Payday loans

October 1, 2014

Unlimited Vacation – Is it Really that Easy?

Filed under: Engagement,General HR Buzz,Work/Life Balance — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 6:54 am

In the last decade traditional leave programs have been replaced with Paid Time Off (PTO) programs.  PTO is believed to reduce unexcused absences, since employees may use their time off for vacation, sick, or personal reasons.  Employees have welcomed the added flexibility of using PTO as they want to or need to in their quest for work-life balance.

A new trend, though, is taking hold for a few companies.  Some may explain it as an experimental leave program that employees would take advantage of, but those who have adopted it report increased productivity.  It is called Unlimited Vacation time.  Most recent to join the ranks of those not tracking vacation and time off is Virgin.  Founder, Richard Branson, announced that his company would be offering unlimited vacation following suit with Netflix and a handful of others.

An unlimited vacation program is designed to give employees the ability to decide when they will be gone as they need to recharge and avoid burnout.  However, they are held accountable for completing their work, meeting deadlines, not leaving their team in a bind, and coordinating with other employees to cover for them.  The program encourages autonomy, which boosts morale and creativity, fostering satisfied employees.  And, we all know that happy employees are productive employees!

Is unlimited vacation time for your company?  We’d like to hear your comments.

Read more about this unique time off initiative here.

Share

September 25, 2014

Executive Orders Mean New Rules for Federal Contractors

Filed under: Discrimination,Legal Issues — Tags: — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 10:20 am

A series of new executive orders from President Obama present some new HR law compliance challenges for federal contractors.

The President recently signed an order requiring that federal contractors not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. About half the states already prohibit such discrimination in one form or another. Another order mandates such contractors pay a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour. Both rules will take effect after implementing regulations are adopted and finalized later in 2014.

Yet another order requires that certain contractors (those with contracts over $500,000) disclose state and federal labor law violations from the past three years and also gather similar information from their subcontractors. Such violations include problems under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the anti-discrimination laws. Repeat offenders may not receive federal contracts. The latest executive order also will prohibit companies holding new contracts of more than $1 million from requiring that their employees arbitrate alleged discrimination and harassment claims. The most recent executive order will be implemented on new contracts beginning in 2016.

Share

September 17, 2014

Should Employees Work While on FMLA Leave?

Filed under: Employment Law,FMLA — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 8:13 am

The availability of electronic devices permits employees to work anywhere, any time.  The convenience and flexibility are generally welcomed by employees wishing to balance work and home responsibilities.  However, when does the overlap of work/life balance create a problem?  When it involves working during FMLA leave.

A pregnant employee, Tondalaya Evans, worked for the company, Books-a-Million, and was expecting a baby on September 1.  Tondalaya was the payroll manager and was in the process of implementing a new payroll system, which had been delayed until November.  She requested FMLA for the birth of her child.  Books-a-Million told her she would not be on leave, but rather would be working while on her maternity leave, and that she had no other choice, because the payroll system was due to “go-live.”  Ms. Evans had her child on August 30, and began working full time from home on September 1.  Even though, she was being paid her full wage, she was being denied the time off.

Tondalaya later returned to work, and found that she had been transferred to another position.  She was not agreeable with the change, quit her job, and sued in part for FMLA interference.  The court found that the company had violated the FMLA by denying her a benefit (FMLA leave, with no work being performed) for which she was entitled.  The company argued, to no avail, that she was being paid to work, and they were not in violation of FMLA.

The takeaway is that employees are entitled to FMLA for the purpose of being completely excused from work while they take care of a serious health condition of their own or an approved family member, without the worries of performing or losing their job.  Requiring or forcing an employee to work when eligible for FMLA can cause neither their work nor the reason for the leave to be given full attention.  Even if an employer offers to pay the employee, it is still undermining the purpose of the FMLA and is illegal.

 

Source:  Hyman, Jon.  “Do Not Force Employees to Work During FMLA Leave.” Workforce.  Available here.

Share

September 11, 2014

Think Before Documenting That!

Filed under: Discrimination,Legal Issues,Title VII — Tags: — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 8:20 pm

I was relatively new to the human resources scene in the early/mid 90s, and I watched as my manager could have shrieked in horror, (Does an audible gasp count?), at the note a hiring manager wrote on an employment application.  The applicant’s first name was Ebony.  Noted.  But, that manager in her efforts (giving her the benefit of the doubt) to remember the applicant wrote quite simply, “black girl.” Those two words, just screamed “discrimination” at my manager and she immediately took control of the situation.

Most HR professionals realize the implications of making descriptive notes on applications can be a double-edged sword.  Nearly everything is fair game to a plaintiff’s attorney, even the notes we make to ourselves about who was who in our candidate pool.  However, I learned that very day, in those very tense moments, that it is much better to write, “navy blue suit” as opposed to describing someone’s skin color.  Better yet, write nothing at all!

Such was true for a manager involved in a recent case out of Texas in which two newly hired workers complained their wages were lower than other workers with the same or very similar jobs.   After about three weeks of work for the company they were terminated on a trumped up reason.

The manager documented their personnel files after receiving a notice from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission granting the two terminated employees the right to sue.  He wrote:

“Please note he is not eligible for rehire ever.  Tried to sue us.  Simply tell him, ‘sorry but we have nothing for you at this time.  Please try again.  Have a nice day.’  Not for rehire.  Per Ben G.”

Those words were enough to cause the Texas Court of Appeals to find for the two workers on the charges of retaliation and malice.  They were awarded damages as well.  (You can read the case here.)

So in every situation from hiring to firing – be careful and think before you document that!

 

Source:  Meyer, Eric B.  “The Problem With Putting ‘Do Not Hire’ Notes in Personnel Files.”  Article available here and here.

 

Share

September 4, 2014

Interesting News Briefs from the World of HR Law

Filed under: FLSA,Hiring & Jobs,Legal Issues — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 4:36 pm

In an interesting test of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exemption regulations, a well-known national retailer has been sued in California by employees alleging that the company improperly classified its store assistant managers as exempt employees.  This lawsuit is a good reminder of how important it is to have updated job descriptions to determine the exempt or nonexempt status of all positions within an organization.  The Department of Labor website provides general information to determine exempt status.  Click here.

A national retail provider of rent-to-own merchandise (appliances, furniture, etc.) has been sued under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act with the plaintiffs in the case alleging that the company used a third party to run background checks but did not provide copies of the same before taking adverse action against applicants and employees (e.g. denying or terminating employment) based on the background check results. The lawsuit is pending in Georgia.  This is a great example of the importance of knowing the law!  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides excellent guidance to employers and employees on background checks from each perspective.  You can check those out for employers here, and for employees here.

Share

August 28, 2014

ADA After FMLA – What Does Your Leave Policy Say?

Filed under: ADA & Disability,Discipline & Termination,FMLA — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 1:54 pm

A New Jersey healthcare provider will pay over $1 million to resolve claims before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that it committed disability discrimination. According to the EEOC, since the employer’s leave policy merely tracked the requirements of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employee leaves were limited to a maximum of 12 weeks.

The employer’s policy meant that employees who were not eligible for FMLA leave were fired after being absent for a short time, and many more were fired once they were out more than 12 weeks, all without additional consideration of whether the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) required some additional accommodation, including additional leave.

Managing both FMLA and the ADA can be quite tricky at times.  Additional leave after FMLA is exhausted is considered a reasonable accommodation under the ADA guidelines and must be factored in to an employee’s recovery or health management resolutions.  Whether an employer extends leave or not could be a million dollar question!

Share

August 21, 2014

Recruiting Top Talent – Is the Recession the Only Blame?

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 9:59 am

The national average of time to fill an open position in June reached 24.9 working days, including the time to post, source, and hire.  Compared to the recessionary period in the summer of 2009, the time to fill has increased by nearly ten days, when the average was 15.3.

During the recession the talent pool was overflowing with applicants.  Hundreds of r­ésumés flooded recruiters in response to a single job posting.  The response left recruiters thinking they could be choosy and wait for the top talent to show, which generally during the recession worked.  Now, other problems are factoring in to the long time-to-fill open positions, such as:

  • Waiting too long to make an offer risks the loss of the top candidate.
  • Unable to find skilled workers in the talent pool.
  • Expecting no learning curve, thus fostering an unwillingness to accept candidates that may need only minimal training.
  • There is simply more job openings, 4.7 million at the end of June, compared to 4 million in June, 2013. 

Employers should examine recruitment and hiring processes to ensure they are streamlined and efficient and make changes wherever they find obstacles.  Performing this self-audit will clearly define the company’s acceptable standards for recruitment and hiring and will help find and hire a solid, talented workforce quickly.

 

Source:  Zappe, John. “Employers Find That Time-to-Fill Job Rates Are Growing, Hit 13 Year High.”  Available here.

Share

August 14, 2014

If It Looks Like Retaliation – It Probably Is!

Filed under: Discrimination,Legal Issues,Title VII — Tags: — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 7:39 am

An interesting case from Salt Lake County, Utah, recently caught my attention.  The county was facing a sexual harassment claim.  The complainant’s coworker, Michael Barrett, helped her successfully win her case.  Barrett is a hero, right?  Wrong.  Shortly after assisting his coworker, Barrett was demoted.  Now, if that wasn’t enough to scream, “Retaliation!” the county hired a replacement for his previously held position.

Barrett, now knowing his way around the justice system, filed suit against the county alleging his demotion was a retaliatory action and violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The county argued that he was poor worker.  However, Barrett successfully presented evidence of his 14 years with the county having received multiple promotions and positive performance reviews – until that fateful moment when he began helping his distressed coworker.  The court ordered that Barrett be paid the same amount of pay in his new, demoted position that he had received in the old job, and that the newly hired, innocent employee not be removed from Barrett’s old position.  The county, of course, appealed.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, whose rulings govern Utah employers, upheld the previous court’s decision.  They agreed that Barrett had presented sufficient evidence to demonstrate that he had been retaliated against by the county.  The 10th Circuit also agreed that the trial court had ordered an appropriate remedy to Barrett and the new hire.

Notable in this case was the supervisor’s actions.  HRLaws.com reported that, “The disciplinary proceedings that resulted in his demotion began almost immediately after his ‘supervisor learned of his involvement in the sexual harassment complaint.’”  Interestingly enough, other witnesses that were involved in the case were disciplined and the supervisor who administered some of the disciplinary actions lost the records for them.  Convenient.

Employers should be aware that employees have the right to complain about illegal treatment in the workplace.  They have the right to assist other employees, as witnesses, in a claim.  Any adverse employment actions against a complainant or a witness should be taken with extreme caution (and experienced legal counsel) so the action doesn’t even appear to be retaliatory.

 

Source:  www.hrlaws.comUtah – Employment Law Letter

Share

August 7, 2014

Retailers Increasing Minimum Wages

Filed under: Compensation,General HR Buzz — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 2:01 pm

Home furnishings retailer, Ikea, recently announced an overhaul to their wage structure that will increase their average minimum wage to $10.76 per hour by January 1, 2015, which is a 17 percent increase, and is well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.  The increase will not be adjusted across the board, but will be a market-based adjustment from $8.69 per hour to $13.22 per hour depending on the cost of living in the city in which the store is located.  Ikea estimates that about half of its United States workforce will benefit by the increase which will be based on the MIT Living Wage Calculator.

Rob Olson, Ikea’s acting president for the United States and its chief financial officer was quoted as saying, “We are of course investing in our co-workers.  We believe they will invest in our customers, and they will invest in Ikea’s stores.  We believe that it will be a win-win-win for our co-workers, our customers and our stores.”  Ikea’s goal is to promote a “better everyday life” for their people.

Gap is another retailer that will be increasing its minimum wage to $10 per hour January 1.  This specialty retailer had set its minimum wage at $9 per hour in February.  Their new wage policy will benefit more than two-thirds of its 90,000 U.S. employees.  Gap reported more than a 10 percent increase in their applications for employment after they announced the increases.

Both retailers have a great desire to help their workers, and even though the minimum wage increases are a large investment, it is one they feel will help them reach their organizational goals and have a positive impact on the bottom line.

 

Source:  Greenhouse, Steven.  The New York Times.  “Ikea to increase Minimum Hourly Pay.”  Available here.

Share

July 31, 2014

HR Neutrality – Does One-Size-Fit-All?

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Performance Management — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 1:12 pm

As HR professionals, we are always trying to make sure everyone is treated the same – that no one feels slighted or left out; that everyone is treated equally.  In certain instances that is a really good idea, especially if it keeps you out of legal trouble, (e.g. male/female, old/young, black/white).  But, are our HR practices becoming a one-size-fits-all?

Let’s take a step back.  Examining our motive for treating all employees the same should give us some insight as to whether this is a constructive practice.  Ask yourself these questions and answer honestly:

  • Am I afraid of a claim of discrimination or retaliation?
  • Am I trying to avoid conflict by applying policies the same way to all employees?
  • Am I ignoring an underlying employee performance issue that needs to be addressed?
  • Is treating all employees the same taking the easy way out? 

If you answered, “Yes” to any of these questions, you may be practicing HR neutrality.  Obviously, some policies must be applied the same way to all employees, like no smoking in the office.  But, must our top performers be treated the same as our mediocre or low performers?  No, but we must treat them fairly.  In fact, our treating employees fairly sometimes mean we treat them differently.  How?  A high performing employee doesn’t want to be treated the same as one they view as a slacker.  They want to be treated differently, because they deserve it.  There is nothing illegal about treating a high performer better than you treat your employee that is not meeting your expectations.  So next time you encounter a situation that previously the one-size-fits-all HR neutrality has been applied to, examine your motive for doing so, use empathy by putting yourself in your employee’s shoes, and always keep the human in Human Resources.  Oh yes, and you must deal head-on with the perceived slacker; they may just need clearer expectations, but you won’t know if you don’t ask!

 

Source:  Sackett, Tim.  “HR Neutrality:  Everybody Seems to Hate It – Except, of Course, HR.”  Available here.

Share
Older Posts »