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5 Mail Deliveries You Can’t Ignore

5 Mail Deliveries You Can’t Ignore

When I sort the mail, I often sort into 3 categories.

The first pile is mail that I plan to toss into the recycle bin right away – probably won’t even bother to read, like the latest credit card offer or a promotion that I have no  interest in.

The second category is for mail that I may take a closer look at but will likely go into the first category – a promotion that I might be interested it, but need to consider or look at closer.

The third category is the most important – bills I need to pay or a check or bank statement. For business owners and HR folks, this third category should also include mail that you must not ignore. Because ignoring it would probably cause great harm to the business or frustration to my employee. Here are a few things that would be included in the very important category.

5 Documents you might get in the mail that you should NOT ignore

Wage Garnishments

Wage garnishments are sometimes delivered by a process server but often just come in the mail. Garnishments are a court order. Employers are required to garnish wages from your employees for the purpose of repaying a debt. The debt may be owed to the IRS, child support payments, a landlord or other creditor. Employees who have garnishments against them are protected under the law – so make sure you do not fire the employee for the trouble associated with the collection of the wages. Follow the instructions on the garnishment, including the time frame for the garnishment and call if you have a question.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

If your company receives an official complaint from the EEOC do not ignore it – respond in the required time frame. The complaint may be from an applicant that did not get the job and felt they were discriminated against. It may be from a current or terminated employee who felt they were treated unfairly. And it may be a current employee that feels that his manager did not respond appropriately and didn’t know where to go to have the complaint heard. In any event, investigate the complaint and respond with the documentation and position statement. It may be helpful to call upon an outside source to investigate (Wise HR can help with the investigation) and either Wise HR or an attorney to develop the position statement response.

Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment Insurance request have a required time limit to respond.  Employees who have been discharged will likely receive unemployment pay, even if they were not doing a satisfactory job. However, depending upon the length of time they were employed and the reason for their leaving – you might have a chance to have the claim not be against your company. Answer the questions on the form and return it – you have a short window to return the completed form, so don’t delay!

Department of Labor

Similar to the EEOC claim, a claim from the Department of Labor is serious and should be responded to honestly and within the time limits on the claim. You may need an HR professional like Wise HR or an attorney to help you respond appropriately and in the best interest of your company.

Verification of Employment and Wages

Request for verification of wages and employment. If your employee is buying a house or applying for credit for other reasons, they may be waiting for your response to the request to finalize their plans. Don’t hold up their dream of purchasing a home or even refinancing – complete it and put it in the mail immediately. It is just good for employee moral and good manners.

If the document appears to be “official and important” and you don’t know what to do – don’t set it aside. Instead, reach out to someone who can help you, Wise HR, your attorney or even call a number provided in the document and ask some questions.

Breastfeeding Mom’s Have Rights

Breastfeeding Mom’s Have Rights

Do you have breastfeeding mothers who are working?

Do you have a policy that states you will provide a place for breastfeeding Moms to express milk for their babies? If you don’t, you are not  compliant with the Affordable Care Act.

Are you willing to provide light-duty work for breastfeeding moms if necessary so that it does not interfere with her ability to produce milk?

A case in Alabama illustrates the importance of allowing new mothers to produce milk.  In this case, a police officer was awarded $374,000 by the jury. They said that she should have been allowed an accommodation when her doctor stated that wearing her bullet-proof vest could cause a breast infection. The officer sued claiming under violations of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Family Medical Leave and she won.

What you need to know:

  1. Employers are required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the new mom to express milk.
  2. Companies are required to allow unlimited, unpaid breaks to express mild during work hours.
  3. You are required to provide the space and time away from work for a period of one year after the birth of the child.
  4. It is best practice to have a clear policy and follow it.

Many of the companies I work with are not aware this law exists.  Including it in the employee handbook provides the communication to the employees and also provides for the development of a plan the employer intends to follow when the situation arises. Being aware of this law and taking it seriously reduces the risk to your company and makes for happier employees.

 

What is on the Trump Agenda can Impact your Business

What is on the Trump Agenda can Impact your Business

President Trump has been talking about building walls while working on dialing back the Obama era labor policies.  What implication does this have on small business? Here is what to pay close attention to over the next few months. First, Immigration Crackdowns.

Immigration & Undocumented Immigrant Workers

The White House is promising a major crackdown on employers that hire undocumented immigrants. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will “significantly increase” the number of inspections in worksite operations. That is according to acting ICE Director, Tom Homan. In addition, Homeland Security Investigations, ICE’s investigative arm, could potentially quintuple its worksite enforcement actions next year.

“We’ve already increased the number of inspections in worksite operations,” Homan said Oct. 24. “You will see that significantly increase this next fiscal year.” Homan said the goal was to cripple the employment “magnet” that draws undocumented immigrants to enter the U.S.

To guard against these costly mistakes, make sure that your business has on file an accurately completed an I-9 on each employee and meet the requirements for timely completion. For the most updated form (new form September 2017) go here:https://www.uscis.gov/i-9. Make sure your form has this in the lower left corner:  Form I-9 07/17/17 N.

Companies in North Carolina with over 25 employees must use E-Verify. Go here to use  E-Verify:http://www.nclabor.com/legal/e_verify/e_verify.htm.

Federal Overtime Laws

The Trump Administration is working now on overahauling the federal overtime laws. Watch closely to see the impact of those changes, if and when they go into effect. You may recall that the Obama administration issued a change to the overtime rule that would have raised the salary threshold for exempt workers from $23,660 to $47,476. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas blocked the rule in a Nov. 22, 2016, decision that was to take effect in December 2016.  Since then, there has been some speculation about how the Trump administration would handle the rule. There is some reason to believe that changes will result in a more modest salary threshold increase. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Stay tuned to Wise Words for more information these and other situations develop.

 

 

3 Ways Employers & Supervisors Get What They Don’t Want – An Entitlement Culture!

3 Ways Employers & Supervisors Get What They Don’t Want – An Entitlement Culture!

Entitlement Culture Be Damned!

I hear employers complain about how their workers have an entitlement attitude. When the entitlement attitude becomes the Entitlement Culture

ulture of the company it is certainly problematic and makes for a difficult place to go to work every day. If you don’t want a culture of entitlement, here are some practices that I encourage you to look at.

Employee Rewards

How do you reward your employees?  Are your employees rewarded, across the board with raises or bonuses without any connection to their performance? When there is no connection of performance to reward, employees ultimately tend to believe that they are “entitled” to the reward without any requirement for performance. It is important to formally review each employees’ performance, at least annually.  If the budget allows, award bonuses or salary increases based on their performance. When you don’t tie performance to pay and money is given away, employers get exactly what they don’t want, a sense of entitlement.

Perfomance Problems

Are performance problems addressed? When employees are not performing to your expectations or in the best interest of the company, problems need to be addressed. Performance problems require a conversation with the employee about how their performance is not measuring up. Some of us are not fond of confrontation, but it is part of a manager’s job to address performance problems. In fact, it is likely the only way to change the behavior. Employees need to know what the requirements are for the job and what happens if they don’t measure up. Providing the feedback reduces the feeling of entitlement and changes it to reward for performance.

Partnership & Accountability

Create a partnership with your employees. If you pay 100% of their health insurance, provide them with paid-time-off and don’t hold them accountable for their performance, you create the entitlement culture. What is the expectation of the employee when the company gives all without holding them accountable for their efforts? Don’t get me wrong, benefits are great and a solid benefit package can help you recruit the people you need. However, consider about how much the company gives and the expectations of the employee as a partnership. Consider the employee relationship as a partnership and hold the employee accountable for their part in the success of the company. That partnership will undoubtedly change the entitlement culture to a partnership culture.

#Me Too – Protect your employees and your business from sexual harassment complaints

#Me Too – Protect your employees and your business from sexual harassment complaints

#Me Too – Protect your employees and your business from sexual harassment complaints.

Sexual Harassment cases have hit the media at an alarming rate. Businesses found to be at fault for allowing sexual harassment at work are at risk of losing a lot of money. When it happens to small businesses, it could mean the loss of the business itself. Here are some tips to protect your business. Having a policy lays the groundwork for how to identify hassment and what to do it occurs.

Have a Policy

Include a policy in your employee handbook that describes what sexual harassment is. Also include what the employee should do if they believe they are being harassed. Te employee should understand who to speak with and have a couple of options of people they can speak with.  Options should include leaders of different genders and someone not in the direct line of supervision of the employee. Train supervisors on how to listen to complaints and take them seriously.

Listen

Managers and supervisors must be accountable to listen to the complaint, understand that it is not okay to blow it off, and know what the next step is that they are responsible to take. Not taking complaints seriously is a big problem and only causes more problems.  This is serious for the employee and your business, make sure you investigate.

Investigate the Complaint

The owner of the company, or their designee, should thoroughly investigate the complaint by talking to other employees who may have overheard conversations or been a witness to inappropriate conduct. Be discreet, but investigate. Don’t make the mistake of appearing that the issue is not important (by not investigating immediately). And don’t make statements to others that appear that you are not taking the complaint seriously. Document all conversations as you gather the information and act immediately.

Act Immediately

Once you gather the information, act on the information. When complaints are found to be valid, it may be the best decison for your business to terminate the harasser. If the complaint is found to be a misunderstanding that doesn’t appear to be harassment, document it. Communicate to the harasser that the behavior has been misinterpreted and put them on notice to be more aware of their behavior. Don’t leave out the step of getting back to the complainant and letting them know what you found. If you are in doubt, get some professional help.

Get Professional Help

Often it is a good idea to have someone outside the company investigate the complaint. It send a message to the complainant that you are taking it seriously and want an unbiased investigator. Wise HR can help you with investigating complaints. Finally, it may be a good idea to contact an attorney who specializes in labor and employment relations to make sure you are doing what you need to do to protect your employees and your company.

Take the complaints seriously, your business is important.

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