Newsletters

Hiring Hourly Workers Ahead of the Holiday Rush


hourlyworkers.gif

If the current, candidate-driven market has you worried about filling vacant positions, may we suggest one talent pool that may help? Students. While some employers might be skeptical at first, there are quite a few benefits to hiring students for seasonal work.

Benefits of Hiring Students for Seasonal Work

  • Students will appreciate abbreviated work arrangements, and they’re probably less likely to get upset if their role doesn’t turn into a full-time arrangement because they’ll have to worry about going back to school and other commitments.

  • Students will be eager to learn and do a good job, especially if it’s their very first job. They will want to put something positive on their résumés.

  • Students will bring new skills to the table. The youngest generation in the workforce—Generation Z—comprises the most tech-savvy workers in history, so they might be able to help with many tech-related and mobile-device hiccups, among many other things.

  • Extra workers help improve employee morale. If your current employees won’t be asked to work extra hours or pick up extra slack during your busier seasons due to understaffed shifts, they will welcome the extra help.

  • “Hourly employers that hire students can expect that their desire and need for flexible schedules and other accommodating employment terms will only increase as the workers who typically fill these roles .


How to Attract Students for Seasonal Work

Here are a few tips for attracting student talent for your open, hourly positions:

  • Start recruiting early. Don’t wait until the week before you need seasonal help to start recruiting students. Plan to recruit them a month or so before your busy season starts so they can balance a job with their other commitments.

  • And if you’ve hired students in the past for seasonal work, reach out to them first to see if they want to rejoin the team during your busy season, especially if they were reliable and worked hard. Also, make sure you clearly advertise that your seasonal positions are available to teens under 18, if applicable.

  • Use mobile platforms for recruiting. As mentioned above, Gen Zs are tech-savvy, which means you should be using mobile apps and mobile-optimized sites and platforms to recruit them. They may not know your seasonal positions exist otherwise.

  • Offer more than minimum wage or other incentives. While you don’t have to offer a lot more than minimum wage, consider offering 50 cents to a dollar more than the minimum wage to attract the best candidates. And consider offering things like free lunch on Fridays or other small incentives and perks to keep them happy, working hard, and engaged while working for your organization.

Make it fun, but also represent roles as valuable learning opportunities. Yes, students like to have fun. But most of them also want to be valuable members of the workforce when they get a job. So, although you will want to advertise your organization as being a fun place to work with great perks, don’t overdo it—students still want to become professionals one day and learn the ropes so they can be successful in the future.



Want to Make Smarter Hiring Decisions? Stop Ghosting Candidates

hiringpic.png

When dealing with a labor shortage, employers will pull out all the stops to attract and retain top talent. Yet, some employers are treating the hiring market like it’s the pre-2008 recession era and continuing to use outdated hiring practices like having a long hiring process, non-mobile-friendly job applications, and more—and then they wonder why they can’t fill the void.


Ghosting Is the New Norm for Both Parties

When it comes to ghosting, most recruiters and employers are usually the ones being ghosted, as candidates have the upper hand and can pick and choose which employer they want to work for. However, ghosting seems to go both ways.

While ghosting candidates isn’t a new concept, there have been changes in hiring practices that have enabled this culture to become the new normal.  Employers are taking longer to hire new people than in the past.

As talent acquisition (TA) teams become burdened with administrative tasks—such as coordinating and scheduling interviews—more candidates become lost in their inboxes. To alleviate this, TA teams should integrate interviewing technology that will remove these time-intensive, administrative burdens and allow them to focus on building relationships with their candidates.

In fact, additional data shows that candidates who were interviewed and given job-related feedback by end of the same day were 52% more likely to deepen their relationship with the employer—meaning even if they didn’t get hired, they would still express interest in applying again and/or referring the company to friends.

Those who were not given feedback (or ghosted), said they were more than twice as likely to disregard the relationship (8% vs. 2.6. As we know, the current hiring climate makes the candidate experience even more important, and when candidates feel like they aren’t being treated fairly, they’re more likely to tell their friends and family not to do business with your company. 

So, what can recruiters and employers do to help improve this experience?

Implement Recruiting Technology

One method for improving the candidate experience is using technology candidates know and love. Are your candidates applying from their mobile devices? If so, you should offer mobile-friendly applications so candidates can apply right from their smartphones.

Take it one step further by offering a unique interviewing experience. Integrating interviewing technology, like on-demand text, can also allow the candidate to take interviews outside of traditional 9-5 business hours and ask common questions about interview logistics without having to await an e-mail response from a recruiter.

Comprehensive Job Descriptions

Prioritize smarter hiring in the second half of the year, TA teams should make job descriptions as comprehensive as possible and ensure the key responsibilities of the role are defined. Misleading job descriptions lead to an influx of job applicants that do not possess the skill sets for the open position and simply aren’t a good fit. The beginning of the candidate interviewing experience begins with the job listing. Ensuring a positive and clear start will enhance your candidate experience by giving today’s modern candidates what they want—a quick, easy, and transparent hiring process.

Here are a few tips for making your job descriptions more comprehensive:

  • Get the job title right. Your keywords are going to make or break it for you. Therefore, you should be specific about the actual job title. Include what the actual job is, not just the company name or sector. Be concise, as well—a long title will turn people off. Also, avoid gimmicky titles, like Marketing Ninja—nobody outside of your organization knows what that means, so stick with a title jobseekers have heard before.

  • Leave out the daily, mundane tasks. Jobseekers probably don’t want to know the everyday tasks they’ll need to do, which might end up changing or being handled by artificial intelligence (AI) eventually anyway, so it’s wise to stick to the major tasks that a candidate will be responsible for.

  • List the compensation. Be sure to list the compensation you’re offering for the position in the job description; this way, jobseekers know what they’ll be making before you select them for a final interview. Nothing is worse than thinking you found the perfect candidate only for him or her to decline your offer because you aren’t paying enough.

  • Mention long-term career opportunities. Most jobseekers what to know what’s in it for them through the long haul—other than your compensation and benefits offerings—which means you’ll need to explain how they will grow and develop in their role and how that role will evolve over time.

Eventually, the candidate-driven market will be a thing of the past—hopefully not due to a recession; nobody wants that—but until then, use the advice outlined above to help improve your candidate experience. And ultimately, stop ghosting candidates! You’re giving your company a bad rap.


6 Must-Have Traits for Your Managers

blogpost_image_program-manager-vs-project-manager-906x518.jpg

Research continues to show that good employees leave bad managers, not necessarily bad roles or bad companies. Unfortunately, however, bad managers are prevalent across organizations and entire industries. In fact, only a select few (about 10%) demonstrate that they have the right characteristics or traits to effectively lead. 

Six of those characteristics are outlined below.

1. Accountability

Effective managers “practice what they preach” and are highly accountable. They don’t expect their employees to be extremely punctual, for instance, if they are not also punctual. They don’t reprimand employees for poor performance without holding themselves to high performance standards. And they don’t give feedback without also asking for feedback.

Essentially, effective managers will have high levels of integrity and demonstrate fairness and trustworthiness. Even before they are managers, they will have teams that follow their lead and look to them as an example.

2. Empathy

Employees—especially managers—who are empathetic toward others tend to be more effective communicators and collaborators. They listen and practice fairness, and they are highly emotionally intelligent.

They’re also especially adept at mitigating conflicts, lessening levels of workplace stress, and generally fostering practices of positive and productive communications with their clients, partners, bosses, peers, and subordinates.

3. Transparency

Managers who are transparent with their employees are more likely to have their employees’ trust. Their employees trust they will notify them of any important news, feedback, projects, etc., and know they will receive important feedback and information that’s relevant to their performance and everyday work.

Employees who have transparent managers don’t worry about being terminated at a moment’s notice due to office politics or knowing where they stand at work.

4. Authenticity

Authentic managers earn their employees’ trust. They also tend to be more emotionally intelligent and inclusive and can significantly mitigate workplace stress, harassment, and bullying.

5. Ability to Trust and Connect with Others

Good managers will respect their employees’ autonomy and won’t micromanage them. They know how to delegate effectively and how to build highly effective and productive teams.

They also show their employees appreciation and know each of them on an individual level, encourage their employees to take time off, and recognize their employees in positive ways.

6. Willingness to Learn

Highly effective managers always show a willingness to learn, especially in the modern world, where rapid change and technological innovation are inevitable. They always seek out new soft skills and hard skills to learn as they become available and important.

Managers are the backbone of any successful organization, especially because they foster high levels of employee retention and engagement. So, make sure your organizations’ managers have the six traits and characteristics highlighted here if you want them to be effective.


How to Deal with Workplace Attendance Problems

why-attendance-at-work-matters.jpg

Employee attendance problems are probably the most common reason for disciplinary action and discharge. Yet many employers pay surprisingly little attention to their attendance policies.

Often we see policies consisting of generic, vaguely worded language that looks like it has been cut and pasted without much thought to the content. That’s too bad because careful messaging regarding your attendance expectations and requirements can really help curb attendance issues as well as give you solid grounds for discipline and termination if those expectations and requirements aren’t met. This will put you in a better position to contest unemployment claims and defend wrongful termination claims.

Attendance Matters

First, you should make a statement about the importance of reliable attendance. Explain why it’s so important. Reliable attendance ensures you can provide excellent customer service. It ensures all of your colleagues will have the help and support they need to do their jobs. There are lots of different reasons you need to be able to count on your employees to show up for work, and some may be specific to your particular business. Tell them why you need them to be there.

For almost all jobs, reliable attendance will be an essential job function. You should say this in your policy as well, keeping in mind that your attendance policy may be relevant later in determining what types of accommodations you may be required to make for employees covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Notice Is Key

Of course there will be reasons employees will need to miss work, so you need to let them know your expectations in that regard. First and foremost, you need to lay out very clearly your notice requirements.

A lot of policies that simply say employees must call in prior to their shift, but I don’t think that is clear enough guidance for employees or good enough protection for employers. A basic rule of thumb is, employees should be required to give as much notice of absences as they possibly can.

If they have a doctor’s appointment 2 months from now on a Tuesday, or their niece is graduating from college next May, they shouldn’t wait until the day of the event to let you know they won’t be coming to work. They should tell you as soon as they know for sure about a future absence. Your policy should tell them that and let them know last-minute notice of long-planned absences may result in the absence being unexcused.

Of course, some absences truly are unpredictable and last-minute, such as waking up to a child with the flu or a car that won’t start. In those instances, telling employees they should call in as soon as they can before their shift or at the beginning of their workday is fine. Let them know that unless they are in some truly dire situation in which they can’t call in before or at the beginning of their workday—and this will be rare—waiting to tell you the deal after they arrive late to the office isn’t going to cut it.

However you decide to handle notice for unforeseeable absences, be specific about when and how employees are supposed to let you know. Can they leave a voicemail or send an e-mail or text, or do they need to get someone on the phone? That will likely depend on the nature of your business and the nature of their job—for instance, are you going to need to call someone in to replace them for the day?

Make sure you have provided them with appropriate contact information for whatever method you designate. You also should state that failure to provide appropriate notice may lead to disciplinary action, even if the absence would otherwise be excused or even protected by law. If you require a doctor’s note or other verification of the reasons for an absence or a doctor’s return-to-work note for employees who have been absent because of illness or injury, you should state that in your attendance policy.

Coordinate Your Policies

Your attendance policy also should mention how it interacts with your paid leave policies. Too often, employees—and some employers—think that if they have paid leave available, they can come and go as they wish with no ramifications. But that isn’t the case.

You can require employees to abide by your attendance policy when using paid leave, including providing an appropriate amount of notice for the absence. Also, if they tend to take their paid leave in a problematic way—such as taking sick leave every Friday before a long weekend, failing to give advance notice of a requested day off, or missing every meeting or call leading up to an important event—that may be grounds for disciplinary action. These issues should be addressed in both your attendance policy and your paid leave policies.

You also should explain the ramifications of missing work when no paid leave is available. As far as how many attendance “strikes” an employee should be allowed, that will be specific to your business, your preferences, and, perhaps, to the specific job.

Keep in mind that some absences may be protected by law. That would include, for instance, absences covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the ADA, military leave, or jury duty leave. You should state that such absences won’t be considered attendance policy violations, and encourage employees to let you know if they think their absences may be covered by one of those policies.

Even if you can’t count the job-protected absence itself against an employee for disciplinary purposes, failure to give notice is a different story. For instance, if an employee has an FMLA intermittent leave certification for migraines, she can and should be required to give appropriate notice under your attendance policy if she needs to miss work.

Be careful, however, because other aspects of your attendance policy may not apply to an FMLA-covered situation. For instance, even if you typically require doctor’s notes for absences, you can’t require a doctor’s note for each absence under an FMLA certification.

Don’t Play Favorites

Finally, remember that it’s critical to enforce your policy in a consistent and nondiscriminatory fashion. You can set the rules, but be sure you are applying them to everyone and aren’t making exceptions for favored employees, and make sure your supervisors get that message loud and clear.

If in doubt when drafting or implementing an attendance policy that is right for your organization, it’s always best to consult with an experienced employment attorney.


5 Warning Signs That an Employee is Disengaged

easily-distracted.jpg

Employee engagement inside the workplace is one of the hottest topics in HR and learning and development (L&D) these days because engaged employees save their organizations money, as well as earn them more money. Yet according to one poll, only 34% of employees in the United States are engaged at work.

As you’re trying to improve your organization’s employee engagement rates, pay attention to the warning signs that an employee may be actively disengaged at work. Here are five of them.

  1. He or She Is the First Person to Leave and the Last to Arrive

    If an employee is always the first person to leave at the end of his or her shift or at the end of the workday and the last person to arrive every morning or shift, this person’s engagement levels could be waning. Sure, some employees have home-related responsibilities outside of work, but if all of a sudden, they don’t stay at work longer than they absolutely must, they are probably starting to become more disengaged.

  2. They Start to Call Out More

    When employees start to take multiple days off in a row for no apparent reason or stay home sick more often, they are probably disengaged, especially if they start using all their paid time off in a short burst of time. Absenteeism rates are the highest for employees who are disengaged because they don’t want to be at work.

  3. They Stop Participating in Meetings and Become Silent

    If an employee who was once talkative during meetings or, at the very least, chimed in every so often suddenly never has anything to say, he or she may be disengaged.

    Disengaged employees will not want to participate in meetings or talk about the work they’re doing because they’re beginning to care less; some might even become more cynical and lash out at others.

  4. They Begin to Avoid Others at Work

    Disengaged employees may also start to avoid others at work. They don’t want to socialize with others as much, and they probably stay at their desks most of the time. On the other hand, they might start to hang out in the break room more often to socialize and avoid doing the work that isn’t engaging to them.

  5. Their Work Quality Begins to Change for the Worse

    Employees who are disengaged will also cease to care about the work they are producing and whether it’s high quality. So, expect to see work quality and performance decline rapidly and suddenly among those employees who are actively disengaged.

Be sure to watch out for the warning signs detailed above if you want to manage or improve your organization’s employee engagement rates.


Too Many Jobs, Not Enough Workers

job-growth.jpg

According to the June 2019 JOLTS report, not only is the candidate supply down and labor demand increasing, but the quit rate is up, as well—and this should come as no surprise given the favorable position the job market puts jobseekers in. 

To put the lack of candidates into perspective, even if you were to place all unemployed people back to work (felons, criminal records, no educational degree, no industry experience, etc.), you still couldn’t fill all of the job openings in this country!

As the candidate-driven market shows no end in sight, we wanted to share best practices for hiring in these difficult times, which are outlined below.

Best Practice #1: Discover Candidates’ Motivations

Recruiters must understand that candidates are looking to improve their situation. This can look different, depending on the person. Some people want more money. Others may want a stronger/better culture and to work for a company they have greater faith in. Work/life balance is also a huge driver these days. And finally, shrinking or eliminating a big commute could help to sway a person to a new assignment.

Recruiters and hiring managers should be digging deeper into what it is that drives candidates to make a decision and focus on that piece of the puzzle. The game is no longer just about how much money people make, and that should be remembered when candidate discussions take place.

Best Practice #2: Pay Fairly

Seeing as the market demand is overwhelming the candidate supply, we should see a corresponding increase in wage growth, but that’s not the case. Wage growth is rising but still underperforming, and companies should be aware of the trap of not paying candidates appropriately. If a candidate has multiple offers and yours is the lowest-paying one, or not even rivaling the other offers, you’re going to lose the candidate.


Best Practice #3: Work with a Trusted Recruiter

Finally, partnering with a trusted recruiter or staffing firm. Recruiters educate their clients to help them understand the full scope of the employment landscape. While the unemployment rate is important, the difficulties businesses are feeling in the space are due to a massive increase in competition.

Businesses need to understand who and what they are up against and why this is driving candidate expectations so high. Luckily, it is a recruiter’s job to know this and keep a pulse on the job landscape and latest trends, which, in turn, provides businesses with a deeper and more clear insight that can help inform their recruiting strategy.

As employers across the country continue to struggle to fill the void, we’ve got to ask: What talent attraction strategies are working well for your company? Did you know we offer recruiting services? Please ask us how we can help!


What New Hires Want from the Onboarding Experience

 
employee_onboarding_1200x630.png
 

Onboarding can make or break any new hire. If you aren’t properly onboarding your new staff, these workers may become a flight risk. New research reveals that 64% of new employees are less likely to stay at a job after a negative onboarding experience.

We’ll break down what employees want from their onboarding experiences a little later, but first, we want to highlight more findings from the research because we feel that the data provides important clues as to why employees are leaving. Back to the research!

Millennials Most Likely to Leave

The fact that 64% of employees are leaving after a negative onboarding experience is especially important to consider as the hiring market continues to be competitive. Research also found that 40% of employees are expected to quit their jobs this year. Of these employees, some of the most important to consider are those in the Millennial age range, as they are the true future of the workplace.
Research found that 60% of Millennials say they are open to a different job opportunity, which likely has to do with the fact that the majority of Millennials (55%) feel like they are not engaged at work. In other words, if businesses want to retain young talent, they need to ensure an engaging, positive workplace experience from the first day of employment.

Three things to consider when reviewing your onboarding experience:

Employees often feel mislead by job descriptions. 

More than 25% of employees say that they didn’t receive enough information about their job before accepting the offer. Meanwhile, only 40% of employees say that their current job completely reflects how the position was described during the interview process.


New hires prefer an organic onboarding process. 

Of the new hires surveyed, more people (33%) dread adapting to office politics and personalities more than learning protocol or filing onboarding paperwork. However, not all new personalities are bad. About half (49%) of employees believe the best way to get acclimated to a new job is by making friends in the workplace, and would rather make friends with coworkers than have a designated new-hire buddy.


Interactive onboarding would make new employees feel more comfortable. 

New hires don’t want to be singled out. A majority of employees surveyed (38%) report they feel most welcome during onboarding when included in a group of other new hires. Additionally, new hires prefer intro meetings and interactive onboarding groups (31%) more than happy hours with colleagues. This is important for businesses to consider, especially when over half (52%) of employees state they spend up to 5 hours being onboarded at their new job.

In order to retain your talent longer be sure to keep these three insights in mind when onboarding new hires.


Top 10 Employee Handbook Mistakes

 
employeehandbook.jpeg
 

Although most employers at least have an employment handbook, few companies treat it as a priority item. That’s a shame because a handbook presents a wonderful opportunity to communicate with your workforce about your organization’s philosophy, mission, and culture. Companies like Netflix and Nordstrom have demonstrated that handbooks can be effective without being dry and tedious legal documents. But make no mistake, your handbook does have legal ramifications.

A good handbook informs your employees about workplace rules and policies and sets expectations for performance and conduct, which prevents misunderstandings that may lead to disputes. Thoughtful and properly worded policies also may help you with your legal defense if a dispute does arise. On the other hand, a problematic or deficient handbook can hurt your cause more than it helps you. Here are the 10 biggest problems I see with employment handbooks.

WHAT NOT TO DO:

Failing to keep it up to date. I recently reviewed a handbook that contained a policy requiring smokeless ashtrays for employees who want to smoke in the office. I’m not sure in which decade somebody last reviewed the handbook, but I’m guessing hairstyles were a lot bigger then. Laws change. Policies and practices change. The very nature of your workforce and mission may change. Your handbook should reflect your current policies and be compliant with current law. Ideally, you should take a look at your handbook every couple of years.

Believing that one size fits all. I’ve seen a lot of handbooks that look like they’re basically a form downloaded from the Internet or borrowed from another source, such as someone’s former employer. I’m not necessarily knocking forms. You have to start somewhere, and handbooks do have a lot of common elements, so you don’t need to create each one as a unique work of art. But a handbook form that you borrow from somewhere else is almost never going to be exactly right for your situation.

How many employees you have, whether you’re a government contractor, whether you’re a public or private-sector employer, and whether you have a unionized workforce are all things to consider when you’re determining what to include in your handbook. Your particular industry may have workplace issues that don’t arise in other industries. For instance, manufacturers may want to address certain safety issues that wouldn’t be relevant for other employers. Banks may want to include cash-handling protocols. Hospitals may want to address vaccination requirements for employees. Professional groups may want to address licensure requirements.

In addition, your discretionary benefits and attendance policies should be tailored to reflect the practices that make sense for your workplace. You may have an insurance policy that requires certain information to be in your handbook. The list goes on and on. So, sure, start with a form if you like, but don’t think that it will get you all the way to where you need to be.

Failing to include required policies. A lot of what’s in a handbook is discretionary or, at most, recommended. But some policies are required. For instance, if you are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and you have a handbook, you have to include an FMLA policy in your handbook.

Being internally inconsistent. A lot of handbooks I’ve seen have a “Frankenstein” quality, meaning they seem to be sort of patched together from various revisions and addendums over the years. It’s great to update your handbook periodically. But when you do, read through the entire thing to make sure the updates are consistent with and don’t contradict, other policies that are already in the handbook. For instance, I’ve seen handbooks with an FMLA policy, an attendance policy, and a paid leave policy that all say different things about how employees should provide notice of absences.

Disregarding state law. Most “form” handbooks you get from the Internet focus on federal law requirements, which is great because compliance with federal law is important. But don’t forget about state and local laws, which may affect the wording of policies on topics ranging from weapons in the workplace, to drug testing, to jury duty, to parental leave—and much more. And if you have employees in more than one state, you may need to have separate versions of your handbook or at least state-specific addendums.

Trying to make a handbook a contract. A handbook is for guidance only. You don’t want your handbook to be a binding agreement, on your company or your employees. Your handbook should expressly state that it isn’t a contract and you may unilaterally revise it at any time. Unfortunately, I’ve seen situations in which employers correctly include such a disclaimer in their handbook but also include things that purport to be binding on employees, such as confidentiality, noncompete, or arbitration agreements. If you want to have a binding agreement with an employee—in other words, a document you can enforce posttermination, outside the employment relationship, through a court or an arbitrator—you should create a separate document that will be executed by the employee apart from the handbook.

Policies not matching practices. I’ve seen some good-looking handbook policies on topics ranging from moonlighting, to accrual of paid leave benefits, to progressive discipline. On paper, the policies are legally compliant and sound awesome. But the problem is, once I begin talking with the employer as we go over the handbook, I realize the company isn’t actually doing what the handbook states it will do. That’s a recipe for disaster.

The main purpose of your handbook is to inform your employees about your policies and procedures and set their expectations. If your practices don’t match your policies, neither purpose is satisfied, your credibility is undermined, and you open yourself up to employment claims.

The reasons an employer’s policies don’t match its practices may vary. Maybe you used to do things that way, but you’ve changed your methods or rules. That’s fine—but you need to change your policies to reflect what you’re actually doing. Or maybe you need to be doing things the way the handbook states you’ll do them for purposes of legal compliance, but some of your supervisors haven’t gotten the message. More on that in a minute.

Failing to get an outside perspective. In addition to periodically conducting an internal review, you should consider getting an outside expert to take a look at your handbook. Experts may provide guidance on legal compliance as well as trending topics that you haven’t previously addressed in your handbook. An outsider may also spot ambiguities or inconsistencies that you’ve failed to see because you’re too close to the verbiage you’ve been working with for years.

Failing to distribute the handbook. A handbook is worthless as a resource for employees unless they have access to it. And a handbook is worthless to mitigate your risks unless you can prove your employees have access to it. Be sure to distribute a revised or new edition of your handbook to all employees, not just to new employees during orientation. And make sure you require employees to acknowledge, in writing or electronically, that they have received or have access to the current version of your handbook.

Failing to train supervisors. Your supervisors should have a good working knowledge of the contents of your handbook. For one thing, your handbook probably repeatedly tells employees to go to their supervisors with questions about policies. That suggestion won’t work out so well if your supervisors have no clue what your policies say. Your handbook can also be a great tool to ensure consistent decision making and treatment of employees by supervisors, which reduces your risk for employment claims. You really need to conduct comprehensive supervisory training at least every couple of years, and reviewing your handbook should always be part of that training.

Bottom Line

I hope this list will inspire some thoughts about handbook review. And of course, if you have questions about your handbook, it’s always best to consult us.


How to Avoid Misclassifying Unpaid Interns This Summer — and All Year Long

 
meetsummerinterns-1.jpg
 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) revised test for determining whether interns are employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) just turned one, and the summer hiring season is fast approaching. Misclassification can be costly for employers. Let’s make sure you understand and are correctly applying the DOL’s revised test for unpaid internships.

DOL Identifies 7 Factors for Determining ‘Primary Beneficiary’

A year ago, the DOL announced a new primary beneficiary test for determining whether interns are employees under the FLSA. The Act requires for-profit employers to pay employees for their work. Under the Act, “employ” means to “suffer or permit to work.” Based on that vague definition, interns and students may qualify as employees to whom compensation must be paid.

Under the primary beneficiary test, the DOL uses seven factors to determine whether the employer or the intern is the primary beneficiary of the relationship. The test is intended to be flexible and dependent on the unique circumstances of each case, and no single factor is determinative. In its statement announcing the adoption of the primary beneficiary test, the DOL noted the change would “eliminate unnecessary confusion among the regulated community” and give the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) “increased flexibility to holistically analyze internships on a case-by-case basis.”

The Primary Beneficiary Test Includes an Examination Of:

  • The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand there is no expectation of compensation (any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests the intern is an employee—and vice versa);

  • The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to training provided in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training offered by educational institutions;

  • The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal educational program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit;

  • The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar;

  • The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which it provides the intern with beneficial learning;

  • The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern; and

  • The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at its conclusion.

If the intern is found to be the primary beneficiary of the parties’ relationship, he wouldn’t be considered an employee under the FLSA, and he would therefore be exempt from the Act’s payment requirements for employees.

What This Means for You

The DOL has increasingly scrutinized internships and cracked down on the misclassification of workers and interns. As a result, you should take steps to ensure your interns meet the primary beneficiary test. Evaluate each internship on a case-by-case basis, and carefully consider the structure of your internship program and the program run by the schools with which you affiliate, as well as any compensation you offer and your method of payment. Merely labeling a summer position an “internship” doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay the intern—compensability depends on whether the intern receives the primary benefit of your arrangement with him.

Additionally, you must take care that all written communications and materials related to your internship program are carefully worded to avoid any inference of an employment relationship. Double-check the wording on your webpages and downloadable information and any mailers, marketing materials, internship agreements, and other relevant documentation that you provide to interns and their schools.

 

10 Tips for Hiring Minors This Summer

download.jpeg

It’s that time again, when employers are considering hiring minors for the summer—in camps, restaurants, resorts, swimming pools, and anywhere else business picks up in the warm weather months. There are strict laws pertaining to hiring minors.

The child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prohibit employers from hiring minors (individuals under the age of 18) to work at dangerous occupations, for an excessive number of hours, and at unsuitable times of the day or night. States also have child labor laws and when state and federal laws differ, the stricter law applies.

Child Labor Laws Are Strict and Detailed

There are separate rules for minors under 18, under 16, and under 14 years of age, both on the number of hours and times of the day and year they may work, as well as the types of work that they are allowed to perform. In addition, there are rules on proof of age, minors driving motor vehicles, minimum wage rates, children working in agriculture, and work under federal contracts.

Severe penalties may be imposed on employers that violate child labor laws. In addition, employers are prohibited from retaliating or otherwise discriminating against an employee who files a complaint or participates in a legal proceeding under the Act.

Do You Need to Pay Your Summer Employees — Or Are They Interns?

Springtime every year, employers begin thinking about hiring summer interns. And the question arises—do we have to pay our interns? Particularly in times when employers have decreased their hiring numbers, summer interns are an attractive option at little or no pay.

Interns cost much less than new hires and employers don’t have to provide interns with benefits. But, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) intern test is strict and hard to pass. If you don’t pass it, then your interns are actually employees and you have to pay them.

According to the DOL, if all of the following six factors are met, an employment relationship does not exist between an intern and the company that sponsors the participant. In such a case, it may be considered an unpaid internship:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training that would be given in an educational environment;

  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;

  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;

  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;

  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and

  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

If no employment relationship exists, the participants are not subject to the FLSA, and no intern pay is due.

10 Tips to Remember When Hiring Minors This Summer:

Here are some tips for handling your summer hires:

  1. Understand and comply with both federal and state child labor laws and occupational safety and health regulations that apply to your business. Employers must check state law and federal law and comply with the more restrictive law.

  2. Stress safety, particularly among first-line supervisors who have the greatest opportunity to influence teens and their work habits. Work with supervisors and experienced workers to develop an injury and illness prevention program. Train adolescent workers to recognize hazards and use safe work practices.

  3. Assess and eliminate hazards for adolescent workers, such as:

    1. Driving a car or truck

    2. Operating tractors or other heavy equipment

    3. Using power tools

  4. Employers are responsible for verifying the age of their minor employees. Age certificates do not give employers authority to violate any child labor laws. Employers must determine a minor’s age and set his or her job duties and work schedules accordingly and carefully. Also, employers must file the minor employee’s age certificate, keeping it for as long as the minor is employed.

  5. Unless employers are absolutely certain that they are not engaged in interstate commerce, they should assume that they are.

  6. Internships in the for-profit, private sector will most often be viewed as employment by the federal DOL, unless the test described above is met. Interns who qualify as employees rather than trainees typically must be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime compensation for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

  7. Remember, the federal child labor laws limit the hours and the times of day that minors age 14 and 15 may work. Minors 14 and 15 years of age may be employed outside school hours in a variety of nonmanufacturing and nonhazardous jobs for limited periods of time and under specified conditions. Minors aged 16 and 17 may be employed for unlimited hours in any occupation other than those declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.

  8. Child labor regulations limit the hours and the times of day that minors age 14 and 15 may work to:

    • Outside school hours;

    • No more than 3 hours on a school day, including Fridays;

    • No more than 8 hours on a nonschool day;

    • No more than 18 hours during a week when school is in session;

    • No more than 40 hours during a week when school is not in session;

    • Between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.—except between June 1 and Labor day when the evening hour is extended to 9 p.m.

  9. Children under age 14 may not be employed in nonagricultural occupations covered by the FLSA. Permissible employment for such children is limited to work that is exempt from the FLSA, such as delivering newspapers to the consumer and acting. Children may also perform work not covered by the FLSA such as completing minor chores around private homes or casual baby-sitting.

  10. Minors age 15 may work as lifeguards at traditional swimming pools and water amusement parks when such youth have been trained and certified by the American Red Cross, or a similar certifying organization, in aquatics and water safety. The federal child labor provisions require that a 15-year-old must acquire additional certification if he or she is to be employed as a swim instructor.

Creating a Bereavement Leave Policy for Your Company

bereavement-leave.jpg

What type of bereavement leave should you offer and how much? Who will be eligible for leave? How should employees notify you of their need for leave? Answering those types of questions in a comprehensive bereavement leave policy helps you manage employees’ expectations and respond to leave requests when the time arises. So, what should you include in your bereavement leave policy?

Define the Relationship Necessary to be Eligible for Leave

Bereavement leave policies should explain which relatives the leave covers. You might limit bereavement leave to immediate family members (e.g., parents, siblings, spouses, and children). Or the leave could be expanded to include extended family (e.g., aunts, uncles, and grandparents).

Designate the amount of Available Leave

The amount of time off you offer for bereavement leave can be the same for all employees regardless of the circumstances, or your policy can provide varying amounts of time off depending on the employee’s relationship to the deceased family member. You may allow more time off when an immediate family dies (e.g., three days) while providing for a shorter period of leave for the death of an extended family member (e.g., one day to attend the funeral). You also may want to address whether more leave is offered based on out-of-state travel being involved (e.g., five days).

The trend is to move toward offering longer leave periods, but of course, employees don’t have to take all of the available leave. If your policy is to offer different amounts of leave under different circumstances, you should document the amount of leave employees are granted and the reason behind your decision to approve the length of their leave.

Will the Leave Be Paid?

Your policy also should address whether bereavement leave will be paid or unpaid. If it’s unpaid, you should state whether employees can elect to use their available paid leave (e.g., vacation time) in lieu of unpaid leave.

In our February article, we reported that 94% of U.S. employers offer paid bereavement leave. Of those, approximately 83% offer a separate plan for paid leave (i.e., bereavement leave isn’t part of employees’ paid vacation or sick time). The trend is moving toward offering paid bereavement leave, with the most recent statistics showing an 11 percent increase in paid leave policies over the past year. Employers that want to offer longer leave but can’t afford extended paid leave may choose to offer paid leave for a few days, followed by extended unpaid leave.

Miscellaneous Policy Considerations

You should outline your expectations for how employees will notify you that they want to use bereavement leave. It can be as simple as following your other leave or attendance policy procedures. If you require proof of the need for leave, your policy should spell out the acceptable forms of proof (e.g., an obituary or a funeral program). Or, instead of requiring documentary proof, you may ask the employee for details (e.g., the relative’s name, the date of death, where it occurred, and the employee’s relationship to the decedent) and verify the information.

If your company is willing to grant special leave requests depending on the circumstances, your policy should explain how an employee can go about making a special request. If you decide bereavement leave isn’t flexible, your policy should be clear that the company will not make exceptions for special or unique circumstances. Having a clear policy will help you manage employee expectations and avoid requests that will inevitably be denied.

Get Drafting

We hope this column has motivated you to take the next steps toward drafting or revising your bereavement leave policy so that it fits your company’s needs. Remember, people grieve differently, so a flexible policy may be the way to go to address your employees’ various coping needs. Employees should be allowed to choose whether to take extended bereavement leave to mourn the loss of a loved one or return to work quickly and get back to their routine.


Helping Employees Deal with Toxic Customers

badcustomer.png

Anyone who has worked in customer service knows that some customers can be extremely difficult, demanding, and even toxic. These customers can be abusive to customer service staff.

They aren’t necessarily bad people, but such customers may take advantage of their relative power over your employees to bully or vent frustration where it isn’t necessarily deserved. Or they may simply be unaware that their behavior toward your staff is inappropriate.

Whatever the reason, these interactions can wear down your customer service staff, whether it’s a one-off situation or a consistent experience. It’s important as a manager to help your employees cope with toxic customers to avoid burnout, high turnover, and poor morale.

Make Sure They Don’t Take It Personally

First and foremost, it’s crucial to help your staff separate the professional from the personal. Customers may complain about your company’s product or service, but employees need to know that this feedback isn’t a reflection on them personally.Even if customers do make personal attacks, employees need to know how to transition from personal to professional and shrug off attempts by customers to make the issue all about them.

Let Them Vent

In an article for Inc. on toxic cultures generally, Shane Atchison offers some advice applicable to dealing with toxic customers: “Managers have to make a safe zone where people can speak their minds,” Atchison writes. “Above all, don’t fake it and pretend the situation is normal. That’s the surest road to allowing a bad culture to erode yours.”Sometimes simply talking about problems with customers can be extremely therapeutic.

Empathize

Beyond simply letting employees vent, take the time to really hear and understand their concerns. That’s important not only to ensure that employees feel their concerns have been heard but also to the organization—there are valuable lessons to be gleaned from any feedback received, however negative or misplaced.

Have Their Back

The adage that “the customer is always right” only holds true to a point. If a customer is being truly abusive and unreasonable, having your employees’ back is essential. Make it clear to employees and customers that a certain level of respect is expected when dealing with your customer service staff.

Customer service positions can be extremely stressful, and they are often filled by relatively low-paid staff in entry-level positions. These employees are particularly susceptible to turnover.

Even if they don’t leave the company, employees dealing with toxic customers can bring down morale—their own and that of their coworkers—and start to burn out, leading to lower productivity. A good manager should take steps to alleviate this stress as much as possible.


Should You Implement a 4-Day Workweek?

image.jpeg

Modern-day employees claim they want a better work/life balance and more flexible work schedules; one such flexible schedule is a 4-day workweek, during which employees work 35 to 40 hours in 4 days instead of the traditional 5 day workweek. Recently, 66% of workers polled stated that they want a compressed 4-day workweek to fulfill this work/life balance, but only 17% of their employers offered one. Why aren’t employers offering a 4-day workweek, and should they?

You’ll want to consider the following pros and cons in determining whether to offer a 4-day workweek to your employees.

Pros

Improves employee productivity. Sometimes, employees hang around at work simply because they have a certain schedule, though they may not necessarily be productive or accomplishing much, which costs organizations money. However, when employees work a compressed schedule, they learn to effectively manage their time and get more done in a shorter time frame.

Increases employee satisfaction. Employees who have compressed schedules are more satisfied with their jobs and employers because they are more capable of achieving work/life balance and, therefore, are less stressed, tired, and preoccupied when they come to work.

Lessens environmental impacts. If employers didn’t have to stay open 5 days a week, they could save on costs related to their buildings’ electricity, occupancy, maintenance, heating and cooling, office supplies, etc.

Cons

Employers might lose overtime hours. Most employees are already putting in well over 40 hours a week and want to put in extra hours to remain competitive in their fields. With a compressed workweek, employers might miss out on hours that salaried employees are already currently putting in or hours that they want to put in in the future.

Not all industries can participate. Not all employers would be able to implement a 4-day workweek without hiring more employees, as some industries must be open 24/7 for emergencies or around-the- clock business (i.e., emergency rooms, hotels, etc.).

There are costly risks. Employers might end up having to spend money on a new schedule implementation that doesn’t work and is more expensive, and they won’t know if their employees will be able to handle current workloads in fewer days or if they’ll need to hire additional staff until they actually begin the new 4-day workweek.

The Wild-Card Factor: Customer Satisfaction

In some cases, a compressed workweek could offer a business’s customers extended contact hours 4 days a week, but some customers might not like being able to contact a company only 4 days a week. So, an organization must evaluate its industry and whether it has enough staff to ensure customer- related concerns are always covered to determine whether a 4-day work schedule is the right fit. In summary, if you’re considering implementing a 4-day workweek, weigh the pros and cons listed above, as well as your organization’s staffing requirements and industry.

Five Things You Should Know About Holidays and Holiday Pay In California

holiday.jpg

1. California employers are not required to provide employees time off for holidays.

There is no requirement that California employers provide time off (except for religious accommodations, - see below) for holidays. California's DLSE's website states the following: Hours worked on holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays are treated like hours worked on any other day of the week. California law does not require that an employer provide its employees with paid holidays, that it close its business on any holiday, or that employees be given the day off for any particular holiday. 

2. California employers are not required to pay for time off for holidays, nor are they required to pay additional wages if employees work on holidays.

Likewise, there is no requirement that employers pay employees extra pay or "holiday pay" for work performed on holidays. Employers can voluntarily agree to pay employees extra pay for work that is required during holidays, but these terms would be governed by policy set forth by the employer. Therefore, employers are urged to make sure their holiday pay policies are clearly set forth. California's legislature has proposed bills that would require certain employers to pay employees double time for work done on Thanksgiving, but none of these bills have become law. For example, the "Double Pay on the Holiday Act of 2016" proposed to require an employer to pay at least 2 times the regular rate of pay to employees at retail and grocery store establishments on Thanksgiving. None of these attempts by the legislature have been successful yet in requiring California employers to pay any extra "holiday pay."

3. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees who cannot work on certain holidays due to religious observances.

Employers need to be aware of any religious observances of their employees since employers need to provide reasonable accommodations for employees due to religious reasons. The analysis of reasonable accommodation is required is a case by case analysis based on the company's type of business and the accommodation requested by the employee. If the employer's operations require employees to work during normally recognized holidays, such as a restaurant, then this should be communicated to employees in the handbook or other policies and set the expectation that an essential function of the job requires work during normal holidays.

4. If an employer does pay for time off during holidays, the employer does not have to allow employees to accrue holiday paid time off.

If an employee leaves employment before the holiday arrives, the employer is not required to pay the employee for the day off. However, the employer's policy regarding holiday pay must clearly set out that this benefit does not accrue to employees and that they must be employed during the specific holidays to receive the holiday pay. Often the employer will also require that the employee works the days leading up to and following the holiday in order be eligible for the holiday pay.

5. If a pay day falls on certain holidays, and the employer is closed, the employer may process payroll on the next business day.

If an employer is closed on holidays listed in the California Government Code, then the employer may pay wages on the next business days. The DLSE's website explains this, and other considerations, for the timing requirements for payroll. 

The holidays listed in the Government Code are as follows:

  • January 1 - New Year's Day

  • Third Monday in January - Martin Luther King Jr. Day

  • February 12 - Lincoln's Birthday

  • Third Monday in February - Washington's Birthday

  • Last Monday in May - Memorial Day

  • July 4 - Independence Day

  • First Monday in September - Labor Day

  • Second Monday in October - Columbus Day

  • November 11 - Veterans Day

  • Fourth Thursday in November - Thanksgiving Day

  • Day after Thanksgiving

  • December 25 - Christmas

5 Critical Components For An EEOC Position Statement

EEOC-Position-Statement.jpg

When faced with a charge from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), one of your first steps will usually be to respond with a "statement of position." The position statement allows you to tell your side of the story, but many employers fail to include some of the most vital information. Below are some important sections that you should provide.

1. The company overview. Some employers delve right into the issue without discussing and considering the company image. The overview of the company is an opportunity for the company to represent itself as a responsible employer.

2. Your commitment to the equal employment opportunity (EEO) principles. You can show your commitment to EEO principles by directing attention to compliant policies, procedures and training in the employee handbook.

3. The nature of the importance of the job in question. Provide an explanation of what can happen if the job at issue is not done well or not done at all. Point out that it was not possible to keep someone in that role whose performance fell short of the expectations. Make it clear as to why the charging party's actions (specifically the actions that resulted in him/her being fired) were not acceptable for that position. By doing so, you show that the termination was taken seriously.

4. An overview of the charging party's initial employment, including his/her acknowledgement of your policies, handbook and procedures. Explain why the charging party was hired. Note that the discriminatory factor (whatever that may be) could not have been an issue as the employee was hired for the position because he/she appeared to be qualified. Also, note that the employee acknowledged the company policies, attended training, etc.

5. Your own story. It is important to give your side of the story - not just refute the story of the charging party. Be sure to describe what happened, how you responded and why.

Remember: You want to show that your company is a good company that is simply clearing up a misunderstanding.

- California Employer Advisor

Five Answers To Common Questions About Severance Pay And Severance Agreements

Severance-Pay-And-Agreements.jpg

Severance pay is not required by California law. However, employers who have possible disputes with employees that are leaving should consider offering severance pay in exchange for a signed severance agreement containing a release of claims against the company. This may help the employer avoid a costly lawsuit. Below are answers to five common questions regarding severance.

1. Are employers required to give employees severance pay?

No. If the employee is an at-will employee, the employer is not required to provide severance pay regardless of who ended the employment relationship.

2. Why do employers offer severance pay if it is not required?

There are numerous reasons that employers offer severance pay. If an employer's business has slowed down and needs to layoff employees, the employer may offer severance pay to make the transition smoother for the employee. Also, employers who believe that there is a possible dispute between it and the employee may offer severance pay in exchange for a signed severance agreement. The agreement, if done correctly, can help the employer avoid a potential lawsuit, as the employee would be waiving all and any claims that he/she may have against the company.

3. Is the employer required to pay the employee for a release of claims?

If the employer is asking an employee to release all claims they have against the company, generally the employee should receive something of value in exchange for the release. Although it is common, the severance provided to the employee is not required to be in the form of a payment, but must be something of value agreed upon by both parties.

4. What terms are generally included in a severance agreement?

  • A general release with a Civil Code Section 1542 waiver releasing all known and unknown claims
  • Confidentiality
  • No admission of liability
  • No present or future employment
  • Non-disparagement clause which can also set forth what job reference, if any, will be given to any prospective employers
  • Return of company property and non-solicitation of customers clause

5. Are there any specific considerations required in a release for employees 40 years old or older?

Yes. Individuals 40 years old or older are protected by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA). The OWBPA has certain requirements for a release of claims in order to prevent age discrimination. The requirements include that the employee is advised to consult with an attorney, the waiver is easy to understand, the individual is provided a minimum of 21 days to consider the agreement, and the individual is given a minimum of 7 days following his/her acceptance of the agreement to revoke the agreement. Although the employee can waive the 21 day consideration period, the 7 day revocation period can not be waived. It is important to consider not paying any money until the 7 day revocation period has expired. If a release is being offered to a group of employees, a longer consideration period as well as additional requirements may apply. It is strongly recommended that employers receive assistance from counsel to ensure employees 40 years old or older effectively waive any rights under the OWBPA.

 

- California Employment Law Report

Sins of Well- Meaning Supervisors

Sins-of-Well-meaning-Supervisors-Human-Resource-Advice.png

It seems as though there are so many ways that your supervisors and managers can practically beg for a lawsuit even though they have the best of intentions. Here are just a few examples:

1. Making unlawful pre-employment inquiries: The supervisor may ask the applicant: Do you have any children? If so, will you have any daycare problems?

2. Delivering "dishonest" evaluations: Supervisors giving an employee a "satisfactory" rating even though the employee's work is poor because they avoid the discomfort of delivering a review that indicates poor performance. As a result, many legitimate actions taken against an employee based on poor performance would be questioned because the performance reviews are positive.

3. Too vague in discipline and performance write-ups: The supervisor may tell an employee that their performance is unacceptable, but not be specific in what areas are unacceptable. They often use Judgment words like "lazy". Again, too vague. They need to give specific examples of the unacceptable behavior.

4. Making rash disciplinary decisions: First of all, firing in anger isn't the way to handle employee issues. Second, you should never fire without carefully reviewing the circumstances with HR.

5. Making uninformed responses to medical leave requests: Realizing that dealing with employee requests for medical leave are frustrating and challenging, it is wise to curtail that frustration and respond professionally.

6. Not knowing and not enforcing policies: Supervisors and managers are on the front line for interpreting and enforcing your company's policies. But if they don't know the policies and the responsibilities associated with those policies, they might be setting you up for a lawsuit.

7. Letting problems fester: It's always tempting to ignore bad behavior from employees hoping it will go away or improve on its own. If you continue to do so, it looks as though you are condoning the behavior.

8. Making "side" agreements: First of all, side agreements are illegal and will lead to lawsuits since other employees didn't get the special treatment or privilege and they may sue. For example: a supervisor tells an employee that he or she can't pay for the extra work that employee is doing and offers to give them a dinner on the company account.

9. Making wage and hour mistakes: Remember: you have to track it, pay it and include bonuses in the "regular rate" for overtime calculations. You have to pay for all hours worked, even if the employee volunteers and many independent contractors are employees who need to be paid overtime. Also, many "exempt" employees have duties that do not meet the criteria for exemption.

10. Not realizing the "power" of the supervisor: if your supervisor invites an employee out for a drink after work, the employee may view that as an order. It can be seen as coercion or harassment in some situations. Because of the power the supervisor has over employees, it is especially egregious when it may seem as if that power is exerted over the employee.

Wage And Hour Litigation - Low Hanging Fruit For Plaintiffs' Attorneys

Wage-And-Hour-Litigation.jpg

Misclassification is a very hot issue these days, according to Attorney Deanna Brinkerhoff.  First, there is the issue of exempt and nonexempt.  We must always apply the salary basis test and the duties tests to double-check any decision about exemptions. The other challenge under misclassification is the independent contractor vs. employee problem. Among the factors that the U.S. Supreme Court has considered significant are:

  • The extent to which the services rendered are an integral part of the principal's business
  • The permanency of the relationship
  • The amount of the alleged contractor's investment in facilities and equipment
  • The nature and degree of control by the principal
  • The alleged contractor's opportunities for profit and loss
  • The amount of initiative, judgment, or foresight in open market competition with others required for the success of the claimed independent contractor and
  • The degree of independent business organization and operation

Other factors that may suggest an independent contractor relationship are:

  • The person works for others
  • The person hires his or her own staff - if you do the hiring, it doesn't sound like an independent contractor relationship
  • The person pays his or her own business expenses
  • The person is given a project, not detailed how-to instructions

10 Simple Strategies to Avoid DOL's Wage/Hour Audits

Simple-Strategies-to-Avoid-DOL’s-Wage-Audits1.jpg

According to Susan Price, BLR's Legal Editor, these 10 strategies will help prevent or handle a wage and hour investigation:

1. Avoid unfair compensation practices. Be sure that your employees are compensated in a consistent manner. If your pay practices are consistent, complaints are less likely to arise and you will be in a better place if the DOL does launch an investigation.

2. Understand the regulations. It is important that employers take the time and make a concerted effort to understand and familiarize themselves with the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act). It's the law, and if you fail to follow the law, you may face litigation or a DOL audit.

3. Train your managers. Managers need to be fluent in the language of FLSA.

4. Analyze state vs. federal law. You need to follow the state law if the federal law conflicts with the state.

5. Pay past overtime due. If it is determined that an employee is wrongly classified as exempt, the employer should determine how many overtime hours the employee has worked in the past 2 years, then pay the employee the overtime due. Paying past overtime due to employees now will be far less expensive than paying them in a DOL settlement.

6 .Respond to internal complaints expeditiously. If an employee files a wage and hour complaint internally, the employer should take it seriously. Since many investigations are prompted by an employee's complaint, employers might be able to prevent an investigation by addressing an employee's initial internal complaint.

7. Seek compliance assistance from HR Advisors or your labor attorney.

8. Conduct a self-audit. Employers should demonstrate their willingness to cooperate with the DOL investigators and to adjust their procedures and policies as necessary to avoid violations in the future.

9. Cooperate. Employers should demonstrate their willingness to cooperate with DOL investigators and to adjust their procedures and policies as necessary to avoid violations in the future.

10. Keep accurate records. Employers are required to make, keep, and preserve employees' records including wages earned and hours worked, for a specified period of time. Records must include certain identifying information about each employee and accurate data about the hours worked and wages earned.

Minimum Wage Increase Takes Effect July 1, 2014

Minimum-Wage-Increase-e1404209210726.png

A friendly reminder to all clients! The first phase of the minimum wage increase takes effect July 1, 2014, and will increase the mandated minimum wage from $8.00 to $9.00 per hour. Also effective July 1, 2014, the following revised posting and notice requirements take effect in California:

  • Employers must prominently display a poster showing the new, $9.00 per hour, minimum wage.
  • Employers must start using an updated Workers’ Compensation brochure containing new pre-designation regulations. Employers must provide their employees, at the time of hire or by the end of the first pay period, with the Workers’ Compensation brochure.
  • Employers must start using updated Paid Family Leave brochures containing new family member definitions, which now include grandparents, grand-children, siblings, and parents-in-law. The brochures should be provided to new hires and to employees who take a qualifying leave.

California’s wage orders generally require that any employee classified under the executive, professional, or administrative exemptions be paid a salary of not less than twice the prevailing minimum wage. Under the current minimum wage laws, that means exempt employees must be compensated based upon an annual salary of not less than $33,280. However once the minimum wage increase takes effect on July 1, 2014, exempt employees will have to be compensated based upon an annual salary of not less than $37,440.

Certain employees – such as those who are required to provide their own tools to perform the functions of their job may also be affected by the minimum wage increase.

HR Advisors has mailed out updated posters. Please replace your current poster with the updated version. We will be sending out the updated Paid Family Leave (PFL) and Workers’ Compensation (WC) pamphlets as soon as we receive them. If you have any questions, please contact us immediately so we may assist you.