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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.

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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.

Worried About Retention?

By |September 4th, 2018|

Worried About Retention? The Best Way to Keep Employees Is to Be Useful to Them

According to Gallup, 51% of employees are looking for a new job, and 68% of employees believe they are overqualified for the job they have. Even engaged employees are job hunting at an alarming rate—37%. Employees who change jobs cite career growth opportunities, pay and benefits, management, company culture, and job fit as reasons for doing so.

Employees surveyed said they want to do what they do best while maintaining a good work-life balance. They desire a secure and stable job that pays well and contributes to their personal well-being. They’re likely to leave their current employer if they can get a more flexible work schedule or a significant pay increase elsewhere.

To retain employees—especially top performers—employers often look for perks they can offer to make employment with them more attractive and to keep good employees from leaving. We believe perks are nice, and they can encourage retention, but providing an assortment of distinguishing perks won’t keep employees long-term unless those perks meet essential employee needs.

The best way to retain employees is to remember why they became your employees to begin with—they have wants and needs, and employment with you enables them to meet those wants and needs. In other words, you’re useful to them (as they are to you). When your organization ceases to be useful or becomes less useful than another employer, employees might start looking for the next best (most useful) opportunity. The more useful you can be, the more inclined employees will be to stay with you. Fortunately, meeting your respective needs can be a solid basis for long-term collaboration and shared success.

Here’s how:

  • Talk to your employees about what knowledge, skills, and abilities they think would help them do their job better or make additional contributions to the organization. By involving employees in the discussions and decisions about what training they receive, you help them gain a sense of ownership over their work, their professional development, and their futures.
  • Provide coaching and training opportunities that bring value to your organization and the professional development of your employees. Yes, training may make your workers more employable elsewhere, but it also prepares them for a better future working for you. You can increase the likelihood that your employees will use the training they receive for your benefit by giving them opportunities to put what they’ve learned to immediate use and rewarding them when the new skills and extra effort pay off. Prompt application of what they’ve learned will help solidify their knowledge, while the positive reinforcement will encourage continued use of the new skills.
  • Involve employees in company initiatives that make use of their skills or teach them new ones. Not only will this help prevent their jobs from becoming too repetitive, they’ll gain valuable experience and form a connection to the organization that goes beyond their initial job duties.
  • Make work meaningful and highlight the good that your organization does. This is especially important if the typical job duties of an employee feel mundane or uninspiring. If you’re paying someone to do a job, that job is essential to the mission of your organization. And that mission has value. Make sure employees know that their work, however repetitive or unexciting, matters. Take pride in the good you all do. Show your appreciation and gratitude. Recognize workers for a job well done. People want to feel appreciated, that they’re important, and that they’re involved in valuable work. You can help fulfill these wants.
  • Encourage social interactions among workers. While money might be the primary reason people get jobs, it’s not the only reason. People tend to seek social connections and enjoy interacting with others. They like doing things with other people, and the workplace can be a great place to make friends, build community, and collaborate on a meaningful enterprise.
  • Offer bonuses when your company meets its financial goals and when employees meet their individual and team goals. Bonuses motivate employees to be more engaged and productive by rewarding them with a tangible return on their investment.
  • If feasible, offer raises to account for cost-of-living increases, job performance, and individual accomplishments. Like bonuses, raises encourage efficient and productive work by rewarding it. Of course, huge pay increases simply aren’t an option for many companies, especially small to medium-sized businesses. As much as these employers might want to pay higher salaries and wages, they don’t have the extra funds. If you’re unable to offer substantial raises or bonuses, the non-monetary rewards mentioned above become all the more useful and important.

There’s no guarantee that every hire will be the right fit and stay with your company as long as you’d like, but you can help improve retention—and cut down on its costs—by remaining useful to your employees. Your employees want to succeed in their professions as much as you do in your business. By aligning their individual success with your organizational success, you give them huge incentive to stay, improve their skills, and put those skills to good use in your organization.

Finally, if you’re not exactly sure how you can best be useful to your employees, ask them. Stay interviews are a proven way to learn and understand what your employees hope to get out of being employed with you. Check out the links below for more information and ideas.

Learn More

Stay Interviews – October 2017

How Conducting Exit Interviews Can Help You Increase Retention – September 2017

The Real Costs of Employee Turnover—And How to Measure Them – May 2017

Why Training Your Employees Is Good for Retention – February 2017

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.

Facts About Personal Leave

By |August 22nd, 2018|

Question:
An employee is on a six-week unpaid leave of absence to prepare for an exam. During her leave, the business has undergone several changes and her previous role no longer exists. We do have a different position for her upon her return, but we’re not sure how to address that with her. Are there specific considerations we must keep in mind in explaining the changes or offering her this different position?

Answer from Ophelia, SPHR, GPHR, SHRM-SCP:

While some leaves are protected by law—the Family and Medical Leave Act, for example—there is no law that requires an employer to provide job restoration after a personal leave of absence. However, whether you should provide job restoration will depend on what was communicated to the employee when she took her leave, as well as what your internal policies indicate. If you have a personal leave of absence policy, you should review it—ideally that policy indicates that you have discretion about how to deal with employees upon return. If promises were made to the employee, you’ll want to keep those as best you can.

Be as transparent as you can about the need for the reorganization, and once you’ve presented her with her options (new positions or no position), I recommend giving her a few days to consider whether she’d like to accept the new role.

Ophelia has held HR roles in the financial services, healthcare, IT, real estate, and telecommunications industries. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in Human Resources from Willamette University. A member of SHRM since 2008, Ophelia currently serves as the Director of College Relations for a regional Human Resources Management Association.

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.

Keep Your OSHA 300 Logs Up-to-date

By |August 16th, 2018|

Question:
Do I have to keep my OSHA 300 Logs up-to-date during the retention period?

Answer from Monica, SPHR, SHRM-CP:

Employers must retain all OSHA Forms for Recording Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (300, 301, and 300A) for a period of five years following the end of the calendar year the records pertain to. OSHA also requires that employers update their stored 300 Logs during this five-year period if changes occur. Changes include newly discovered recordable injuries or illnesses and any changes that have occurred in the classification of previously recorded injuries and illnesses. If the description or outcome of a case changes, you should remove or strikethrough the original entry and enter the new information.

There is no requirement to update the 301 or 300A, though we recommend that all records are kept up-to-date as a best practice. So, to summarize:

OSHA 300 Log: must be updated with any changes during the five-year retention period
OSHA 301 Log: updating not required, but recommended
OSHA 300A Log: updating not required, but recommended

Monica has held roles as an HR Generalist and Payroll and Benefits manager at a large ski resort, providing HR guidance to more than 500 employees. She also has HR experience in the healthcare field and the non-profit world. Monica holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Linfield College.

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.

What To Consider When Adding A Dress Code

By |August 10th, 2018|

Question:
We’re thinking of adding a dress code to our handbook. What should we consider

Answer from Kara, JD, SPHR:

Kara, JD, EPHRAs with any policy, the big thing to keep in mind is that you’ll have to enforce it consistently and address any violations. In general, I recommend employers consider the following when creating a dress code:
Be clear about things you don’t want to see in the workplace. Employees may not know what vague terms like “business casual” mean, so if you don’t want them wearing sandals, shorts, sleeveless shirts, etc., say so.

  • Avoid gender-based rules. These could expose you to discrimination claims.
  • Avoid rules that require a ruler (e.g., skirts must be no more than two inches above the knee). Enforcing these could prove uncomfortable for both managers and employees.
  • Consider different rules for different positions or departments. It would be reasonable, for example, to have stricter rules for customer-facing positions.
  • Consider the culture of your workplace and where you’d like to take it. If you have and want to maintain a fun, casual culture, you should probably avoid a dress code that requires formal attire.

Kara practiced employment and bankruptcy law for five years before joining us, and was a Human Resources Generalist at an architecture and engineering firm 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
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.

An Employee Injured Off The Job

By |July 25th, 2018|

Question:
An employee injured off the job would like to return to work, but we’re concerned about her safety and her ability to do the job. How should we proceed? We’re a small employer and not subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Answer from Aimee, GPHR, SHRM-SCP:

In your case, if you have a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence (such as her own description of the injury and what it will take to recover), that the employee’s ability to perform essential job functions will be impaired by the injury or that the employee will pose a direct threat due to a medical condition, you may consider requiring a doctor’s release prior to allowing the employee to return to work. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, disability-related inquiries or medical examinations may only be made when they are “job-related and consistent with business necessity.” It’s important to ensure that you’re considering the specific job the employee has. For example, where an employee has a safety sensitive role or one that requires physical labor, there would typically be more justification in requesting a doctor’s release than where the employee sits at a desk for the entire day.

If you’ve determined that legitimate concerns about the employee’s ability to do her job exist, I would recommend that you let her know that you will need a doctor’s release for her to come back to work. You can explain your concerns about her ability to do the job and the potential for additional harm caused by her returning to work too soon.

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

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.

Rumor About An Employee Out On FMLA

By |July 18th, 2018|

Question:
We heard a rumor that an employee out on FMLA was seen exercising at a park. How should be handle this situation?

Answer from Margaret, PHR, SHRM-CP:

I recommend proceeding with caution so that you don’t rush to judgement. First, it sounds like the information you’ve received is only a rumor and may be unreliable. Second, exercising (at the park or elsewhere) could very well be a legitimate use of leave under FMLA. For example, their doctor may have recommended moderate exercise as part of the treatment. Before confronting the employee, I would recommend that you review the information on the employee’s medical certification for FMLA and determine whether the alleged exercise appears to be inconsistent with the information on the certification.

If it appears the exercise may be inconsistent with the medical certification, I would recommend that you investigate the situation. As with any investigation, it is important that you allow the employee to provide their side of the story before reaching any conclusions. You can let them know that you have received reports that they may be engaged in physical activities during leave and ask them to confirm the extent of their current injuries or illness and how they prevent them from doing their job. If the employee cannot or will not provide an explanation or admits fraudulent use of leave, then you’d have grounds for disciplinary action.

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.