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November 30, 2010

States Increase Minimum Wage

Filed under: Compensation,General HR Buzz,Salaries & Pay7:30 pm

Several states have announced minimum wage rate increases based on increases in the U.S. Consumer Price Index and inflation.  Effective January 1, 2011 the following increases become effective:

Arizona – Regular minimum wage increases from $7.25 to $7.35 an hour. Minimum wage for tipped employees increases from $4.25 to $4.35.

Montana – Minimum wage increases from $7.25 to $7.35 an hour.

Ohio – Regular minimum wage increases from $7.30 to $7.40 an hour. Minimum wage for tipped employees increases from $3.65 to $3.70 an hour.

Oregon – Minimum wage increases from $8.40 to $8.50 an hour.

Vermont – Regular minimum wage increases from $8.06 to $8.15 an hour. Minimum wage for tipped employees increases from $3.91 to $3.95 an hour.

Washington – Minimum wage increases from $8.55 to $8.67 an hour.

Legislation is pending to increase the minimum wage rates in other states, so be sure to contact your state department of labor if you have questions.

Source: SHRM


November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday Hits the Workplace

Filed under: General HR Buzz1:11 pm

Will any of your employees be some of the estimated 107 million who take part in Cyber Monday shopping today?  As reported in USAToday, according to the National Retail Foundation, more people than ever will be doing part of their holiday shopping online today.  For employers this may mean employees are online a little more than usual today. 

You can read the full article in USAToday here


November 24, 2010

HR Fact Friday: Will You Check Work E-mail Over the Holiday Weekend?

Filed under: Work/Life Balance — Tags: , , , , 1:28 pm

I will not be checking work email over the long Thanksgiving weekend . . . but I am bringing a little work home with me. Nevertheless some interesting statistics on checking email  from home on long holiday weekends . . .

Long holiday weekends aren’t always free from work. Almost 60% of working Americans check their work e-mail during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays, according to a recent survey by Xobni.

How often? Of those who do check e-mails during the holidays, 55% said they check at least once a day and 28% visit their inbox multiple times per day, the survey said.

Additional findings on holiday work e-mails:

Reaction to e-mail: 19 % are “Thankful” or “Relieved” to have the distraction of work e-mail on holidays. On the other hand, 41 % of those that received work e-mails said they were either annoyed, frustrated, or resentful.

Gender: The survey suggests men (67%) are more likely to check work e-mail than women (50%).

Age: Employed middle-aged adults, aged 35-44, check work e-mail the most (65%).


Changing Insurer Will Not Jeopardize Grandfathered Status

Filed under: Insurance — Tags: 1:15 pm

In a move that will help some and frustrate others, an amendment was made effective November 15, 2010 that will allow employer-sponsored health plans to switch insurers and still maintain their grandfathered plan status under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  As long as the change does not violate other provisions of the Acts’ grandfathering provisions (no significant cost increases, reduction in benefits, etc), the plan can remain grandfathered even if switching to another insurer. 

This news may come too late for plans renewing January 1, 2011.  Many employers wishing to maintain grandfathered status may not have shopped around this fall, taking whatever increase their current insurer meted out.    Also note that the change does not apply retroactively to plans who switched insurers prior to Nov. 15. 

The changes were published in the Federal Register on November 17, 2010.


Trim a Little Here, a Little There…

Filed under: Insurance8:15 am

As many employers are wrapping up their annual benefits renewal process, there is little comfort in knowing that most are feeling the same pain.  As Mercer’s new National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans reveals, companies are “doing a little bit of everything to hold down cost increases”.  The most popular methods include changing plan design (such as increasing deductibles) ,changing insurers and adding consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs).  Employers are also increasingly trying to get ahead of the curve by implementing wellness programs to drive down claims. 

You can read SHRM’s summary of the survey at   or purchase the survey in its entirety on Mercer’s website at .


Wage-Based Health Plans Pass the Cost to Higher Paid Employees

Filed under: Benefits,General HR Buzz,Insurance7:31 am

As more companies look for ways to ease the burden of rising health care premiums, some are looking to wage-based plans where “the more you make, the more you pay”.

Over the past year, several companies have made headlines as they devised creative ways to balance increasing healthcare costs with reduced or nonexistent pay increases.  One way to ease the burden on employees in mid- and lower-income jobs is to pass more of the cost to employees in higher paying jobs.

For example, Vanderbilt University has adopted a wage-based benefit program for 2011 under which premiums will remain the same for employees who make $50,000 or less, while everyone else will pay up to $75 more a month.

Also, employees at Bank of America who make $100,000 or more a year will pay at least 14% more for coverage in 2011.  But workers who make less will actually see their contributions decrease, although their deductibles and co-payments will stay the same. Employees earning less than $50,000 could see as much as a 50% drop in the amount deducted from their paychecks, as compared to 2010.

Consultants say the trend is likely to continue, though in the interest of perceived fairness, some companies may be reluctant to ask certain employees to pay more than others.

For example, what about the low earner whose spouse is a very successful small business owner?  Or the higher paid employee who is a single parent and sole source of income for eight kids?

What do you think?

Read the full article here



November 23, 2010

The 100 Best Companies

Filed under: General HR Buzz3:07 pm

Do you work for one of the best companies in the nation?  If not, do you want to?  Fortune magazine has once again published their list of the best U.S. companies to work for.

To pick the 100 Best Companies, Fortune partners with the Great Place to Work Institute to conduct the most extensive employee survey in corporate America.  Over 350 companies participated in this year’s survey.

Two-thirds of a company’s score is based on the results of the Institute’s Trust Index survey, which is sent to a random sample of employees from each company.  The survey asks questions related to their attitudes about the management’s credibility, job satisfaction, and camaraderie.

The other third of the scoring is based on the company’s responses to the Institute’s Culture Audit, which includes detailed questions about pay and benefit programs and a series of open-ended questions about hiring, communication, and diversity.

Any company that is at least seven years old with more than 1,000 U.S. employees is eligible.  The deadline for applying for next year’s list is April 2, 2010. For an online nomination form, go to

Read Fortune Magazine’s list of the top 100 companies to work for here



Companies to focus on aligning sales comp with strategy

Filed under: Salaries & Pay — Tags: 1:55 pm

A recently released World at Work survey found that the majority of sales organizations made few changes to their sales compensation programs in 2010.  Despite the challenging economic environment, companies stayed the course this year.  The focus for 2011 will be on improving alignment between sales incentive pay and business strategy (indicated by 83 percent of respondents).

Another interesting finding of the survey is that the majority of organizations are blending the roles of their salesforce, asking sales employees to be accountable for both developing new business and maintaining existing accounts.  This will be a challenge as employers also seek to increase emphasis on selling new products and winning new business (36 percent).

You can read the complete Sales Compensation Programs and Practices report on the World at Work website here:


November 22, 2010

Newspaper Reporter is Nonexempt

Filed under: Salaries & Pay4:29 pm

In yet another case that demonstrates the difficulty in applying the FLSA’s exemption tests, the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a newspaper’s reporters were nonexempt, and therefore entitled to overtime.

The newspaper involved was a Chinese language daily with distribution in Los Angeles, New York, and other U.S. cities. The paper had argued that the employees were exempt under the Creative Professional exemption.  The court disagreed, finding that the newspaper’s articles “lacked the sophistication of the national level papers” and that the reporters didn’t perform sophisticated news analysis or investigational reporting required to qualify under the exemption.

Reporters who routinely just gather and organize news would be nonexempt.  [Wang v. Chinese Daily News, Inc.]


One Job That’s Not So Fun…. TSA Patter-Downer

Filed under: General HR Buzz3:46 pm

With the busiest travel day of the year fast approaching, perhaps all air travelers should take a moment and thank the TSA Officers for doing their part to keep the airways safe. 

These government employees are the unfortunate ones who must pat down those travelers who opt out of the full body scan.  And as much as you dislike the
“extra friendly” pat downs on the inside of thighs, over the buttocks and other places, I assure you the Patter-Downer is not whistling Dixie. 

Passenger outrage has unfortunately been directed at the messenger.

The American Federation of Government Employees, the union that represents TSA workers is urging the TSA to do more to protect its employees from abuse from airline passengers angry over the new security methods.  The union reports that some officers have reported instances in which passengers have become angry, belligerent and even physical with TSOs (transportation security officers).  In Indianapolis, for example, a TSO was punched by a passenger who didn’t like the new screening process.

Read MSN’s article on abuse of TSA workers here

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