Are You Paying Your Summer Interns Correctly?

Are You Paying Your Summer Interns Correctly?

If it’s summer, it’s not only a needed break for students but a time for them to earn real-life work experience and learn more about the world awaiting them after their studies are complete.

As an employer, there are many things to keep in mind if you are bringing on interns into your organization. The first is to categorize your interns accordingly.

If an employer’s interns are “employees,” they are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and must be paid at least the minimum wage. Interns may be exempt from the requirements of the FLSA if they can be categorized as “trainees” as defined under the law.

In January 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) provided updated guidance to reflect the criteria to identify the primary beneficiary in determining whether an employment relationship with an intern or student exists.

The seven criteria are as follows:

  1. Both parties understand that the intern is not entitled to compensation.
  2. The internship provides training that would be given in an educational environment.
  3. The intern’s completion of the program entitles him or her to academic credit.
  4. The internship corresponds with the academic calendar.
  5. The internship’s duration is limited to the period when the internship educates the intern.
  6. The intern’s work complements rather than displaces the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits.
  7. The intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the internship’s end.

According to the DOL, “courts have described the ‘primary beneficiary test’ as a flexible test, and no single factor is determinative. Accordingly, whether an intern or student is an employee under the FLSA necessarily depends on the unique circumstances of each case.” Refer to the DOL website for more information on internship programs.

When an employer is the primary beneficiary of the relationship, interns should be paid as employees—at least minimum wage and overtime compensation when appropriate. Although earning class credit for the internship benefits the intern and can be required by the employer, class credit is not considered wages and should not be substituted for wages.

Employers are encouraged to consult with legal counsel when designing and implementing an internship program.

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

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.

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.



This Isn’t High School. It’s A Business. – How to Deal with Drama in the Workplace

This Isn’t High School. It’s A Business. – How to Deal with Drama in the Workplace

What comes to mind when you think of gossip? High school, right?  As much as we thought high school drama was behind us, this type of behavior still takes place in most workplaces.

Every business organization is full of unique people with different backgrounds and personalities. With diversity comes disagreement, which can cause conflicts between employees. Depending on the severity of the situation, drama can become uncontrollable and lead to negative effects within your organization. Common outcomes include a decrease in employee productivity, a decline in employee retention rates and a loss of employee engagement. Not only is this breaking down your company’s foundation, but employees become resentful, distressed, and frustrated. As the focus of your organization is dwindling, you begin to lose hope as a manager.

DecisionHR wants to ensure that your business is operating efficiently without petty drama getting in the way. Here are just a few ways that you can tackle negative office gossip.

Tip #1: Address The Gossiper

Point out the specific gossipers in the office and address them individually, focusing on the issues. Do this in a confidential area, so that no one is watching or listening. It’s important that you make them understand that their actions are directly causing conflict. Warn each employee involved of the consequences that will be enforced if the instances are repeated.

Tip #2: Encourage Positive Gossip

As soon as you address the perpetrators directly, make sure that the rest of your team is aware of the situation. This can be done in a team meeting by making gossip one of the topics of discussion. Explain the effects of negative gossip and then encourage the team to spread positive gossip. For example, have employees praise each other on a job well done. Another way to encourage positive gossip can be in the form of expressing positive stories with one another that have happened in the workplace.

Tip #3: Act as an Example

As the manager, you need to set the example for what behaviors are acceptable in the office. Your employees will look up to you as a role model, so you need to ensure that you are acting the way you want your employees to act at all times.

Tip #4: Keep it Confidential

When initially dealing with negative gossip, don’t ever acknowledge it in an email blast to the company or during a large company meeting. Addressing an enormous amount of people won’t solve the issue and it might even concern the employees that you aren’t being professional. Speak to the managers of each department about the issue, and train them on how to confront individual gossipers within their department.

Fortunately, not all gossip is negative and as a manager, you should encourage and promote positive gossip among your organization. DecisionHR believes that this will not only create a positive work environment for your employees, but it will boost productivity in the workplace. Maintain an efficient work environment and don’t let negative gossip get out of hand. If you want more information on how to tackle negative gossip in your workplace, contact your HR Business Partner.