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August 29, 2008

HR Fact Friday: Vacation Deprived Americans Take Least Days Off

Filed under: Work/Life Balance1:31 pm

In honor of Labor Day . . .  It’s official (again): Working adults in the U.S. are more vacation-deprived than their counterparts in Canada and seven major European countries, according to’s 2008 Vacation Deprivation survey.

Based upon the results of its eighth annual international survey, which analyzes vacation habits of working adults employed in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria, Expedia calculates that some 47.5 million Americans are vacation-deprived, and over the life of the survey, the U.S. has the distinction of having the worst vacation habits.

The survey found that working adults in the U.S. rank last for the average number of vacation days earned (14). Working adults in France averaged 37 earned vacation days compared to 33 days earned by Italian working adults, 31 days in Spain, 28 days in the Netherlands and Austria, 27 days in Germany, 26 days in Great Britain and 17 days in Canada.



August 28, 2008

Late to Work – What’s Your Excuse (pt 3 of 3)

Filed under: Management Practices8:26 am

The Reasons

To some extent the reasons why an individual is tardy are irrelevant.  Most managers are pretty reasonable and realize that all of us will at some time be stuck in traffic, forced to deal with an issue at home, or had something unexpected come up that makes us late. The concern is the employee who is chronically late.  These are the people who consume time in corrective actions and who we may ultimately be forced to fire.   Do you care why they are late?  In most instances, no.  You just want it resolved.  However, a number of people have tried to examine the issue and taken a “Dr Phil” moment to figure it out.  A few suggested reasons for the behavior of the time challenged include:

• Some people just don’t realize the importance of being on time.
• Younger workers, perhaps have yet to develop the work ethic required by many businesses.
• Changing societal standards.
• Increasing family responsibilities.
• They have poor morale.
• Difficulty with time management.
• Punctually challenged tend to procrastinate, have low levels of self-control, like living on the edge, or may be exceptionally anxious.
• The tardy are more self centered, less respectful of others, or may be seeking attention.
• They’re just lazy.
• People are too stressed out about life in general.
• Work is just not a priority.
• Some people “aren’t morning people.”
• Some just don’t like following rules and conforming.

When Reasons Matter

Remember, however, that if lateness is due to legally protected reasons (e.g., protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Family and Medical Leave Act) then the reasons do matter. Be sure to act cautiously when taking corrective action or “marking an employee down” on an appraisal because of an absence or tardiness that could be legally protected.


August 27, 2008

Late to Work – What’s Your Excuse (pt 2 of 3)

Filed under: Management Practices — Tags: , , , 6:44 am

A recent survey by Today found that 16% of employees are late for work at least once weekly.
The Costs

It’s been estimated that workplace tardiness costs American employers several billion dollars each year.  That’s a big number to wrap your head around, but think about it in small terms.  What if you had an employee who was 10 minutes late every day for a year?  What are the consequences?  After punching a few numbers you quickly realize that amounts to the equivalent of 1 week’s time…. an extra week of vacation.   Perhaps the employee isn’t late everyday, but you’ve got many employees and they’re not all on time.  Those “unintended vacation days/weeks” add up quickly.  Obviously the actual dollar costs of tardiness will vary depending on the business and the position.  In some situations punctuality is critical, in others less so.

But the costs can also extend beyond the employee and his/her position.  How are other employees and their projects affected? How much managerial time is spent dealing with the problem? Is overall morale damaged as others are forced to “cover” for the late employee or feel that she is abusing the system?  Most studies have shown that workplace lateness is increasing.

Each workplace must assess its own environment and issues to determine if tardiness is a problem and if so, what should be done about it.

Check back tomorrow for Part 3 and learn the reasons for tardiness.


August 26, 2008

Late to Work – What’s Your Excuse (pt 1 of 3)

Filed under: Management Practices9:13 am

A recent survey by Today found that 16% of employees are late for work at least once weekly.  Just as interesting (actually more interesting) were some of the excuses given:

• I just wasn’t feelin’ it this morning.
• Someone was following me and I drove all around town trying to lose them.
• My dog dialed 911 and the police wanted to question me about what really happened.
• My girlfriend got mad and destroyed all my undergarments.
• I woke up and thought I was temporarily deaf.
• I was up all night arguing with God.
• A raccoon stole my work shoe off my porch.
• I super glued my eye thinking it was contact solution.
• I was putting lotion on my face when my finger went up my nose, causing a nose bleed.
• A prostitute climbed into my car at a stop light and I was afraid my wife would see her and think I was messing around…so I got out of the car.

While the above excuses were some of the more creative ones given in the survey, “traffic” was the number one reason given for coming in late. That was followed by “falling back asleep,”  “problems getting the kids to school,”  “forgetting something,” and “feeling sick.”  Interestingly (but maybe not surprisingly), 27% of managers said they didn’t believe their employees’ excuses. Over ¼ of the employees admitted that their excuses were lies.

Check back tomorrow for part 2.


August 22, 2008

HR Fact Friday: Many U.S. Firms Lack Long-Term Talent Strategy

Filed under: Hiring & Jobs11:01 am

Despite the prolonged economic downturn, it seems most companies aren’t giving much thought to protecting their talent if the economy continues to worsen. One-third of U.S. companies do not have workforce contingency plans in place, according to a recent survey by Watson Wyatt Worldwide. Of those companies that say they have contingency plans in place, more than half say those plans center around layoffs, while an additional 46 percent say their plan is “to restructure their organizations.”

Few companies surveyed seem to be thinking of creative ways to protect key talent should the economy remain in a slump. Only 8 percent of companies say they are planning to offer a reduced workweek.

The Watson Wyatt study findings point to a bigger issue among U.S. companies: Most never do any workforce planning. As a result, companies constantly will be chasing the problem. When the economy picks up, they are going to be paying a higher premium for talent, experts say. The lack of workforce planning is going to put many U.S. companies at a disadvantage in competing with their counterparts in Asia and Europe, which for the most part have workforce contingency plans. Eighty-four percent of employers in Asia-Pacific and 80 percent of employers in Europe have contingency plans, according to the Watson Wyatt study.

European companies may be more proactive about workforce planning because they are, for the most part, dealing with unions, which are more prevalent in Europe than in the U.S.

But the fact that so few companies have developed contingency plans for their workforces demonstrates shortsightedness by U.S. employers and further exemplifies the quarter-to-quarter planning mentality at American public companies.

Source:, August 21, 2008, Jessica Marquez


August 19, 2008

Public Employer Drug Screening Limited

Filed under: Drugs10:36 am

A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals case illustrates a few of the differences between public and private sector HR and clarifies some limits of drug testing by public entities.  Public employers are subject to many more drug testing restrictions than private companies because of constitutionally protected privacy and search rights. In the case, the court found that a city policy requiring pre-employment drug testing was unconstitutional, at least as it applied to the situation before it, which involved a library page.

While the court left the door open to the testing in special circumstances or instances of “concrete danger,”  there was no such showing with the library position.  Generally, to meet constitutional search standards, a test would have to come about because of specific, individualized suspicion, not a blanket testing policy. Drug testing is a complex undertaking in both the public and private sectors. It’s a good idea to consult with your attorney regarding your policies and practices.  [Lanier v. City of Woodburn].

The 9th Circuit covers California, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Nevada.


August 15, 2008

HR Fact Friday: Highest and Lowest U.S. Compensation

Filed under: Salaries & Pay9:25 am

Average pay in the high-tech oriented San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland, California  Bay Area metropolitan area was 19% above the national average in 2007, the highest among metropolitan areas studied by the National Compensation Survey (NCS), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced in a report issued on July 25, 2008.

In contrast, pay was lowest in the Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas metropolitan area with a pay realative of 76 meaning Brownsville workers earned an average of 76 cents for every dollar earned by U.S. workers nationwide.

Top 5 Metropolitan Area Pay Relative Rankings (0f 77 metropolitan areas surveyed)
1. San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, CA – 119
2. New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Bridgeport, PA – 115
3. Salinas, CA – 114
4. Hartford, West Hartford, Willimantic, CT – 113
5. Boston, Worcester, MA; Manchester, NH – 112

Bottom 3 lowest pay area relative rankings
75. Corpus Christi, TX – 87
76. Johnstown, PA – 85
77. Brownsville, TX – 76

Metropolitan area pay relative ranking for various occupational groups is as follows:

Management, business and financial
1. New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Bridgeport, PA -115
2. Salinas, CA – 114

Professional and related
1. Salinas, CA – 120
2. San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, CA – 118

1. San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, CA – 124
2. Hartford, West Hartford, Willimantic, CT – 121

Sales and related
1. Salinas, CA – 128
2. San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, CA – 124

Office and administrative support
1. San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, CA – 121
2. Boston, Worcester, MA; Manchester, NH – 115
3. New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Bridgeport, PA – 115

Construction and extraction
1. New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Bridgeport, PA – 133
2. Chicago, Naperville, IL; Michigan City, IN – 131

Installation, maintenance and repair
1. Boston, Worcester, MA; Manchester, NH – 115
2. Sacramento, Arden-Arcade, CA; Truckee, CA – 115

1. Detroit, Warren, Flint, MI – 117
2. Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, WA – 117

Transportation and material moving
1. Springfield, MA – 113
2. Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, WA – 112

For additional information go to: Note:  Must be a SHRM member to view.

Source: SHRM, Metro San Francisco Tops in Pay; Brownsville, Texas Trails, August 8, 2008, Stephen Miller.


August 13, 2008

Compensation News: Paycheck Fairness Act

Filed under: Legal Issues8:04 am

The House also recently passed the Paycheck Fairness Act which would amend the Equal Pay Act and expand an employee’s opportunities to bring claims for alleged pay discrimination.

According to some observers the bill would:

(1) promote class action lawsuits by repealing the requirement that employees  give written consent to become  parties in class actions;

(2) remove the caps on compensatory or punitive damages even if pay disparities were unintentional;

(3) prevent employers from retaliating against employees who discuss wages; and

(4) prohibit certain employer defenses for pay disparities.

For example, the bill would eliminate the justification of paying different salaries based on geographical differences.

The measure moves to the Senate for consideration.  President Bush has threatened to veto it if it passes Congress. Those in favor of the legislation believe it is necessary in addressing gender based pay inequities that continue to persist.


August 12, 2008

ADA Debate Moves To Senate

Filed under: ADA & Disability7:37 am

The ongoing debate about whether, how and how much to change the federal Americans with Disabilities Act has now moved on to the United States Senate.

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives voted to expand the ADA. The House bill seems to vaguely expand the current definition of disability – an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity – by stating that “substantially limits” means “materially restricts.” It also precludes employers from considering mitigating measures (e.g., drugs that control blood pressure) when deciding if an employee is disabled, although use of eyeglasses can be considered regarding alleged visual impairments.

The bill also attempts to exclude from the definition of disability minor and/or transitory impairments, e.g., the flu or a broken leg lasting less than six months. Sticking to more traditional ADA analysis on at least some points, the proposed Senate bill (S. 3406) defines “substantially limits” as an impairment that prevents or severely restricts an individual from doing activities that are of central importance. Otherwise, the Senate bill seems similar to the measure passed by the House.


August 8, 2008

HR Fact Friday: Wage Freeze? Employers Say Not This Year

Filed under: Salaries & Pay8:03 am

Despite speculation that an eroding economy would force many companies to cut their salary budgets this year, it turns out that many employers are actually kicking up compensation—and may continue to do so next year as well.

On average, employers are increasing their salary budgets by 3.9 percent this year, according to a survey of human resources, compensation and benefits officials by WorldatWork. It also found that these companies expect to increase salaries by 3.9 percent next year too, easing concerns that employers would put a freeze on wages.


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