December 2012 Compliance and Culture Newsletter

December 1, 2012 Leave a comment

“Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small steps.” –David Lloyd George (1863-1945), British Prime Minister

This issue discusses:

  • Editor’s Column: Workplace Statistics Speak Volumes
  • Three Questions Job Applicants Should Be Asking You
  • Have You Ever Promoted the Wrong Person Into Management?
  • The Importance of Formalized Training
  • Data Retention vs. Data Destruction
  • Three Keys to Effective Wellness Programs
  • Why Workers Don’t Use Vacation Time
  • Improving Performance Evaluations
  • Spotting Scoundrels
  • Leadership Challenges with Millennials
  • Most Employees Face Health Challenges
  • Considering Obamacare

We have also provided you with the Form of the Month.

Please click here to view the newsletter in PDF.

Editor’s Column: Workplace Statistics Speak Volumes

The September 2012 issue of Inc. magazine offered a variety of statistics related to the workplace. Here are a few that I found interesting:

  • More than two in five small business owners or managers (43%) say that they feel more stressed now than they did a year ago. This should be a scary sign for all of us, because these folks have created the only real net job growth in the U.S. during the past few years.
  • Apparently, 77% of American workers are stressed about something at work. My question is: What’s going on with that other 23%? Are they slackers? Zen Buddhists? Numb? Or have they given up? I don’t know anybody trying to be successful who doesn’t feel at least somewhat anxious and stressed. Stress is generally related to low salary (49%), lack of opportunities for advancement (43%), heavy workload (43%), unrealistic expectations from managers (40%), and long hours (39%). It seems as if you could pick any subject and half of us would be stressed about it.
  • Interestingly, among Americans who listed their go-to stress relievers, watching TV came in at 64% for men, and 70% for women, while exercising came in at only 44% for men and only 42% for women – one reason why we have a growing obesity epidemic.
  • Inc.500 companies offered these employee benefits: Health insurance (92%), bonus plan (85%), retirement plan/401(k) (66%), Life insurance (49%), Disability insurance (49%), and tuition reimbursement (25%). These are “rich numbers.” I wonder if this is because these companies are so fast growing and successful that they can afford such generous benefits; or does the fact that they provide benefits allow them to attract great employees, who help grow their companies quickly? Chances are that it’s a little bit of both.
  • Among Inc. 500 CEOs who took a leadership quiz, 51.7% viewed themselves as creator-builders, happiest at the start of projects. Only 11.9% considered themselves to be people-movers who excelled at spotting, motivating, and nurturing talent. Think about this statistic for a minute – if the CEO is not excelling at the talent game, then who at the organization is? How can HR step into this incredible void and allow those builders-owners to expand and execute on their creative visions?

Three Questions Job Applicants Should Be Asking You

The October 2012 issue of Inc. magazine posted three great questions that applicants should ask you and, in turn, you should be prepared to answer:

  1. What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?
  2. What are the common attributes to your top performers?
  3. What are the major factors that drive results for the company?

Have You Ever Promoted the Wrong Person Into Management?

When we asked Webinar participants this question, 76% replied yes. Please take advantage of the Webinar First Time Supervisors and Managersand the White Paper: Critical Transition: From Employee to Manager on the HR That Works program. Here are some pointers that these tools set forth:

  1. Promotion into management is a hiring decision.
  2. Make sure they want the promotion more than you do.
  3. Talk about expectations upfront and what “outs” the company and employee have if these expectations are unmet. The last thing you want to do is let go of a poor manager and lose a great employee in the process.
  4. Make sure that these managers have a formalized training process (see the next article)

Here’s another chart from that Webinar. The first hurdle for a new manager is “moving from friend to boss.” The second is “learning how not to do the job of others.”

Think about it this way: If you’re paying an employee $30,000 a year ($15 an hour) and you then promote them to management and pay them $50,000 a year ($25 an hour), every time they do $15 an hour work, you lose. Although nobody is suggesting that friendships end because of a promotion, becoming a boss is a fundamental shift that might require assistance. You can role-play scenarios with these managers. What type of situations show up in your workplace when you ask managers to do the jobs of others, or when people try to influence management decisions with their friendships? Teach your managers how to deal with these situations effectively and you’ll have far better managers.

The Importance of Formalized Training

Two-thirds of HR That Works companies have between 25 and 100 employees. In a recent webinar, when asked “Do you provide your managers with formalized training?” only 43% answered yes. This means that less than half of these companies have a plan to create top-flight managers. I say this because if they don’t have formalized training, I doubt that they’ll have a formalized management success plan. Here’s a list of topics on which all managers should have training:

  1. Hiring great people
  2. How to manage the performance of great people
  3. Keeping great people
  4. How to motivate great people
  5. Dealing with poor performers and the termination process
  6. Compliance basics
  7. Effective leadership and management skills
  8. Emotional intelligence
  9. Business acumen
  10. Creativity and innovation
  11. Managing across generations
  12. Time management

Yes, HR That Works offers training in each of these subjects. Make sure that your managers watch at least one of these programs every month. At the end of the year they are guaranteed to be much better managers. Amazing! In addition, reward them with bonuses, contests, recognition, etc. when they seek out their own training programs.

Data Retention vs. Data Destruction

An excellent article in the September 2012 issue of Corporate Counsel Magazine focuses on the tradeoffs between data management (storage, security, speed, and storage space), information management (storage, organization, and rapid access to information ), and data retention (creating a defensible policy to avoid litigation and regulatory sanctions if certain information is destroyed). According to the author, just because a business can keep data in perpetuity, often in cloud-based applications, does not mean that it should do so. The negative aspects of unlimited data retention include the difficulty of archiving and segregating information for easy access. The gist of the article is that it makes sense to have a retention policy that discards information when it’s no longer required for compliance purposes, backup, or analysis. Click here to read the article.

Three Keys to Effective Wellness Programs

A consensus of six healthcare organizations have released a Joint Consensus Statement entitled “Guidance for a Reasonably Designed, Employer-Sponsored Wellness Program Using Outcomes-Based Incentives.” Anyone in HR, benefits, or who cares about wellness or productivity should read this article.

Here are three major conclusions I gleaned from the paper:

  1. Evidence suggests that long-term lifestyle modification and risk factor management require more than financial motivation.
  2. The key to a successful worksite wellness program capable of sustaining behavioral change is the creation of a culture and environment that supports health and wellness.
  3. You can’t wing wellness; you need a strategic plan to make sure that it works. That strategic plan should provide the right mix of rewards versus penalties and have cultural support, include assessment and screening, behavioral change interventions, engagement methods, measurement, and valuation, HIPAA and ADA compliance, and effective incentives.

Why Workers Don’t Use Vacation Time

A survey by Harris Interactive, Inc., found that by the end of 2012 Americans will leave an average of 9.2 vacation days unused, up from 6.2 days in 2011.

According to a survey by Expedia, here are the top five reasons why U.S. employees don’t use all of their vacation time:

  1. I can’t afford a vacation;
  2. My work is my life;
  3. I have trouble scheduling far enough in advance;
  4. I can get paid for my unused vacation days; and
  5. Taking off might be perceived negatively at work.

Unfortunately, only the Japanese take fewer annual vacation days than Americans (5 versus 12), compared to 20 in India, 25 in the UK, 28, in Germany, and 30 in Brazil. Although employers want employees to work hard, burnout and disengagement is a real concern. If it were my company, I would make sure my employees used all their vacation!

Improving Performance Evaluations

I don’t like the idea of traditional performance evaluations. Most managers don’t like to give performance evaluations – and most employees don’t like to get them – because they seldom identify the real issues. For example, poor performance can be caused by a number of factors beyond the employee’s control.

  • They have a poor boss. Remember, half of all managers are above average, while the other half are below average. What’s the value of a performance evaluation from a below average manager?
  • The reviews are seldom honest. Because no one wants to offend anyone else we rate toward the comfortable middle or, if there’s a “let’s get rid of them” agenda, the performance appraisal gets manipulated toward the low end.
  • The Peter Principle. The person was moved into a new role (whether through hiring, transfer, or promotion) for which they lack the requisite skills or training. They have the desire, but not yet the ability. Whose fault is that?

Even though there are other difficulties associated with the traditional performance appraisal process, 75% of small to mid-sized companies still do them. What should we do instead? Here are a few points to consider:

  1. Make sure you have crystal clarity about what constitutes good performance – in terms of quality and quantity.
  2. Allow the employee to own the performance benchmarks.
  3. Provide as much feedback as possible on these benchmarks.
  4. Catch problems early.
  5. See where the “system” might be hampering performance.
  6. Think of yourself as more of a coach than a manager.
  7. Seek anonymous feedback of your staff and other managers. If you truly want to be a good manager, you need 360˚ input. Solicit it and take any judgment as a gift.
  8. Finally, there are only three results to a performance evaluation process: rewarding good performance, coaching poor performance, and terminating employees who just can’t cut it.

This last option is the trickiest because it involves more emotion than any of the others. Nobody likes to end a relationship, even if it’s a bad one. As a manager, you have to embrace the fact that employees won’t be happy about getting fired and will probably begin pointing fingers. If your performance evaluation process is able to identify their shortcomings without surprise, there should be little regret on your part.

Spotting Scoundrels

A recent issue of Scientific Mind discussed studies of truthfulness and physical signals. The bottom line: Opportunists or liars tend to display a cluster of four cues: hand touching, face touching, crossing arms, and leaning away. Although none of these individual clues in itself indicated deceitfulness, taken together they provided a highly accurate indicator. How can you benefit from this insight? When hiring an employee or investigating a matter, make sure to challenge the interviewee. If he or she starts displaying these gestures, beware!!

Leadership Challenges with Millennials

I’ve read numerous books and watched webinars about managing younger workers. Here’s a summary of the key points to remember:

  1. Don’t micromanage them. A better approach is to be very clear about the outcomes you’re looking for and allow these employees to play a part in figuring out how to get there. Get them to define and own success benchmarks.
  2. Allow them to share their ideas. Even if they’re young and new. Many of their parents raised them to be their peers or friends, so they will expect the same from you.
  3. They can expect to be acknowledged and rewarded for participation. So do that.
  4. Remember when you were young? Make it fun!

As Millennial work expert Blake Cavignac reminds us: “Remember, you raised us!”

Most Employees Face Health Challenges

I’ve come across a few surveys recently that really got my attention. According to a Gallup – Healthways Wellbeing Index, here’s the health status of full-time employees:

  • 13.9% are normal weight and without chronic conditions
  • 17.9% are overweight or obese without chronic conditions
  • 30.2% are overweight or obese with one or two chronic conditions
  • 17.8% are overweight or obese with three or more chronic conditions
  • 14.8% are normal weight with one or two chronic conditions
  • 5.3% are normal weight with three or more chronic conditions

These are scary statistics for employers and our nation as a whole. Of course, some of these statistics vary with location, job position, employer, etc. Employers are beginning to realize that they should do everything possible to put a dent in these figures – not just to reduce healthcare costs, but also to reduce absenteeism and increase presenteeism, improve productivity, and more.

It’s not just employees suffering from health challenges. According to Manta, 44% of small business owners say that the poor business climate had a negative effect on their health in 2011. A third said that they exercised less; 22% said they gained weight.

This health trend has caused employees to view their benefits as on a par with their compensation. According to a Mercer Workplace Survey, 75% of employees said that as healthcare costs rise, they would rather pay more out of pocket than have their health benefits reduced. The survey also found that 61% of companies offer wellness benefits and 30% of employees say they take advantage of those benefits. Unfortunately, this might be the same 30% who try to keep themselves healthy in the first place.

Considering Obamacare

An interesting dialogue sponsored by AFLAC on how today’s agents and brokers can help their clients navigate healthcare reform offered these pointers:

  1. Carriers and brokers will be supplying a Summary of Benefits Coverage in 2013. Payroll companies will help with reporting benefit payments to the IRS.
  2. In 2014 we’ll have to worry about obtaining insurance from either federal or state exchanges. Much remains to be worked out before any advice can be given in this area.
  3. Agents and brokers will still need to advise their clients on the purchase of Disability, Life, and other insurances and often times on a voluntary basis.
  4. Employee education will be essential. Work with an agent or broker that can provide employees with this education so they don’t get their information from the TV.
  5. The healthcare exchanges will be providing “navigation services,” and we’re still not sure exactly what that means.
  6. Ultimately, employers are going to ask, “What should I do?” and your agent or broker must have the experience and expertise to provide you with insight.

This will be a challenging time as carriers, brokers, employees, employers, and healthcare administrators struggle through the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The bottom line: Getting your benefits act together with your Health insurer, agent, broker, and employees will provide a significant competitive advantage for your business.

Form of the Month

Team Commitments (PDF) – This form was designed to give you a head start on creating a set of Team Commitments that can work for your company. Make sure you get employee input in the process. Once you finalize this document display it proudly and often.


Click here to to listen to this month’s newsletter podcast.

REPRINT POLICY: Reprints are welcome! All you have to do is include the following notation with reprinted material:

©2012 Reprinted with permission from, a powerful program designed to inspire great HR practices.

Categories: Newsletters, Podcast

November 2012 Compliance and Culture Newsletter

November 1, 2012 Leave a comment

“Your playing small does not serve the world.” —Marianne Williamson

This issue discusses:

  • Editor’s Column: Time to Start Delegating
  • Raise the Financial Awareness of Your Employees
  • Accommodations Related to Commuting to and From Work
  • Automatic Transfer to Vacant Position May Be Required as Reasonable Accommodation
  • Anyone Not Stressed Out?
  • What is HPM?

We have also provided you with the Form of the Month.

Please click here to view the newsletter in PDF.

Editor’s Column: Time to Start Delegating

I can’t seem to say this enough: You need to stop doing things in order to grow in your career. This is true for me, you, and anyone else. How do you know when to stop doing something? When should you outsource it, delegate it, or ignore it completely? Here are some potential indicators:

  • You’re exhausted, burnt out, a piece of toast.
  • You’re spending more than 50 hours per week at the office and taking work home.
  • You spend more than half of your day doing low-value work. For example, if you make roughly $50 per hour, this means you spend more than half your day doing work worth $8 to $49 per hour.
  • You find yourself doing other people’s jobs for them. This means you clearly haven’t defined a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the job and its benchmarks.
  • The opportunity that lies dormant in your career is not being realized. This is true whether you are in HR, not in HR, or run the company! You know that there are cool, exciting, profitable things that can get done, but you’re not able to get to them.
  • You’re bored with your work. When you have these fantasies of quitting and moving on, you’re in a dangerous place. It’s time to figure out what excites you and delegate your way to reaching this position.
  • You’re not meeting the expectations of ownership. You’re not contributing to the bottom line as they had hoped because you find yourself mired in nonessential, non-strategic work.

In coaching HR executives, I stress that finding the first five hours of a week to delegate are the easiest. Put it this way: if I put you in a life or death situation that required you to stop doing five hours of work, do you think you could do it? Of course you could! Delegation is all about the choices we make. Think of it this way: Find five hours of low-denominator, nonessential, uncool work you do — and then delegate it, outsource it, or stop doing it altogether. You could probably find at least another two hours per week if you stop wasting time in social chat forums, online shopping, checking out scores, texting your friends, etc.

Make sure that the work you delegate is done properly. Don’t give it to someone who’s already overwhelmed, doesn’t have the talent, or lacks the understanding of how to do the job right. Make delegation a process, rather than an event.

Once you’ve found your initial five hours, hunt for an additional hour per month that you can delegate for the rest of the year. At the end of the year, you’ll have made a 16-hour a week difference in your work tasks. You should be able to keep at least two or three of those hours for yourself and focus the rest on adding value to your career and company.

Raise the Financial Awareness of Your Employees

“Think of saving as well as getting.” ̶ Benjamin Franklin

The past five years have been difficult for companies and employees alike. One in seven workers currently faces debt collectors. One in three is living paycheck to paycheck. The “true” unemployment rate remains above 15% and is unlikely to change in the near future. Because of today’s financial challenges, one in four employees don’t expect to retire by the time they turn 65. I believe that this figure is wishful thinking and will end up far higher.

What are we to make of these facts as owners and managers? My answer: Provide financial and accounting education to all of your employees — and don’t wait to do it! Ten years ago, companies began to realize that they couldn’t leave employees on their own when it came to managing their health. As a result, wellness initiatives exploded. It’s time for a similar explosion when it comes to this other malaise of our time: How we manage our money.

To create a financial education initiative in your business, I’d recommend taking these steps, all of which you can find on HR That Works:

  1. Make sure that management understands how the financial stress of individual employees affects the company as a whole. We did an excellent webinar on this topic with Coach George from Dave Ramsey’s organization. He gave the workshop Overextended: A Special Program on How the Personal Financial Stress of Your Employees is Impacting Your Business.
  2. Give employees a basic education in accounting. This is why we brought in the best teachers in the business — the folks from The Accounting Game. I would recommend having every employee watch their webinar; and then follow up with a workshop so that employees commit to taking action.
  3. Provide financial planning. On average, half of your employees don’t have a budget and half don’t have a retirement plan (probably the same half). The webinar Financial Planning 101features a member of the Certified Financial Planners Board sharing the fundamentals of good finance.
  4. Expose every employee to the concept of ownership thinking and open book management. Two of the best webinars for this are Jack Stack’s Great Game of Business and Brad Hams’ Ownership Thinking.
  5. Stress overall business acumen. To place employee financial education in its larger context, have every employee watch Kevin Cope’s webinar Seeing the Big Picture: Business Acumen to Build Your Credibility, Career, and Company.

I guarantee that doing all of the above will transform your workplace. You’ll see less stress, improved focus, higher profitability — and greater financial security for owners and employees alike. You can’t ask for much more than that.

Accommodations Related to Commuting to and From Work

A frequent question at the Job Accommodation Network is whether the ADA requires employers to provide accommodations for a disabled employee who has trouble getting to and from work because of his or her condition. A related question is whether it makes any difference if the employee’s only disability-related problem is the commute; if once at work, he or she has no problem performing the job.

The answer to the first question is “yes”; employers must consider some accommodations related to commuting problems. The answer to the second question is “no;” it doesn’t matter whether the employee is able to perform the job fully without the need for accommodations at work.

According to informal guidance from the ADA Policy Division of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, although employers don’t have to actually transport an employee with a disability to and from work (unless the employer provides this as a perk of employment), employers might have to provide other accommodations, such as changing an employee’s schedule so that he or she can access available transportation, reassigning an employee to a location closer to home when the length of the commute is the problem, or allowing an employee to telecommute.

The underlying reason why employers might have to provide such accommodations is that the employer usually controls employee schedules and work locations; so, when a schedule or work location poses a barrier to an employee with a disability, the employer must consider reasonable accommodation to overcome this problem. As with any accommodation under the ADA, when considering accommodations related to commuting, employers can choose among effective accommodation options and do not have to provide an accommodation that poses an undue hardship.

Linda Carter Batiste, J.D.
The Job Accommodation Network

Automatic Transfer to Vacant Position May Be Required as Reasonable Accommodation

A question that often comes up during the Americans with Disabilities Act interactive process is whether a disabled individual must be reassigned automatically to a vacant position as a reasonable accommodation, or whether a company can require the employee to compete for the position.

The federal appellate courts have split on this this issue. Although the courts have all acknowledged that an employer need not violate other important employment policies in order to provide a transfer; the question turns on what each court would consider a legitimate employment policy. Collective bargaining agreements and entrenched seniority systems are clearly such policies; however, a policy of hiring the best-qualified applicant is viewed differently by the different Circuit Courts that have addressed this issue.

The EEOC as well as the 9th, 10th, and D.C. Circuits, require automatic transfer, regardless of the relative qualifications of the disabled employee compared with other candidates for a vacant position. The 7th and 8th Circuits, on the other hand, have not required automatic transfer, holding that a reasonable accommodation offered the opportunity to compete for the position. However, the 7th Circuit recently took the unusual step of having the full bench review this position in EEOC v. United Airlines (although decisions are usually issued by a three-judge panel).

The full bench has now issued its decision to overturn its prior ruling in EEOC v. Humiston-Keeling on this issue. Now the law in the 7th Circuit states, as it does in the 9th, 10th and D.C. Circuits, that the ADA requires employers to transfer employees to a vacant position, provided that the transfer does not create an undue hardship, such as contravening a collective bargaining agreement or valid seniority policy. The Court specifically stated that a “best-qualified” hiring policy is not the same as a seniority policy.

At this time, the 8th Circuit remains the only federal appellate court to hold that automatic or mandatory reassignment is not required as a reasonable accommodation. However, because the 8th Circuit’s position was based on the 7th Circuit’s ruling in Humiston-Keeling, it has now become open to question.

For employers, this means that, even if it’s clear that a disabled employee can’t perform the essential functions of his or her position, you probably can’t just terminate the employment relationship. Rather you should review your open positions to determine whether there are any that the employee can perform (with or without accommodation); if the employee is qualified for the position, offer it even if the employee is not the best qualified person for the job. It’s also important to note that the EEOC takes the position that there are no geographic limitations on the open position, meaning that the company must consider positions at other company locations — even those in other states.

Article courtesy of Worklaw® Network firm Shawe Rosenthal (

Anyone Not Stressed Out?

According to the National Institutes of Health, “We all have stress sometimes. For some people, it happens before having to speak in public. For other people, it might be before a first date. What causes stress for you might not be stressful for someone else. Sometimes stress is helpful — it can encourage you to meet a deadline or to get things done. However, long-term stress can increase the risk of such diseases as depression, heart disease, and a variety of other problems.”

To help your workforce find that healthy balance with stress, check out this excellent web site: — and the tools are free!

What is HPM?

Next year I’ll be speaking for the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) on helping employers and employees manage the “Bermuda Triangle” (the intersection of Workers Comp Return to Work, the ADA, and FMLA). The ACOEM website has this to say about the concept of Health and Productivity Management (HPM):

“The American workplace continues to be at a crossroads. Global economic competition demands increased productivity; technology is rapidly influencing the dynamics of industries and marketplaces; and major demographic shifts are changing the face of the American workforce.

“At the same time, work-related illness and injuries continue to impose a tremendous burden. Each day, an average of 137 Americans die from work-related illness and an additional 17 die from work-related injuries. According to the National Safety Council, work injuries cost Americans more than $132 billion a year — or $970 per worker — in lost wages, lower productivity, higher health care expenses and other costs.

“Now a new factor — chronic disease — has entered the picture. As the percentage of older workers in the United States grows, it’s expected that chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer will cost employers heavily, as they provide medical benefits for employees and absorb the costs of long and short-term disability claims. One study found that of the nation’s $2 trillion in medical spending, 75% goes toward care for chronic conditions.

“Caught in the middle of this continuously evolving workplace, employers grapple with a growing issue: The impact of worker health on company productivity. As the link between health and productivity has been studied a new discipline has emerged, known as Health and Productivity Management.

“Simply defined, Health and Productivity Management, or HPM, is a concept which directs corporate investment into interventions that improve employee health and business performance. It can also be described as the integrated management of health risks, chronic illness, and disability to reduce employees’ total health-related costs, including direct medical expenditures, unnecessary absence from work, and poor performance at work — also known as “presenteeism.”

“A growing body of evidence suggests that worker health can be measured and managed more effectively for increased profitability and organizational effectiveness. More and more employers have begun to embrace this concept, as the relationship between the health of workers and the bottom line of American business has become increasingly clear.

“Proponents of HPM view the workforce as human capital, which should be managed with the same level of focus and interest applied in the management of financial capital. They recognize the value of managing human capital by focusing on health in the workplace environment. With healthier employees, companies perform better.

“At the heart of the HPM process lies the measurement of workplace health costs, accurate evaluation of the factors that are driving those costs, and the creation of health enhancement programs and strategies for workers. Occupational and environmental physicians can play a pivotal role in helping the workplace understand these concepts and the relationship between health and productivity.

“HPM promotes better individual health, which in the long term improves the overall health of our nation and the stability of our health care system. HPM becomes a win-win, benefiting both the employee and the employer.

“The bottom line: good health is good business, and HPM helps achieve both.”
Just as you need to use lawyers to help prevent HR risks at the front end, you want to use doctors to help prevent Workers Comp and other risks. My longtime friend, Dr. Russ Dunnum in San Diego, has shown companies how to save millions in health and Workers Comp-related overhead. He has also helped many employees in the process.

I would encourage you to go to the website to learn more about how to use doctors more effectively in the front end of your business.

Form of the Month

Vision, Mission, Goals Worksheet (PDF) – Use this document to help your employees get on board. It is important for leadership to define the “why” that’s in it for the employee.


Click here to to listen to this month’s newsletter podcast.

REPRINT POLICY: Reprints are welcome! All you have to do is include the following notation with reprinted material:

©2012 Reprinted with permission from, a powerful program designed to inspire great HR practices.

Categories: Newsletters, Podcast

Paying Employees During a Disaster Like Sandy:

October 31, 2012 Leave a comment


Any time we are met with a disaster like Sandy one of the most common questions that are surface are around show up pay and payment of exempt salaries. Here’s what the law says about it:

Paying Employees Who Show Up and Have No Work to Do

While the FLSA does not address this directly, many states do. It is known as call-in or reporting pay. For example, under Mass. Law:

455 CMR 2.03– (1) Reporting Pay. When an employee who is scheduled to work three or more hours

reports for duty at the time set by the employer, and that employee is not provided with the expected

hours of work, the employee shall be paid for at least three hours on such day at no less than the basic

minimum wage.

Here is an excellent summary created by SHRM so you can see the law in your state. HR That Works Members should all look at the BNA state law summaries under the Compensation folder.

Paying Exempt Employees Who Cannot Work

Bottom line is that if an employee is ready, willing and able to work, deductions may not be made for time when work is not available (29 C.F.R. 541.602(a)). You can have them use vacation or sick pay under appropriate conditions. Please see this FLSA memo for further instruction

Supreme Court Term Promises a Range of Labor and Employment Cases

October 24, 2012 Leave a comment

The U.S. Supreme Court opened its 2012-2013 term on October 1st. The Court is likely to hear a number of cases with significant implications for employers. Already selected to hear this term are the following key labor and employment cases:

  • Vance v. Ball State Univ
  • Genesis Health Care Corp. v. Symczyk
  • U.S. Airways, Inc. v. McCutcheon
  • Comcast Corp. v. Behrend

Please click here to read more about each of these cases and how the outcomes may affect your business.

California Passes Bill Preventing Social Media Account Access

October 16, 2012 Leave a comment

While Maryland was the first state to pass a Social Media account access protection law, California now has one too and many states plan to follow. Here’s the statutory language:

SECTION 1. Chapter 2.5 (commencing with Section 980) is added to Part 3 of Division 2 of the Labor Code, to read:

Chapter 2.5. Employer Use of Social Media

980. (a) As used in this chapter, “social media” means an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, e-mail, online services or accounts, or Internet Web site profiles or locations.

(b) An employer shall not require or request an employee or applicant for employment to do any of the following: (1) Disclose a user name or password for the purpose of accessing personal social media.

(2) Access personal social media in the presence of the employer.

(3) Divulge any personal social media.

(c) Nothing in this section is intended to affect an employer’s existing rights and obligations to investigate allegations of employee misconduct or employee violation of applicable laws and regulations.

(d) Nothing in this section precludes an employer from requiring or requesting an employee to disclose a username, password, or other method for the purpose of accessing an employer-issued electronic device.

(e) An employer shall not discharge, discipline, threaten to discharge or discipline, or otherwise retaliate against an employee or applicant for not complying with a request or demand by the employer that violates this section. However, this section does not prohibit an employer from terminating or otherwise taking an adverse action against an employee or applicant if otherwise permitted by law.

To understand what all of that means I suggest you look at the bill analysis by both the Senate and Assembly labor committees.  Interestingly, the only opposition to the bill came from the securities and financial sector claiming it conflicted with obligations they have under Federal statutes. HR That Works Members should view the Social Media Training Module.

Categories: California, Social Media

New California Employment Laws Signed by Governor Brown

October 5, 2012 Leave a comment

AB 1844 (Passed):  This bill would prohibit an employer from requiring or requesting that an employee or applicant disclose user name or password information for personal social media, or to divulge any personal social media.

Chapter 2.5. Employer Use of Social Media

980.  (a)  As used in this chapter, “social media” means an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or Internet Web site profiles or locations.

(b)   An employer shall not require or request an employee or applicant for employment to do any of the following:

(1)      Disclose a username or password for the purpose of accessing personal social media.

(2)      Access personal social media in the presence of the employer.

(3)      Divulge any personal social media, except as provided in subdivision (c).

(c)    Nothing in this section shall affect an employer’s existing rights and obligations to request an employee to divulge personal social media reasonably believed to be relevant to an investigation of allegations of employee misconduct or employee violation of applicable laws and regulations, provided that the social media is used solely for purposes of that investigation or a related proceeding.

(d)   Nothing in this section precludes an employer from requiring or requesting an employee to disclose a username, password, or other method for the purpose of accessing an employer-issued electronic device.

(e)    An employer shall not discharge, discipline, threaten to discharge or discipline, or otherwise retaliate against an employee or applicant for not complying with a request or demand by the employer that violates this section. However, this section does not prohibit an employer from terminating or otherwise taking an adverse action against an employee or applicant if otherwise permitted by law.

SB 1255 (Signed):  This bill would specify circumstances under which “injury” would be presumed to an employee as a result of an employer not providing wage statements, or providing incomplete wage statements.  Presumed injury would allow the employee to recover penalties and/or actual damage.  Presumed injury could be shown by the failure to provide a wage statement at all, or by the failure to include the employee’s name and last 4 digits of the social security number.  It could also be shown by failing to provide complete wage information, causing the employee to be unable to determine (from the statement alone) gross and net wages earned, deductions therefrom, and the name and address of the employer.

“An employee suffering injury as a result of a knowing and intentional failure by an employer to comply with subdivision (a) is entitled to recover the greater of all actual damages or fifty dollars ($50) for the initial pay period in which a violation occurs and one hundred dollars ($100) per employee for each violation in a subsequent pay period, not to exceed an aggregate penalty of four thousand dollars ($4,000), and is entitled to an award of costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

AB 1744 (Signed, effective July 1, 2013):   This bill would require temporary services employers to include additional information on itemized wage statements for employees, including the rate of pay for each assignment, the name and address of the entity that secured the services and total hours worked for each entity.

AB 2103 (Signed): Payment of a fixed salary to a nonexempt employee shall be deemed to provide compensation only for the employee’s regular, non-overtime hours, notwithstanding any private agreement to the contrary.

AB 2674 (Signed):  This bill would amend section 1198.5 of the Labor Code relating to employee rights to inspect personnel files.  The bill would require employers to maintain employee personnel files for at least 3 years following termination of employment, and to permit current and former employees (or their designated representatives) to inspect and copy personnel records, within 30 days of a request to do so by the employee.  The bill specifies that an employer is not required to comply with more than 50 requests for copies of personnel records by a representative of employee(s) in one calendar month.


Labor Commission
Dept. of Fair Employment and Housing

And of course, HR That Works!

Free Wellness Resources

October 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Since not every company feels they can afford a wellness program here are some excellent government and non-profit resources to pass on to your employees:

Categories: Wellness