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March 30, 2011

How Much Money Do Employees Need for Retirement?

Filed under: Retirement3:51 pm

Estimates for how much an individual needs to save for retirement are all over the map and vary widely depending upon someone’s lifestyle and specific situation.  The consulting firm, Hewitt Associates, has released a study, Retirement Income Adequacy at Large Companies, the Real Deal 2010 which examines the issue. The study looked at organizations of 1,000 or more employees and worked from the premise that employees would stay with their firms for at least 30 years.  Employees at large and medium organizations tend to receive the richest retirement benefits while those at small companies often have no retirement program at all.


Hewitt has determined that employees who retire at age 65 will require resources that total at least 15.7 times their annual pay at retirement to continue living in the manner to which they’ve grown accustomed.  Resources include: defined contribution plans (e.g., 401ks), defined benefit plans (e.g., pensions), Social Security, and other assets.   The study found that employees at these large firms that have defined contribution and defined benefit plans, would, on average, have 91% of what is needed for retirement.


Unfortunately, few organizations still have pension plans.  It’s estimated that employees with only a defined contribution plan (401k) will reach 74% of what’s required.  Men appear better prepared, with 88% of their retirement assets covered, while women on average meet only 81% of resources needed.  Obviously, employees who work longer have a better chance of retiring with a sufficient asset mix.  Those retiring at 62 typically have 65% of what’s needed, while those who wait until 67 have 98%.   Individuals who live longer are at greater risk of running out of money, with those who live longer than average, to the 80th percentile (women 93 and men age 91), meeting just 72% of their requirements.



Wednesday Weekly Acronyms in recognition of National Employee Benefits Day- ERISA and EBSA

Filed under: Benefits,Compliance,General HR Buzz10:29 am

As we near National Employee Benefits Day on April 4, 2011, our weekly acronym of the week will be related to benefits.  I had a difficult time narrowing it down to one so we have two that we will be reviewing.

First is the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), a federal law that sets minimum standards for pension plans in private industry. ERISA does not require any employer to establish a pension plan. It only requires that those who establish plans must meet certain minimum standards. ERISA requires plans to regularly provide participants with information about the plan including information about plan features and funding; sets minimum standards for participation, vesting, benefit accrual and funding; requires accountability of plan fiduciaries; and gives participants the right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty.

The second acronym is the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) which is a DOL agency that enforces ERISA.   The EBSA assists employers and employee benefit plan officials in understanding and complying with the requirements of ERISA as it applies to the administration of employee pension and welfare benefit plans.

For more information, please visit the Department of Labor website which contains handy fact sheets and other helpful information.


March 29, 2011

Wal-Mart Case Before the Supreme Court Today

Filed under: General HR Buzz10:18 am

The Supreme Court will begin hearing testimony today in the landmark case of gender discrimination against retailer Wal-Mart. Rarely does an employment law case make it to the national and local news, but everyone should be watching this one closely.

The Supreme Court is not reviewing the case to determine whether Wal-Mart discriminated against women. Their scope is limited to determining whether the women of Wal-Mart can be certified as a class…potentially the largest class in history.

You can read more about the case in USAToday’s article here:


March 28, 2011

What’s the Most Annoying Work Behavior?

Filed under: General HR Buzz3:59 pm

There are lots of office annoyances but several really stand out, according to a survey by Opinium Research.  The survey found that the Top 10 office annoyances were:

1.   Grumpy or moody colleagues (37%)

2.   Slow computers (36%)

3.   Small talk/gossip in the office (19%)

4.   The use of office or management jargon (18%)

5.   People speaking loudly on the phone (18%)

6.   Too much health and safety in the work place (16%)

7.   Poor toilet etiquette (16%)

8.   People not showing up for meetings on time or at all (16%)

9.   People not tidying up after themselves in the kitchen (15%)

10.  Too cold/cold air conditioning (15%)

As for the top most annoying business jargon:  “Thinking outside the box” comes in first at 21%, followed by  “Let’s touch base” (20%), “Blue sky thinking” (19%), “Blamestorming” (16%), “Drill down to a more granular level” (15%), “Let’s not throw pies in the dark” (15%), “I’ve got that on my radar” (13%), “Push the envelope” (12%), “Bring your A-game” (11%) and finally, “Get all your ducks in a row” (11%).



Final Rule on ADAAA

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released the final rule on the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) last Friday, March 25, 2011.  Although the text of the final rule is still being analyzed, a quick review indicates that the EEOC made several important improvements to the regulation to address concerns raised by SHRM and other stakeholder groups.  The final rule:

  • Reinstates language to clarify that “disability” remains an individualized determination;
  • Reinstates other basic concepts of the ADA including definition of the major life activity of “working” and use of “condition, manner, and duration” when trying to determine disability; and,
  • Removes an unnecessary “clarification” prohibiting employers from taking action based on a “symptom” of impairment under the “regarded as” clause of the statute.

The proposed rule, released in 2009, was delayed while newly-appointed Commissioners reviewed both the proposed regulation and comments received from the public in response to the rule.  Updated information will be posted as it becomes available.


March 23, 2011

Weekly Wednesday Acronym – NLRA and NLRB

Filed under: Employment Law,General HR Buzz,Unions/NLRB11:14 am

Today is bonus Wednesday!  It is difficult to discuss the NLRA without also addressing the NLRB, so we have two acronyms this week. 

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is a federal law that gives employees the right to organize unions, bargain collectively and engage in concerted actions for mutual protection. Passed in 1935, it is also referred to as the Wagner Act after its sponsor, Robert F. Wagner.  It also requires employers to recognize unions selected by employees and to bargain in good faith, and it prevents employers from conducting certain unfair labor practices.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an independent agency of the United States government which investigates and resolves complaints related to the NLRA.  The NLRB is governed by a five-person board and a General Counsel, all of whom are appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate.  Board members are appointed to five-year terms and the General Counsel is appointed to a four-year term. The General Counsel acts as a prosecutor and the Board acts as an appellate judicial body from decisions of administrative law judges.


March 21, 2011

Family Responsibility Discrimination Growing

Filed under: Harrasment4:01 pm

According to a study by the Center for Worklife Law, the number of family responsibility discrimination (FRD) lawsuits is growing steadily.  A few years ago these types of cases were rare. But in the last decade they have increased 400%.  FRD involves discrimination against employees because of the need to care for family members. According to the study, 67% of cases involve pregnancy and maternity leave, 9.6% involve elder care, 7% relate to care for sick children, 4% for a sick spouse, 3% involve leave for newborn care by a father or adoptive parent, and 2.4% to care for someone with a disability.

The cases are expensive.  It’s estimated that employees win 50% of the cases and that the average damages are over $570,000.   As with other types of discrimination, training supervisors and managers regarding the basic legal requirements of FRD is critical.  Reviewing leave policies and practices with FRD in mind is also a good idea.

For more information go to:$File/FRDupdate.pdf



Hang on to your Executives

ExecuNet, Inc., an online networking site and job board that recruits executive talent, recently conducted a survey of 380 recruiters.  The survey indicated that over half of executive candidates seeking jobs are receiving more than one offer.  This is an increase of 16% from the 2010 survey results.

The industries that appear to heating up most are health-care and technology.   Job functions that are in demand are sales and business-development, along with marketing and engineering.  Additionally, competitive offers are being sweetened with increased compensation and additional perks such as flexible work hours.

Although this is a sign that times are getting better, executives are not receiving the multiple offers that were prevalent in 2006 and 2007.  But the data serves as a good reminder to review your executive compensation and rewards program to ensure you are competitive with external market.


March 17, 2011

What’s in a name?

Filed under: FLSA,General HR Buzz2:09 pm

Often we encounter clients who struggle to determine the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) category for a position. Should Loan Officers be exempt or non-exempt? At what point does a Teller Supervisor go from being a non-exempt worker-bee to an exempt manager? Sometimes the lines are really fuzzy, aren’t they?

To confuse matters even further, some still unfortunately confuse the terms exempt and non-exempt with the terms salaried and hourly.

To clarify, “exempt” and “non-exempt” are legal terms defined by the FLSA and related case law. In a nutshell, they define whether a position is eligible to receive overtime for hours actually worked over 40 in a defined work week. It is important to note that you can pay non-exempt employees on either a salaried or hourly basis. You generally may not pay an exempt employee on a hourly basis. “Salaried” and “hourly” refer only to the payment method. You may pay employees a set regular salary on a weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or other regular payment frequency.

Remember that if you pay non-exempt employees on a salary basis, you are still required to document their hours worked, and add overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in a week.


March 16, 2011

Weekly Wednesday HR Acronym – ADEA

What is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ( ADEA )?

The ADEA prohibits companies with at least 20 employees from considering age in employment decisions for persons aged 40 or older.  Employment decisions include hiring, compensation, benefits, promotions, and training unless a specific exception to the law applies.  One of the main provisions of the Act is that employers, with very few exceptions, can no longer force an employee to retire. 

States may have their own laws that affect these decisions as well so it is advised you review your state’s statutes for more information.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s Web site at

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