The Astron Road Show

National Director Michael Maciekowich will be speaking at the Society for Human Resource Management of Tompkins County 2016 Conference!

Date: May 24, 2016

Location: Statler Hotel, Cornell University

Click here for more information


National Director Jennifer Loftus will be speaking at the WorldatWork Local Network Leader Conference!

Date: June 5, 2016

Location: San Diego, CA

Click here for more information


If you will be attending either conference, we will look forward to meeting you!

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Regulations Update

On May 18, 2016, the final ruling was released, updating regulations defining which white collar workers are considered protected by the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime standards.

Key Provisions of the Final Rule

The final rule focuses primarily on updating the salary and compensation levels needed for Executive, Administrative, and Professional workers to be classified as exempt.  Specifically, the final rule

1.  Sets the standard salary level at the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region, currently the South ($913 per week; $47,476 annually for a full-year worker);

2.  Sets the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees (HCE) subject to a minimal duties test to the annual equivalent of the 90th percentile of full-time salaried workers nationally ($134,004); and

3.  Establishes a mechanism for automatically updating the salary and compensation levels every three years to maintain the levels at the above percentiles and to ensure that they continue to provide useful and effective tests for exemption.

Additionally, the final rule amends the salary basis test to allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level.

The effective date of the final rule is December 1, 2016. The initial increases to the standard salary level (from $455 to $913 per week) and HCE total annual compensation requirement (from $100,000 to $134,004 per year) will be effective on that date. Future automatic updates to those thresholds will occur every three years, beginning on January 1, 2020.

Compensation 101: Why Should Organizations Utilize Pay Ranges?

May 24, 2016  |   Compensation
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At Astronology® we like to explore all angles of a situation. In the past we’ve written articles on compensation related topics like green circle rates (employees paid below the minimum of the pay range) and red circle rates (employees paid above the maximum of the pay range). This article examines why organizations should make the effort to set pay ranges in the first place, and what value these ranges add to an organization.

The term “pay range” is not one that is succinctly explained. The human resources section of describes a pay range as: “…the range of pay established by employers to pay to employees performing a particular job or function. Salary range generally has a minimum pay rate, a maximum pay rate, and a series of mid-range opportunities for pay increases.” While this definition is foundational, it begins to direct us towards the goal of figuring out the how of the pay range question, but not really the why.

Erisa Ojimba, in a article, explains that “a company’s pay structure is the method of administering its pay philosophy.” If developed logically and communicated successfully, the pay structure will strongly reflect your organization’s pay philosophy and give confidence to employees. A 2014 survey from SHRM noted that “employees ranked compensation / pay above job security as the most important contributor to job satisfaction.”  Clearly, it is important for pay structures to be organized and strongly demonstrate competitive compensation in order to attract and retain employees.

When developing a pay structure the following needs to be determined:

  • Relevant data for establishing the relative value of a particular job to your organization. 
  • Relevant pay range for a job with the stated value to your organization. 
  • The value of each job position within the allotted pay range.

Once you have developed a pay structure, an on-going challenge is determining your organization''''s annual compensation budget. When set correctly, pay ranges can help you determine if you’re paying employees too little or too much.

When making the choice of how to structure pay ranges for your organization, the most important factors to consider, according to Jennifer Loftus, National Director of Astron Solutions, are the following:

  • Your organization’s size
  • Your organization’s fiscal constraints
  • Your organization’s culture
  • The size of your HR department
  • Your compensation philosophy

According to Jennifer, “while similar in concept, compensation structures are uniquely different for each organization.  What works successfully in one company may be disastrous in another.  Your organization must balance the five items above to determine the best suited structure for achieving your unique organizational goals.  Without some type of pay system, however, your organization may end up underpaying and overpaying some employees, sacrificing fiscal controls, losing your star employees, and rewarding behaviors or competencies that don’t achieve your organization’s strategic goals.”  The up-front time and effort required to develop a pay structure will provide you and your organization with a positive return on investment in both the short- and long-terms.

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