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IT’S TIME TO ADJUST YOUR SALARY STRUCTURE

Maintaining a salary structure that aligns with the organization’s pay philosophy and is competitive in the labor market is imperative for any organization.  Most organizations update their salary structure every one to two years, as budget permits.  However, during the recent recession, some organizations chose not to increase their salary structures for cost containment and/or a lack of competitive pressure to do so.  For 2018, the stronger U.S. economy and increased employer confidence should continue to bolster job gains, and economists expect the previously sluggish wage growth to accelerate.  Whether or not you’ve adjusted your salary structure during the past few years, it is certainly time to do so now.

The review of your salary structure should determine whether it is still aligned with the company’s needs, pay philosophy and the labor market.  Salary structure adjustments maintain the structure’s competitiveness with the external labor market and protect an organization’s ability to compete in the marketplace for talented employees.  If the salary structure gets out of sync with the overall labor market, a company may find itself paying employees too much and needlessly increasing operating costs, or paying employees too little and having difficulty attracting and retaining talent.  Salary-structure issues are less expensive to address early on so it is best to review your salary structure annually for any needed changes.  If you wait two or three years to review and adjust, the labor market can move significantly upward in that period of time and the cost of salary range adjustments and resulting salary increases can be substantial.

Other business changes and events may warrant a review of the salary structure, such as the company’s merger or acquisition, or a competitor opening or closing a facility that impacts the company’s operations.  At times during the year, hiring managers may alert you to possible salary-structure issues and their insight can indicate that specific areas of the salary structure are out of alignment.  But there may be other factors that the manager is not aware of, such as an organization’s strategic decision to set pay levels above or below the market median.

There are two basic methods for updating your salary structure and many companies will alternate the two methods, performing the ‘quick’ adjustment one year and the ‘in-depth’ adjustment the following year.

  1. The Quick Adjustment method is where you collect and consider trend or annual merit increase information, then adjust your ranges by a percentage you view as necessary to remain competitive. Trend and annual merit increase surveys are published every year and most companies rely more on average or median salary increase figures.
  2. The In-Depth Adjustment method is where you select a representative sample of benchmark jobs using currently published compensation surveys for your competitive market. Collect the competitive salary data, and then compare your salary range mid-points to the market medians or the percentile that you chose to compete with for the benchmark jobs.  The results will help you determine the degree to which your ranges should be adjusted and also identify any jobs or job families whose pay is moving at a different pace than the rest of the market and may need re-graded. This methodology requires more data and time to complete.

Alternating annually between these two methods should maintain competitiveness, cost efficiency, and save time from performing the In-Depth Adjustment analysis every year.  Any resulting increases from the structure movement should be minimal and workable within the current budget year.

It is also important to remember that established pay grades, the jobs’ placement within the pay grades and well-maintained job descriptions are the nuts and bolts of the salary structure.  Companies change over time and job functions and duties can also change.  Keeping job descriptions accurate and reflecting the core duties of each position will be essential to appropriate and competitive salary ranges and pay.

Companies should consider the reassessment of their salary administration programs, along with all of their compensation plans, as a vital and ongoing part of the program’s success.  Assessing the program to ensure that it continues to meet your company’s needs is perceived as a credible and functional part of the Human Resources process, and will enhance your company’s ability to remain a competitive force in the marketplace.  When was the last time your organization reviewed its salary structure(s)?

At WageWatch, we offer accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data, salary reports and consulting services 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.  WageWatch, Inc. is the leading compensation survey provider for the lodging and gaming industries with 6,000 properties participating in its PeerMark™ Wage Survey.  WageWatch also conducts compensation surveys for other business and industry segments including healthcare and non-profits.  For more information on our services, including market compensation data, benefits survey data, salary reports, and consulting services, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.
 

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 in 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 companywide 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.

 

GET MORE OUT OF YOUR TURNOVER METRIC

Most HR departments miss an opportunity when it comes to measuring and reporting turnover.  The goal of any HR metric is to provide information on how to improve the measured item.  As Peter Drucker said, “what gets measured gets done.”  Reporting turnover as simply a percentage of the workforce can be made more meaningful and more useful by diving down into the detail and adding data and information that quantifies the cost and provides insight on root causes and how to make improvements.  Some examples of this are:

  • Along with your company’s turnover rate, add the turnover rate of competitors, giving a baseline or something to compare against
  • Add the percentage of turnover that was top performers or top salespeople, the percent of turnover in each department and for each manager, the percent in high impact jobs and hard to fill jobs
  • Add the percentage of turnover in the first year of employment, which can be linked to possible employee dissatisfaction
  • Add how long it takes to fill positions, the recruitment cost of filling the positions, and how long before they are up to the minimum productivity level
  • Add exit interview information such as how many went to work for competitors and which competitors. Exit interviews may also indicate whether turnover was preventable, which may, in turn, provide managers with information needed for improvement
  • Add the dollar impact of lost sales where applicable, i.e., sales turnover, which can be directly linked to revenue and economic impact to the company

The involuntary turnover metric is also important.  It can indicate that the company is keeping low performers which can also be costly.  With this additional information, conclusions are now more easily drawn and the cost of turnover is more tangible (i.e., the cost of losing individuals in key positions is likely higher than losing individuals in low-impact positions).  If losing hard to fill jobs, the job market may be tight and replacing these employees could be expensive.   Losing individuals with strong reputations within the industry can impact stock analysts’ assessments of your firm.  It can also send negative signals throughout your firm and the industry, which can, in turn, lead to more turnover.

Some additional information that can be helpful when included with the turnover report, include:

  • Leading causes of preventable turnover
  • Satisfaction or frustration levels of those who left which could impact the company’s external image
  • Lowest turnover rates within the firm which can provide a target for managers to aim
  • The likelihood that the person that left will take others with them.

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 salary survey reports and pay practice 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.

WHEN DOES SALARY MOTIVATE EMPLOYEES?

Studies have shown that salary can just as easily de-motivate employees as motivate them.  In fact, salaries generally operate as negative reinforcement rather than positive.  For example, an employee receiving a lower than expected merit increase or bonus payment can certainly de-motivate.  On the flip side, receiving the status quo merit increase or bonus amount every year can create an entitlement mentality.  However, when it comes to motivating employees, salary is always one of the top factors, and therefore, it has to be part of your total rewards strategy.  Many believe that the amount of money that is needed is at least enough to satisfy basic needs which vary by person.  Obviously, when salary does not, at a minimum, cover essential needs, this serves to de-motivate.

In this article, the focus is on monetary rewards. Motivated employees make a difference in the workplace.  They affect the work environment positively as well as improve customer service, sales, or production.  So, how can you determine if the salaries you are paying are motivating your workforce?

First, determine where to focus your compensation spending plan.  This can vary depending on factors such as the current economy, the competitive environment, and where the company is in its life-cycle.  For example, a growing company with variable sales and income may be better off focusing on base salaries.  When business is good, it may be prudent to tie more bonus dollars to goals achieved.

Second, do your research, know your competition.  Every organization can benefit from reputable industry salary surveys such as the WageWatch PeerMark™ and Benchmark reports, to determine competitive salaries.  You should utilize salary survey data from the local market, your industry and from organizations of similar size.  Work within your organization’s salary philosophy and the given financial situation to determine where to set salaries.

In addition to looking externally to market competition, look internally to ensure your internal pay structure and salaries are fair and equitable.  Whether you like it or not, employees will discuss pay with one another.  Ensure fair and equitable pay levels between employees in the same jobs, in the same departments, and jobs of comparable worth within your organization. Formal salary ranges within the organization where people with similar responsibilities and authority are grouped into the same salary range help to maintain internal equity.   Set clear goals for what you want to achieve by setting salaries at certain levels.  For example, you may pay an entry-level manager less than market if you are hiring inexperience and provide a training and growth opportunity in exchange.  Open and clear communication regarding the company’s salary structure and pay philosophy can aid in employees’ understanding of the methods used in determining their salary level and assist in demonstrating fairness and equity.

Merit pay is one of the most frequently used methods to drive employee performance.  To be effective it needs to be linked to performance in a manner that is consistent with the mission of the organization.  Merit increases can become de-motivating when your performance measurement system is flawed and/or inconsistently applied or when the merit increase amount that is linked to performance is inconsistently administered.  Also with merit increases typically averaging two to three percent, studies show that increases lower than five percent are unlikely to have any impact on employee performance.  What can help is applying behavioral principles to your pay for performance programs such as giving employees a personal stake in the success of the company by showing a clear link between their efforts and results.  Many companies base their compensation plan on time and not results. Of course, time is a factor and needs to be part of the equation.  However, if you pay for results, you will get results.

Change can be challenging and demanding.  At WageWatch our consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs and help ensure your wages and salaries support your company’s business strategy and objectives.  In addition to our PeerMark™ Salary Survey for over 100 local lodging markets in the U.S. and Canada, we offer a National Benchmark Salary Survey. With over 9,000 hotels and 200 casinos in our database, WageWatch’s hotel and gaming salary surveys are the most comprehensive surveys available to Human Resource professionals. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary surveys, benefit surveys, and custom compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online at www.wagewatch.com/contactus

COMPENSABLE TIME

Employers need to ensure they count all worked hours as paid hours for their non-exempt staff.  For example, when an employee eats lunch at their workstation or desk and their lunch is interrupted by work such as answering phones or email, the employee is working and must be paid for that time because the employee has not been completely relieved from duty.

If the employer has a policy that is expressly and clearly communicated to the employee regarding a specific length of time for a break, any unauthorized extensions of that break time do not need to be counted as hours worked.  Bona fide meal periods (typically 30 minutes or more) generally need not be compensated as work time.  However, the employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purpose of eating regular meals.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), doesn’t require employers to provide meal or rest breaks, though some states do require such breaks and the rules can also be different for younger workers.  You can find a list of state meal and rest break laws at the Department of Labor’s website address: https://www.dol.gov/whd/state/meal.htm  and   https://www.dol.gov/whd/state/rest.htm.

Employers that fall under the federal guidelines do not have to pay for meal or rest breaks unless:

  • The employee works through or during their break, or
  • The break lasts 20 minutes or less, or
  • The break is interrupted by work

Some other compensable time under the federal rules can include waiting time, on-call time, attendance at meetings and training programs, travel time and performing work outside of work hours such as checking emails.

Waiting time may or may not be hours worked depending upon the circumstances.  If an employee needs to wait before a duty can start, such as a firefighter waiting for an alarm, then the employee is ‘engaged to wait’ and this time is considered worked time and must be paid.

On-Call time is paid time if the employee is required to remain on the employer’s premises.  In most cases, the on-call time does not have to be paid when an employee is not required to remain on the employer’s premises.  However additional requirements put on the on-call time that further limits the employee’s freedom could require the time to be compensated.

Attendance at meetings or training programs is paid time when any of the following conditions are true:

  • It is during normal hours,
  • It is mandatory,
    • If the employee feels that they should or need to attend, then it is mandatory
  • It is job-related

Travel time may be paid time or not depending upon the kind of travel involved.  Regular commute time to and from the work site is not paid time.  When the employee works at a different work site location then any commute time that is greater than the employee’s regular commute time to their usual work site needs to be counted as paid time.

Travel that is part of the regular work duties, such as travel from job site to job site during the workday, is work time and must be counted as hours worked.  Overnight travel is work time and must be paid time

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 and that your pay practices are fair, equitable and non-discriminatory. We can provide your business with compensation surveys and salary reports to help you establish a budget for your merit pay program, including bonuses and incentives. Our innovative company is a leader in the collection of data for surveys and salary reports, which allows us to provide services to a wide range of industries in both the private and public sector. To learn more about our compensation surveys, salary reports, and other services, call 480-237-6130 or contact us online.

SUPREME COURT DECISION–PUBLIC UNIONS CAN NO LONGER ENFORCE PAYMENT AMONG NON-MEMBERS

In the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Janus, an Illinois child support specialist, filed a complaint challenging the $45 monthly fee he had to pay to the union that represents him, despite not being a member.  His charge was that his First Amendment right was violated when money is taken from non-consenting employees for a public-sector union.

On June 27, the Supreme Court ruled that public-sector “agency shop” arrangements, which mandate union fees from non-consenting public-sector employees, violate the First Amendment.  The 5-4 decision overturned a 41-year-old decision that allowed states to require public employees to pay some fees to unions that represent them, even if the workers chose not to join.

The Supreme Court decision from 1977, ruled in the Abood v. Detroit Education Association case that unions may impose fees on nonunion government workers for nonpolitical expenses including collective bargaining, administration of union contracts and internal grievance procedures.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the 5-4 majority, “We conclude that this arrangement violates the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”  According to Justice Alito, workers like Mr. Janus were charged about 78 percent of the dues paid by members of the union.

After concluding that the imposition of fair share fees violate the First Amendment, the Court noted that “Abood” failed to appreciate the conceptual difficulty of distinguishing in public-sector cases between union expenditures that are made for collective-bargaining purposes and those that are made to achieve political ends” and that “Abood does not seem to have anticipated the magnitude of the practical administration problems that would result in attempting to classify public-sector union expenditures as either ‘chargeable…or non-chargeable.”

This decision impacts how public-sector unions work and may have implications for private-sector labor issues.  Currently, there are 28 states that have right-to-work laws which forbid unions and employers to enter into agreements requiring employees to join a union and pay dues and fees to it in order to get or keep a job.

The Supreme Court’s ruling could affect about 5 million public sector workers in 22 states that don’t have right-to-work laws that already ban forced union dues.  The impact may further erode the power of public sector unions and/or lead unions to be more responsive and attentive to its current members.

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.

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.