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COVID-19: IT IS NOW LAW–EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE

 

Covidi-19

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law on March 18, 2020, after the Senate sent it to President Trump for his signature.  The law becomes effective 15 days after President Trump signed it.

Private employers with under 500 employees will need to provide each employee paid sick time to the extent that the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave because:

(1) The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.

(2) The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.

(3) The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.

(4) The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in paragraph (1) or has been advised as described in paragraph (2).

(5) The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.

(6) The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

Additional Provisions:

  • Full time employees will be entitled to 80 hours.  Part time employees are entitled to the number of hours equal to the hours that such employee works on average over a 2-week period.
    • In the case of a part-time employee whose schedule varies from week to week to such an extent that an employer is unable to determine with certainty the number of hours the employee would have worked if such employee had not taken paid sick time, the employer shall use the following in place of such number:
      • (i) a number equal to the average number of hours that the employee was scheduled per day over the 6-month period ending on the date on which the employee takes the paid sick time, including hours for which the employee took leave of any type; or
      • (ii) If the employee did not work over such period, the reasonable expectation of the employee at the time of hiring of the average number of hours per day that the employee would normally be scheduled to work.
  • All employees will have access to the full amount of time off under this Emergency Paid Sick Leave immediately and without regard to how long he or she has been employed.
  • Employers may not require its employees to use any other paid leave provided to him or her by the employer before using the Emergency Paid Sick Leave.
  • Employers who have employees that are health care providers or emergency responders may elect to exclude such employees from this Emergency Paid Sick Leave law.
  • Employers will be required to post (where notices are customarily posted), a notice which will be prepared or approved by the Secretary of Labor outlining the major provisions of this law.  And this new law also requires that the Secretary of Labor make, publicly available, a notice that meets all necessary requirements no later than 7 days after the date of enactment of this law.
  • Paid sick time in terms of wages paid to such individual employees do not need to exceed-
    • $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate for a use described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3) above; and
    • $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate for a use described in paragraphs (4), (5), or (6) above

SPECIAL RULE FOR CARE OF FAMILY MEMBERS UNDER EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE:
Paid sick time provided for any use described in paragraphs (4), (5), or (6) above need only paid at two-thirds of such employees’ wages.

  • Wages required to be paid under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave will not be subject to the 6.2 percent social security payroll tax typically paid by employers on such wages.
  • Employers can employ a “reasonable notice requirement.” After the first workday (or portion thereof) that an employee receives paid sick time under this new law, an employer may require the employee to follow reasonable notice procedures in order to continue receiving such paid sick time.

Also please note that employers are prohibited from requiring, as a condition of

  • Also please note that employers are prohibited from requiring, as a condition of providing Emergency Paid Sick Leave, that the employee involved search for or find a replacement employee to cover the hours during which the employee is using paid sick time.
  • Finally, the language of this amended bill suggests that an employee can use his or her Emergency Paid Sick Leave during the initial 10 days of unpaid leave under the expanded FMLA. The Department of Labor is expected to provide additional guidance within the 15 day window before this law takes effect.

This Emergency Paid Sick Leave law is slated to expire on December 31, 2020.

This guest editor for this blog post is:  Spognardi Baiocchi LLP, a law firm dedicated to partnering with companies of all sizes to find solutions for labor, employment, human resources, and general business needs.  www.psb-attorneys.com.
 

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practice data that will allow you to stay current.  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, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

 

ARE YOU ATTRACTING TOP TALENT?

Attracting Talent

Many business owners find it to be a huge challenge to attract and retain a group of talented and hardworking employees that are loyal to the company and its mission.  Finding high caliber employees with advanced skills to complete important jobs within a company is a challenge that not only exists in today’s marketplace but one that business owners have had to navigate for years.  Everyone is looking for top talent, and those companies that excel in attracting and retaining this talent are the ones that will reap the rewards.  In addition to a number of other factors, businesses that best retain employees offer great compensation and benefits packages.

To retain talent, it is essential that loyalty is established.  In order to do this, the employee must feel that their job is instrumental in achieving the goals of the company, making them excited to come into work each day.  It is also important that the work the employee puts in is acknowledged, affirming their place within the company, and offering them opportunities for growth.

While compensation and benefits packages are one of the largest factors considered by employees, it isn’t enough to make top talent to stay. The following are a few ways that you can attract and retain the best employees at your company:

  • Promote open communication.  When a company is completely open with employees, everyone will feel respected.  Instead of allowing rumors to spread, let your employees know as soon as possible about anything that is going on in regards to the company.   When possible, let your employees be a part of the decision making process.  A culture of open communication is very attractive to employees.
  • Provide opportunities for team building.  Most employees enjoy interacting with their coworkers. By encouraging teamwork, employees are able to build great working relationships and establish a trusting, open environment for the company.  When working together toward a common goal, employees are more motivated and excited about their jobs, often producing excellent results.
  • Cater to individual work style.  Each employee has a different way that they prefer to work, learn and be managed.  When you as an employer take the time and effort to make adjustments for each employee’s needs, they will respect the company more and loyalty will, once again, be built.  This will also help you to establish teams that will work best together based on their work styles.
  • Acknowledge your talent.  When an employee does a good job, it is important that you recognize them for their efforts, so they feel that they are a valued member of the team.  A majority of employees leaving a company do so because they feel unappreciated.  Employees want to feel that the work they are doing is making a difference, so acknowledging their work often is essential.  Also, review surveys for 2013 healthcare compensation, 2013 casino compensation and other market compensation data surveys for your industry to determine what benefits and bonuses you should be rewarding your employees with.

Implementing the above suggestions will help your company to build a culture that encourages the retention of employees, which in turn will attract top talent.  In addition to providing a great work environment that respects employees and provides opportunities for learning and growth, it is also important that they receive a solid benefits package.  At WageWatch, we provide accurate data for hospitality compensation, healthcare compensation, casino compensation, and compensation information for a wide variety of other industries.  To learn more about our up-to-date market compensation surveys, call 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

HOW ABOUT A SIX HOUR WORKDAY?

Six-hour

Can a move to a six-hour workday increase productivity and the happiness quotient of employees and their families and at the same time increase productivity and company profits?   In the U.S., more than 60 years after workers, through their unions, began organizing for an eight-hour day in the 1860s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938 for all workers to see limits on working hours – initially, it was set at 44 hours a week, then reduced to 42 hours, and by 1940 the workweek was reduced to 40 hours.

Some businesses in Sweden have experimented with a six-hour workday with the hope of getting more accomplished in a shorter amount of time and ensure that employees have the energy to enjoy their private lives.   This change is purely experimental—one that has not been mandated by law nor implemented nationwide.

A Toyota vehicle service center in Sweden’s second-largest city, Gothenburg, moved to shorter days fifteen years ago.  The service center reported a happier staff, a lower turnover rate, and an increase in profits during that time.  The new system keeps the garages open longer and generates new business.  Employees are doing the same amount in the six-hour workday, often more than they did in the eight- hour day.  The service center reports that employees have more stamina to do this heavy work, and they have seen greater profits and customers because cars are getting fixed faster.

A high-profile case is the publicly funded Svartedalens nursing home in west Sweden.  They began a trial a six-hour day to determine if the cost of hiring additional staff members to cover the hours lost, was worth the improvements to patient care and the boosting of employees’ morale.   The nursing home had 80 nurses working six-hour shifts (maintaining their eight-hour salaries) while 80 staffers at another nursing home worked their standard hours.  Halfway through the test period, the nursing home with the six-hour workday had half the average sick leave, the nurses were happier, and the care was better.   The study, however, equates productivity with a quality of care, which doesn’t necessarily translate to white-collar work.

Several startup companies announced that they are testing the concept.  The companies include Background AB, a creative communication agency in Falun, Dalarna and Filimundus, an app developer based in Stockholm.  Linus Feldt, Filimundus CEO believes that staying focused on a specific work task for eight hours is a huge challenge.  During an eight or more hour workday, employees take frequent breaks and look for distractions and diversions such as social media to make the workday more endurable.  With the six-hour workday, staff members at Filimundus are not allowed on social media, meetings are kept to a minimum, and the company does it’s best to eliminate other unproductive distractions.

Most of the companies who have made the shift to the six-hour workday have reported a positive impact, from increased efficiency to better communication and fewer staff sick days.  A 2014 Stanford University research paper found a “non-linear” relationship between hours worked and productivity, as well as too much work, can impinge productivity.  According to a study by the Families and Work Institute, overworked employees make more mistakes.  Research has shown that condensing work into more efficient hours is very unlikely to hurt productivity.  There is no need to lower pay and in fact, companies are likely to save money through less sick and personal leave, less stress leading to better health, and lower turnover costs.

The six-hour workday would be less acceptable in the U.S. because the eight-plus hour workday ethic is so deeply embedded in our culture.  According to Gallup’s 2014 poll, full-time employees in the U.S. work an average of 47 hours per week.  However, even with encouraging results, it’s unlikely that the U.S. will shift to shorter days any time soon.  The rest of the world (outside of Europe) a 40-hour workweek would be a very nice improvement as well.

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 REVERTS TO FORMER STANDARD ON USE OF EMPLOYER EMAIL SYSTEMS

NLRB Email

Shortly before Christmas, the National Labor Relations Board re-established the right of an employer to restrict employee use of its email systems to business use only, if it does so on a nondiscriminatory basisThe new decision overrules the standard set in the 2014 Purple Communications, Inc. case and returns to the standard set in the 2007 Register Guard case.

At issue is when employers can restrict the use of their e-mail and other information technology (IT) systems and when doing so interferes with employee rights guaranteed in Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).  In Caesars Entertainment d/b/a/ Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, the Board overruled the controversial case of Purple Communications, Inc., and held that employees do not have a statutory right to use employers’ email and other information-technology (IT) systems to engage in non-work-related communications, including Section 7 protected, concerted or union activity.

In Purple Communications, the Board held that employees who have been given access to their employer’s email system for work-related purposes have a presumptive right to use that system, on nonworking time, for communications protected by Section 7.  But the new decisions change the standard, giving more weight to employers’ property rights that the previous decision.  The Board reestablished that employers have the right to restrict the use of their equipment, including their email and other IT systems to business and work-related use, provided that in doing so, they do not discriminate against the union or other protected concerted communications.  Recognizing that employees must have adequate avenues to engage in communications protected by Section 7 of the NLRA, the Board’s decision creates an exception for circumstances where the use of employer-provided email is the only reasonable means for employees to communicate with one another on non-working time during the workday.

The Caesars Entertainment decisions reaffirm a long line of decisions holding that the NLRA generally doesn’t restrict an employer’s right to control the use of its equipment.  The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) decision to allow employers more leeway in restricting the use of their email and other communication systems for union organizing is just the latest decision reversing standards set by the Obama-era Board.   If your employee handbook or work rules were revised in 2016 or after to comply with Purple Communications, you may wish to reconsider returning to a business-use-only position in 2020.

Guest Blog Editor:  Spognardi Baiocchi LLP, is a law firm dedicated to partnering with companies of all sizes to find solutions for labor, employment, human resources, and general business needs.  www.psb-attorneys.com.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practice data that will allow you to stay current.  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, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

Posted in Regulatory & Legal Updates on January 22nd, 2020 · Comments Off on NLRB REVERTS TO FORMER STANDARD ON USE OF EMPLOYER EMAIL SYSTEMS

SALARY STRUCTURES: WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR?

Salary Structures

Established salary structures aren’t mandatory.  There is no law that requires them, but they serve many useful purposes.  Having salary ranges in place can ensure that salary decisions, from new hires to promotions, are made with objective and consistent rules and parameters.  They provide at least a first line of defense against salary discrimination, intentional or otherwise, by ensuring that employees performing the same job are granted the same salary opportunity.  And, formal salary ranges provide you with a tool for proactively managing and budgeting your salary dollars.

Salary structures help ensure that pay levels for groups of jobs are competitive externally and equitable internally.  A well-designed salary structure allows management to reward performance and skills development and control overall base salary cost by providing a cap on the range paid.

A salary structure enables employers to pay employees in a given position, consistently, for the work they do.  Salary ranges also offer flexibility enabling a company to pay higher in the range for an employee based on a greater level of education, experience or performance.  In the same way, it can potentially save on labor costs when hiring employees with limited backgrounds.

Having well documented and communicated salary ranges can minimize employees’ pay equity concerns and grievances.

A well-designed salary structure will help organizations:

  • Attract and retain suitable, qualified, and experienced employees
  • Build high morale with internal equity
  • Create more satisfied employees and thus reduce turnover
  • Minimize favoritism and bias
  • Provide a structure for career progression
  • Serve as a sound basis for collective bargaining and employee relations management

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.

A study of the current labor market will provide new information to determine whether the organization’s pay structure, policies and practices, job classifications and job titles are appropriate or needing adjustment.

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.

Posted in Recruiting & Retention on September 18th, 2019 · Comments Off on SALARY STRUCTURES: WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR?

TRUMP LABOR BOARD PROPOSES EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ELECTION PROTECTIONS

American Wkrs

In the middle of August, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend Part 103 of the NLRB’s Rules and Regulations. The proposed amendment, published in the Federal Register, seeks public comment on amendments that will provide better protection to employee election rights to have a free choice on whether to be represented by a union for collective bargaining with employers.  Three amendments are proposed:

  1. Blocking Charges: The amendment seeks to replace the current blocking charge policy with a “vote-and-impound” procedure.  Elections would no longer be blocked by pending unfair labor practice charges, perhaps for years.  Rather, the amendment would provide for voting, and the ballots would be impounded until the unfair labor practice charges are resolved.
  2. Voluntary Recognition Bar: The Board proposes returning to the rule of Dana Corp. (2007), which provides that for voluntary recognition to bar a subsequent representation petition-and for a post-recognition collective-bargaining agreement to have contract-bar effect- the unit employees must receive notice that voluntary recognition has been granted, and provided a 45-day open period within which to file an election petition.
  3. Section 9(a) Recognition in the Construction Industry: The rule amendment proposes changes in the construction industry, where less-than-majority employee support bargaining relationships established under Section 8(f) cannot bar petitions for a Board election.  To bar an election based upon an alleged Section 9(a) relationship, positive evidence of majority employee support will be required, and cannot be based on contract language alone, overruling Staunton Fuel (2001).

Board Chairman John F. Ring stated: “There are few more important responsibilities entrusted to the NLRB than protecting the freedom of employees to choose, or refrain from choosing, a labor organization to represent them, including by ensuring fair and timely Board-conducted secret ballot elections. We believe that the changes we propose today further the goal of protecting this vital freedom.”

Public comments must be submitted within 60 days of the Notice’s publication in the Federal Register.  Please contact Spognardi Baiocchi, LLP if you would like to retain the firm to submit comments on behalf of your organization.

Contributed by guest author:  Spognardi Baiocchi LLP, a law firm dedicated to partnering with companies of all sizes to find solutions for labor, employment, human resources, and general business needs.  www.psb-attorneys.com.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practice 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, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

Posted in Regulatory & Legal Updates on August 27th, 2019 · Comments Off on TRUMP LABOR BOARD PROPOSES EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ELECTION PROTECTIONS

PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION STILL HAPPENING AND STILL ON THE EEOC RADAR

Pregnancy - Work

You would not think this would still be an issue in today’s day and age, but it is!  The EEOC has recently settled two cases in August against employers (one in Florida and one in Arizona) for discriminating against women who were pregnant.

In the Arizona matter, Matrix Medical, a  nationwide health care company headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, found itself in trouble with the EEOC after it rescinded a job offer to a candidate within a week of finding out she was pregnant.  Matrix will pay $150,000 and issue a letter of apology to the individual.  Matrix is also required to review and revise its equal employment opportunity policies and its personal leave-of-absence policy to include a provision that pregnant employees may take leave during their first six months of employment.  As part of the settlement, it is also required to train its supervisors on Title VII and other anti-discrimination laws.

In another matter in Florida, the Glenridge on Palmer Ranch, an upscale retirement community in Sarasota, Florida failed to further interview an applicant for a position after asking her when she planned on having another baby.  Instead, Glenridge offered the position to another female, an older one for whom it did not believe would or could become pregnant.  Glenridge will pay $70,000, adopt and distribute an updated policy against sex discrimination, conduct annual training on sex discrimination for its hiring officials, and post a notice about the lawsuit in order to settle its matter with the EEOC.

This is a good reminder for employers to make sure that their hiring managers are asking appropriate, open-ended questions when interviewing candidates.  It is also a good time to remind those same hiring managers that he or she should not rely upon or use inappropriate information revealed during an interview to make a decision on hiring.

Contributed by guest author:  Spognardi Baiocchi LLP, a law firm dedicated to partnering with companies of all sizes to find solutions for labor, employment, human resources, and general business needs.  www.psb-attorneys.com

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys, and pay practice 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, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

PAY EQUITY ANALYSIS

Pay Equitu

To manage the risk of pay discrimination, organizations should conduct periodic pay equity analysis.  The goal of a pay equity study or analysis is to identify problems and ensure compensation practices are fair and equitable.  The study should look for trends that identify the disparate impact on wage rates.  Data elements to include in the analysis are hire dates, hire rates, performance rating, merit increases, age, ethnicity, gender, and promotion dates and increases.  Group the data in job classifications and departments by the hierarchy as well as grouping comparable jobs across departments.  Sort the data by the various data elements to see what emerges.  This analysis can identify wage inequities as well as explain some of the differences in pay among comparable employees.  A thorough analysis is important for managing the risk associated with pay discrimination claims.

Differences in knowledge, skill, ability, effort or responsibility provide a legitimate basis for differences in pay among employees doing the same work. However, these factors can be difficult to validate or prove, and therefore you will need to rely on the data that is readily available including:

  • Job title or grade
  • Time in current job or grade
  • Job duties including the degree of responsibility
  • Job status (Full or part-time, exempt or non-exempt, etc.)
  • The location where the employee lives and works
  • Company service time
  • Education
  • Prior experience
  • The market value of a job
  • Performance Review documenting effort in terms of quantity and quality of work

Pay equity issues can occur over time as a result of flaws in a compensation process including:

  • Insufficient training of Managers regarding performance, merit and other increases
  • Inefficient and inconsistent merit pay processes
  • Decisions being made in “silos” and without consistent checks such as HR/Compensation approval
  • Making decisions without market or internal data for guidance
  • Reactive hiring decisions relative to “hot” jobs
  • Poorly maintained salary structures that have not kept step with the market
  • Failure to reclassify jobs as changes in responsibility occur

A pay equity study will involve the input an experienced compensation analyst and/or specialist as well as HR information systems and may involve appropriate legal counsel.  Once pay inequities are discovered, HR will need to determine a timeline and the funding for the pay equity adjustments.

In 2009, President Obama signed into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which increased organizations’ exposure to pay discrimination claims by overturning a rule that workers must sue for pay discrimination within 180 days after the original pay decision was made.  As a result of the Act, each paycheck now resets the clock and employees can file lawsuits for perceived discriminatory pay decisions even if the pay decision occurred years earlier.  So, it is more important than ever for employers to carefully document all pay decisions and stay on top of pay equity in their organizations.

In 20016, the Obama administration announced executive action which requires companies with 100 employees or more to report to the federal government how much they pay their employees broken down by race, gender, and ethnicity.  It is hoped that this transparency will help to root out discrimination and reduce the gender pay gap.

On March 27, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the Paycheck Act, an act designed to amend and strengthen the existing federal Equal Pay Act.  The Act further provides that the “bona fide factor” justifying gender-based pay disparities would only apply where “the employer demonstrates that such factor is: 1) not based upon or derived from a sex-based differential in compensation, 2) is job-related with respect to the position in question, 3) is consistent with business necessity; and 4) accounts for the entire differential in compensation of issue.”  The Paycheck Fairness Act has been moved to the Senate for consideration and voting.

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.  Please call 480-237-6130 or contact us online.

TO CHECK OR NOT TO CHECK: A BACKGROUND CHECK PRIMER

Background CheckThere 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.

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 if 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 a 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 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 as 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.

MINIMUM WAGE UPDATE – JANUARY 2019

The current federal minimum wage, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), is $7.25 per hour which has been in effect since July 2009.  States have the ability to set a rate that is higher than the federal minimum rate and employers are obligated to pay the higher rate.  Currently, there are 29 states that have laws at the state or local level mandating higher pay than the federal rate.

On September 4, 2018, the Department of Labor published a Notice in the Federal Register to announce that, beginning January 1, 2019, the Executive Order 13658 minimum wage rate is increased to $10.60 per hour.  This Executive Order minimum wage rate generally must be paid to workers performing work on or in connection with covered contracts.  Additionally, beginning January 1, 2019, tipped employees performing work on or in connection with covered contracts generally must be paid a minimum cash wage of $7.40 per hour.

Voters across many states approved ballot measures to raise their state minimum rates over time, with increases occurring through 2020 and beyond.  There are 19 states which have an increase that takes effect on December 31, 2018 or January 1, 2019, including:  1) Alaska, 2) Arizona, 3) Arkansas, 4) California, 5) Colorado, 6) Delaware, 7) Florida, 8) Maine, 9) Massachusetts, 10) Minnesota, 11) Missouri, 12) Montana, 13) New Jersey, 14) New York, 15) Ohio, 16) Rhode Island, 17) South Dakota, 18) Vermont, 19) Washington.

For more details, click on the following link to view the WageWatch Minimum Wage Chart with details of federal, state and local minimum wage increases:  WageWatch – U.S. Minimum Wage Increases.  In addition to the statewide minimum wage increase, multiple states have approved minimum wage increases that are higher than the statewide average.  (The increases are referenced in the attached Excel spreadsheet).  There is one state, Oregon, and the District of Columbia that have scheduled their wage increase to begin on July 1, 2019.

Although there are no statewide minimum wage increases, there are several states in which specific cities and/or counties which have wage increases scheduled to occur on 1/1/2019; these states include:  Illinois, Maryland, and New Mexico.

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 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.