Friday, October 9, 2015

WIRTW #385 (the “there’s no such thing as a free lunch…” edition)

Retailer Urban Outfitters is trying to new strategy to staff its fulfillment centers for the holiday season. It’s asking its salaried employees to work weekends. And, since they are already paid a salary, the work comes with the added bonus of no extra pay, but with a free lunch, and transportation (if needed).

Here’s the offending email (via Gawker):

From: URBNcommunity
Sent: Tuesday, October 06, 2015 12:01 PM
Subject: A Call For URBN Volunteers!
A Call for URBN Volunteers!
URBN is seeking weekend volunteers to help out at our fulfillment center in Gap, PA. October will be the busiest month yet for the center, and we need additional helping hands to ensure the timely shipment of orders. As a volunteer, you will work side by side with your GFC colleagues to help pick, pack and ship orders for our wholesale and direct customers.
In addition to servicing the needs of our customers, it’s a great way to experience our fulfillment operations first hand. Get your co-workers together for a team building activity!
The Details:
Who: Home Office URBN salaried employees
Where: URBN’s Fulfilment Center - 766 Brackbill Road, Gap, Pennsylvania 17527
What You’ll Be Doing: Pick, pack and prepare packages for shipment(please wear sneakers and comfortable clothing)
When: October 17, 18, 24, 25, and 31 Lunch will be provided
Two shifts each day: 9:00 AM – 3:00PM or 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM
(you can volunteer for one or multiple days)
Transportation: If needed, URBN will provide transportation to and from GFC (details provided after sign up)
How: Sign up using this link and we will be in touch with more details. Please do not show up without signing up.

Look, I’m all for team building (Urban Outfitter’s explanation for this idea), but, unless (and maybe even if) the CEO is showing up to pack boxes, this is a horrible idea. It also might violate the FLSA. I could see an argument that by asking salaried, exempt employees to perform a job that is so outside their normal responsibilities that they are being hired to perform a separate non-exempt job, for which they must be paid a minimum wage.Typically, however, an exemption is measured by an employee’s “primary duty”, and the performance of non-exempt, non-primary duties will not convert an exempt employee to a non-exempt employee. Regardless of this policy’s FLSA-legality, let’s all agree that this should be a non-starter from a PR and an HR perspective.

Here’s the rest of what I read this week:

Social Media & Workplace Technology
HR & Employee Relations
Wage & Hour
Labor Relations