Month: October 2015

Halloween is a Scream

Another update from the Jungle….
image039Nicole is the HR manager for her company and she’s had a tough time for the past few years. Her company avoided layoffs but they haven’t given pay raises in years. Nicole tries to find other ways to boost employee morale.

This month’s morale booster is a Halloween party on the Friday closest to October 31st. Nicole emails employees encouraging them to come in their favorite costumes and compete for prizes. Poor Nicole! Even after years of experience in the HR world, she’s still a bit naïve.

Her email has barely hit the company’s intranet when Steve slouches in to her office to complain that he won’t attend the party if he has to wear a costume. He also demands that suitable adult beverages be served at the party. Nicole isn’t that naïve. She vetoes alcohol.

Then Ruth walks into her office to say that her church forbids Halloween parties because they encourage worship of the devil. She threatens to sue for religious discrimination if she’s forced to attend the party. Ruth also says that competing for prizes is gambling which is prohibited by her faith, state law, and the employee handbook.

After a quick review of company policy, Nicole concludes that prizes of nominal value won’t result in her arrest, so she forges
image042 ahead with her party plans. Friday arrives and Nicole decorates the break room with the help an elf, a 1930’s railroad hobo, and a clown. Then she rewards herself with a glass of (non-alcoholic) punch as she watches the employees file in for the party.

Suddenly, her glass of punch slips from her hand and she stifles a scream as she watches Tina sashay into the break room. Tina is wearing three-inch stiletto heels and a scanty outfit modeled on Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

What should Nicole do next?

  1. She can ask Steve to find the nearest liquor store and buy her a restorative drink to help her recover from the shock of seeing Tina.
  2. She can award Tina the prize for most innovative costume.
  3. She can escort Tina from the break room before the president sees his CIO decked out like a (high end) call girl.

Has your company ever held a holiday party that went awry? Stay tuned for more adventures as Nicole navigates through the holiday season this year.

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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It’s Back Again!

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed (11)Michelle owns a small business of 35 employees that is slowly expanding. She’s ignored the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ever since she realized that her company was too small to be subject to the employer penalty. Besides, she has other concerns, such as finding new markets for her company so that it can continue to grow.

However, her employees like having benefits, including health coverage. Last year, Michelle encouraged her employees to obtain individual health policies because she couldn’t afford a group health plan. Now the issue has arisen again as the annual open enrollment period for the Exchange approaches on November 1st.

Michelle would like to offer a group health plan because she thinks it would be a nice perk for employees. But she’s heard other small business owners complain about increased premium costs.
image038She’s afraid she can’t afford a group plan this year either.

She does a quick survey of her employees. She learns that 15 of them have coverage through their spouses. One employee is an early retiree covered under a former employer’s plan. Another employee is eligible for Medicare. Part-time workers wouldn’t be eligible for coverage in an employer’s group health plan under the ACA rules.

That leaves a grand total of 12 employees who are interested in a group health plan. Of the 12 employees, several could qualify for a subsidy from the Exchange based on their income and family size.

What should Michelle do next?

  1. She can ignore the issue completely since her company is not subject to the employer penalty.
  2. She can ask her insurance agent to give her information on a group health plan option for the 12 employees who are interested in coverage.
  3. She can arrange for an insurance agent to come to her work place to help employees choose individual health policies, through the Exchange or outside the Exchange.

There are no easy solutions for small employers regarding health coverage. Small employers may find that not offering a group health plan actually helps their lower income employees to qualify for a subsidy through the Exchange. On the other hand, any employer offering a group health plan may use a business tax deduction to offset part of the cost of the plan. An experienced insurance agent or producer can help small employers assess their options.

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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New Job; Old Baggage

Another update from the Jungle….
image029Betty started a new job about six months ago but already the old patterns are starting to repeat. Betty’s last job became so unbearable that she quit. Now she seems to be headed down the same path again.

At her last job, a clique of female co-workers proved that Heathers don’t get nicer as they grow up; they just get older. They made Betty miserable. They invited her to lunch during her first week on the job for the apparent purpose of mocking her interests and lifestyle. That was the beginning of a long campaign of passive aggressive behavior aimed at undermining Betty.

When Betty complained about misplaced files or sabotaged resources, her clueless boss labeled her a complainer. Betty didn’t want to be best friends with the clique but in a small office it meant she was isolated and alone. Betty’s confidence eroded and her performance suffered. When her performance review assessed her as “not a team player”, Betty took the hint
image031 and found her current job.

Unfortunately, the old baggage came with her. She knows some of her new co-workers think she’s a snob for declining lunch invitations and not participating in the monthly office birthday parties. But Betty’s cautious of getting to know her new co-workers because she’s afraid of meeting a new group of Heathers.

Today, an HR rep asked Betty to stop by. At their meeting, the HR rep asked Betty how she liked her office, her workload, and how she was getting along with her colleagues. Betty gave a non-committal answer. Then the HR rep asked Betty if she would like to participate in a new mentoring program which was created to help new employees integrate into the company.

What should Betty do next?

  1. She can decide based on her past experiences that she will “fail” at this job so she should quit now and join a commune in Alaska.
  2. She can start looking for another job hoping that things will be different next time.
  3. She can accept the invitation to join the mentoring program, increasing her chances of having a satisfying career with her current employer.

In the actual case, the first employer had no mentoring program because the owners were not convinced that touchy-feely programs contributed to the bottom line. Consequently, they experienced a high level of employee churn and were eventually acquired by a competitor.

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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Get Rid of Him!

Another update from the Jungle….
image024Doug is getting close to retirement age after a long, not very distinguished, career. He’s still the consummate professional but it’s obvious that all is not well with him. He is out sick at least one day a week and he doesn’t do much work on the days he is in the office.

Doug’s problems are becoming a headache for Suzy, the HR manager. Suzy likes Doug; he’s always polite and respectful which is not true of his pushy boss. The pushy boss has ordered her to find a reason to fire Doug. Suzy privately thinks the pushy boss wants to make his budget look better by dumping Doug for a less experienced and lower salaried employee.

Suzy begins discrete inquiries of Doug’s behavior and job performance. His friends tell Suzy that Doug suffers from anxiety
attacks and depression. Doug’s anxiety attacks worsened when he was moved into an office on the 15th floor with a wall of windows. Doug has a fear of heights.

Doug’s also having trouble remembering things. Yesterday, Suzy overheard a junior team member
image025talking to Doug about a client problem. When Doug said the problem sounded familiar, his junior replied, “It ought to; it’s your client”.

Today Suzy is meeting with Doug’s boss. She suggests that Doug should be moved to an interior office but the boss says no; senior people like Doug must have a window office. Next Suzy asks for examples of Doug’s work that show he can’t do his basic job description. The boss has none. In fact, Suzy already knows the boss gave Doug a tepid, but positive, performance review.

What should Suzy do next?

  1. She can tell the pushy boss that he’s a dingbat for trying to fire an older worker who is obviously still competent and who has not received a negative performance review.
  2. She can read up on the definition of “disability” in the Americans with Disabilities Act in case Doug decides to ask for an accommodation.
  3. She can verify that the company has employment practices liability insurance because her gut instinct is that Doug’s boss is about to demonstrate the need for such coverage.

In the actual case, the older worker eventually took early retirement based on health reasons and faded away without raising any of the legal issues that were available to him. The pushy boss was promoted which allowed him to be pushy to a greater number of people simultaneously.

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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