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Business news solutions items — Nov. 10

WORKPLACE

Practice memory work

Q: I’m forgetful when it comes to people. I have a hard time remembering details like names of my co-workers’ kids and other personal things. I’m moving into a role where I will be engaging with a lot more people, and am worried that I will seem like I don’t care about them. What can I do?

A: Figure out what you want your relationship with co-workers and clients to be like, and then train yourself to make it happen. Whatever style your interactions take, you need to be authentic.

From that perspective, it’ll be important to take an honest look at the reasons for your forgetfulness. Create a system to document information about people. Smartphones are a good resource — you can add detailed information into contacts. This is especially helpful for people you don’t see often. Then, if you know you’ll be seeing someone, you can refresh your memory. But what about people you see regularly and unpredictably? Give yourself a study course to learn some things about people. Practice as you would a vocabulary list if learning a new language. Make it an important part of your day, and give yourself specific goals.

— By Liz Reyer

Minneapolis Star Tribune

COMPENSATION

Rules on travel time

Q: I recently started providing bookkeeping services to a small local company in technology consulting. I also assist with human resource and payroll-related questions. But I am not always knowledgeable on those topics. The technology company has one employee who works in California providing tech consulting to a client. The employee is hourly. Recently, that employee traveled to New York for meetings with the business owners. The question is whether this employee has to be paid for all the travel time and whether the pay rate should be adjusted for a Sunday meeting. Are these business-specific policy questions, or does employment law come into play?

A: The answer isn’t straightforward because the employee is a computer professional.

Generally, the decision to pay or not depends on whether a worker is nonexempt, which generally means hourly, or exempt.

And that dividing line is clear. A truly exempt employee doesn’t have to be paid for extra hours on the job as long as the person makes at least $455 a week.

Nonexempt workers have to be paid for all the time they work, and that can include some travel time.

But the rules get more complex for computer workers. Certain exempt computer workers also have to make at least $455 a week. But they also sometimes have that rare distinction of being hourly and exempt. For that distinction to apply, they must earn at least $27.63 an hour — and have specific duties and job titles.

Those jobs include computer-systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer “and other similarly skilled computer workers,” according to federal labor law.

— By Carrie Mason-Draffen

Newsday

COMPUTERS

Fixing spellchecker

Q: The spelling correction in my Windows 8 browser, Internet Explorer 10, worked for both of the Windows 8 interfaces (Metro tiles and traditional desktop). But now it’s quit working for the desktop. Any suggestions?

A: First, reboot your computer to see if that solves the problem.

If not, try some Internet Explorer 10 adjustments using directions at http://tinyurl.com/qfuljz3 or http://tinyurl.com/ox2xmkx. Or just use another Windows 8 browser such as Google Chrome (http://tinyurl.com/9ccbkzr) or Mozilla Firefox (http://tinyurl.com/cxvxuff). Both have a spellchecker.

— Steve Alexander

Minneapolis Star Tribune



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