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HR News

HR Advisor Newsletter

Can We Give Employees different vacation or PTO

By |May 15th, 2019|

Question:
Can we give employees different amounts of vacation or PTO time?

Jenny, SPHR, SHRM-SCPAnswer from Jenny, SPHR, SHRM-SCP:

If the differing amounts of vacation or PTO are based on a clearly-defined employee groupings, such as seniority, department, or exempt versus non-exempt status, then yes. It’s a common practice, for example, for employers to offer more vacation time to employees who have been with the organization for longer.

Where you can run into trouble is offering different amounts of vacation on an individual basis or without clearly-defined criteria, either of which can lead to discrimination claims. For instance, if Rafik and Anita are hired at the same time for similar jobs in the accounting department at the same rate of pay, but the organization offers Rafik more vacation, Anita could potentially bring a claim under federal or state discrimination or pay equity laws.

Over her 20 years of experience, Jenny has specialized in helping small to mid-sized businesses across a variety of industries reduce their risks and manage employee relationship issues. Jenny holds a Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) degree in Human Resources Management from the University of Georgia and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in Human Resources Management from Georgia State University.

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: [email protected]
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.

Federal Law Alert – EEO-1 Reporting Requirements Finalized

By |May 10th, 2019|

May 9th, 2019

EEO-1 Reporting Requirements Finalized

The hotly contested issue of what exactly needs to be filed for EEO-1 reporting this year has been resolved—at least for now. Pay data for both 2017 and 2018 must be reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by September 30, 2019. The data that has been required in years past is still due by May 31, 2019. An appeal of the latest decision has been filed, so it’s possible that there could be yet another change to the requirements, but employers should plan to comply with these deadlines, as described below.

Does my business even need to file the EEO-1 report?
If you have fewer than 100 employees and no federal contracts, you are not subject to EEO-1 reporting requirements. Only two categories of employers need to submit EEO-1 data:
1. Organizations with 100 or more employees (excluding public primary and secondary schools, institutions of higher education, tribes, and tax-exempt private membership organizations);
2. Federal contractors with 50 or more employees, that also are prime or first-tier subcontractors with a contract worth $50,000 or more; or are a depository for US government funds in any amount; or are an issuing and paying agent for US Savings Bonds and Savings Notes.
What information do I need to report and by when?
The EEOC has divided the information it requires into two categories, referred to as components.

Component 1 data: This is the information that has always been required. It includes data about all employees by job category, race, ethnicity, and sex. Component 1 data for calendar year 2018 is due by May 31, 2019. The online survey application is open and available here. If you have never filed the EEO-1 report before and believe you need to, start here.

Component 2 data: This is the newly required information. It includes data about all employees, including W-2 wages, total hours worked, race, ethnicity, and sex. This year employers will need to report Component 2 data for calendar years 2017 and 2018. Component 2 data is due by September 30, 2019. The online filing portal is not yet open, but expected to be available mid-July.

For both types of data, the preferred method of reporting is through the EEO-1 Survey Application, which generates a table for employers to provide the required information. Employers do not need to worry about creating and formatting a complicated report.

Additional Information
The EEOC has provided answers to Frequently Asked Questions and also created an Instruction Booklet.

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: [email protected]
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.

12 FMLA weeks

By |May 3rd, 2019|

Question:
A pregnant employee has gone on leave 4 weeks before the baby is going to be born. Do I have to give her all 12 FMLA weeks after it’s born, too? Sixteen weeks is a lot!

MeganAnswer from Megan, PHR, JD:

Eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 workweeks of FMLA leave in a benefit year for qualifying reasons, regardless of any other leave they have taken during the year. An employee may take FMLA leave for their own serious health condition as well as to bond with a newborn baby. Being unable to work because of a pregnancy qualifies as a serious health condition.

If the pregnant employee is starting her leave now because she is unable to work, then her 12 weeks of FMLA starts now. Using 4 weeks of FMLA before the birth will reduce the amount of FMLA she has available for bonding purposes after the baby is born. In other words, she will have 4 weeks of FMLA before the birth and 8 weeks of FMLA after the birth, for a total of 12 weeks.

If you have a policy or promised to grant pregnancy leave without counting it against the employee’s 12-week FMLA entitlement, then you should follow that policy or promise. Keep in mind that employers are responsible for providing timely notices regarding an employee’s FMLA leave and the failure to do so might result in needing to extend the amount of FMLA leave.

Finally, it’s always a good idea to check state law. It’s possible she will have additional leaves available to her if she experiences a pregnancy-related disability.

Megan graduated from the University of Maryland, magna cum laude, and from Lewis and Clark Law School, cum laude. She has extensive work experience in a variety of industries, which she draws on to help clients with their HR questions.

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: [email protected]
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 |May 3rd, 2019|

HR Tip of the Month

Even if you don’t need to update your employee handbook because of new laws or changes to company policy, it doesn’t hurt to review it occasionally for clarity and tone. Many employers are working off a template they found online, perhaps many, many years ago. These old templates are often packed with legalese and stuffy language. Said handbooks should henceforth be banished! Eschew obfuscation!

If you’ve got the time and inclination (or someone on staff who does), you can really polish up your handbook and make it reflect who you are as an organization. But even if you’re relatively low on time, you can start updating policies to make your handbook sound more like it belongs in 2019. You can update your master copy of the handbook throughout the year as you have time and unveil all the freshened-up policies at once whenever you’re ready to release a new version to employees.

Check out the Policy Library in the HR Support Center—which has been completely updated since last year—to see if there are more up-to-date and concise policies that could improve your handbook.

DOL Adopts New Unpaid Intern Test

By |May 3rd, 2019|

DOL Adopts New Unpaid Intern Test

Did you know that the Department of Labor (DOL) has a relatively new test for unpaid interns. Employers should use this test—called the primary beneficiary test—when determining if a worker can be properly classified as an unpaid intern or if they need to be classified as an employee and paid minimum wage and overtime. The test adopted by the DOL has already been in use in four federal appellate courts, most recently the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The DOL’s switch to the primary beneficiary test creates a nationwide standard.

Read more…

What Is the Interactive Process

By |May 3rd, 2019|

What Is the Interactive Process, Anyway?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to reasonably accommodate the disabilities of their employees and to engage in an interactive process when a request for accommodation is made. What is the interactive process?

 

Read more…

Know Before Disciplining or Terminating an Employee

By |May 3rd, 2019|

What You Need to Know Before Disciplining or Terminating an Employee

The prospect of corrective action or termination makes a lot of managers nervous. That’s understandable. For employees, being disciplined or losing their job can be anything from moderately embarrassing to financially devastating, but it’s rarely a happy occasion. For the employers, these actions always come with some risk, and there are plenty of legal danger zones an employer can end up in if corrective action isn’t done properly.

Here are some tips from our HR Pros to help you avoid these pitfalls and make corrective action productive for everyone.

Read more…

Steps to Take if an Employee Has an Accident

By |April 26th, 2019|

Question:
What steps should we take if an employee has an accident or gets hurt on the job?

Answer from Brody, PHR, SHRM-CP:

First, make certain that the employee receives any immediate medical care they need. Their health and safety should be the initial priority.

Once you’ve done that, then you can turn your attention to recording and reporting the injury. It is important to allow your employee to complete a workers’ compensation claim form, which can be obtained from your insurance provider. Most workers’ compensation policies require notice of an injury to be reported within 24 hours of the incident. If your organization is subject to OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, then the injury should be recorded within seven days on the OSHA 300 Log and 301 Incident Report.

If the injury prevents the employee from working altogether or doing the essential functions of the job, you may need to determine whether other laws—such as the Family and Medical Leave Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act—come into play.

After the emergency response and reporting steps have been initiated, you can begin an investigation process to determine the cause of the incident and identify any corrective actions that would reduce the likelihood of future incidents.

You can learn more about these laws and regulations on the HR Support Center.

Brody has over 13 years experience in HR & Customer Service, supporting client companies within the small and medium size markets. He has a focus on identifying opportunities for growth and evolution within his client companies and strives to make his clients better HR practitioners. His past personal involvement with a small non-profit start up has created a special sense of devotion to supporting businesses that share a values based social responsibility. Brody holds dual HR certifications from the HR Certification Institute as well as the Society for Human Resource Management.

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: info[email protected]
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 to comply – labor law poster requirements – Remote Employees

By |March 13th, 2019|

Question:
We have a lot of remote employees working all over the country. How do we comply with labor law poster requirements in these cases?

Answer from Aimee, GPHR, SHRM-SCP:

The simplest and safest answer is to mail hard copies of any applicable workplace posters to the remote employees and let them do what they like with the posters at their home office. Since you have employees in multiple states, you should send each employee the required federal posters, plus any applicable to the state in which they work.

Alternatively, some more risk tolerant employers may also provide these required notices and posters on a company website or intranet that employees can access. However, this is not necessarily compliant with a very literal reading of the regulations. Essentially, many of these laws were written decades before the internet.

Aimee is a recognized leader in the field of Human Resources. Previously, she held HR leadership roles for an international humanitarian relief and development organization, and worked as an HR consultant to small and mid-sized companies. Aimee was previously the Global Director for the Board of Directors of the local chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: [email protected]
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.

DOL Proposes New Overtime Rule

By |March 13th, 2019|

Federal Law Alert
March 11th, 2019

DOL Proposes New Overtime Rule

The Department of Labor has released a new proposed rule to increase the minimum salary that an employee must earn to be exempt from minimum wage and overtime under a white collar exemption.

The Rule
The proposed rule requires that salaried exempt executive, professional, administrative, and computer employees must be paid at least $679 per week on a salary basis, an increase from the current minimum of $455 per week. The rule allows for non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments to account for up to 10% of the minimum, so long as they are paid out on at least an annual basis; currently commissions and bonuses cannot be counted toward the minimum.

The DOL also proposes that highly compensated employees must be paid at least $147,414 per year to qualify as exempt. Of that amount, at least $679 per week must be paid on a salary or fee basis.

The anticipated effective date of this rule is January 2020.

The Department of Labor intends to update these minimums every four years based on increases to the Consumer Price Index. These increases will not be automatic, but will likely be done through notice and comment rulemaking, just as they are doing with this proposed rule.

Duties Test
There are no proposed changes to the duties tests for the various white collar exemptions. Employers should be aware that paying someone a minimum salary does not necessarily mean they are properly classified as exempt. Each of the exemption types mentioned above has a corresponding duties test. If the duties test is not met by the employee, then they are non-exempt and entitled to minimum wage and overtime, regardless of the method or amount of pay. You can learn more in the HR Support Center by entering the word exempt into the search bar.

State Law
California and New York (and soon Washington) already have laws in place that make the minimum salary for exempt white collar employees higher than these proposed thresholds. As employers must follow the law that is more beneficial to employees, the new proposed federal minimums would not affect employers in these states.

Resources
Numerous resources to help employers navigate this change are available in the HR Support Center. Search FLSA Changes to find a Decision-Making Guide, Implementation Guide, information about the duties tests, and more.

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: [email protected]
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.