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Archive for June, 2018

HUMAN RESOURCES: THE GATEKEEPER FOR COMPANY ETHICS

Business ethics are important to every business and are often a component of a company’s core values.  However, that doesn’t mean that the organization as a whole is ethical.  To build an ethical organization, leadership must establish, and model the company’s core values.  Ethics must be woven into the fabric of the organization, fully supported by leadership and integrated into the company’s philosophies, values, policies, procedures, and practices.  HR departments represent employees, their concerns, and deal with fairness issues.  HR’s role in ethics management should be central to ensure real benefits for the organization and the employees.  Human resources deal with a variety of ethical challenges that if not handled properly can damage a company’s reputation, lead to serious legal issues, and lead to a potentially high-cost impact on an organization.  For example, discrimination issues, sexual harassment, and unfair employment policies that can damage a company’s reputation as well as lead to a severe financial impact.

However, HR departments should not be expected to manage ethics initiatives on their own.  In order for ethical behavior to become part of an organization, there needs to be a collaborative effort that also includes Legal, Audit, the top management team, and the board of directors.  HR should have a primary role in the development and integration of ethics programs into key organizational activities, such as the design of performance appraisal systems, management training, and disciplinary processes.

The first step to include ethics in company policy and strategies is to put ethics on the agenda, make it part of the conversation.  This can begin the process of ethics to become part of the organization’s culture, business plan, and goals.  HR professionals can help leadership define ethics for the organization.  For example, what are the specific types of ethical issues that impact your organization, your competitors, and your industry?  This process of defining what ethics means to your organization can help determine safeguards that can be included in policies and processes such as recruiting, onboarding, and leadership training.  Ensure ethics policies are in place for issues such as discrimination, sexual harassment. and employee fair treatment.  Establish and communicate expectations for your employees to ensure each employee understands their role.  Communications surrounding ethics and other core values should be on-going.  And of course, lead by example.  HR professionals are in leadership roles and employees look to the leadership to guide their own behavior. Organization leaders need to set the example by engaging in legal and moral behaviors, and by showing their respect for the employees and for the organization.  It is critical to creating a supportive environment of trust and transparency.  Employees need to see fair treatment across all levels and need to trust in order to come forward regarding ethical concerns.  Ethics panels can be created for the review of issues and violations.

Treating employees ethically can bring tremendous benefits to an organization.  It can earn long-term employee trust and loyalty.  Loyal employees gain more experience, and master processes, and become more vital to the success of the organization.  Loyal employees are happier employees and can also translate into increased productivity and efficiency as well as minimize recruiting and training costs.  Putting a Code of Ethics in place and encouraging leaders to model desired behaviors are important first steps toward creating an ethical organization.  Holding ethics high as a core company value is key to a company’s success and longevity.

Having the appropriate employee fairness policies and processes in place is critical to maintaining an ethical organization.   But it is equally important that these policies and processes are supported by fair and competitive compensation practices.  For the good of your employees, it is helpful to analyze benefits survey data, compensation surveys, and salary reports.  Having this information at hand allows you to plan a budget, including competitive employee salaries and benefits, which will help you to hire and retain a happy, talented team.  At WageWatch, our expert evaluators provide businesses in a large range of industries with accurate and beneficial benefits survey data, compensation surveys, and salary reports to ensure that payment and benefits plans are on par with those in the industry.  For more information on market compensation data, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

MINIMUM WAGE UPDATE – JULY 2018

The U.S. Federal minimum wage has not increased since July 2009, as such, many states, cities, or counties have decided to vote into law, their own increase in the minimum wage.  Some states have decided to gradually increase their minimum wage to $15.00/hour over the course of several years.  While the majority of increases occur at the beginning of the year, others wage increases begin mid-year, starting July 1.

An overview of the states, cities, or counties which have minimum wage increases beginning July 1, 2018 include:

  • California – Not statewide; increases in the following cities:
    • Emeryville
    • Los Angeles City
    • Los Angeles County, Unincorporated
    • Malibu
    • Milpitas
    • San Francisco
    • San Leandro
    • Santa Monica
  • Illinois – Not statewide, two local jurisdictions:
    • Chicago
    • Cook County
  • Maryland – Not statewide; one county:
    • Montgomery County
  • Minnesota – Not statewide:
    • City of Minneapolis
  • Oregon – State law change; varies by area: General, Urban, and Nonurban
  • Washington D.C.

For more detailed information click here:  MINIMUM WAGE CHART.  Review the tab for California to review specific city increases.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practices data that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

NLRB GENERAL COUNSEL ISSUES GUIDANCE ON LEGALITY OF WORK RULES

(Article written by Charles Pautsch, Attorney at Pautsch Spognardi & Baiocchi; the  firm specializes in labor law; Charles is a guest blogger for WageWatch, Inc.)

As was expected, last week General Counsel Peter Robb issued a GC memorandum providing guidance on the legality of work rules in light of the NLRB’s decision in The Boeing Company.  The Boeing decision overturned the Obama labor board’s decision in Lutheran Heritage Village which prohibited facially neutral work rules which “could” be interpreted as interfering with Section 7 rights, as opposed to “would” be interpreted as interfering with Section 7 rights.  This new standard focusses on balancing the legitimate business justifications of the employer with the negative impact on the employee’s exercise of Section 7 rights.

The Boeing standard creates three categories of work rules.  Category 1 includes rules that are generally lawful because they cannot reasonably be interpreted to interfere with Section 7 rights, or because any potential adverse impact is outweighed by legitimate business reasons.  These rules include a) civility rules; b) no-photography/ no-recording rules; c) insubordination/on-the-job conduct rules; d) disruptive behavior rules; e) confidentiality rules regarding company/customer information; f) anti-defamation/misrepresentation rules; g) rules prohibiting the use of company logos/trademarks; h) rules requiring authorization to speak for the company; and i) rules prohibiting disloyalty, nepotism, and conflicts of interest.   Charges alleging that such rules are facially unlawful should be dismissed, absent withdrawal.

Category 2 rules are not clearly lawful or unlawful, and require case-by-case scrutiny.  Legality of the rule will depend on the factual context.  Examples of such rules include broad conflict of interest rules focused on “employer” or “employee” information, and that do  not target fraud or self-enrichment, or customer or proprietary information; rules that prohibit disparagement or criticism of the employer, as opposed to rules requiring civility or prohibiting disparagement of employees; rules regulating use of the employer’s name, as opposed to trademarks; rules prohibiting speaking to third parties or the media, as opposed to speaking on behalf of the employer; rules banning off-duty as opposed to on-duty conduct; and rules prohibiting false or inaccurate statements, as opposed to defamatory statements.  Category 3 rules are generally unlawful.  These rules require confidentiality or prohibit discussion of employee wages, terms, and conditions of employment; prohibiting joining outside or third-party organizations, or prohibit voting on matters related to the employer.

Contact PSB(414-223-5743)  if you have questions about this guidance and how it affects your current work rules, and any revisions you are contemplating in your annual review of your employee handbook; offices in Cave Creek and Phoenix.   

 

Posted in Regulatory & Legal Updates on June 13th, 2018 · Comments Off on NLRB GENERAL COUNSEL ISSUES GUIDANCE ON LEGALITY OF WORK RULES

To Check or Not To Check: A Background Check Primer

There are many types of background checks available to HR professionals that can be conducted in-house or externally by vendors who specialize in employment screenings.  HR professionals should take a strategic view of onboarding as a process.  By doing so, several layers of checks and screenings are implemented to best reduce new hire risks.  It is the old adage that the result is more than the sum of its parts.

The new hire selection process starts with the job advertisement or announcement.  The announcement needs to be designed to attract specific skills and behaviors while discouraging those without the requisite skills. Posting in the advertisement that the position requires a drug test or criminal background check is a potent deterrent.  Those still interested should be directed to a job application that captures information that will form the groundwork for the pre-employment screenings in the next recruitment phase.

The EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; Age Discrimination Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act; Equal Pay Act; and Title II of the Genetic Information Act.  Employers are welcome to use all manner of pre-employment screenings – as long as they comply with EEOC standards. None of these Acts directly prohibit employment discrimination based on credit information, conviction records, previous employment, education, or psychological/behavioral profiles. However, the EEOC has published a compliance manual and provides guidance on a number of pre-employment scenarios, because of the disparate impact facially neutral policies can have on these numerous protected classes.

This is the tightrope that causes many HR professionals to gloss over background checks out of fear of inadvertently triggering an EEOC investigation.  What you don’t know, can hurt you.  HR has a duty to the company to traverse this tightrope and understand the often gray and contradictory playing field (between state and federal guidelines) in which they conduct pre-employment screenings.

Criminal Background Checks – Treat each criminal record individually in the context of the job sought, work environment and conditions, and risk to the organization. Ask the candidate about the situation. Deliberate omission and lies can be used as a basis to disqualify the candidate.

Credit Check – Most commonly used for positions that have are executive level, have financial responsibility, or have access to confidential information such as social security numbers to reduce the risk of theft or embezzlement.  Allow candidates the opportunity to explain negative results for some reasons, such as medical bills, are protected.

Physical/Medical Exam – This screening is allowed only after a conditional offer of employment is extended and is used in specific jobs that require a proof of fitness in order to safely perform duties.  All candidates in the job category are required to have the same medical examination.  The candidate medical history is confidential and must be kept separate from employment records.  HR professionals need to keep in mind that the medical examiner does not make the final hiring decision.

Motor Vehicle Record – This is a critical check for positions that are required to operate a company vehicle as part of the job requirement.  In some states, DUI convictions are kept with the DMV not the criminal court system.  There are vendors that make multi-state verification easier by consolidating searches.

Work & Education History – Past performance is a strong indicator of future performance.  The goal of the work history and education background check is to establish that the glowing resume represented to the recruiter is factual and accurate.  On education, check with the governing body on the authenticity of the degree.  We recommend asking for full transcripts for recent graduates with a short work history.

As a company, it is important for you to understand the new regulations set forth by the EEOC and implement them in your hiring and workplace practices.  Additionally, for the good of your employees, it is helpful to analyze benefits survey data, compensation surveys, and salary reports.  Having this information at hand allows you to plan a budget, including competitive employee salaries and benefits, which will help you to hire and retain a happy, talented team.

At WageWatch, our expert evaluators provide businesses in a large range of industries with accurate and beneficial benefits survey data, compensation surveys, and salary reports to ensure that payment and benefits plans are on par with those in the industry.  For more information on market compensation data, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.