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.


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.

Do you have credibility?

Do you have credibility?

Most of us consider ourselves as being credible. But are you really? In the book, The Leadership Challenge, by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, the authors tell us from their extensive research that credibility is the foundation of leadership. Turns out employees and customers are paying attention to whether or not our words match our actions. It matters if we are honest, forward looking, inspiring and competent, which all point to our credibility. Credibility matters to our employees because they want to feel good about the organization they work for.

Employees want to be proud of the organization and when their immediate manager is credible, they are proud to tell others about where they work. They also have a strong sense of team spirit when the organization is credible.  Employees want to align with the organization and it creates a great team environment. When the employee’s values and the company values match – it really matters. The employee is more engaged, feels attached and committed to the organization. It creates a sense of ownership of the organization – it is about “we” not “them.” So how do you create a credible organization? It’s all about “doing what you say you will do!”

What does credibility look like at your company? It looks like you practice what you preach, walk the talk and put your money where your mouth is!  Sometimes the longest distance for us to walk is from our mouth to our feet! But your employees are watching – they are paying attention – and it matters. When your employees are proud of the organization they work for, they are more engaged, they make more sales, are more efficient, they come to you with ideas and they feel like a valuable part of your team. So how do you know if you are perceived as credible?

If you want to know if you are perceived as credible, talk to your employees. Ask them to honestly rate you on your credibility – hopefully they trust you enough to give you an honest answer. Another way is to pay attention to your talk – the promises you make. Are your actions consistent with your words? Make a list of the things you’d like to be known for, the values you hold dearly, what really matters to you. At the end of the day, take an inventory and see if your values match what you spent time on during the day and week. Credibility matters – and we all notice and judge credibility every day!

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