Large Employer

Over 50 employees

The Magic of the Season

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-3After the fiasco of their Thanksgiving dinner, Rudy and Trish decide they will skip a holiday party this year.  Even a warlock and a witch need a break.  Jerry, the werewolf next door, offers to host a holiday party, but they turn him down. Every surface in Jerry’s house is covered in dog hairs and Trish is a finicky witch who doesn’t like the way the dog hairs stick to her clothing.

Besides, there are rumors of an employee party at the big box store where Rudy, Trish and Jerry work.  Trish checks the bulletin board in the employee break room and sees the notice that the company isunnamed-20 hosting a Christmas party for employees.  Trish immediately complains to the HR manager that calling it a Christmas party interferes with her religious beliefs as a pagan. She threatens to take concerted action with the other witches to protect her workplace rights.

The HR manager cleverly deduces undercurrents of discontent and decides to take a survey of employees to ask who will attend the holiday party.  Most employees say they will attend if they are paid for their time and there is no gift exchange.  In a workplace full of witches, warlocks and a mischievous leprechaun, no gifting is a prudent choice so the HR manager agrees.

The HR manager reports the survey results to the ogre who owns the store and he agrees to pay the employees to attend the holiday party. Actually, what the ogre says is much pithier and an exact quote might give rise to an EEOC charge. The HR manager posts a signup sheet for the potluck lunch.

unnamed-19Trish brings sugar cookies shaped like pentagrams. She’s added a magic spell that increases the eater’s happiness. After eating a cookie, the HR manager smiles benevolently at her coworkers.

Ryan, the leprechaun, arrives late because it is normally his day off.  But he never misses an opportunity to get paid for not working.  He steps jauntily into the break room breathing Bushmills Irish Whiskey fumes on everyone and smiling bleaunnamed-17rily.  As he passes the buffet table, he snatches one of Trish’s cookies and gulps it down in two bites.

The magic spell synchronizes beautifully with his whiskey. Ryan begins high-stepping around the room, like an extra in Riverdance, listening to a tune only he could hear.  The HR manager joins him and soon everyone is hoofing it round the breakroom.

Everyone agrees it is the best office holiday party in years.

Happy Holidays!

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.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook Twitter!

Visit us at: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

Click here for a copy of my free Ebook

Advertisements

December 7th

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-14As the holiday season kicks in, Anne isn’t feeling very happy. In fact, she’s depressed.  She’s struggling to pay her bills after a couple of unexpected expenses, including a burst water pipe in her basement.

The water pipe burst a couple of days before Thanksgiving when Anne had a house full of family, in town for the big day.  Paying for the repairs put a severe dent in her rainy day fund just when her mothunnamed-11er was nagging her about taking a trip to Hawaii.

Anne’s mom wants to make a pilgrimage to Pearl Harbor to pay tribute to her uncle who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Anne’s mom grew up listening to tales of her uncle’s life and looking at the few remaining family photos of him. She’s always thought of him as the handsomest and bravest man in her life, even though she never met him.

unnamed-13Anne doesn’t want to think about military sacrifices right now. Her oldest son is on active duty and she learned last week that he is being deployed to Iraq.  Anne always knew this day would come but it’s still a shock.

Anne knows she’s not the first, or the only, mother distraught about watching a child go off to war.  As she sits at her desk today, she thinks about how excited her son is to finally be through with training. He’s ready to take on his first assignment and accepts the risks of going into a war zone.

Anne tries to cheer herself up by thinking about her son surviving his tour of duty.  Battlefield medicine has advanced exponentially in recent years, ensuring that more soldiers will survive their injuries.unnamed-15

Back in 1941, thousands of American military personnel died immediately in the attack and many died later from their injuries. But many thousands more lived to fight their way across the Pacific.  Most of the ships damaged at unnamed-7Pearl Harbor were also repaired and used for the remainder of the war.

As she sits pondering her son’s possible fate, medical advances, and life in general, she looks at her desk calendar. It’s December 7th.

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.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook Twitter!

Visit us at: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

Click here for a copy of my free Ebook

I’m Mad as Heck about the Election!

Another update from the Jungle….
unnamed-4Dawn, the Chief Talent Officer for her company, is slogging through the remaining weeks of the political campaign. She hates what it’s done to her job. This week she’s thinking of changing her title to Chief Tortured Officer

Helen, the Voice of Doom, didn’t take the hint a couple of weeks ago when Dawn tried to politely tell her to get lost. Helen continues unnamed-6to show up every morning to depress Dawn with her worries that the election will degenerate into violence and mayhem.

After Helen leaves Allen, the Philosopher King, drifts in the door.  His garbled theories on democracy in America sound profound until you listen closely. Then you realize he’s just fogging up the room with BS. Besides Dawn couldn’t care less.

She has a real political crisis this week. She’s been summoned to the President’s office. Rory, the Prez, also wants to discuss the election and what it means for the office.  Rory’s channeling Jack Nicholson’s “Colonel Jessup” from “A Few Good Men” pacing the office and growling.

unnamed-15The workforce is as divided as the nation and it’s getting ugly. Yesterday Rory broke up a fight in the employee parking lot. The Trump and Clinton supporters were trying to rip the opposing candidate’s stickers off car bumpers.  Rory waded in, knocked a few heads together and ordered everyone back to work.

He’s not worried about a little fight in the parking lot. He’s mad as heck that no one seems to be working.  The company’s internet connections are smoking hot as workers visit “news” sites to hear the latest salacious details abouunnamed-14t the candidates and their families. Then they stand around arguing about what they’ve read.

Rory glares at Dawn and asks if he can fire a few people to set an example for everyone else. Dawn begins to explain (again) about the progressive discipline policy. Rory cuts her off.  If he can’t fire anyone, can he ban politics from he workplace?

What advice should Dawn give the Prez?

  1. She can give him a quick civics lesson about free speech.
  2. She can draft an email for him to send to all employees reminding them to do their jobs while on the clock.
  3. She can suggest that he should visit the gym more often to work off his aggression and grit his teeth for one more week.

The good news is that presidential elections happen every four years and we’ve got one more week to go.  Then we’ll all go back to arguing about sports.

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.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook Twitter!

Visit us at: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

Click here for a copy of my free Ebook

How Do I Hate You? Let Me Count the Ways

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-16

Billy and Bobbye opened their business a year after they married.  They hired a couple of employees and everyone was happy.  Billy and Bobbye were proud of their success. Employees enjoyed the perks, like having the company cover 100% of health insurance premiums for employees and the Friday Afternoon Frazzle at a nearby brew pub.

unnamed-15But as the company expanded, new employees lacked the camaraderie of the ones who had helped build the business. Adding employees meant more personality conflicts and scheduling difficulties. Bobbye wanted to add some structure to the company by creating HR policies to ensure everyone understood what was expected of them.

Billy wasn’t ready to give up the entrepreneurial attitude of the early days so he shot down Bobbye’s ideas.  Their disagreement about the business spilled over into their marriage. Before long, they were taking potshots at each other every day.

unnamed-11Bobbye decided to change the brand of coffee for the office.  A day after the change, Billy walked in to the break room, saw the new brand name, and hurled the coffee can across the room into the garbage can.  Now Billy and Bobbye don’t talk to each other in the office. They relay messages through employees. Their employees used to call them B&B or B-squared. Now it’s Bombs Away.

All these spats are tanking the bottom line as deadlines are missed and quality crashes. Clients leave for calmer and more reliable service. To save money, Billy decides arbitrarily to reduce the number of unnamed-13employee perks, starting with the health plan. He tells employees they will have to begin contributing to the premium.  Cutting back on perksannoys the employees and Bobbye.

unnamed-17Even free beer at the Friday Afternoon Frazzle can’t attract most employees because they feel so uncomfortable around Billy and Bobbye. The least bright employees are choosing sides. The smarter employees are trying to stay neutral. The smartest employees have already bailed out for more stable workplaces.  On its present trajectory, the company will implode.

What should Billy and Bobbye do next?

  1. They can continue to fight until there is nothing left but the company’s debts.
  2. They can seek marriage counseling to save their marriage and possibly their company.
  3. They can agree to divorce and split the company’s assets as part of the divorce settlement.

In the actual situation, the feuding owners divorced and the wife bought her former’s husband’s interest in the business. Some employees helped with the transition while most left for other jobs.

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.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit us at: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

Click here for a copy of my free Ebook

I Don’t Have a Drinking Problem

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-4

Leo and Ted are managers at their company. They were hired at the same time and became friends.  They often ate lunch together and spent most afternoons at happy hour at their favorite sports bar.

Leo was promoted first. His division expanded rapidly and when he needed another manager, he asked for Ted.  Ted managed the fastest growing product line in Leo’s division. Naturally, Ted began thinking that his team should have a bigger budget. Leo said no. Ted went to happy hour alone to sulk.

In the next manager’s meeting, Ted interrupted Leo repeatedly until Leo ordered him to shut up.  After the meeting, Ted stomped into Leo’s office to complain. Leo ordered Ted to leave and Ted refused. In the ensuing shoving match, two chairs were broken, Ted got a fat lip and Leo had a bloody nose. After that, they went to separate bars for happy hour.

Ted decided to ask Leo’s boss to make his team a separate division on the grounds that hisunnamed-8 team managed a product line worth more than all the rest of the products managed by Leo’s division.  Luckily for Ted, he appealed to Oscar.

Oscar is a fan of Star Trek and he runs a modified Klingon Empire, where you advance over the body of your former boss.  He is happy to watch Leo and Ted scrap because if they are fighting each other they aren’t challenging Oscar for his job. Oscar grants Ted’s request.

unnamed-3Now Leo and Ted are trying to screw each other’s careers by sucking up to Oscar.  They suck up by inviting Oscar to happy hour.  Oscar appreciates having Leo or Ted cover his bar tab. But all these soggy nights mean that productivity is suffering as Leo and Ted slide into alcoholism.

Nan, the HR manager, is watching from the sidelines. She knows she should talk to the unnamed-9senior management team about Leo’s and Ted’s potential disability due to alcoholism.

What options are available to Nan?

  1. She can recommend that Leo and Ted be shipped off to rehab to dry out in hopes of saving their careers.
  2. She can gather information about their poor performances to build a case for firing them.
  3. She can wait to take action until a senior manager notices the problem.

In the actual case, each manager was encouraged to seek professional help for their alcoholism. Neither sought treatment. One manager eventually quit rather than be fired, while the other manager continued in his same role without any hope of a promotion. unnamed-7

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.

 

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit us at: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

Click here for a copy of my free Ebook

 

 

It Says So Right Here!

Another update from the Jungle….

Jane started her business after being downsized by her corporate employer.  She knew she wanted her business to be different from the bureaucracy of her Big Biz employer and vowed to avoid the burden of written policies.  

3But as she adds employees it becomes clear that a lack of written policies is bad for the bottom line. No written policies allow Evan to claim that he doesn’t know he is supposed to start work at 8:30 am. He thinks showing up by 10 am is okay as long as he gets his work done.  

4Jane decides she needs something in writing. She digs out an old copy of Big Biz’s employee handbook. She customizes it by changing the employer’s name, correcting a few typos, and changing the font.  Then she gives a copy to each employee and receives a signed acknowledgement from each employee.

None of the employees actually read the employee handbook, of course, until they need to. Evan reads the section on progressive discipline after Jane gives him a final written warning about his attendance.

1Meanwhile, Audrey discovers she’s pregnant. She hauls out her copy of the handbook, which is propping up a corner of her desk, and unfolds it to read the section on the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). She tells Jane she wants to take FMLA leave to have her baby and asks for the leave request form.  

Jane doesn’t have any FMLA forms. Her internet search eventually leads her to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) website where she learns the horrible truth about the FMLA. It applies to companies with more than 50 employees. Her Little Biz shop has 20 employees.  The news is so disturbing that she drinks half a bottle of wine while she thinks about her options.

What should Jane do next?

  1. She can collect every copy of the handbook and burn them in the parking lot knowing that most of her employees never read it.
  2. She can tell Audrey that the FMLA section of the handbook is a mistake because that law doesn’t apply to Jane’s business.
  3. She can grant FMLA leave to Audrey in accordance with the handbook policy. Then she can immediately revise the handbook to delete information about employment laws that don’t apply to her company.

The above scenario is a common problem for small business owners who lack familiarity with employment laws. The lack of familiarity can fix one problem while creating many more problems.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit us at: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

Click here for a copy of my free Ebook 

I’m Not Crazy!

Mental Health1Andrea is a lawyer in the corporate legal department of a major company.  She’s never quite fit in with the rest of the department and tends to work alone rather than as part of a team.  She gets the assignments the other lawyers don’t want.

Over time, feeling isolated and unwanted, Andrea’s confidence drops and the quality of her work slides.  She thinks about calling the employee assistance program (EAP) but she’s paranoid that her boss will find out and it will be a mark against her.  So she slogs along feeling unwanted and unappreciated.

Her lowest point comes when an executive chews her out in front of the whole department accusing her of misreading a paragraph in a contract that he wants to cancel.  When Andrea protests that she wasn’t asked about how to cancel the contract, the executive says she’s incompetent and ought to be fired.

On the way home that day, Andrea buys supplies at a local craft store to build a piñata. That evening she creates the piñata and writes the executive’s name on it. Then she beats the piñata to a pulp with her tennis racket.  After that, she has a glass of wine and some dark chocolate.

Mental Health3But wine and chocolate can’t solve every problem. Andrea’s morale continues to disintegrate and she becomes deeply depressed. She begins seeing a psychologist for mental health counseling. The counseling sessions help her with personal problems even as her work situation deteriorates.

Eventually, she is fired from her job and she sues the company. The company argues that she was fired for incompetence due to emotional and mental instability. To prove it, they demand details of her sessions with the psychologist. The company argues that it has a right to this information because it paid the insurance premiums for the health plan that covered the psychologist’s sessions.

What should Andrea do next?

  1. She should make a bigger piñata of the executive and buy more wine and chocolate.
  2. She should accept that she’s not crazy; the company was the wrong employer.
  3. She should write an advice book about dealing with egotistical managers and start a new career as a business consultant.

Mental Health4The above scenario is loosely based on a California lawsuit about ten years ago where the company argued unsuccessfully that paying health insurance premiums meant it had a right to know the details of an employee’s mental health treatment. Unfortunately, arguments like the one raised by the California case make it difficult to convince employees to seek mental health treatment from an EAP or their health insurance plan.

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.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit us: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

Ebook Link:  https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

Boxed in by Box 12 on the W-2

Another update from the Jungle…

unnamedMaryann handles payroll questions for her employer.  She and her coworkers have been scrambling for a couple of years to ensure they comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Last year was all about finding a software program that would allow the company to track the hours of its temporary employees.

This year, Maryann is looking at box 12 on the W-2. That’s the box where employers need to plug in the cost of the medical plan for the employee.  Filling in this information is mandatory only for employers who filed at least 250 W-2’s in the previous tax year, meaning in 2013.  Maryann’s company filed 170 W-2’s in 2013, so they aren’t required to complete box 12 for the 2014 tax year.

She knows that this January her company will issue 200 W-2’s covering the 2014 tax year.  She thinks that number will rise to 250 during 2015.  Maryann wants to get a head start on figuring out box 12 after some of the past fiascos in trying to comply with the ACA.

What should Maryann consider?

  1. Maryann knows that the “cost” or “value” of health coverage refers to the premium paid for medical coverage in the health plan, known as “major medical”. She needs to verify what other costs, such as FSA contributions and dental and vision premiums, may need to be included.
  2. Maryann can consult her company’s CPA firm for assistance on completing box 12.
  3. Maryann can do some research in the ACA section of the IRS website during her spare time.

Update:  According to the IRS website, no new guidance has been issued in the past year. As a result, reporting the cost of the employee medical plan in Box 12 is required only for employers who filed 250 W-2’s in the previous tax year.  Employers who filed less than 250 W-2’s in the previous tax year may voluntarily report the medical plan cost in Box 12.

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.

 

To download my free ebook, click here.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit us: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

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.

Download my FREE eBook today! Click here! 

Click here to join the HR Compliance Jungle today.

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

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.

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!