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August 30, 2010

What Are Clothes? The Department of Labor Weighs in and It’s More Complicated Than You Think

Filed under: Genetic — Tags: , , 1:52 pm

The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division recently issued Administrator’s Interpretation 2010-2 which addresses the issue of what’s considered “clothes” for determining compensable (paid) time under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).   I bet that you never thought this was an issue?  But then again all bets are off when dealing with the FLSA. The definition of “clothes” (i.e., does it include protective equipment?) has changed over the years, often depending upon which political party is in office.    The DOL’s new interpretation states that protective equipment (e.g., rubber gloves, boots,  arm guards, etc.) is not considered clothing and time spent putting it on and taking it off may be considered work time, even if under a collective bargaining agreement, or customary practices, changing clothes is not.  Note, however, that while changing clothes (in contrast to protective equipment) may not be compensable under some union contracts, subsequent activities, like walking and waiting, could be.

Bottom Line:   If your workplace requires that employees change clothes or use protective equipment, it’s a good time to review your policies and ensure that your people are being paid appropriately.   If this isn’t part of your workplace, be thankful….because yes, it is as messy as it sounds.   See the Administrator’s Interpretation No. 2010-2, on the DOL web site at:


August 27, 2010

The Four Keys To Success With Virtual Teams

Filed under: General HR Buzz3:13 pm

When your team is all over the world instead of in one building, different rules apply.
Today’s financial woes have forced many companies to pick members of project teams from across various global locations and have them communicate virtually–by phone, e-mail and videoconference–thereby saving both time and money.

There are more global virtual teams today than ever before. And their numbers are increasing rapidly. INSEAD, the international business school where I teach, has been bombarded with requests to set up a program showing executives the skills they’ll need to meet this new management challenge. The latest research shows that those skills are not simply different from those needed for running co-located teams; they are often the exact opposite. Here are four principal ways they’re very different.

1. You must lead differently.

While co-located teams often benefit most from a leader who acts as a facilitator, virtual teams need a manager who provides clearly defined direction and removes all ambiguity from the process. Research by my fellow INSEAD professor José Santos demonstrates that highly centralized coordination usually works best in globally distributed teams. When a team works together in the same office, you can have loose job descriptions, possibly even with two people sharing elements of the same role. In virtual teams that just doesn’t work. Team leaders have to formalize roles and responsibilities–starting with their own.

2. You must arrive at decisions differently.

Teams don’t work the same everywhere. In the U.S., managers are trained to solicit input from a team, choose a direction quickly and make adjustments as the project moves forward. It works, but then so do other methods. In Sweden teams learn to make decisions through lengthy consensus building, which can span many meetings but eventually leads to strong buy-in and rapid implementation. In France the Descartes-inspired education system teaches that debate and confrontation are necessary elements of any decision-making process. And in Japan decisions tend to be made in informal one-on-one discussions before a formal group meeting.

In my own research, I’ve found that one of the most difficult tasks for leaders of global teams is to recognize that their styles of decision making may be deeply rooted in the cultures that they come from. Global teams therefore need very explicit descriptions of how decisions will be made, and the best global team leader is one who is willing to try out different kinds of decision-making processes at different points in a project.

3. You must build trust differently.

Trust takes on a whole new meaning in virtual teams. When you meet your workmates by the water cooler or photocopier every day, you know instinctively who you can and cannot trust. In a geographically distributed team, trust is measured almost exclusively in terms of reliability.

Cristina Escallon, another faculty member in our new Managing Global Virtual Teams program, teaches that leaders of virtual teams need to concentrate on creating a highly defined process where team members deliver specific results in a repeated sequence. Reliability, aka trust, is thus firmly established after two or three cycles. Because of that, face-to face meetings can be limited to once a year or so.

4. You must communicate differently.

The utmost key to global virtual team leading is, without doubt, communication. But when we communicate virtually, we often become less influential. INSEAD Professor Ian Woodward has demonstrated through practical exercises that moving your body while speaking enhances your voice quality. Managers of global virtual teams who sit rigidly at their desks, glued to Skype or videoconference screens, tend to lose their interpersonal or persuasive edge. Walking around or simply moving your arms is just one of many simple but effective communication tricks that managers can use to improve the sound of their message.

The upshot of all this is that managers with geographically scattered teams need a much broader skill set than those with traditional, co-located teams. More than that, they need the ability to switch between skill sets, based on the diversity of their team members and the distance between them. Welcome to a new virtual world of business.

Source: Erin Meyer Forbes Magazine


Like It or Not, HR is PR.

Filed under: General HR Buzz2:47 pm

You’ve said it before as you’ve contemplated a tough move on the people front within your company…

“What will this look like to our employees and customers if we take this action?”

“What will this look like to the same groups if we don’t take action?”

Like Spike Lee, you always want to do the right thing.  However, it’s a tough world, and you have to think about how the move (or lack of a move, depending on the situation) is going to be perceived.

Face the facts – part of the job of good HR is good PR.  Want proof from the big leagues?  HP fires Mark Hurd, and one of the outcomes that came out after the fact was that a DC-based PR firm, named APCO Worldwide, was with the Board at HP every step of the way as they moved to the decision to separate Hurd from the company.  Here’s more from Fortune: (more…)


HR Fact Friday: HMO Enrollment Surpasses CDHPs for First Time

Filed under: Benefits,Insurance — Tags: , 9:35 am

Enrollment in health maintenance organization plans has surpassed enrollment in consumer-driven health plans, a survey concludes.

While 12.4 percent of employees enrolled in CDHPs this year, 15.4 percent enrolled in HMOs, according the “2010 United Benefit Advisors Health Plan Survey” released Monday, August 23. In comparison, 15.4 percent of employees enrolled in CDHPs in 2009 while 13.6 percent of employees enrolled in HMOs.

The rate of CDHP growth also has slowed, according to the Indianapolis-based alliance of 145 benefit advisory firms. Employers have introduced 18.1 percent more CDHP offerings in the past year, down from a growth rate of 33.9 percent in last year’s survey.



August 20, 2010

HR Educational Webinar – Employment Compliance Update

Filed under: General HR Buzz,HRN News7:55 am

Title: Employment Compliance Update
Date: Thursday, August 26, 2010
Time: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time

Join HRN Management Group in our quarterly HR educational webinar series for an informative and timely update of basic employment compliance. Participants will learn about the latest changes to laws that govern employee discrimination, harassment, discipline and termination including:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

The 60-minute webinar will review changes needed in your human resources practices necessitated by new legislation passed in 2009 and 2010.

Please note: This activity has been submitted to the HR Certification Institute for review.

Space is Limited
Reserve you Webinar seat now at:


HR Fact Friday: Are Refrigerators the New Workplace Hazard?

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: , , , 7:37 am

We are blaming everything on the economic downtown, so why not the upturn in nasty, smelly office refrigerators. A recent study says that 70 percent of employees are now bringing lunch from home at least once a week to save money, but it seems only a small percentage of them are cleaning up afterward or throwing out their leftovers.

The study, by ConAgra and the American Dietetic Association, also found that 44 percent of workplace fridges are cleaned only once a month, and 22 percent are cleaned only once or twice a year. That means two-thirds are not cleaned regularly, and perhaps 100 percent are cleaned less than the restroom toilet seats!



August 16, 2010

How to Get the Most out of Your HR Function in Tough Economic Times

Filed under: General HR Buzz1:54 pm

The events of the last two years have been dizzying.  Arguably, the Human Resource function has been impacted as much as any other corporate function.  Whether it is planning and executing layoffs or just keeping up with the insane amount of legislative change, the demands on HR have certainly increased.  At the same time, with companies facing intense economic pressure, HR departments increasingly find themselves being asked to do more, with less.

So how does a department caught in the middle of an economic tug of war survive and thrive in this environment?  Here are some tips:



August 13, 2010

HR Fact Friday: Gap in Female vs. Male Income Not Closing

Filed under: Compensation,Salaries & Pay — Tags: , , , 10:49 am

Women in New York state earned a median weekly income last year of $720, or about 84 percent of the $858 earned by men in the state, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday, August 10.

Women in the Empire State fared better than other women across the country, who earned a median income of $657, or 80 percent of the $819 nationwide median income brought in by men. But the gap between male and female salaries in New York did not narrow from 2008, when it reached a record high. The numbers reflect workers in full-time wage and salary positions.

“In terms of women making strides, the ratios haven’t changed a lot in the last few years,” said Martin Kohli, a BLS regional economist. “Women have not been making additional gains in terms of closing the wage gap.”



August 11, 2010

DOL Expands Definition of “Son or Daughter” for FMLA and Includes Non-traditional Parents

Filed under: FMLA3:01 pm

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), in Administrative Interpretation No. 2010-3, has expanded the definition of son/daughter for the purposes of childcare leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.  Under the FMLA, eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of leave for the birth, adoption, or placement of a child or to care for a child with a “serious health condition.”   FMLA regulations state that “son or daughter” includes a “biological, adopted or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child of a person standing “in loco parentis” (in place of a parent).   “In loco parentis” includes those with no biological or legal relationship with a child.   According to the Administrative Interpretation, an employee qualifies under the “in loco parentis” test if: 1) S/he provides day to day care for the child OR  2.) S/he is financially responsible for the child.  Additionally, an employee need only provide a statement, that day to day care or financial support is provided, to qualify for the leave.  The DOL’s Interpretation can be found at:

The Interpretation expressly mentions same sex couples as qualifying for this leave.  It could also include grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and other family members or friends. 

Note, however, that the FMLA still does not require leave for unmarried employees to care for their seriously ill partners.


August 10, 2010

Doesn’t Sound Like “Happy Jetting” To Me

Filed under: General HR Buzz7:24 pm

JetBlue’s slogan of “Happy Jetting” apparently didn’t make it into the employee handbook.

According to authorities, a JetBlue flight attendant got into an argument with a passenger on a jetliner arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday, cursed the passenger, grabbed a beer from the galley and then deployed an emergency exit slide and fled the plane.

That’ll be $7 for the beer, and oh by the way, we only take credit cards.

Read the full article here

Source: NPR

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