How a Progressive Discipline Policy Impacts Unemployment Cost Management

How a Progressive Discipline Policy Impacts Unemployment Cost Management

Having a progressive discipline policy in place (and following it consistently) has a significant impact on your success rate in protesting unemployment claims. A progressive discipline procedure or policy outlines exactly how unacceptable performance or conduct is addressed – all the way up to the point of termination.

We know every state has a set of laws governing the administration of unemployment, but there are general concepts that serve as best practices for managing unemployment costs.

Examples of Progressive Disciple Procedures:

  • Three strike policy
  • Point system
  • Progressive Corrective Action Process

Questions asked by the state when someone files for unemployment after being terminated:

  • Was the employee aware that their performance or conduct was unacceptable?
  • How were they made aware?
  • Were they given clear warning(s) that failure to correct the issue could result in termination?
  • Were they given adequate opportunity to correct the issue?

Helpful guidelines regarding progressive discipline policies and procedures:

  • Include your progressive discipline policy or procedure in your employee handbook.
  • Make sure to have employees acknowledge by signature that they have read and understand it.
  • Each time a warning is issued, clearly state the next step in the progressive discipline procedure should improvement not occur.
  • If a policy was violated, make specific reference to that policy (contained in the employee handbook) in the warning.
  • Outline what the expectations for improvement are.
  • Have employees sign warnings in acknowledgement showing that they are aware of what the next step will be, up to and including termination.
  • Maintain organized chronological records of all warnings.

An employer’s progressive discipline procedure should outline why (and in what format) an employee would be issued a warning for performance or conduct issues. In addition, the procedure should make clear the maximum number of warnings that are permissible before further action, including termination, will take place.

It is also important that employees are made aware of the progressive discipline procedure at the time of hire and again at the time any warnings are issued. The employee should always have a clear understanding of where they stand within the steps of the progressive discipline procedure and what the next step will be if they fail to improve. If the state determines that the employee was not aware that termination could occur because of their performance or conduct, or that they were not given adequate opportunity to improve, it becomes much less likely that they will rule in favor of the employer.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your assigned DecisionHR Human Resources Business Partner at 1-888-828-5511 .

California Employment Law – Top Five New State Laws in 2018

California Employment Law – Top Five New State Laws in 2018

Employment Law in California is forever growing. California Governor Jerry Brown signed several significant employment bills that took effect on Jan. 1, 2018, and many employers throughout California need to update their policies and practices accordingly. Here are the top five new California employment laws.

  • A.B. 168: Salary history inquiries
    • No longer able to ask job applicants about their current or prior earnings.
    • Must provide the pay scale for a position upon an applicant’s request.
  • A.B. 450: Immigration enforcement
    • Must demand warrants and subpoenas from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents before any enforcement activities.
    • Must provide certain notices to employees and their union representatives.
  • A.B. 1008: Ban the box
    • Employers with at least five employees can’t consider a job applicant’s criminal history until a conditional employment offer is made.
    • If the employer decides to deny employment based on an applicant’s criminal history, the employer must follow certain steps before making a final decision.
  • S.B. 63: New parent leave
    • Small businesses with 20-49 employees will have to provide 12 weeks of job-protected baby bonding leave within the first year following a child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement. This includes the following available leaves:
    • California Fair Employment & Housing Act’s (FEHA) Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) law
    • California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
    • Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) *Federal
    • California’s New Parent Leave Act
  • S.B. 396: Gender identity and sexual orientation harassment training
    • Sexual harassment training is already required for employers with 50 or more employees. That will soon need to include training on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation harassment.
    • Employers need to post transgender rights notice in the workplace.

Overall, this year’s legislative session seemed to continue recent California employment law trends focusing on California Equal Pay Act-related issues and immigration—as there have been new laws passed in each of these areas in the last few years.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your assigned DecisionHR Human Resources Business Partner at 1-888-828-5511.

Wrapping up 2017 – Updates and Reminders

Wrapping up 2017 – Updates and Reminders

It’s been a wonderful year here at DecisionHR and we want to make sure you have all the information you need to close out the year efficiently and smoothly.

We’re here to provide a quick checklist for you that details all the activities and dates you should be aware of as we wrap up 2017.

W-2 Forms

It’s critical that your information on file with DecisionHR is accurate to assist in being compliant with W-2 preparations. We appreciate your cooperation with this important matter. Please have all updates to us no later than January 3, 2018. The deadline for both paper and electronic W-2’s is Wednesday, January 31, 2018. Please also communicate to your employees that their address on file with DecisionHR is correct.

ACA 2017 reporting mandates still apply!

ACA reporting season is fast approaching, and the IRS has confirmed that employer mandates still apply. At DecisionHR we strive to empower our clients with industry-leading benefit resources. If you would like DecisionHR to handle the 1095-C / 1094-C reporting on your behalf, please contact your assigned Human Resources Business Partner at 888-828-5511. You can also take advantage of sign-up discounts offered by DecisionHR through November 30th. As always, we are grateful for your business and remain steadfast in our commitment to deliver exceptional, dependable service.

Minimum Wage Rates by State

For your reference, this compliance overview provides a list of minimum wage rates by state or jurisdiction.

Federal Court Strikes Down 2016 Overtime Rule

On August 31, 2017 a federal judge has struck down a final rule that would have increased the salary threshold for the “white collar overtime exemptions” to $47,476 per year. The rule was issued in 2016 but was never implemented because a preliminary injunction was ordered against it.

Unemployment Claims & Section 252

As of September of 2017, most states are regularly enforcing the chargeability to employers when the employer is deemed to cause the overpayment. As a reminder, this occurs when an employer provides little or no information at the initial claim level which results in a loss, but then appeals to an unemployment hearing and gives sufficient information to result in a win.

If you have any questions concerning any of these updates or reminders, please contact your DecisionHR Human Resources Business Partner at 1-888-828-5511.

Family Medical Leave Act – You Have Questions, We Have Answers

Family Medical Leave Act – You Have Questions, We Have Answers

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is among the most confusing laws in the workplace. The FMLA is a labor law requiring larger employers to provide employees unpaid leave for serious health conditions, to care for a sick family member, or to care for a newborn or adopted child. There are a lot of variables and factors to take into account when employees apply for leave under FMLA. To clear up some of the confusion, here are the most common FMLA questions asked by supervisors and managers.

What situations generally qualify an employee for FMLA leave?

According to the law, an employee can qualify for FMLA leave in the following situations:

  • Birth of a child (but it is not necessary that the leave-taker be the parent of the child)
  • Placement of a child with an employee for adoption or foster care
  • Providing care for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition
  • Providing care for an employee’s own serious health condition, if the condition makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the job
  • Providing care or emergency help for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who is a member of the military service.

How much notice, and what type, does an employee have to give before taking FMLA leave?

If an employee can reasonably foresee the need to take leave 30 or more days ahead of time, then 30 days notice must be given. If 30 days notice isn’t possible, employee must give you notice as soon as “practicable,” according to the wording of the law. An employee can make a written request, but a verbal notice can be sufficient to make the employer aware of the need for leave.

An employer can ask for certification that includes the following:

  • Date the serious health condition began
  • Probable duration
  • Appropriate medical facts within the knowledge of the healthcare provider
  • In cases involving family members, description of the care for a son, daughter, parent, or spouse, with an estimate of the amount of time that the care will require.

When employees return from FMLA leave, do they have a right to the same job they held before taking the leave?

Generally, you must restore a returning employee to the position held when the leave began, or to an equivalent position. The exception to this rule is if the employee was deemed a “key employee.” The employee does not have the right to their old jobs if it could result in substantial hardship on an employer. A key employee is defined as one who is salaried and among the highest paid 10% of the company’s employees. Employers must give employees a notice of the possibility of denial when they are approved for FMLA leave.

Can I require a fitness-for-duty certification for employees returning from FMLA leave? What about fitness-for-duty medical examinations?

Yes, an employer can require that an employee obtain a certification from a healthcare provider stating the employee is fit to resume work following an FMLA leave. You can provide the employee with a list of essential job duties that a healthcare provider can address when assessing fitness for duty. Only an employee’s doctor can administer a fitness-for-duty examination for certification to return to work. You can require a certification of fitness to return to duty for intermittent absences, up to once every 30 days, if “reasonable safety concerns” exist regarding the employee’s ability to perform his or her duties.

We are here and have the expertise to guide you through the FMLA process as well as any of your HR management needs.  If you have any questions, contact your DecisionHR Human Resources Business Partner at 1-888-828-5511.

 

You’ll Never Be Too Prepared – Disaster Recovery

You’ll Never Be Too Prepared – Disaster Recovery

Would you be ready if mother nature threw a hurricane straight into your area? By the time you hear the news you’re hustling to get supplies before the store shelves are empty.

DecisionHR recommends that you have a disaster recovery plan prepared and ready for any weather disasters that may suddenly occur. We are providing a guideline below to help you establish your plan.

Know the Facts and Have a Plan

Did you know that a hurricane can pack wind speeds of over 160 mph and unleash 2.4 trillion gallons of rain within a 24-hour period. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.

What Should I Do?

Before

  • Talk with your supervisor about your team’s business continuity plan, what you are expected to do and how to stay in contact
  • Have a plan for you, your family and your pets
  • Identify shelter (friend, relative, hotel/motel) where you can stay if ordered to evacuate
  • Don’t wait until the last minute. Plan to leave 24-36 hours in advance of storm landfall
  • Make a survival kit
  • Board up all windows and doors
  • Trim trees

After Watch / Warning is Issued

  • Listen to weather updates on TV or radio
  • Install your hurricane shutters or plywood. Remove anything in your yard that could become windborne
  • Fill your vehicle gas tank and an extra gas can
  • Withdraw enough cash to last for several days
  • Turn up refrigerators and freezers to maximum cold. Turn off propane cans and unplug small appliances
  • Disinfect a bathtub and fill it with water for washing dishes and flushing toilets
  • Evacuate if you are required to do so or if you do not wish to remain in your home

During

  • Identify a safe interior room with no window that’s on the lowest floor. Stay away from windows and doors
  • Expect to lose power, have flashlights within reach of your safe room
  • Never venture outside during the storm
  • Be aware of the hurricane’s “eye” and a brief period of calm may occur and will be followed by winds blowing in the opposite direction
  • Stay away from rising water and fallen power lines

After

  • Monitor local radio and TV for recovery activities
  • Stay away from loose or dangling power lines and report them to the power company
  • Contact loved ones to let them know you’re safe
  • Return to your home and venture outside ONLY after local officials tell you it’s safe to do so
  • Inspect your home for damage and take pictures of damages. If your home is unsafe or badly damaged, locate other accommodations
  • Use the telephone for emergencies only

Who should get paid:

Nonexempt (hourly) employees: Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay nonexempt employees only for hours that the employees have actually worked. Therefore, an employer is not required to pay nonexempt employees if the employer is unable to provide work to those employees due to a natural disaster.

An exception to this general rule exists where there are employees who receive fixed salaries for fluctuating workweeks. These are nonexempt employees who have agreed to work an unspecified number of hours for a specified salary. An employer must pay these employees their full weekly salary for any week in which any work was performed.

Exempt (salary) employees:  An employer will be required to pay the employee’s full salary if the worksite is closed or unable to reopen due to inclement weather or other disasters for less than a full workweek. However, an employer may require exempt employees to use allowed leave for this time.

Exempt (salary) employee chooses to stay home because of weather: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) considers an absence caused by transportation difficulties experienced during weather emergencies, if the employer is open for business, as an absence for personal reasons. Under this circumstance, an employer may place an exempt employee on leave without pay (or require the employee to use accrued vacation time) for the full day that he or she fails to report to work. If an employee is absent for one or more full days for personal reasons, the employee’s salaried status will not be affected if deductions are made from a salary for such absences.

However, a deduction from salary for less than a full-day’s absence is not permitted, although the employer may make a partial day time deduction from the employee’s leave bank (if there is insufficient time in the leave bank, no deduction from salary can be made).

Caution is recommended, however, in docking salaried employees’ pay. Moreover, many employers instead require employees to “make up” lost time after they return to work, which is permissible for exempt employees. This practice is not allowed for nonexempt employees, who must be paid overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a work week.

Don’t wait until last minute to prepare for a hurricane. DecisionHR executed their disaster recovery plan successfully and learned some huge lessons from recent hurricanes. You never know what may come your way. Before the chaos begins, you should establish a disaster recovery plan for you and your family. If you want more information on how to create a disaster recovery plan, contact your DecisionHR Human Resources Business Partner at 1-888-828-5511.

 

How to Avoid The Seven Deadly Harassment Sins

How to Avoid The Seven Deadly Harassment Sins

What is the last thing you want for your business? A lawsuit! In today’s litigious and uncertain business environment, companies are subject to more and more legal restrictions and obligations each year. With that being said, it’s very important to understand how to best handle employee complaints, grievances, or allegations of misconduct. How can you reduce the likelihood of potential costly lawsuits, industrial actions and an unhappy workplace? Here are the seven deadly mistakes employers most often make (and ways to avoid them).

1. Not having appropriate policies in place:

Implementing effective policies and procedures for dealing with harassment issues is critical. Employers should ensure that their policies and procedures are comprehensive and up-to-date. Also, make sure to regularly train managers and employees on these policies and procedures.

2. Not giving proper training:

Following allegations of discrimination or harassment, most employees have had no recent training or training handling these situations. As a result, managers let problems get out of hand. Even if you’re not legally required to do so, make sure to train all managers and supervisors (and, ideally, everyone) on the procedures of how to handle  specific harassment situations.

3. Confusing harassment with bullying:

 Most employers tend to confuse harassment with bullying. Bullying is an intentional act that causes harm to others. This can include verbal or nonverbal threats, taunts, physical attacks, blackmail, or manipulation. Harassment is defined as conduct which annoys, threatens, intimidates or causes fear in another person. It is unwanted behavior that often demeans or threatens another person.

4. Not taking complaints seriously:

Most managers and supervisors tend to not report a situation, take too long to report it or even prejudge the situation. By not addressing the situation immediately and thoroughly, it is much more difficult to demonstrate that the actions taken by the company (termination, disciplinary action, etc.) were justified. Also, if a complaint is not taken seriously, the employee’s personnel file won’t show recorded documentation detailing the problems.

5. Failing to properly investigate:

Managers and supervisors love to take shortcuts when it comes to these types of investigations. For instance, failing to understand and apply the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness; failing to plan an investigation methodically, or at all; and failing to engage a suitably qualified investigator. All investigations need to be taken seriously and handled with proper action.

6. Not implementing recommendations:

In any investigation, the essential phase is the implementation of the change stemming from the recommendations. It’s a common reoccurrence that many employers fail to implement. The results of any major report should serve to generate improvements to the workplace and implement strategies to support future scenarios.

7. Failing to communicate appropriately:

These situations can be very overwhelming for employers. It’s vitally important that employers do not have a quick response and jump straight into an investigation or legal action without first following the appropriate procedures. Be sure to seek advice and address potential problems early and quickly.

Workplace investigations can be a stressful undertaking for everyone involved. It is not only important to have a policy, but it is as equally as important to utilize and make all parties accountable based on each policy. Having these situations go wrong, you run the risk of creating a toxic dysfunctional workplace.  If you want more information on how to avoid these situations or need support or assistance, contact your DecisionHR human resources Business Partner at 1-888-828-5511.

 

 

Hurricane Harvey, Irma, What’s Next? It’s Time to Know the Labor Laws

Hurricane Harvey, Irma, What’s Next? It’s Time to Know the Labor Laws

When a hurricane, earthquake, flood, fire or any other emergencies occur, numerous employment laws are implemented to protect your business. It’s crucial that you follow the Fair Labor Standard Act after any natural disaster, especially storms like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. DecisionHR wants to ensure that your business is staying compliant during these devastating times.

Below are the laws that your business should follow after a natural disaster occurs:

Fair Labor Standards Act: Reduction of Pay and Work Hours

Nonexempt employees: Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay nonexempt employees only for hours that the employees have actually worked. Therefore, an employer is not required to pay nonexempt employees if the employer is unable to provide work to those employees due to a natural disaster.

An exception to this general rule exists where there are employees who receive fixed salaries for fluctuating workweeks. These are nonexempt employees who have agreed to work an unspecified number of hours for a specified salary. An employer must pay these employees their full weekly salary for any week in which any work was performed.

Exempt employees:  An employer will be required to pay the employee’s full salary if the worksite is closed or unable to reopen due to inclement weather or other disasters for less than a full workweek. However, an employer may require exempt employees to use allowed leave for this time.

Exempt employee chooses to stay home because of weather: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) considers an absence caused by transportation difficulties experienced during weather emergencies, if the employer is open for business, as an absence for personal reasons. Under this circumstance, an employer may place an exempt employee on leave without pay (or require the employee to use accrued vacation time) for the full day that he or she fails to report to work. If an employee is absent for one or more full days for personal reasons, the employee’s salaried status will not be affected if deductions are made from a salary for such absences.

However, a deduction from salary for less than a full-day’s absence is not permitted, although the employer may make a partial day time deduction from the employee’s leave bank (if there is insufficient time in the leave bank, no deduction from salary can be made).

Caution is recommended in docking salaried employees’ pay. Moreover, many employers instead require employees to “make up” lost time after they return to work, which is permissible for exempt employees. This practice is not allowed for nonexempt employees, who must be paid overtime for working over 40 hours in a work week.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with these labor laws before and after any disaster so your business can stay compliant. Contact your Human Resources Business Partner at 888.828.5511 for further information regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act.

 

Spruce It Up – It Can Make All the Difference

Spruce It Up – It Can Make All the Difference

Are your employees lacking engagement or the eagerness to do their work? As hard as it is to admit, they are probably feeling unmotivated. How can you blame them when they spend more time at work than they do at home? The appearance of your workplace is extremely important for employee productivity. 89% of employees state that their work environment is one of the key reasons that they are unhappy with their job. The last thing you want is unmotivated employees.

Next time you step into your office, take a look around the room. Is it colorful? Is there art on the walls? Do your employees add their own personal touch to their work space? Most importantly, is your office a reflection of your brand?

DecisionHR wants to ensure that your office space appeals to your employees. Creating an aesthetically pleasing office will increase your employee’s productivity, creativity and efficiency. Here’s just a few ways that you can decorate your office to enhance your employee’s well-being.

Splash of Color

Did you know the color of your office walls affect your employee’s energy levels? Brighten your office with colorful accent walls. Most businesses tend to stick with neutral color schemes, but why not add a splash of color! It won’t only boost productivity, but it will make your office look appealing too.

Go Green

Live plants aren’t just pretty to look at, but they increase cognitive attention and productivity by 15%. Plants will add color to the workplace and spruce up your office. With its many benefits, why not invest in a plant or two?

Personal Touch

Your employees are all unique, which is why you should encourage them to decorate their own work space. This leads to happier employees because they are comfortable in a place they made their own.  Also, this is a great time for you, as the business owner, to personalize the office based on your brand. Some great ways to do this are by hanging pictures of the team on the walls, placing framed company logos around the space, and displaying successful projects your team created.

Be Organized

Think about how much time is wasted sifting through piles of paper trying to find the right document. That time can be eliminated if everything in the office had its own place. The more organized your office, the cleaner it looks and the less stress it brings to your employees.

It’s never too late to transform your work environment to a space that will enhance the overall health of your business. Buy some buckets of paint and gather your team for an office makeover. In no time you’ll see improvements in their productivity levels. Your employees will thank you for it and so will your business. Get ready, get set, start decorating!

 

 

Don’t Fall for PEO Myths

Don’t Fall for PEO Myths

As a business owner, how much time do you put into your HR administrative duties? More than ten hours a week? Between payroll, employee benefits, and human resource compliance, your workload may seem like it’s never-ending. It’s time for you to get some help from a professional employer organization (PEO).

DecisionHR understands that you’ve put your heart and soul into developing your business. Why would you ever want to hand over the reins? Well, here’s why… A PEO will save you time and money so you can invest in what’s most important – building your business. Say goodbye to those long hours of admin work and start boosting your bottom line.

Is your business ready to benefit from a PEO? Discover what a PEO can really do for you versus the mythical illusions that can fog your mind.

Myth #1: You Won’t Be in Control

A PEO only handles administrative tasks, leaving you with more time to track and manage your ongoing operations. You handle the revenue producing activities, while a PEO finds workforce solutions that will reduce costs, increase profits, and attract long-term employees.

Myth #2: A PEO Won’t Actually Save Me Money

A PEO receives cheaper insurance rates for clients because they are able to employ a lot of people, leading to deep discounts not available to most small businesses. Also, you won’t have to dedicate ten or more hours on human resource duties each week. You will be able to invest your time in critical business activities instead of paperwork and administrative tasks.

Myth #3: No Power to Hire or Fire

A PEO will take the time to get to know your business and its culture. They will recruit future employees who have the skill sets needed for any open position and assure that they are a great fit for your team. You are still able to make all final decisions of who gets hired or fired, and a PEO will do the rest. No headaches, no worries.

Are you ready to save time and money and focus on growing your business? Partnering with a PEO is your answer. DecisionHR is proud to empower its clients with industry-leading benefits and human resource solutions, so you can focus on what’s most important – running your business.

With their best-in-class benefits administration and HR technology solutions DecisionHR gives their clients peace of mind. We are the right decision for all of your HR needs. If you ever have any questions about our services, contact one of our Human Resources Business Partner at 1-888-828-5511.

History Has Been Made – How to Handle Five Different Generations at Work

History Has Been Made – How to Handle Five Different Generations at Work

For the first time in history, the workforce now has five generations working side by side. Do you happen to know them all? If not, no worries, they are the silent generation, baby boomers, generation X, millennials, and generation Z. While each of these diverse generations have different leadership, communication and career development styles, we understand that this may pose a few challenges for both the employees and managers.

As an employer, your company plays a huge role in welcoming and being respectful to all generations. The organization depends on you, regardless of your age, to keep misunderstandings and disagreements from erupting into full-blown feuds. Being part of a successful company requires making an effort in getting to know your employees and working together with each generation succeed together.

Here are a few points that highlight the generational trends and facts within the workforce to be aware of:

The Silent Generation (ages 71-89):

  • Less than 1% percent of the U.S. workforce.
  • Strong emphasis on rules and/or policies.
  • Leads with a “command and control” style.
  • Prefers face-to-face interaction, but communicates best formally

Baby Boomers (ages 54-70):

  • 27% of the U.S. workforce, but numbers are rapidly declining.
  • Retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day, but many can’t afford to retire and need part time work.
  • Seek contract work after retirement.
  • Tend to be workaholics.

Generation X (ages 34-53):

  • 35% of the U.S. workforce.
  • Prefer to work independently and less rules.
  • Thrives in workplace that provides a work/life balance.
  • Wants to communicate directly with leaders.

Generation Y, “Millennials” (ages 21-33):

  • 37% of the U.S. workforce
  • An entrepreneurial approach to work.
  • Prefers direct communication and constructive feedback.
  • Wants a social, friendly work environment.

Generation Z (under 20):

  • Up to 2% of the U.S. workforce.
  • Uses Twitter to find jobs.
  • Prefers to communicate by smartphone/e-mail.
  • Not much job experience, however employers can leverage their networking skills.

Having all of these generations come together creates a fun, vibrant company culture. It’s important for everyone to understand the attitudes, personalities and myths surrounding each generation. Here are seven values that matter most, no matter the generation:

  1. Feeling they are respected.
  2. Being heard.
  3. Having mentorship opportunities.
  4. Understanding the company’s big picture.
  5. Engaging in effective communication.
  6. Receiving positive feedback and/or recognition.
  7. Experiencing an exchange of ideas & opportunity to be part of the solution.

No matter the generation, no matter the age, all of your employees deserves to be treated with respect. Developing mentoring programs in your company is a great way to help members of the five different generations coach and support one another. Mentoring can increase employee retention and accelerate job promotion. Helping your associates understand how the world of work is changing and how your workplace can respond to those changes is very important. You’re not alone in running your business – DecisionHR is here for you each step of the way. Questions? Need assistance? Contact us at 1-888-828-5511 to speak with your Human Resource Business Partner.