Being without a working smartphone can make a storeowner suddenly feel paralyzed, as more and more apps, social media, e-mailing, texting and even the store’s POS (for off-site sales, say) depend on this little mobile command center. Accidents do happen, though, and replacing a damaged cell phone presents a sudden and unexpected expense. If you don’t have a protection plan or insurance, here’s a possible solution: A few business credit cards also offer cell-phone protection as a benefit. For instance, the Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card offers up to $600 per claim “against covered theft or damage for you and your employees listed on your monthly cell-phone bill” when you pay your bill with the card (it also offers generous rewards). Various Wells Fargo consumer credit cards also offer protection plans for damaged or stolen phones (not lost ones). All plans have deductibles, and as usual, conditions apply—so be sure to read the fine print. If you’re thinking of switching cards to get the protection, make sure your phone qualifies.
Update on Overtime Pay
Rules changes may not be totally out of the picture.
The Department of Labor has reopened the conversation on overtime pay rules, which have not been revised since 2004. The DOL will appeal a Texas court ruling that permanently invalidated new overtime pay rules drafted by the Obama administration, which had been due to take effect on December 1, 2016. The new rules would have doubled the threshold pay for exempt employees, from $455/week to $913/week—$23,660 to $47,476 for an employee who worked the full year. Below those amounts, employees would have qualified for time-and-a-half pay after 40 hours work in a week. This pay threshold would also have been reviewed every three years.
The DOL appeal doesn’t mean these revised rules will be reinstated. It simply is intended to preserve the authority of the DOL and the current administration to draft new rules. It is unlikely new threshold pay levels for exempt employees will be as high as the previously proposed new rules. But there may be some changes: In testimony before Congress, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta noted that if the threshold had kept up with inflation, it would now be at $33,000 ($635/week). There also has been discussion in Congress about different rates for different areas of the country. Stay tuned for further developments.
A Question Too Far?
More states are banning salary history queries during job interviews.
A wave of new laws prohibiting employers from asking job candidates about their past salary history have been passed recently—first in Massachusetts and soon followed by Delaware, Oregon, California, Puerto Rico, New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco. Other states, including Idaho, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, Texas and Virginia, are also considering such legislation. Employment experts expect the trend to continue, because in the absence of federal action on stubbornly persistent pay inequities, states are taking action. The reasoning behind the new laws is that asking salary history can disadvantage women and minorities, who, for a variety of reasons, may start out paid less and then fall further and further behind as each job is based on previous pay.
Determining the going rate for a job is important for an employer, of course, in order to stay competitive in your labor market. There are still ways to do it. On free sites like Glassdoor.com, a crowdsourced database for job-market data, you can research going rates in various companies, regions and industries. And, of course, when you promote from within—training a talented salesperson at your store to become assistant manager—you know that person’s salary history. The bonus: You become known as a place where people can begin to build a career, and you avoid the high costs of staff turnover.