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ARE YOUR I-9 PROCEDURES CORRECT?

01/30/2013 01:30 AM

ARE YOUR I-9 PROCEDURES CORRECT?

The government has been cracking down over I-9 forms and Immigration Procedures – Here is a checklist to help:

  • Ask each jobseeker whether he/she is authorized to work in the United States. DO NOT ASK ABOUT PLACE OF BIRTH OR NATIONAL ORIGIN.
  • Have each new hire fill out a Form I-9 within three days of starting work.
  • Be sure the documents that confirm identity and authorization to work are included in the lists on the back of the I-9 Form and that they appear genuine. ACCEPT ORIGINALS ONLY.
  • If corrections are needed, attach the corrected I-9 to the previous I-9. Never alter an existing I-9.
  • Store I-9s for current employees in alphabetical order in one place (not in the employee file) and terminated employees in chronological order in a separate place.
  • Keep I-9s on file at least three years for current employees and for at least one year after an employee has left, whichever is longer.
  • If the Social Security Administration issues a “no match” letter, take no action against the employee without first going through the error checking procedures the agency recommends.
  • Train certain staff to handle the I-9 process and let no one else do it.
Conduct an annual I-9 audit. Have this done by a third-party firm or someone not involved in the day-to-day I-9 process.

 

 

– California Employer Daily Newsletter



WHAT ARE THE TOP 9 HR DOCUMENTATION KILLERS?

01/23/2013 01:30 AM

WHAT ARE THE TOP 9 HR DOCUMENTATION KILLERS?

Let’s say that you are being sued by a former employee and now you have to go to court. You aren’t worried, though because you feel that you have documented why you fired the employee and you are sure that once the judge sees your documentation, he or she will agree with you!

Shock of all shocks! Your documentation is not considered good enough and you have to pay the $20,000 judgment against you!

What went wrong? Here are 9 common problems that can torpedo your HR Documentation efforts:

  1. Unsigned or undated documentation. THIS IS THE NUMBER ONE FAILURE IN DOCUMENTATION! My philosophy is – if it isn’t signed, it didn’t happen! Sign and date everything and have the employee dot the same.
  2. Illegibility. In court, neatness counts!
  3. Inaccuracy. The document looks perfect, but the facts are wrong. Even one error makes the entire document suspect.
  4. Unsupported conclusions. Don’t write “the employee was drunk” without documenting the reasons you believe that to be true – for example
    “liquor on breath, slurred speech.” Statements by objective witnesses will shore up your conclusions even more.
  5. Waffling. If the employee isn’t making 200 widgets per hour, do not just write, “Mike’s performance must improve.” The judge will ask, “Improve from what to what?” Be specific
  6. Do not make excuses. Statements such as “You failed – but I know we’ve all been pushing hard lately” may win you a nice guy award, but it won’t win your case.
  7. Don’t lie … even to be nice! Saying someone was let go due to a layoff rather than for cause, if there was cause, can backfire big time in a wrongful termination suit.
  8. Be consistent. If you have written one employee up for an infraction, you must write up every employee who did the same thing. Otherwise, you are open to a charge of discrimination.
  9. Don’t over-or under-focus. Writing up every tiny infraction makes you seem petty. But writing only the job-ending incident makes you appear emotion-driven.
Of course, all of the 9 tips above should be practices not just by you but by everyone in your  organization! That is especially critical if you are in a one-person or very small HR Department since you cannot be watching everyone at once.

 

– California Employer Daily Newsletter

 



WHEN DO YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR NON-EXEMPT EMPLOYEE TRAVEL TIME?

01/16/2013 01:30 AM

WHEN DO YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR  NON-EXEMPT EMPLOYEE TRAVEL TIME?   

Wage and Hour litigation and DOL enforcement remain two of HR’s biggest challenges. Last year alone, the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division received 40,000 complaints, a 15% increase over the previous year.  

The California rules on paying non-exempt employees for travel time can get pretty convoluted! Here are some basics to keep in mind.

Ordinary Travel Time

Ordinary travel time includes any travel the employee does during the workday, from when the employee initially reports to the employer’s premises or the first worksite until the employee finishes work for the day.

If a nonexempt employee normally reports to a main office but is asked on a particular occasion to report to another location, the employee does not need to be paid travel time unless this other location is notably farther from the employee’s home than the employee’s normal commute.

A good rule of thumb is that if there is more than a 20-mile difference in the distances, the employees should be paid for the additional travel time to and from the alternate location.

Extended/Overnight Travel Time

Employers must also pay for non-exempt employees’ extended travel time.

In stark contrast to federal law, California requires that ALL travel time (other than the employee’s normal commute) be paid – regardless of whether the employee performs work during the time spent traveling.

– California Employer Daily Newsletter



JOB DESCRIPTIONS – ESSENTIAL TO THE HIRING PROCESS

01/09/2013 01:30 AM

JOB DESCRIPTIONS – ESSENTIAL TO THE HIRING PROCESS

Well-developed written job descriptions are essential to the hiring process for two reasons:

  1. They assist you in clarifying the skills or traits you expect an applicant to meet
  2. They help you defend yourself in court should you be sued over your hiring decision

In preparing a job description, the first step is to ask yourself why you need someone in that position and how the employee in that position would fit into your company structure or help you reach your goals. The next step is to determine what duties you will need that person to perform.

In making the determination about the job duties, it is important to distinguish between job requirements that are absolutely necessary (known as essential functions) and those job requirements that you would prefer in an ideal world, but that you can do without or could have someone else perform.

Essential job functions must be listed separately, because when considering accommodations under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), they are the functions that the applicant must be able to perform with or without reasonable accommodation.

A common mistake employers make when preparing job descriptions is assuming that the day-to-day responsibilities of the job are adequately addressed by the job title alone. Although the job title may give you a general idea of what tasks an employee in the job might be expected to perform, the title alone does not answer questions about the details of an employee’s job responsibilities within your organization.

For example, in one organization, the HR Manager may do a little bit of everything, while in another organization, the responsibilities may be quite narrow.

Your job descriptions should provide someone who has no personal knowledge of a job with enough information to weed out unsuitable applicants and send only the best-qualified people on for further consideration.

To prepare a good job description, determine the major responsibilities and the percentage of time the employee will spend on each, and the qualifications the applicant must have to be able to perform the essential functions of the job. The job qualification standards must be:

  • Job Related
  • Consistent with business necessity

Qualifications should include: the required education, work experience, physical abilities, mental capacity, skills, licenses or certifications and other requirements such as judgment, ability to work under pressure, or interpersonal skills.

 

– HR Daily Advisor

 



FIVE CRITICAL FACTORS FOR SUCCESS FOR NEW SUPERVISORS

01/03/2013 01:30 AM

FIVE CRITICAL FACTORS FOR SUCCESS FOR NEW SUPERVISORS

New supervisors have a tough transition to make – but if they achieve mastery in five key areas they can be successful.

Contacos-Sawyer and Wright suggest five key factors that determine success or failure for new supervisors: Alignment, planning/problem solving, communication, motivation and compliance.

1)  Alignment – A big mistake new supervisors make is to continue to perform in their old roles. There are two elements to alignment – aligning themselves to their new roles and aligning their department to the organization. The new supervisor must learn to transition from “buddy” to supervisor and must understand the department and the organization’s goals.

2)  Planning/Problem Solving – Supervisors must learn to plan – the work, the schedule and the resources

Planning the Work: What results do you intent to achieve, and what must you do to get those results?

Planning the Schedule: How much time is required for each task and subtask? What needs to happen before something else can happen?

Planning the Resources: How many people, which materials, how much and when?

Problem-Solving Skills: 

  1. Gather information and data to help you understand the problem
  2. Do a Cause-and-Effect
  3. Write a problem statement
  4. Brainstorm Solutions
  5. Select and implement the best solution
  6. Review. Is the problem resolved?
  7. Revise/Rework as necessary

3)  Communication – Communicating down is the most troublesome aspect – new supervisors need to concentrate on:

  • Performance expectations
  • Performance feedback
  • Departmental and organizational goals and objectives
  • Change  

4)  Motivate – The more positive your attitude, the more effective a supervisor you can be.  Use thank you, please, etc.  Hearing praise about a job well done will help to motivate your employees.

5)  Compliance – All supervisors must be trained on discrimination, harassment, and compensation.

    • Supervisors actions and inactions contribute to the level of liability an organization faces
    • Supervisors face potential individuals liability
    • New supervisors often make big mistakes in wage and hour issues
Not documenting performance issues on an ongoing basis is also a big issue for new supervisors.
Remember: New Supervisors must be fully trained and ready to deal with employment issues. They must know how to handle things like compensation and appraisals. You can’t expect them to act appropriately right out of the box but you can and should train them to do it!

 

– California Employer Daily Newsletter

 



WHAT IS HR’S NUMBER ONE GOAL? TO KEEP YOUR COMPANY OUT OF COURT!

12/18/2012 01:30 AM

WHAT IS HR’S NUMBER ONE GOAL? 

TO KEEP YOUR COMPANY OUT OF COURT!

HR Compliance is a major responsibility in every company that has employees. There is a lot riding on HR’s shoulders. Your efforts enable your organization to comply with all legal requirements, thereby avoiding costly lawsuits, audits and penalties.

FIND PROBLEMS BEFORE THE FEDS DO! What should an Audit help you do?

Everyone makes mistakes. An HR Audit helps you:

  • Ensure legal compliance
  • Identify and prioritize opportunities for improvement
  • Identify areas of potential future risks based on current HR staff

WHAT ARE THE PROBLEM AREAS THAT CAN CREATE CONFLICT?

  1. Hiring – Job Descriptions, forms, references, processes
  2. Misclassifications – Exempt vs. Non-Exempt; 1099’s
  3. Inadequate personnel files (Recordkeeping) – Medical and other personal confidential information kept in files despite laws requiring data to be kept separate
  4. Insufficient Documentation – Inadequate disciplinary warnings; incomplete or missing documentation
  5. Unclear employee policies and inconsistent practices- performance appraisals, discipline, evidence and terminations.

 

– California Daily Newsletter

 



ADA ACCOMMODATIONS – WHAT ABOUT CO-WORKERS?

12/12/2012 01:30 AM

 ADA ACCOMMODATIONS – WHAT ABOUT CO-WORKERS?
ADA compliance just seems to get tougher, not easier     

One of the most difficult employee issues surrounding ADA Accommodations is the fact that co-workers believe that another employee who has been given an accommodation is unfairly getting special treatment.  It is always a difficult situation because you cannot discuss the disability or the accommodation with other employees says attorneys Julie K. Athey and Audra K. Hamilton.

Due to the confidentiality requirements of the ADA, you may not be able to assuage other employees’ frustrations.  When co-workers complain, the best answer is to refocus the disgruntled co-worker on their own work and away from issues that are not their concern.  You have to be “a little parental,” say Hamilton.  You might mention that you are complying with all laws and regulations.

Reasonable Accommodations
Employers need to be particularly cognizant of their obligation to initiate the interactive process with mentally disabled employees.  Remember that employees with mental disabilities may not be capable of communicating a desire for an accommodation.

If you are aware of the disability, and that the employee is having trouble because of it, you should start exploring possible options.  Given the wide variety of mental disorders, it is impossible to list all possible accommodations, but the EEOC includes the following as possibilities:

  • Room dividers, partitions, or other soundproofing or visual barriers between workspaces to accommodate individuals who have disability-related limitations in concentration
  • Moving an individual away from noisy machinery or reducing other workplace noise for people who have difficulty concentrating
  • Modification of strict workplace policies that aren’t essential
  • Providing more detailed analysis for employees with comprehension problems
  • Providing a job coach
Handling Problems in Conduct
Employers are not required to lower standards of conduct for employees with mental disabilities.  We are allowed to enforce certain conduct rules as long as they are job-related and consistent with business necessity.  An employee with a mental impairment is not entitled to get away with misconduct that may be caused by the disability such as stealing, threatening other employees, violence, harassment, profanity, destruction of property and so on.

 

– California Employer Daily Newsletter




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