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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

California Law Alert | Sexual Harassment Prevention

By |October 18th, 2018|

Mandatory Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for All Employees

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill into law that will expand sexual harassment prevention training requirements to cover non-supervisors as well as supervisors in the coming years. Specifically, by January 1, 2020, employers with five or more employees must provide interactive sexual harassment prevention training to all employees in California. After that, all employees must receive training every two years. Supervisory employees must receive two hours of training and non-supervisory employees must receive one hour. New employees must receive the appropriate training within six months of hire.

Content and Delivery
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing will make compliant one-hour and two-hour trainings available on their website that employers may use free of charge. These will likely be released around the new year. Employers are welcome to develop their own trainings so long as they meet the state’s requirements.

The training and education must include information and practical guidance regarding the applicable federal and state statutory provisions and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment. It must also include practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, and be presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

The training may be completed by employees individually or as part of a group presentation. It may be completed in shorter segments or in conjunction with other training, so long as the applicable hourly total requirement is met.

Seasonal and Temporary Employees
Beginning January 1, 2020, employers must provide training for seasonal and temporary employees, as well as any employee that is hired to work for less than six months, within 30 calendar days of hire or within their 100 hours worked, whichever comes first. Temporary services employers are responsible for training their employees.

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.

When are we required to pay for trainings?

By |October 17th, 2018|

Question:
When are we required to pay for trainings?

Answer from Daniel, SHRM-CP:

In general, time spent in job-related training is counted as time worked and must be paid. However, not every lecture, meeting, training program, or similar activity would qualify. If all four of the following criteria are met, you do not need to pay the employee for the training:
1. The training occurs outside of the employee’s normal work hours;
2. The training is completely voluntary (there will be no company-initiated consequences if the employee does not attend);
3. The training is not specifically job-related (it may be tangentially related to their job, such as most continuing education, without being specific to how they do their job on a day-to-day basis); and
4. No work for the employer is performed during the training (e.g. reading or replying to email).

Daniel has over 10 years of experience in the communications, government relations, political advocacy, and customer service fields. He has a BS in Journalism and Communications. He has run a small business of his own and sat on the Board of Directors of several local non-profits. In his free time he enjoys cooking, hiking, camping, and home brewing.

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 email 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 we tell employees not to discuss politics at work?

By |October 3rd, 2018|

Question:
We usually don’t mind employees chit-chatting while they work, but some recent politics-related conversations have gotten rather loud and heated. Can we tell employees not to discuss politics at work?

Answer from Kyle, PHR:

You can limit political speech and associated conduct that are not work-related—provided you don’t infringe on protected Section 7 rights or applicable state laws. Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act gives non-supervisory employees the right to talk about the terms and conditions of their employment and the right to unionize. While this law protects some political activities, it doesn’t give employees the right to discuss politics that aren’t work-related during work hours.

That said, I recommend having a policy that focuses on job performance rather than political discussions specifically. If an employee spends too much time engaged in extra office chat, regardless of the topic, they’re probably not performing to your expectations. If nothing else, they’re distracting others. By prohibiting excessive chit-chat generally, you avoid creating the appearance of targeting political speech, and you reduce instances of other disruptive speech and behavior.

You’re also certainly welcome to tell employees that all conversations should be held with indoor voices and that non-work-related topics should be reserved for break areas where they won’t be distracting those who need to focus.

Kyle is a professional author, editor, and researcher specializing in workplace culture, retention strategies, and employee engagement. He has previously worked with book publishers, educational institutions, magazines, news and opinion websites, nationally-known business leaders, and non-profit organizations. He has a BA in English, an MA in philosophy, and a PHR certification.

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.

Must We Pay For Extended Breaks?

By |October 1st, 2018|

Did You Know?

The Department of Labor considers any break under 20 minutes to be for the benefit of the employer, and therefore those breaks must be paid. However, unauthorized extensions of authorized breaks do not need to be counted as hours worked if the employer has expressly and unambiguously communicated to employees that authorized breaks may only last for a specific length of time, that any extension of the break is contrary to the employer’s rules, and any extension of the break will be punished.

Your recourse when employees take unauthorized breaks under 20 minutes is discipline, not reduction of pay. Employees who take longer breaks than authorized can have their pay reduced for the extra time, but discipline is still a good idea to prevent it from becoming a habit that ultimately cuts into productivity.

Contact Us

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

Terminations – HR Tip of the Month

By |October 1st, 2018|

Last month we talked about the importance of having documentation of poor performance or behavioral issues prior to termination. But what best practices should you keep in mind when you’ve got the needed paperwork and you’re ready to terminate? Running a smooth termination meeting may be more art than science, but there are some things you can do to make these conversations less painful for everyone involved.

Here are a few:

• Hold the meeting in a private location.

• Have the meeting at a time of day when the terminated employee can make a graceful exit (e.g., during the lunch hour or the very end of the day).

• Have a script or at least an outline of the points you want to cover—and deviate from it as little as possible.

• Choose your words carefully—the terminated employee is likely to remember them (a script should help with this).

• Don’t exaggerate the problems that led to termination.

• Don’t downplay the problems that led to termination—giving a weak reason like “poor fit” will often lead employees to make up their own illegal reason for the termination.

• After the meeting, take notes about what was said by whom, should what happened during the meeting ever come into question.

How to Increase Diversity in Your Recruiting and Hiring Process

By |October 1st, 2018|

In this month’s edition, we explain how to increase diversity in your recruiting and hiring process.

How to Increase Diversity in Your Recruiting and Hiring Process

The recruiting and hiring process is supposed to select the best candidates while deterring unqualified job seekers from applying or advancing. All too often, however, the process creates obstacles or disadvantages for qualified candidates due to their membership in a protected class or minority group. Even a well-meaning process be discriminatory. Below are some actions you can take to eliminate discriminatory practices and increase diversity.

Reduce barriers. Consider your recruiting and hiring process from a candidate’s perspective, specifically from an under-represented class member’s perspective. Would a transgender person have a fair chance in the hiring process? What about someone with a disability or someone whose first language isn’t English? What obstacles might these people face when applying and going through the resume review, interview, and job offer stages? Are there difficulties some people would face that others would not? If so, do what you can to reduce or remove unnecessary barriers to entry.

Address biases. Consider what biases your company may have when screening candidates for employment. What about while interviewing? What unconscious biases might be affecting who gets interviewed or receives a job offer? Are individuals from some groups assumed to be coachable, but individuals from other groups assumed not to be? If you’re not sure how to assess your biases, check out the articles on bias linked below. You can also learn how to recognize interview biases by listening to the latest 2-Minute HR on the HR Support Center.

Post ads strategically. We tend to network with people who are like us, so social networks and employee referral programs can easily become homogeneous and hamper diversity efforts. Fortunately, there are lot of job boards designed to help individuals from minority and underrepresented groups find work. Try posting in these places.

Focus interviews on obtaining factual, job-related information. This is especially important when taking notes. Avoid documenting “gut feelings,” personal impressions, or narratives. Stick to job-related facts. Doing this will help to prevent personal bias from seeping into the interview.

Challenge hiring decisions. Challenge your managers and their hiring decisions, pushing them to further define what the “best” candidate would look like, both before and after the interview. When doing so, encourage and remind them to focus on capability—who is best qualified for the position. It’s important that candidates meet your expectations, but it’s also important that those expectations are legitimately job-related. For example, requiring clear verbal communications skills might be necessary for a customer-facing position, but it could be discriminatory if it prevented someone with a thick accent or anxiety about public speaking from being offered a position they’re perfectly qualified for.

Seek culture contributions. Look for candidates who can add or contribute to your company’s culture, as opposed to those that “fit” within it. Too often, when employers and managers hire for culture fit, they’re left with little diversity in the workplace.

When companies hire for fit, they end up cloning the same skills and experience repeatedly. The very nature of doing this means a company is favoring similarity and weeding out diversity. Instead, examine your company culture to determine what’s missing, and hire people who can enrich it, who will contribute positively to your culture.

Create an inclusive workplace. An inclusive workplace is one where differences among employees’ thoughts, opinions, and suggestions are valued—especially when they deviate from the norm. It’s also an environment where employees feel safe to be themselves and share information without fear of retaliation. When assessing your workplace for whether you offer an inclusive experience, consider how new ideas are responded to during meetings. Are they welcomed and valued, or are they quickly stifled because they aren’t in line with how things are normally done? Ask employees whether they feel the workplace is inclusive and about any experiences they’ve had, positive or negative.

These recommendations work best when you incorporate them into your recruiting and hiring policies and practices. They won’t be effective if they are just done once. Keep hiring managers and others involved in recruitment and hiring trained on your policies, emphasize the importance of a diverse workplace, and continually assess the process to ensure that everyone is following it.

 

Are Remote Employees Eligible For FMLA

By |September 12th, 2018|

Question:
Are remote employees eligible for FMLA? If so, how is their worksite determined?

Answer from Kyle, PHR:

Remote employees who otherwise qualify will be eligible for FMLA if they report to or receive work assignments from a location that has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.

According to the FMLA regulations, the worksite for remote employees is “the site to which they are assigned as their home base, from which their work is assigned, or to which they report.” So, for example, if a remote employee working in Frisco, TX reports to their company’s headquarters in Portland, OR, and that site in Portland has 65 employees working within a 75-mile radius, then the employee in Frisco may be eligible for FMLA. However, if the site in Portland has only 42 employees, then the remote employee would not be eligible for FMLA. The distance of the remote employee from their worksite is immaterial.

Kyle joined us after six years of freelance writing and editing. He has worked with book publishers, educational institutions, magazines, news and opinion websites, successful business leaders, and non-profit organizations. His book, a memoir about grief and hope, was published by Loyola Press in 2013.

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 email 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.

Easy Office Productivity Tip

By |September 5th, 2018|

Greenery in the office is good for putting green in the bank. Plants reduce pollutants, molds, and bacteria in the air, and numerous studies, at both U.S. universities and abroad, indicate that plant life in the office can increase productivity and creative problem solving by 12%-15%, improve recall, focus attention, and inhibit aggression. Properly selected and placed plants can also reduce cooling costs by as much as 20% and keep office humidity in the ideal range. Strategically placed plants also reduce office noise pollution. One study found that plants had a greater impact on employee happiness than windows!

What To Include In A Job Description

By |September 5th, 2018|

Question:
Should we include detailed travel duties and working hours in our job description, or should we keep it more general?

HR Professional, CelineAnswer from Celine, SHRM-CP:

A position requiring a high volume of business travel or unusual work hours should have that detail included in the job description. Without that, you’ll attract a lot of candidates that ultimately won’t be able to take the position, wasting both your time and theirs.

The most important aspect of an effective job description is that it accurately reflects the actual work you need done. This helps ensure that the company is attracting appropriate candidates for the position, that both the employee and employer are aligned in their expectations, and that the employee clearly understands and has agreed to the requirements necessary to successfully complete the job.

With eight years of customer service experience under her belt, Céline is proud to bring her healthcare and food service expertise to the team. She’s fluent in French and proficient in Spanish, making her nearly trilingual. Céline serves on the board of a non-profit that organizes a citywide music festival. She loves spending her time exploring the outdoors, playing with her nieces and nephews, and cooking.

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.

HR Tip of the Month

By |September 5th, 2018|

Documenting Performance Problems

The importance of documenting performance problems as they occur cannot be overstated. Although this requires meeting with the employee and discussing the issue, which will almost certainly be uncomfortable, it’s your best defense to a wrongful termination claim should the employee feel litigious after termination.

Too many employers rely on the concept of employment at-will to protect them, when the reach of this concept is actually quite limited. The problem is that if an employer has little to no documentation and relies on at-will employment—and the theory that legally no reason is required—the terminated employee, their attorney, and possibly a jury of their peers will fill the blank with an illegal reason. Although you may be within your rights to terminate “for no reason,” it’s a dangerous position to take.

But if the threat of litigation isn’t compelling enough, there are other reasons to deal with performance and behavioral issues promptly and with documentation. Addressing performance and behavioral issues as they arise will improve performance and behavior! There are a few basic principles working in your favor when you commit to the manta of “don’t delay, manage today.” Here are just a few:

  1. If they don’t know they’re doing something wrong, they can’t fix it. A huge number of employees don’t realize their performance or behavior is a problem—or that it’s as bad as it is—until they are being handed their pink slip. Talking to them about it will likely lead to you having a better employee and reduce hefty turnover costs.
  2. No one likes being in trouble. If you talk to an employee about an issue and they understand that failure to improve will result in another talking to, they are likely to shape up. If they are impervious to discipline, then addressing issues early and often will help you shepherd them out the door more quickly, so you can replace them with someone better.
  3. Documentation makes it real for the employee. It’s easy to brush off a quick, oral scolding time and again, but when employees know something is “going in the file,” they are likely to take it much more seriously.
  4. Other employees will catch on. If you are consistent in addressing performance and behavioral issues, your employees will know it. But consistency is key. If you only haul employees in sporadically for failing to meet expectations, you won’t reap the benefits of a culture of accountability.

Ultimately, talking to employees and making a paper trail will serve you both during employment, by encouraging better performance and reducing turnover costs, and after, should they threaten to sue. You can find dozens of resources on the HR Support Center by searching for discipline, performance, or coaching.

 

Legal Disclaimer: This message does not and is not intended to contain legal advice,
and its contents do not constitute the practice of law or provision of legal counsel.
The sender cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.