Month: September 2015

They Didn’t Like Her Looks

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed (9)Alana walked into the break room to refill her coffee mug and stumbled into a raging war. A group of co-workers were arguing about the merits of the presidential candidates. Alana sidled toward the coffee maker regretting that she didn’t send her assistant to check if the coast was clear.

The political argument covered familiar ground. Several co-workers scoffed that Carly Fiorina is ugly and unattractive and so she shouldn’t be president. Another co-worker chimed in criticizing the physical appearance and business sense of Hilary Clinton. Both women were criticized for fashion faux pas.

Aside from a few cracks about Donald Trump’s hair, the male candidates were judged on their prior experience and ideas.
The argument focused on the conservative credentials of the male candidates but no one criticized their suits or their ties.

Alana grabbed her mug and trudged back to her office reflecting that some things never seem to change. The AP 2016 BUSH CLINTON FUNDRAISING A ELN USA NYwomen candidates are judged on their physical appearance and not their ideas or abilities. Alana thought about other women presidential candidates. In 1972, Shirley Chisholm’s campaign was dismissed with a smile. In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro’s qualifications as a vice presidential candidate were buried under stories about her husband’s alleged Mafia connections. (He was Italian-American from New York and owned a construction business.)

Alana’s the HR director for her company and she conducts many interviews to screen job applicants. The interviews require her to judge job candidates based on appearance, how well they prepare for the interview and their prior work experience. Inevitably, some job candidates lose the chance to move to the next stage of the hiring process because they don’t look or act “right” in the initial interview.

Alana knows that rejecting a job candidate almost always involves her biases, good and bad. She also knows that there are many ways to explain why a candidate was rejected that appear neutral and unbiased.

What should Alana do next?

  1. She can resign her job and go live in a cave with no wi-fi until after the presidential election next November.
  2. She can create a new HR policy banning political discussions in the break room.
  3. She can accept the reality that we are judged on our appearance and recognize how her personal biases influence her hiring recommendations.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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The Slob Next Door

Another update from the Jungle….

image017

Judy was excited about her new job. She targeted the company for employment after reading the corporate social responsibility blurb on their company website. During the interviewing process, the HR people seemed impressed by her accomplishments and she was impressed by their description of the charitable causes supported by the company.

Judy moved into a cubicle with a window view (of the parking lot) and prepared to work for a company with a conscience. Judy set to work with energy and enthusiasm, sure that she had found the perfect employer. But, alas for Judy, the dream job quickly ended. A slob moved into the cubicle next to hers.

The slob’s cubicle overflowed with work papers, empty candy bar wrappers and gum wrappers. The slob guzzled caffeinated drinks all day and left the empty cans lying around his cubicle, creating a sticky mess that oozed into the corridor between rows of cubicles.image021

All those caffeinated drinks also made the slob twitchy. He thumped and bumped against the cubicle walls so that Judy sat in a mini earthquake zone. The slob listened to music on his iPhone but even with headphones, everyone in a ten-foot radius could clearly hear the music. The slob often cracked his gum in time to the music.

Judy made several attempts to politely ask the slob to turn down the volume on the iPhone, to not crack his gum, and to not hit the wall between their cubicles. Each time the slob apologized but promptly ignored her requests. Finally, Judy asked her boss to move her to a cubicle far away from the slob. Her boss told her to ask HR.

The HR rep said no other cubicles were available. She implied that Judy was not a team player after Judy pointed out that the slob was violating several HR policies on cubicle etiquette. Then the HR rep suggested that Judy should try to “work something out” with the slob. Judy left the HR meeting convinced that no one in authority cared about the slob next door.

What are Judy’s options?

  1. She can train the slob the same way she trained her dog, spraying him with water each time he engages in “bad” behavior.
  2. She can learn meditation techniques to help her deal calmly with the slob.
  3. She can ask whether she wants to work for a company that brags about corporate responsibility while allowing a slob to ignore company policy and annoy co-workers.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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I’m Not His Employee

Another update from the Jungle….
image011Addison works for Rob, who has a consulting business. (We met Rob in last week’s post.) The work is sporadic and project-based but she likes it that way because she’s a free spirit. Addison worked for large corporations for many years and is happy to be on her own now.

She does project-based work for several businesses, including Rob’s, and also has a few clients of her own. She dislikes sales and prospecting for clients because she prefers to focus on the work. She likes working for Rob because he pays quickly and the projects allow her plenty of scope for imagination.

Today when she stopped by Rob’s office to discuss the next project, she found him in a strange mood and slightly hung over from overindulging in Gentleman Jack. Rob began talking about financial problems. At first Addison thought he was telling her that he was insolvent. Then she realized he was talking about some new policy of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
image015The DOL recently said that it would no longer use the “control” test to determine if a worker is an independent contractor (1099 worker) or an employee (W-2 worker). Instead, the DOL plans to use an “economic reality” test. This new test has a number of factors but can be summed up by saying that if a worker is economically dependent on the employer, then the worker is a W-2 and not a 1099.

Addison accepts Rob’s offer of a shot of Gentleman Jack, although she prefers Buffalo Trace, and they sit in a gloomy silence as they contemplate what the new test means for each of them. Addison dreads the idea that she could again be classified as a W-2 because she likes being free to work at her pace and only on things she enjoys doing.

What should Addison do next?

  1. She can explain to Rob that she has other clients in addition to the work she does for him and so she thinks that she truly is an independent contractor.
  2. She can incorporate her business now that she has the money to do so rather than continuing to operate as a d/b/a. Incorporating is additional proof that she is running her own business.
  3. She can wait to make any changes until she has more information.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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She’s Not My Employee

Another update from the Jungle….
image008Rob has a small consulting business that does project-based work. That means Rob needs a flexible work force that can easily gear up when there are lots of clients, but can also gear down when projects are few.

Rob relies on a group of individuals that he classifies as independent contractors. For each project, Rob explains what the client wants, the deadlines that must be met, and the scope of work. The worker can accept or reject any project. Rob’s been happy with his flexible work force.

At a recent networking event, Rob heard that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has decided to ditch its old “control” test for deciding if a worker is an independent contractor (1099) or an employee (W-2). Instead the DOL will use an “economic reality” test. Rob does some quick research at www.dol.gov/whd and finds the document outlining this new test. What he reads makes him reach for a bottle of Gentleman Jack.

After a couple of stiff drinks, Rob thinks he understands the main points of this new test. The
image010economic reality test says that a worker who is economically dependent on an employer is an employee and not an independent contractor. Rob doesn’t know if his workers are economically dependent on him. He uses them part-time and always believed that they did work for other consulting businesses.

Rob sees that the new test has several factors. The factor that most worries Rob is the one that says if the work performed is an integral part of the employer’s business, then the worker is a W-2 and not a 1099 worker. Rob knows that his consulting business depends on completing projects for his clients which requires the use of skills that his independent contractors have.

After another shot of Gentleman Jack, Rob does some worst case scenario calculations of what will happen if his workers must be converted to W-2’s. He realizes immediately that it wouldn’t be financially possible to convert all of them to employees.

What are Rob’s options?

  1. He can choose a couple of the independent contractors that have the broadest range of skills and offer to convert them to W-2’s who work full-time for him. All the other workers would no longer be eligible to work on his company’s projects.
  2. He can talk to his CPA about cash flow and tax strategies for dealing with the new economic reality test.
  3. He can continue business as usual, including drinking more Gentleman Jack, while he waits to see what DOL will do.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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School Zones Made Me Late

Another update from the Jungle….
image001Jane is the HR manager for a company with about 200 employees. The company runs a lean operation which means that Jane is the sole HR person and handles pretty much every situation that arises. Jane likes the variety of issues that she faces because it keeps everything fresh and interesting.

A major problem for the company is time and attendance. The owner of the company is obsessive and compulsive about details and it drives him nuts to see a few employees chronically showing up late. He told Jane to fix the problem.

Jane reviewed the time and attendance policy which clearly states that chronic tardiness may subject an employee to progressive disciplinary action. The policy is included in the employee handbook. Jane checks the personnel files for each laggard employee and finds that each of them has signed the acknowledgement form. That means that each employee received a copy of the employee handbook and promptly tossed it aside without actually reading it.
image004This week, Jane began meeting individually with each employee who is chronically late. Jane tries not to yawn as she hears the usual excuses. One employee says she was stuck in traffic due to an accident. Another says his dog got out of the fenced-in backyard and he had to find the mutt and lock him in the garage before leaving for work.

Jane’s favorite excuse of the week is the employee who says she was late due to the school zones. The employee recently moved so that her children could attend a more highly rated school. This means the employee must now travel through three more school zones on her route to work. That caused her to be late.

What should Jane do next?

  1. She can explain to each employee that the excuse du jour doesn’t make up for chronic lateness. She can then move to the next step in progressive discipline.
  2. She can encourage each employee to make a greater effort to arrive on time and let them off with a verbal warning.
  3. She can ask herself why she never thought up so many creative reasons for being late to work.

Time and attendance issues are a perennial problem. Perhaps it’s time to think about the underlying reasons for tardiness. Employees who enjoy their work tend to show up on time.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Download my FREE eBook today! Click here! 

Click here to join the HR Compliance Jungle today.

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