your son must supervise at least two full-time employees, most of his work has to involve supervision, and he must have some input in the hiring and firing of workers.
As for pay, federal labor law requires that managers earn at least $455 a week, ($656.25 in New York). And that salary generally cannot be docked unless the managers take a full day off for personal reasons.
Here's some better news: The U.S. Labor Department has proposed increasing the minimum salary for exempt employees to $970 a week, which would mean a substantial raise, even for managers in New York. But that wouldn't alleviate his long hours. For a more humane schedule, he may have to change jobs.
DEAR CARRIE: If employees are receiving workers' compensation benefits through a company that files for bankruptcy or goes out of business, will their payments be jeopardized? -- Beneficial Inquiry
DEAR BENEFICIAL: For answers I went to the source: The New York State Workers' Compensation Board. And it looks like the employees would be covered in either scenario.
First, some basics to explain why: Most companies with employees must carry workers' compensation insurance, which provides medical benefits and lost wages to workers injured on the job, said Joseph Cavalcante, an agency spokesman. To provide those benefits, the employer buys a policy through an insurance carrier or self-insures.
When there's a policy, the insurance carrier assumes the liability for employees' workers' comp claims, Cavalcante said.
"Whether or not the employer goes bankrupt is not a factor in paying benefits for the injured worker," he said. "The insurance company is responsible for paying benefits over the entire life of that claim when a policy is in place."
When a company self-insures, it assumes the liability for workers' comp claims and pays benefits directly, he said. To receive board permission to self-insure, the employer must post a "substantial" security deposit, which is used to pay benefits in the event of a default.
"In the unlikely event those funds are insufficient," he said, "there are statutory mechanisms in place to ensure that payments to injured workers are not interrupted, even if a self-insured employer goes out of business."Go to http://bit.ly/LIOverT for more on managers and the overtime exemption.