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BUDGET SEASON: ARE YOU PREPARED?

It’s that time of year again when companies are preparing their budgets for the upcoming year.   For HR professionals, it is probably not one of your favorite tasks, but by embracing the process, it can be an opportunity to reinforce the HR function as a strategic partner.

Budgets are used to monitor progress toward goals, help control spending, and predict cash flow and profit.  The challenge is predicting the future 100% accurately and in turn developing effective budgets.

It is valuable for HR to gain a strong understanding and appreciation for the value of good annual budgeting.  In most companies, employee costs constitute the majority of fixed costs and therefore the HR budget contains key and critical elements of the overall company budget.

Here are a few things you can do to make the budget process a smoother one:

  1. Throughout the year, ensure to include the CFO when reviewing such things as pay increases with the CEO.  This can go a long way to developing a partnership with the CFO.
  2. The credibility of the HR function is significantly improved when you can demonstrate real savings and value for HR projects and processes.
  3. Empower your HR team.  Every HR team member should own their line items in the budget.  For example, recruiting is responsible for their search firm fees, recruiting tools, and relocation.
  4. Link the development of your budget to corporate strategy.  This gives a clearer understanding of strategic goals.  And, in turn, should create greater support for the goals, and, a stronger company-wide performance. The key to linking the two is communication.  In order to communicate strategic goals, top management needs information about customers, competitors, technology, etc., and this information must come from support units such as Human Resources.
Budgeting requires the collection of many forms of data. From a human resource   perspective, listed below are some items that would be included in the budget:

Recruiting

  • Advertising & agency fees
  • Employee referral program
  • Background checks / drug testing
  • Recruitment expenses
  • Applicant tracking system costs

Training

  • Training programs
  • Travel expenses
  • Consulting fees

Compensation and Benefits

  • Payroll costs
  • Salaries  & overtime
  • Compensation surveys / benefit surveys
  • Incentive compensation
  • Health and welfare benefits
  • Retirement plan
  • Employee assistance program

Employee and Labor Relations

  • Recognition program  / Service Awards
  • Employee Opinion Survey
  • Performance appraisal software
  • Employment and Labor relations expenses (attorneys, consultants)

Other

  • Strategic planning (data/consultants)
  • HR databases such as HRIS/subscriptions/memberships/books

At WageWatch our compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs and help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives.  WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary surveys 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 .

ANSWERS TO ADA ISSUES QUIZ!

Day in and day out, we at Pautsch Spognardi & Baiochhi Legal Group get more questions about disability discrimination and accommodation than any other law.  Listed below are the questions AND answers!

  1. The Americans with Disabilities Act and state laws providing protections against disability discrimination cover employers with 15 or more employees, and not those with less.

    False: Many states have laws protecting individuals with disabilities working or applying for jobs at companies that employ as few as one (1) employee. Illinois and Wisconsin are among these states.

  2. So long as you treat an employee who is an individual with a disability the same as all other employees you will comply with the requirements of ADA.

    False: It is true that individuals with a disability are entitled to treatment equal to that which you give non-disabled employees.  But, you are also required by ADA to afford these individuals with disabilities reasonable accommodations that allow them to perform essential functions of their job.

  3. ADA and state discrimination laws against disability discrimination require equal treatment between employees with disabilities and those employees that do not have disabilities.

    True:  It is true that this is required.  But as noted in the answer to question #2, more is required—reasonable accommodation.

  4. Depressive disorder is a covered disability under ADA.

    True and False: It all depends on whether the condition of the employee or applicant is such that it meets the definition of a “qualified individual with a disability” under ADAAA or applicable.  In other words, does the physical or mental condition substantially limit the employee or applicant in a major life activity such as walking, seeing, talking, working, etc., or does the employee or applicant have a record of such impairment, or is the employee perceived as having such a condition?  This is often a difficult analysis that must be made based on the individualized circumstances of that individual’s condition.  So, some cases of cancer will be determined to be a disability, and some will not.

  5. An employee who suffers a compound fracture of their tibia and fully recovers from this injury and receives a full release for work in four months’ time is likely covered by ADA due to this condition.

    False: Under the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008, Congress set six months as the minimum time for coverage as a disability protected by the law.  Beware, however, of terminating an employee based on this premise and law.  It is particularly risky to terminate an employee based on the assumption that the disability won’t last more than six months, when it may.

  6. An employee who suffers an Achilles tear in her left foot and is fully released for a return to work after exactly one year is covered under ADA.

    Probably True: Given the length of time involved, see the answer to question 5 above; it is likely that this condition is covered.

  7. An employee whose only physical limitation on her medical release for work is a 15-pound lifting restriction is not covered by ADA.

    Probably False: If this release is permanent, then almost certainly the employee is covered because this has been held by many courts and agency’s to be a substantial limitation on the major life activity of lifting.

  8. An employee whose only physical limitation on his medical release for work is a 50-pound lifting restriction is not covered by ADA.

    True: Many cases have decided that this sort of condition is not a covered disability because it does not “substantially limit” a major life activity.  In other words, the employee is still a pretty good lifter.

  9. Migraine headaches are not a covered disability under ADA.

    True and False: For all of the same reasons noted above with respect to “cancer”, some cases of migraine headaches are covered, while others are not.

  10. The definition that sets forth the requirements for qualifying as an “individual with a disability under ADA” is essentially the same as that defining a “serious health condition” under the FMLA.

    False:  The two definitions are vastly different.  FMLA’s definition focuses on the need for continuing medical treatment and in-patient hospitalization while ADA’s definition is, as noted above, far more focused on the length and the long-term severity of the condition.

As you can see from these answers, ADA, and the state disability, discrimination laws are difficult laws to interpret and apply to the facts and conditions that occur and are present in your workplace.  The definition of who is a qualified individual with a disability is a particularly knotty one.  The Supreme Court has tackled this definition many times and Congress reversed a number of these decisions in passing the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008.
Pautsch Spognardi & Baiocchi Legal Group, LLP; http://www.psb-attorneys.com/ Office: 414-223-5743

 

TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF ADA ISSUES

Day in and day out, we at Pautsch Spognardi & Baiocchi Legal Group LLP, get more questions about disability discrimination and accommodation than any other law.  We developed a quiz to alert you to some of the tougher ADA issues. Answers will be provided in next week’s iBrief™.  (Questions developed by Charles Pautsch/Lisa Baiocchi)

QUIZ – Are the Following Questions True(?) or False(?)

  1. The Americans with Disabilities Act and state laws providing protections against disability discrimination cover employers with 15 or more employees, and not those with less.
  2. So long as you treat an employee who is an individual with a disability the same as all other employees you will comply with the requirements of ADA.
  3. ADA and state discrimination laws against disability discrimination require equal treatment between employees with disabilities and those employees that do not have disabilities.
  4. Depressive disorder is a covered disability under ADA.
  5. An employee who suffers a compound fracture of their tibia and fully recovers from this injury and receives a full release for work in four months’ time is likely covered by ADA due to this condition.
  6. An employee who suffers an Achilles tear in her left foot and is fully released for a return to work after exactly one year is covered under ADA.
  7. An employee whose only physical limitation on her medical release for work is a 15-pound lifting restriction is not covered by ADA.
  8. An employee whose only physical limitation on his medical release for work is a 50-pound lifting restriction is not covered by ADA.
  9. Migraine headaches are not a covered disability under ADA.
  10. The definition that sets forth the requirements for qualifying as an “individual with a disability under ADA” is essentially the same as that defining a “serious health condition” under the FMLA.

DO YOU PAY EQUITABLY AND FAIRLY ENOUGH TO SATISFY EEOC?

You may think you are paying your employees fairly and equitably until the EEOC comes knocking at your door to perform an audit. It is commonly known that EEOC requires that all employees are treated fairly regardless of national origin, race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy and sexual orientation), disability or genetic information. And for employers with 20 or more employees, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act requires that you treat workers over 40 the same and younger workers. To be in complete compliance with EEO regulations, none of these factors can be used when you are hiring, promoting, disciplining and laying off workers. Additionally, private employers with at least 15 employees who work for you for 20 weeks or more a year must also comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and if you have a federal contract or subcontract you may be subject to EEO guidelines. Less commonly known is that fair treatment must also be extended to employees who marry someone of a different national origin, race, religion or color. What you don’t know can hurt you and therefore periodic pay equity self-audits are essential.

All forms of pay are covered by these regulations, for example; base salary, overtime pay, shift differentials, discretionary or non-discretionary bonuses, stock options, profit sharing plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, travel expenses, and benefits. If an inequality in wages between men and women is found, it cannot be corrected by reducing the wages of either sex.

To properly analyze your pay practices, you need to identify all factors that influence all types of compensation. Influencing factors may include:

• Company seniority
• Length of time in position
• Service interruptions
• Skills and experience required for the job
• Education, certifications, licenses, etc. required for the job
• Performance ratings
• Pay grade or level
• Historic pay increases
• Market Location
• Employment status such as Full-time/Part-time

Pay equity analysis should be performed that includes analysis by job group or salary grade; if no formal salary structure is in place, group by jobs with similar value and worth. Also, analyze by race and by gender. Ensure all your pay decisions are well documented as well as having good document retention policies in place. Of utmost importance is that you apply your compensation practices in a consistent manner and in accordance with your policies and procedures. If audited by the EEOC, you may need to defend your pay decisions and consistency and documentation will be crucial.

To protect your organization as well as ensure fair and equitable pay to all employees, it is essential to understand and stay up to date with all the regulations, ensure policies and procedures are in place for compliance and to perform periodic compliance audits. Even if you are in compliance today, that can easily and quickly change as your organization changes and evolves. Mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures can significantly impact pay equity as well as the day-to-day business operations of hiring, terminating, promoting, transferring, and restructuring within the organization including the realignment of job duties.

At WageWatch our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs. We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports 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.

INTERN PROGRAM BEST PRACTICES

Is your summer intern program ready to launch? A review of some important information will help to make your program a success. First, ensure your program is compliant with Department of Labor regulations regarding internships. In the last couple of years, both the federal and state governments have been cracking down on the use of unpaid interns. The use of ‘free’ interns has been significantly reduced since 2010 when the Department of Labor issued new criteria for employers using unpaid interns:

• Internship needs to be structured as a training experience, similar to a classroom as opposed to the employer’s actual operations.
• The training given to the interns must benefit of the intern, not the employer.
• Employers should see no immediate benefit from the intern’s work.
• The intern cannot displace regular employees; they should work under close supervision.
• In advance, establish that the internship is for a fixed duration of time and that the intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.
• There should be a clear understanding by both the employer and the intern that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

If your program includes unpaid interns, consult federal and state wage and hour web sites or legal counsel regarding regulatory compliance. In addition to the regulations, many universities and colleges have specific requirements for the internship program up to and including providing educational credit. If your intern program does not fit the regulatory criteria for unpaid interns, the same wage and hour guidelines that you follow for your hourly (non-tip) workforce will apply. Interns are often paid at rates comparable to entry level positions within the department or discipline in which the intern will work. Local market or industry salary surveys can assist you in setting competitive pay rates for your interns.

In addition to the compliance component of your intern program, below are some best practices to consider integrating into your program:

• Recruit the right candidates by having a clear and thoughtful internship description.
• Designate a program manager and a manager as well as a mentor for each intern.
• Provide structure, even when they aren’t paid.
• Hold orientation sessions for all involved.
• Provide interns with a handbook and/or website.
• Provide interns with real work that is related to their major, that is challenging, that is recognized by the organization as valuable, and that fills the entire work term.
• Consider offering flex time for the interns.
• Host social events and activities for the interns.
• Encourage team involvement.
• Conduct exit interviews.

Today’s world moves fast, and as an employer, you should constantly be monitoring and adjusting your business operations to meet the ever-changing wants and needs of your employees. At WageWatch, we offer accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports 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 market compensation data, benefits survey data and salary reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA) AND JOINT EMPLOYMENT

Joint employment exists when an employee is employed by two or more employers who both benefit from the employee’s work and are sufficiently related or associated with each other. The analysis for determining joint employment under the FMLA is the same as under the FLSA.

Joint employment can exist when employers have the arrangement to share the employee’s services or when one employer acts in the interest of the other in relation to the employee. Joint employment is based largely on the degree of association between the employers and how they may jointly control the employee.

Factors key to determine joint employment include:
1. Do the employers have any overlapping management or share control over operations;
2. Is supervisory authority over the employee shared and/or do they share clients or customers?

According to the Department of Labor’s fact sheet, employees who are jointly employed by two employers must be counted by both employers in determining employer coverage and employee eligibility under the FMLA, regardless of whether the employee is maintained on one or both of the employers’ payrolls.

When joint employment is determined, one employer will be deemed primary and one will be secondary. The employee’s worksite which the employee is assigned and reports to is the primary employer. However, if the employee has physically worked for at least one year at a facility of a secondary employer, the employee’s worksite is that location.

Under the FMLA, the primary employer is responsible for following and administering the FMLA for the employee including 1) providing required notices, 2) providing FMLA leave, 3) maintaining group health insurance benefits during the leave, 4) restoring the employee to the same job or an equivalent job upon return from leave, and 5) keeping all records required by the FMLA with respect to primary employees.

The secondary employer, whether an FMLA-covered employer or not, is prohibited from interfering with a jointly employed employee’s exercise of or attempt to exercise his or her FMLA rights or from firing or discriminating against an employee for opposing a practice that is unlawful under the FMLA. The secondary employer is responsible in certain circumstances for restoring the employee to the same or an equivalent job upon return from FMLA leave and they must keep basic payroll and identify employee data.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date HR metrics, benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports 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. The PeerMark™ Wage Survey is the only Web-based custom survey tool that allows individual survey participants to select their competitive set for comparison purposes. Our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs. We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives. 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.

RED FLAGS FOR ANTITRUST EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES

The Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced a new initiative to criminally investigate and prosecute employers who enter agreements with their competitors to limit or fix the terms of employment for potential hires.

The DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued guidance for Human Resources (HR) professionals that provides a deeper explanation of the relevant laws, potential violations, and best practices for avoiding liability.  Here is a link to the guidance that was issued October 2016: https://www.justice.gov/atr/file/903511/download

The following Red Flags” for HR professionals have been identified by the FTC and DOJ as examples of “Antitrust”.  These nine red flags are indicative of what types of agreements or information exchanges may violate the regulations.  This is not an all-inclusive list nor does the presence of a red flag automatically indicate an antitrust violation.

  1. Agree with another company about employee salary or other terms of compensation, either at a specific level or within a range.
  2. Agree with another company to refuse to solicit or hire that other company’s employees.
  3. Agree with another company about employee benefits.
  4. Agree with another company on other terms of employment.
  5. Express to competitors that you should not compete too aggressively for employees.
  6. Exchange company-specific information about employee compensation or terms of employment with another company.
  7. Participate in a meeting, such as a trade association meeting, where the above topics are discussed.
  8. Discuss the above topics with colleagues at other companies, including during social events or in other non-professional settings.
  9. Receive documents that contain another company’s internal data about employee compensation.

In the Guidance, HR employees have been specifically identified as individuals in positions of authority with respect to hiring and compensation decisions and so will need to lead the charge to ensure that their company is not the target of an investigation.

The DOJ’s and FTC’s Guidance provides certain boundaries for common HR practices like benchmarking and participation in compensation surveys to determine whether companies are paying competitive compensation packages to their employees. HR professionals should follow this previously issued detailed guidance on how best to exchange compensation information for benchmarking purposes in an antitrust compliant way. See Statement 6, Provider Participation in Exchanges of Price and Cost Information, United States Dep’t of Justice and Federal Trade Commission, Statements of Antitrust Enforcement Policy in Health Care (Aug. 1996).

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date HR metrics, benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports 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. The PeerMark™ Wage Survey is the only Web-based custom survey tool that allows individual survey participants to select their competitive set for comparison purposes.  Our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs.  We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives.   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.

NEW GUIDANCE ISSUED ON FEDERAL ANTITRUST REGULATIONS

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued joint guidance on Oct. 20, 2016, https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_statements/992623/ftc-doj_hr_guidance_final_10-20-16.pdf, on how Antitrust Law applies to employee hiring practices and compensation decisions.  The guidance focuses on managers and human resource (HR) professionals who are normally responsible for regulatory compliance and can, therefore, implement safeguards.  In addition, the guidance announces a significant shift in the DOJ’s enforcement policies stating that the DOJ intends to proceed criminally against “naked wage-fixing and no-poaching agreements”.  The agencies underscored the fact that violators could be pursued both civilly and criminally. The new guidance makes it clear that DOJ and FTC will look suspiciously at employers sharing information regarding terms and conditions of employment — such as industry wage surveys.

As part of their guidance, the DOJ and FTC issued what they called Antitrust Red Flags for Employment Practices. The link to these nine Red Flags is https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_statements/992623/ftc-doj_hr_red_flags.pdf. The list is a starting point for what they will be looking for and is not exhaustive of possible indications of antitrust violations. They note that if you notice these red flags or other suspicious behavior and believe that there may have been an antitrust violation, they encourage you to report it to the DOJ and FTC.

The DOJ and FTC caution employers about sharing compensation information with competitors. While not per se illegal (like wage-fixing and no-poaching agreements), the agencies note that such information-sharing such as salary and benefits surveys conducted by industry associations and trade groups could be suspicious.  The guidance directs HR professionals to avoid sharing competitively sensitive information with competitors.  Evidence of exchanges of wage information such as discussion of compensation levels or policies at industry meetings or events could be sufficient to establish an antitrust violation.  Exchanges are permissible in certain circumstances (i.e., it may be appropriate for a company to obtain competitively sensitive information in the course of M&A due diligence), but only if suitable precautions are taken.

Statement of Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission Enforcement Policy on Provider Participation in Exchange of Prices and Costs, an issue in August 1996, remains as the primary guidance in the exchange of compensation information for employees that will not result in a challenge of an antitrust violation by the DOJ and FTC. From an antitrust perspective, firms that compete to hire or retain employees are competitors in the employment marketplace.  Managers, HR professionals, and employees with access to compensation information should not communicate the company’s policies to other companies competing to hire the same types of employees.

Not all information exchanges are illegal.  It is possible to design and carry out information exchanges in ways that conform to the antitrust laws.  For example, an information exchange may be lawful if:

  • A neutral third party manages the exchange;
  • The exchange involves information that is relatively old;
  • The information is aggregated to protect the identity of the underlying sources; and
  • Enough sources are aggregated to prevent competitors from linking particular data to an individual source.

WageWatch surveys are fully compliant with all antitrust guidelines including aggregating the results to protect the identity of the participants, ensuring that the age of the data is at least 90 days old, and ensuring that data results contain at least 5 participants.  At WageWatch, we offer accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports 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 market compensation data, benefits survey data and salary reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

NEW FLSA OVERTIME REGULATIONS ARE IN TURMOIL

In September, 21 states sued the Department of Labor to block implementation of the FLSA overtime regulations slated to go into effect on December 1st of this year.  Separately, over 50 business groups challenged the DOL’s authority to establish a salary test for determining if an employee is or is not exempt from overtime. Those two cases were eventually consolidated.  On November 22nd, federal judge Amos Mazzant, a judge for the eastern district of Texas, appointed by President Barack Obama, entered a nationwide preliminary injunction to stop the implementation of the new overtime regulations. The new regulations would have increased the minimum salary for exempt “white collar” executive, administrative and professional employees from $455 per week to $913 per week, or $47,476 per year.

The Federal Court ruled that Congress intended the EAP exemption to apply to employees doing actual executive, administrative, and professional duties rather than an employee’s salary.  The Court concluded, that the new regulations, which raise the salary threshold significantly would have created “essentially a de facto salary-only test.”  The Court explained, “[t]he [DOL’s] role is to carry out Congress’s intent.  If Congress intended the salary requirement to supplant the duties test, then Congress, and not the Department, should make that change.”

This past Thursday, December 1st, the DOL filed an appeal asking the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the preliminary injunction against its new overtime regulations. Since an appeal in the Fifth Circuit can take a year or more, many labor experts and attorneys expect there will be further legislative or administrative action once the Inauguration occurs and a new Secretary of Labor is in place and this likely will happen well before a final court ruling takes place.

However, many employers have already implemented changes, by either raising exempt employees’ salaries to meet the new threshold or reclassifying employees who are still earning less to nonexempt status.  Employers who have already implemented such changes, may want to leave decisions in place as It would be difficult to take back salary increases.  Employers may want to postpone reclassifications that have not yet been done to give the litigation a chance to play out.  And Employers may want to communicate that there may be future changes depending on Federal Court, Congressional, or Trump administration activities.  Employers shouldn’t assume that the overtime rule will be permanently barred and should have a plan to move forward if necessary in the future.

This said, here are a few possible future scenarios that could unfold:

  • A lame-duck Congress comes up with a compromise bill for President Obama’s signature (not likely);
  • President Elect Trump addresses this after his confirmation by abandoning the Obama administration’s defense of the final rule; and
  • The new administration may introduce legislation seeking a compromise, with a lower, or graduated salary threshold increase, and without the automatic escalator clause.

Regardless of what action the current administration or the new administration take, it is very likely we will see more activity at the state and local government levels. Unions are leading the effort for a $15 minimum wage at the state and local levels. They have had some success in California, Oregon, Washington and New York. As part of that effort, adding a doubling of salary for exempt employees is a logical extension of the unions’ efforts. Why? Because the minimum wage effort impacts exempt employees under FLSA. Exempt employees who are not paid for overtime may see their line employees earning more than they do.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date HR metrics, benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports 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. The PeerMark™ Wage Survey is the only Web-based custom survey tool that allows individual survey participants to select their competitive set for comparison purposes.  Our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs.  We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives.   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.

HUMAN RESOURCES ROLE IN MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS

Mergers and acquisitions are extremely challenging and even chaotic events.    Therefore, it is critical that everyone involved has a clear understanding of their role in the process. Mergers and acquisitions have become the norm in the business world and are often necessary for survival.  Almost every major company in the US today has or will experience a major acquisition.  There is a subtle yet distinct difference between a merger and an acquisition.  A merger is when two separate companies merge into one new entity.  An acquisition is when one company buys the assets of another company.  A merger or acquisition can be desired due to many different strategic reasons including positioning in the market, acquiring another company’s areas of strength or expertise, acquiring capital, diversification and short term growth.  There are several phases or steps in the acquisition process and human resources will typically be involved in at least 2 to 3 of these phases including the due diligence and investigation process and the post-merger integration process.

 

The human resource role in the due diligence and investigation process is to perform a thorough review of all human resource contracts, benefit plans, plan documents, systems, personnel, employment records, all forms of compensation, policies and procedures especially related to human resource regulations that relate to all human resource disciplines including compensation, benefits, recruiting, employee relations, training and development and payroll and HRIS.  Human Resources will also help to determine the organizational structure and staffing models for the new organization.  Some other important items that fall under the Human Resources umbrella are wage and hour or other compliance claims, employment litigations, collective bargaining agreements, any FMLA, OSHA, Workers Compensation, EEOC and OFCCP compliance issues.

 

Transition issues need to be discovered and addressed, for example pay levels between the two organizations may be very different and a cost analysis may be needed to determine the cost of bringing pay levels more in line between the two merging entities.  Other transition issues that often need addressed are transitioning pay increase and performance review cycles, differences between benefit levels in health care and retirement plans.  Most items will need to be addressed immediately, and some items can be completed during the first or second year following the merger or acquisition.  For example if the acquisition occurs in the first quarter and your merit increases are done in January, you may be able to wait until the following January for this transition.  Conversely, it will be highly desirable to transition the acquired entity employees immediately to your health and welfare plans rather than take on the administrative burden and ownership risk of additional plans.

 

Human Resources is also responsible for layoffs, stay bonuses, culture differences and synergies and will play a key role in the orientation and welcoming of the new employees.  These are just a few key items on the Human Resources Acquisition Checklist.  And each item has its own list of key points and issues that must be addressed.  While most of the transition work will happen prior to the closing date, the job of transitioning employees into your policies, pay models, practices, procedures and culture does not end at transition date and typically continues for 2 to 3 years following the transition date and requires continued review at the management level.

 

Change can be challenging and demanding.  With over 5,000 properties in our lodging compensation database, 150 casinos, and 125 hospitals and clinics, we regularly see properties being acquired, divested, and rebranded. Consolidations are occurring at a rapid pace in the healthcare industry as well with hospitals buying physician groups and primary care practices. There are numerous human resources concerns to address every time a property changes hands. WageWatch consultants can guide you through the process of integrating two or more compensation models, rebalancing grades and ranges, examining internal equities between plan documents, developing a market based approach to resolve inconsistencies, and helping you along the way with all your transition needs.  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.