On May 11, 2014, the governor of Minnesota signed the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA), a bill that will require Minnesota employers to make dramatic changes to their employment policies and practices.
While WESA directly impacts employers who conduct business in Minnesota, the changes follow plans by federal and local governments to expand legal protections for women and other employees. For this reason, employers in other jurisdictions should pay close attention to these national and state law trends.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is more than 20 years old, yet employers have many questions on how the law applies to their workforce. Unfortunately, mistakes in the application can have significant business and legal consequences.
Making FMLA mistakes can be costly, and many employers make mistakes they don’t even know they are making. Let’s take a look at five common leave-of-absence mistakes based on our experience with real clients from our HR Hotline.
While turnover is a natural consequence of having employees, many of our clients are frustrated by what they consider to be excessive turnover. There is no question that turnover costs companies a significant amount of time and money, cutting into resources and profits. So how can you determine whether your turnover rate is consistent with natural attrition or whether it is excessive and needing to be addressed?
A recent survey by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) reported 94% of leaders feel employee engagement is an important or very important workforce challenge. An engaged workforce increases operational income by over 19%, while a disengaged workforce can drain over 34% of an organizations’ operational income. Additional risks of low engagement can be seen in increased turnover, low customer satisfaction ratings and even increased employment litigation.
Employee retention continues to be a top concern for employers, even more so than last year, according to a PayScale survey of more than 4,000 executives and human resources professionals.
In 2014, a staggering 59% of employers were more concerned about retaining talent than anything else. Five years ago, only half of those employers thought retention was their number one concern.
Employers need to be mindful of the privacy laws that impact them, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. They also need to be aware of relevant state laws to make sure that they are in compliance with existing laws as we wait for what’s to come in this evolving area of the law.
“The only thing that is constant is change.”
Turns out that dusty old Greek philosophers occasionally say profound things (Heraclitus also said that a man’s character is his destiny). And since the Greeks are considered the fathers of democracy and were responsible for no small number of laws themselves, it seems an appropriate departure point to talk about the constantly changing landscape of employment laws.
Risk management and human resources are traditionally two different job functions, and the people in these areas have rarely crossed paths — but that is changing.
Why are these people starting to work together more frequently?
Your employee has requested to bring her dog to work in relation to a medical condition. She has even provided you a certificate illustrating that this is a service dog. What do you do? To determine whether you have an obligation to grant an employee’s request for accommodation, including the request to bring an animal to work, you must engage in the interactive process required by the ADA. Failing to engage in the interactive process can result in legal liability for your organization.
For many employers they have become obsolete and for others they still exist, but only as a small part of a much grander process. However, there are still some employers who continue to only evaluate their employees once per year – either because they have determined that once a year is sufficient or because they haven’t considered other options. Unfortunately, the annual performance evaluation by itself seldom provides any benefit, is often dreaded by managers and employees alike, and can be incredibly time consuming.
I had the opportunity to speak recently at a Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) conference where I shared my experience from my former career as a flight attendant. There’s a parallel between my previous office, an airplane, and a more traditional office when thinking about the importance of trust in connecting with and motivating people.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently issued a new interim final rule that requires employers to include additional information when notifying individuals of their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). You may be wondering whether this applies to your organization, and if so, what steps you must take to comply.
Arbitration agreements are not novel, but the law surrounding their enforcement continues to develop. Recently, the United States Supreme Court resolved inconsistent rulings by lower courts as to whether class action waivers in employment arbitration provisions, which require people to individually arbitrate any employment dispute, are acceptable. The Supreme Court held that, in general, class action waivers in arbitration provisions do not violate any laws and are therefore enforceable.
During the White House’s Summit on Working Families on June 24, 2014, President Obama indicated he was signing a presidential memorandum requiring every federal agency to address flexible work schedules and give employees the right to request such schedules. Absent what could be a dramatic increase in workplace flexibility for federal employees, it is undeniable that the demand for flexibility and work-life balance is on the rise.
When the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) comes knocking, you may want to scream “why me?” Herein lies part of the problem. With a significant increase in audits and civil investigations over recent years, the more appropriate question is “why not me?” Rather than cross your fingers and hope for the best, it’s time to be proactive and prepare your organization for a DOL audit.
Workplace flexibility — are you all in, not having it, or on the fence (but feel like you are being pulled down)? It’s no secret that the modern workforce values flexible work arrangements, but do employers have to conform to the wishes and demands of this younger generation? No — but, you might want to consider flexible work options if doing so can maximize employee performance, increase overall productivity, and decrease turnover, all while saving the company money.
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