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July 30, 2010

HR Fact Friday: Department of Labor to Conduct FMLA Study

Filed under: FMLA — Tags: , , , 12:09 pm

The Department of Labor next year will conduct a survey on how employees are using the Family and Medical Leave Act, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced Tuesday, July 20.

The survey, to be done by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, is intended to “provide insight into how families” use FMLA leave, as well as information on regulatory changes, among other things, the Labor Department said.

The Department of Labor has done several surveys on the FMLA since 1993, when the FMLA legislation was approved—the Clinton administration’s first major domestic initiative to pass Congress.

The most recent survey, released in 2007, estimated that 8 to 17.1 percent of employees took FMLA leave in 2005.

The FMLA gives employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave a year because of certain family situations, such as the birth or adoption of a child, to take care of a sick child, or to care for their own medical problems.  



July 28, 2010

Around the States

Filed under: General HR Buzz1:49 pm

The Illinois minimum wage rates increased to $8.25 on July 1, 2010.  Employers may pay new employees $7.75 per hour during their first 90 days of employment.

Effective July 2, 2010, Ohio employers with 50 or more employees must provide two weeks of unpaid leave for an employee who is the spouse, parent, or a person who has or had custody of a member of the uniformed services when that member is deployed or injured. (Ohio Military Family Leave Act). On June 23, 2010, the Tennessee Human Rights Act was amended to allow English-only policies in the workplace under certain circumstances.   All employers, whether in Tennessee or elsewhere, should be very cautious in implementing any English only policies, which must be narrowly crafted.

The Kansas Indoor Clean Air Act, which prohibits smoking in enclosed public and workplaces, became effective on July 1st, 2010.
New Jersey employers must conspicuously post a revised   MW-17 Wage Payment poster (found at: by July 13th, 2010.  Employers must also provide employees a hard copy of the NJDOL’s prepared notice about the law, after it’s issued by the NJDOL.


HRN Announces Executive Retirements

Filed under: HRN News9:45 am

A day we have been preparing for and wishing would be long in coming has nearly arrived. Effective July 31, 2010 HRN’s Founder, President & CEO, Jerry P. Nelson and Executive Vice President, Jane Haertel are retiring from day to day management responsibilities at HRN. Also retiring, Clinton Koker, President of Koker, Goodwin & Associates, a company acquired by HRN in July, 2009 and now operating as a division of HRN, announced his retirement effective July 1, 2010.

I am pleased and grateful that Jerry, Jane and Clinton will remain with HRN in the capacity of advisors and consultants.

This forthcoming leadership transition has been expected and planned for over the past six months.  Out of respect for the wishes of Jerry, Jane, and Clinton it has not been announced publicly until now.

Moving forward, I will be leading the HRN senior management team and be supported by a very capable and experienced group of leaders; these are Lea Ann Gabbert, Vice President of the Wichita based HRN Compensation Division, Paul Hendrycks, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Michael Dougal, Director of HR Consulting and Nancy Norman, Manager of Client Services.

The contributions that Jerry, Jane and Clinton have made to the success of our organization are too numerous to summarize. In my 15 years with HRN I have shared in many of these successes. Jerry and Jane have been the driving force behind the growth and success of HRN. They are responsible for the development of our Performance Pro, HRSuite, and Job Descriptions Plus solutions. Jane’s employment law expertise combined with excellence in business management have been key contributors to HRN being recognized as one of the top HR consulting and solution firms in the United States. Jerry is a true people person and business leader. His energetic personality is infectious and his absolute mastery of a multitude of complex HR topics is seemingly limitless. Clinton, similarly has demonstrated great vision and leadership in the development and creation of the Compease, iPerformease and Incentease solutions. Clinton’s reputation as a performance and compensation consultant has benefited literally thousands of companies over the course of his remarkable career.

Moving forward HRN is poised for continuing growth and success with the upcoming release of Performance Pro version 3.0 and the concurrent development of new succession planning and employee development solutions scheduled for release in 2011.

In closing, and on behalf of our staff, associates, vendors, and clients, I would like to wish Jerry, Jane and Clinton the very best life has to offer and once again acknowledge and thank them for their vision, commitment, and dedication in building HRN to be a world-class HR solutions and consulting services company and an organization truly committed to providing excellence and value in employee performance and compensation administration solutions.


Michele Lindsay
Executive Vice President
HRN Management Group


July 23, 2010

HR Fact Friday: Pay Incentives Planned to Limit Post-Recession Flight

Many U.S. employers are planning to use compensation incentives to limit “post-recessionary employee flight”, according to a survey of HR decision-makers by Workscape. The survey conducted at the end of March, 2010 found that 65% of the 476 respondents are considering or strongly considering pay increases to drive retention as the economy recovers, while 46% will consider benefits increases. 79% of those polled or interviewed represented companies with less than 5,000 employees; 7% represented organizations with 5,000 to 10,000 employees; and 13% represented companies with more than 10,000 employees.

Looking back, only 10% of organizations cut employees’ pay as the recession entered its third year in 2009, but 39% froze compensation, respondents indicated. The vast majority of those that awarded increases held them to 3% or less, and only 2% or respondents said their organizations increased average compensation by 5% or more.

Respondents who siad their organizations intend to provide incentives to retain and engage employees as the economy improves are most likely to offer:

  • Merit increases (66%)
  • Performance-based bonuses (52%)
  • Market or equity adjustments (24%)
  • Lump sum payments (12%)

Source: SHRM, HR Magazine, Stephen Miller, July 2010, pg 11


July 21, 2010

More Employees Are Quitting. Does that Mean the Economy is Really Getting Better?

Filed under: Hiring & Jobs10:44 am

You may be doing more hiring in the near future than you’ve done in awhile. Resignation letters may again be seen around the workplace.   According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more people quit than were fired in February.

That’s the first time that has happened since October of 2008. Historically, on average, 2.7 million Americans quit their jobs each month.  But since October 2008 that number dropped to an average of 1.72 million.

The quit rate is likely to continue to grow as the economy improves and those employees who were just hanging on until opportunities improve start heading for the doors.  That’s going to be a problem for employers as most companies are continuing to hold the line on wages and costs generally.  It may be hard for some organizations to hold on to current workers or attract new ones.


July 19, 2010

One of the Largest Gender Discrimination Cases…Ever

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: , 12:41 pm

In one of the largest gender discrimination verdicts, a jury awarded $3.4 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages against Novartis, a huge pharmaceutical company.  And, the case is not over, as additional back pay damages could reach $1 billion.

The case involved female sales representatives who worked for the company from 2002 to 2007.  They alleged that there was a continuing “pattern and practice of discrimination,” that women were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment and that discrimination existed surrounding pregnancy leave, promotion of women, and compensation. Plaintiffs also shared comments by managers who indicated that they preferred not to hire young women, that women shouldn’t get pregnant early in their employment, and they made explosive sexual harassment allegations. The lawsuit began in 2004….imagine the legal fees on top of the damages!

A lot can be learned from this case.  Even though sex discrimination has been illegal since 1964 and sexual harassment since the early 1980’s, the problems haven’t gone away.

Sexual harassment and equal employment opportunity training, and effective policy implementation, are as important as ever.  Perhaps they’re even more important as women comprise 50% of the workforce now and society is much more litigious than it was in 1964. Class action suits have gotten bigger and considerably more expensive lately. The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 has made it much easier for employees to bring wage discrimination claims.

It’s old news but it’s still true: employers must continually review their policies and practices (e.g., hiring, promotion, compensation programs, etc.) to ensure they aren’t discriminatorily applied and they need to regularly train their managers. No matter how enlightened organizations are regarding discrimination issues, there will always be problem managers and problem employees.  The goal is to minimize those risks as much as possible.


July 16, 2010

HR Fact Friday: With a Sour Economy, Psychiatrists Are in Demand

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: , , , 6:00 am

Demand for psychiatrists is growing faster than for other medical specialties, according to Merritt Hawkins, the physician search division of AMN Healthcare Services Inc.

The company noted 179 requests for psychiatrists from April 1, 2009, through March 31, 2010—up 47 percent from the previous year and up 121 percent from three years earlier.

“When the economy goes down, mental health problems tend do go up,” said Merritt Hawkins president Mark Smith. “But there is more to the rising demand for psychiatrists than the recession. A combination of factors is driving a psychiatrist shortage that could soon reach crisis levels.”

More than half of all psychiatrists are 55 or older and nearing retirement age as fewer medical school graduates are showing an interest in psychiatry, according to Merritt Hawkins.

Meanwhile, demand for psychiatric services is expected to increase by 19 percent from 1995 to 2020.  



July 14, 2010

New Notice Requirements for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors

Filed under: General HR Buzz1:48 pm

On May 20, 2010 the Department of Labor issued regulations implementing Executive Order 13496: Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Law.   The Executive Order requires that most federal contractors (with contracts over $100,000), and subcontractors with contracts of more than $10,000, post notices that inform employees of their right to organize and bargain collectively.

Contractors are responsible for ensuring that subcontractors comply with the requirement.

The sample poster is available here.

Additional information can be found here.


July 12, 2010

Around the States

Filed under: FMLA1:48 pm

New Connecticut legislation has expanded the state’s “mini-COBRA law”.  Both large and small employers will be affected as the law extends the health continuation coverage from 18 months to 30 months.

Another new Connecticut law, effective October 1, 2010, entitles employees who are family violence victims to take leave from work.

The Connecticut Superior Court has ruled that both in-state and out-of-state employees are included in determining whether an organization must comply with the state FMLA [ Velez v. Mayfield].

Effective July 5, 2010, in accordance with a state indoor smoking ban, virtually all Wisconsin workplaces must be smoke free.  Wisconsin has become the latest state to address worker misclassification (i.e., incorrectly treating employees as independent contractors) with passage of SB 672 and Assembly Bill 929.  The new laws increase monitoring and penalties for such misclassifications.  The federal government and many states around the country are addressing the “independent contractor issue.”

Another new Wisconsin law (SB 585) prohibits discrimination against workers who decline to attend political or religious meetings held by their employers.

Nevada’s minimum wage is increasing on July 1, 2010.  Minimum wage for employers offering qualified health benefits to their employees will be $7.25 per hour (the current federal rate) and $8.25 for those not offering benefits.


10 Ways to Make Any Job Healthier

Filed under: General HR Buzz11:50 am

The news earlier this year that prolonged sitting can be deadly seemed to confirm many office workers’ sneaking suspicion that they weren’t meant to spend all day in a desk chair. Or, more dramatically, that their jobs were slowly killing them. It isn’t just the sitting. It’s the stress, inflexible schedules, ever increasing pressure to perform, layoffs, and windowless cubicles. It’s a recipe for high blood pressure, weight gain, bad posture, and general unhealthiness.

A recent study from the University of Rochester Medical Center found that chronic job stress is associated with weight gain and obesity. Researchers studied nearly 3,000 workers at an upstate New York manufacturing facility and found that many workers spent their days stressed out and sedentary and spent their nights watching TV. “We found that people were so stressed that by the time they got back home, they didn’t feel like doing anything but vegging out,” says Diana Fernandez, a URMC epidemiologist and lead author of the study. When layoffs were coming, anxious workers consumed the most unhealthy foods in vending machines first. “People who work in very high-stress jobs seem to do less physical activity and engage in sedentary behaviors,” Fernandez says.

But workers are able to make changes for themselves. More and more will be seeking new jobs in the coming months as the job market improves, but many may find that stress is a constant in any job they jump to. While not every change is possible for every worker or something that can be maintained every day, here are 10 moves that could make your job healthier: (more…)

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