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* Jeffry D. Proul, Registered Representative of LifeMark Securities Corp., 400 West Metro Financial Center, Rochester, NY 14623 (585) 424-5672 Member NASD/SIPC Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc. is not affiliated with LifeMark Securities Corp. CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: Communications are Confidential Information of LifeMark Securities Corp. and may also be privileged.

HR News

HR Advisor Newsletter

Who Can Document A Disability

By |December 5th, 2018|

Question:
Who is considered an appropriate health care professional for getting documentation about a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

Answer from Margaret, PHR, SHRM-CP:

Whether a particular health care provider would be considered an “appropriate health care professional” would depend on the nature of the disability and the functional limitation it imposes. For example, if you were requesting documentation for an accommodation request concerning a mental health condition, a psychiatrist or psychologist would be an appropriate professional, but a physical therapist would not be as they would not have the training to diagnose or treat such conditions.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, appropriate professionals include, but are not limited to doctors, psychologists, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, vocational rehabilitation specialists, and licensed mental health professionals. But this list should not be construed to be all-inclusive. Other medical professionals who are knowledgeable about the employee’s condition may also be appropriate under the circumstances.

Margaret holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Portland State University and a Professional Certificate in Human Resources Management. She has worked in a variety of HR roles in a multi-state capacity. Margaret regularly attends seminars and other continuing education courses to stay current with new developments and changes that affect the workplace and is active in local and national Human Resources organizations.

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: info@vitalsignsinsurance.com
Fax: (916) 496-8754

Legal Disclaimer: The HR Support Center is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this article should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. The HR Support Center cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.

Cal/OSHA Form 300A Data Due December 31

By |December 4th, 2018|

California Law Alert

Cal/OSHA Form 300A Data Due December 31

Due to amendments made late in the year to bring Cal/OSHA recordkeeping requirements in line with the federal OSHA program, many employers in California are now required to submit Form 300A data by December 31, 2018. The employers described below should follow the instructions posted at federal OSHA’s ITA website to submit their data for calendar year 2017.
• All employers with 250 or more employees, unless specifically exempted in Appendix A.
• Employers with 20 to 249 employees in the specific industries listed in Appendix H (begins on page 8).

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: info@vitalsignsinsurance.com
Fax: (916) 496-8754

Legal Disclaimer: The HR Support Center is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this article should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. The HR Support center cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.

How should we respond to sexual harassment allegations

By |November 28th, 2018|

Question:
An employee who recently quit made several allegations about the general manager, including an instance of sexual harassment. How should we respond to these complaints since the employee no longer works here?

Answer from Laura,

Even though the employee has left the organization, I recommend conducting an investigation into the allegations and taking disciplinary action against the alleged harasser if appropriate. Failing to look into these concerns can invite risk, especially if there are later complaints against the same individual.

When an employee resigns, it’s not uncommon for them to share an assortment of complaints on their way out the door. You should sift through and determine whether any of them are related to unlawful activity or safety concerns. These claims are serious enough to warrant an investigation.

Other complaints—such as those about management style, favoritism, or violation of less important company policies—may be worth examining, but they likely don’t trigger a duty to investigate in the same way that claims of unlawful activity do. These less risk-inducing claims can be pursued at your discretion.

Laura has 7 years of HR experience, spanning public- and private-sector work in the education, transit, and insurance industries. After completing a B.A. in Asian Studies from Knox College, she received her M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from University of New Haven along with graduate-level certificates in Human Resources Management and Psychology of Conflict Management. Laura enjoys fencing, baking, cross-stitching, and spending time with her husband and two cats.

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: info@vitalsignsinsurance.com
Fax: (916) 496-8754

Legal Disclaimer: The HR Support Center is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this article should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. The HR Support Center cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.

Do we need a service animal policy?

By |November 14th, 2018|

Answer from Marisa, PHR:

In short, no, you don’t need to have a specific policy on service animals for your workplace. If a request comes up, or an employee conveys that they need to have a service animal in your workplace, you should utilize your reasonable accommodation policy and engage in the interactive process.

The interactive process will help you determine if the employee has a covered disability, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and if a service animal is a reasonable accommodation. You may ultimately deny the request if the interactive process reveals that the employee is not considered disabled under the law, the animal doesn’t fit the definition of a service animal, or the animal’s presence would create an undue burden. If you’d like more information on reasonable accommodation policies, or the interactive process, we have many resources available on the HR Support Center.

Marisa has experience working in a wide variety of HR areas, including payroll, staffing, and on-/ off-boarding. She has worked at both national and local companies, in a wide range of businesses and industries. Marisa earned her B.S. in Business Administration and Communications from the University of Oregon. She loves watching football and basketball, volunteering, and spending time with her two dogs.

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: info@vitalsignsinsurance.com
Fax: (916) 496-8754

Legal Disclaimer: The HR Support Center is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this article should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. The HR Support Center cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.

More Sexual Harassment Lawsuits in Fiscal Year 2018

By |November 3rd, 2018|

You’re reading the November edition of the HR Advisor Newsletter. We review recent statistics from the EEOC on sexual harassment lawsuits—they increased in 2018!

Did You Know?

  • • The EEOC filed 50% more sexual harassment lawsuits in Fiscal Year 2018 (2018) than it did in Fiscal Year 2017 (2017).
  • Charges filed with the EEOC alleging sexual harassment increased by more than 12% from 2017.
  • For charges alleging harassment, reasonable cause findings increased to nearly 1,200 in 2018 compared to 970 in 2017. Successful conciliations (agreements reached without a lawsuit) were up to nearly 500 from 348 in 2017.
  • The EEOC recovered nearly 50% more for victims of sexual harassment through administrative enforcement and litigation in 2018; $70 million, up from $47.5 million in 2017.

HR Tip of the Month | Workplace Chit-Chat

By |November 2nd, 2018|

You’re reading the November edition of the HR Advisor Newsletter. We provide some tips on allowing workplace chit-chat while keeping it to a minimum.

HR Tip of the Month

  • Does your workplace have too much chit-chat? A lot of employers are in the same boat, and they want to find the right balance between forbidding chit-chat and permitting too much of it. The right amount likely depends on the nature of the workplace and how disruptive the talking is, but there are some general guidelines you can follow:
    • Rather than telling employees exactly how much time they can spend having non-work conversations in a day, remind them that frequent chit-chat can make it difficult for people to work and that everyone should be respectful of others’ time and need to focus.
  • Let employees know that in most cases, personal conversations longer than a few minutes should be saved for breaks and held away from work areas.
  • As long as people are getting their jobs done and aren’t distracting other by talking, then the chit-chat probably isn’t excessive and isn’t cause for concern.

Managers Are Uncomfortable Communicating with Their Employees

By |November 1st, 2018|

You’re reading the November edition of the HR Advisor Newsletter. This month we explain why so many managers are uncomfortable talking with their employees and what you can do about it.

Many Managers Are Uncomfortable Communicating with Their Employees – Here’s How You Can Help Them

Here’s a startling statistic: Nearly 70% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with their employees. That number comes from a Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Interact, and it indicates that managers may at times shy away from doing basic management duties.

If uncomfortable managers avoid giving feedback, offering praise, showing vulnerability, providing direction, or communicating in general, they’re not helping the bottom line. Poor employee performances will go unaddressed. Star performers won’t feel recognized. Employees may distrust their managers and not admit mistakes. Efficiency and productivity won’t be a good as they could be, and that’s money down the drain.

While some managers might do better in non-management positions, others need only a little training, practice, and experience to overcome their discomfort. Here are a few ways you can develop new managers and improve the performances of existing ones:

Best Practices Before Promoting Someone to Management

  • Identify potential managers based not just on individual performance, but likelihood of success when put in charge of a team. Management requires a specific skill set—the ability to lead, to take decisive action, to facilitate compromise, to defuse escalation, to assess performance with clarity and kindness. When considering whom to promote to management, look especially for those employees who exhibit these skills or show signs that they have the potential to develop them.
  • If you see employees with the potential for leadership, give them informal leadership duties and see how well or poorly they do. Some discomfort on their part is expected, so don’t rule out someone just because they’re not fully comfortable the moment they’re asked to lead something. That said, if their feelings of discomfort persist as they’re given more informal leadership responsibilities, they’re likely not well suited to a formal leadership position—at least not yet.
  • Provide relevant skills training. If you identify an employee with strong potential for leadership in the organization, prepare them to take the role by teaching them the skills they’ll need to be successful. Consider paying for them to attend workshops or conferences. A mentorship program could also be helpful if you have good managers to help onboard new managers.

Best Practices with Current Managers

  • Provide skills training in needed areas. It’s possible that a manager may be uncomfortable communicating with employees because they’ve never really been taught how to do it. If that’s the case for any of your managers, teach them the communication skills they’re lacking. Coach your managers and give them time to practice their managerial skills. When they become more competent, they’ll feel more confident.
  • Manage your managers. Like any employee, managers need direction, guidance, and someone to hold them accountable. Do for them what they do for their subordinates.
  • If a manager’s performance is having negative impacts on the company and guidance and training do not help, you may need to look at putting them on a performance improvement plan. This plan should have clear, attainable goals and a set timeframe for completion. If they improve, great, but if not, then it may be time for the next step.
  • If the performance improvement plan doesn’t result in improved performance, it may be time to move the employee out of management. Employees who excelled as individual contributors may not do well in management, and that’s okay. They may be happier going back to what they were doing before, if that’s an option.

Management isn’t easy, and some of its duties will be uncomfortable no matter what. That said, the best managers don’t try to avoid unpleasant conversations when those conversations are needed. Because they’re generally comfortable with their managerial responsibilities, they’re able to face the more challenging moments with more confidence and conviction. And that helps your bottom line.

Learn More

Article: Managing Your Managers

Article: The Fundamentals of Performance Management

Q & A: “We hired a manager who is not performing adequately…”

Q & A: “We have a manager whose hours have been reduced…”

Q & A: “Several employees have complained that one of our managers is regularly abrasive and rude…”

Must We Allow Time-off To Vote

By |October 31st, 2018|

Question:
We have had a few employees ask if they can take time off to vote. Do we need to allow that?

Kara, JD, EPHRAnswer from Kara, JD, SPHR:

Yes, you may need to allow employees time off to vote, and you may even need to pay them for it.

The specifics will depend on state law. Most states do require some kind of time off. Two hours is the most common allowance, and generally the employer can require that the employee take it at the beginning or end of their work day. The amount of time employees must be allowed often depends on how much time they have before or after their shift while the polls are open.

To learn about the law in the state or states where you operate, check out the Jury, Witness, and Voting Leave pages in the State Laws section of the HR Support Center.

Kara practiced employment law for five years and worked in Human Resources for several years prior to that. As an attorney, she worked on many wage and hour and discrimination claims in both state and federal court. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oregon State University and earned her law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School.

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Fax: (916) 496-8754
Email: info@vitalsignsinsurance.com

Legal Disclaimer: The HR Support Center is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this article should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. The HR Support Center cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.[/fusion_text]

California Law Alert | Voting Leave Notice

By |October 29th, 2018|

Voting Leave Notice Must Be Posted

California requires employers to post a notice informing employees of their right to voting leave. Employers should post the notice in a conspicuous location at least 10 days before a state or national election. The notice covers the basic voting leave rights for employees, which include the following:

  • Employees are eligible for paid time off for voting only if they do not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote;
  • Employees may take as much time as they need, but they’ll be paid for a maximum of two hours;
  • An employer may require employees to give advance notice that they will need to take time off for voting;
  • An employer may require employees to take this time off at the beginning or end of their shift.
    The notice can be downloaded here.

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: info@vitalsignsinsurance.com
Fax: (916) 496-8754

Legal Disclaimer: The HR Support Center is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this article should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. The HR Support center cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.

Can a non-exempt employee manage another non-exempt employee?

By |October 29th, 2018|

Answer from Kate, SHRM-CP:

Yes, it is completely permissible for non-exempt employees to manage other non-exempt employees. In fact, employers are under no obligation to classify employees as exempt, even if they meet the criteria under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers may have an entire workforce of non-exempt employees if they wish. It is just very important to make sure that they are paid for any overtime and follow other wage and hour laws applicable to non-exempt employees.

Kate has several years of experience working in customer service and quickly moved into HR. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Kate loves to explore the country with her husband and friends. .

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: info@vitalsignsinsurance.com
Fax: (916) 496-8754

Legal Disclaimer: The HR Support Center is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this article should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. The HR Support Center cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.