Leave Policies

Emerging from the Cocoon

Who could have imagined in January how much would change this year?  We’re in our seventh month of the covid pandemic which has killed over 180,000 Americans.  Our workplaces are splitting between those who can work from home (generally higher paid) and those who can’t.  

Employers and employees are working through the financial strains caused by the economic fallout from the pandemic.  At the same time, there is a renewed focus on issues of diversity and racial equality as we struggle with the demographic changes in our country.  Overlaying all of these challenges is the most polarizing political election in decades.

It’s time to emerge from our cocoon and accept that we’re not going back to our old routine.  The new “normal” routine is that many people will be working from home permanently.  The new normal also means acknowledging and adapting to the demands for racial equality, gender equality, and sexual orientation protections.

HR policies need to be adapted to the new normal and Q4 is a great time to take a look at what should change.

Paid sick leave

Employers with less than 50 employees were introduced to an FMLA-lite model of paid leave for covid-related illnesses.   Employers with 51 – 499 employees adapted to a two-track FMLA model with unpaid leave for traditional FMLA and paid leave for covid-related illnesses.  Now employers need to prepare for the day when all employers are required to offer paid sick leave for any illness.  Several bills are currently pending in Congress and it’s a safe bet that at least one of them will become law.


Despite the economic slowdown, some companies may now be understaffed as employees (mostly women) have cut back on hours or quit to devote more time to looking after their children who are learning remotely.  To avoid the talent drain, companies may need to offer modified work schedules and job-sharing.  Another option is to hire more workers from the pool of talented people who are currently unemployed.

Demands for equality

Meeting the minimum legal requirements of Title VII may not be sufficient to keep up with the demographic changes in the workforce.  America is becoming more blended and brown. LGBTQ individuals are now protected under Title VII.  HR managers should urge employers to adapt their corporate culture to become a more inclusive workplace or risk losing out in the race for top talent.

Our new normal will temporarily feature a short-tempered, disillusioned workforce that is struggling fear of covid and financial stresses. Layoffs, terminations and business closures will continue until the economy fully recovers.   

But longer term, our new normal will require adapting HR practices in the workplace.  Q4 is a great time to create a strategy for living in the new normal so that your company can start 2021 ahead of the competition.

If your company is struggling with the new “normal”, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you.  We can create or update HR policies that adapt to the new normal and then serve as a resource after the policies are implemented.

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Freedom from Rules

Another update from the Jungle…..

Linda opened her business one year ago when she was fed up with all the petty rules and employee bickering at her last job.  Her friends Julie and Rhonda joined her.  They agreed that their new business would be a happy place where workers were free to be creative and enjoy coming to work. That was the last time they agreed on anything.

Their infectious optimism enticed customers to try their products.  Soon they were overwhelmed with customers, but lacked the organizational structure to keep up. The storefront was in shambles and their workshop was littered with half-finished orders. 

After the usual 90-hour week, Rhonda skipped a day to catch up on her sleep. Since she neglected to tell the others, their shop was closed when a customer arrived to pick up her order.  When Linda returned to the office after making a delivery, the fuming customer taught her a few new words.  As soon as the offended customer left, Linda left a scathing voicemail on Rhonda’s phone, using some of the words she had just learned from the customer.

Two hours later, Rhonda galloped into the office. She screamed at Linda that she had been working non-stop for months and couldn’t take it anymore and wished she had never left her old job to work with such an ungrateful witch. Julie bounced out of the workshop to say that Linda’s rotten inability to set priorities was the cause of their problems.

Then Julie noticed that one of the customers was recording their fight with her cell phone.  Julie chased the customer around the store trying to grab her phone. The customer fled out the door with Julie still chasing her.  Rhonda collapsed onto the floor sobbing hysterically.

When Julie returned, the store was empty of customers. Linda announced that she was tired of not knowing where the other two were or what they were doing. 

What options are available to Linda?

  1. She can close the business and go live in a hut in the Rocky Mountains to get in touch with her feelings.   
  2. She can ditch her friends and start over with her worst enemy because, at least then, she would know what she’s getting. 
  3. She can adopt some basic HR policies to ensure the business can grow without imploding.

Most new business owners want to avoid written rules because they dislike bureaucratic boondoggles. They quickly learn that there is a huge difference between bogging down in bureaucratic rules and creating a framework of HR rules to allow the business to grow effectively.

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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Exit Strategy

Another update from the Jungle…..

Millie is employed because her mom is friends with Janice, owner of the company.  Millie’s mom begged Janice to hire Millie and promised that Janice wouldn’t regret it. Janice agrees.

Millie learns of her new job when her mom tells her, that starting bright and early the following Monday, she will be working for Janice, but Millie doesn’t want a job. She wants to be an actress beloved by millions.

Late Monday morning, Millie floats into the office to find her new co-workers hard at work.  Janice takes Millie on a quick tour of the office, introducing her to everyone and explains basics, like the schedule and benefits. 

Millie perks up when she hears about the benefits. She says she needs to leave early the next day to go to an audition. She enthusiastically describes the play and how she expects this show will be her big break into professional acting.  She asks if she can give a provisional resignation now in case she has to pack for Broadway on short notice.

Recovering her composure, Janice explains that until the big break arrives, Millie may want to learn a few things about her current job.  Millie is uninterested in the job, but she soon realizes that Janice’s company can teach her plenty of new stuff that she can use to advance her career in the theatre.

A few weeks later, a couple of Millie’s co-workers discreetly approach Janice. They have been following Millie’s social media posts so that they can keep up with her acting career. They believe Millie is contacting prospects and clients of Janice’s company to invite them to support her career. 

Janice drops everything to take a quick spin through various social media platforms looking at Millie’s posts.  What she sees convinces Janice that it’s time to dump Millie at the curb.  In her haste to fire Millie, Janice forgets to protect her company’s data.

Within days, Janice realizes that Millie is still accessing her company’s systems.  Millie’s social media shows that she is using Janice’s documents and processes to build a rival business while waiting for her big break in the theatre.

What steps should Janice take next to protect her company?

  1. She can become Millie’s patron, underwriting her acting career as a way to obtain some return on her investment in Millie.
  2. She can call Millie’s mom to complain that Millie is a rotten kid.
  3. She can create a checklist of all company systems that need to be updated to terminate Millie’s access.

 Most employers have well-developed on-boarding processes, but pay less attention to their termination process.  A termination process can protect company resources from misuse by former employees.

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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Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

Another update from the Jungle….

Danny is interviewing for a new job, and the question he dreads most has just been asked. Why did he leave his last job?  Danny stares at the in-house recruiter of his prospective employer and thinks back to his former job.

Danny is a young salesman, bright and energetic. He was hired straight out of college into his dream job. He thought his former boss, Sam, was his friend because they talked about sports when they weren’t talking about business.

They often hung out at a sports bar after work watching sports events.  They also called and texted each other about games they were watching during the weekend. Unfortunately, Danny hadn’t made the mental transition from college buddies to business colleagues.

He learned this hard lesson during March Madness.  Danny hosted a party for some of his college frat brothers. Since he was hosting his own party, he couldn’t attend Sam’s party for colleagues and clients.

As the game progressed, Danny called Sam to discuss the latest score and joke about some of the action. But Danny was drinking heavily and jokes that amuse frat brothers don’t necessarily amuse a boss, particularly a boss trying to entertain his own guests.  After the tenth call in as many minutes, Sam ordered Danny to not call him again. Danny laughed drunkenly and agreed. A few minutes later, he called Sam again. Sam hung up and turned off his phone.

The next day, Danny was met at the office by an HR rep who explained that getting drunk and making harassing phone calls to a boss was inappropriate. She informed Danny that he could resign and receive a severance package or he could be fired.  Danny chose the first option and returned home to nurse his hangover.

This sorry sequence of events flits through Danny’s mind as he stares at the in-house recruiter. What are Danny’s options?

  1. He can admit that he got drunk, showed poor judgment, and was invited to be successful elsewhere.
  2. He can trash his former employer as a rotten place to work.
  3. He can say that his former employer wasn’t a good “fit” or that he is looking for a new challenge.

In the actual situation, the young employee was given a few coaching tips during his exit interview, regarding appropriate behavior outside the office.  It’s always a good idea to add a segment in the on-boarding process to remind new hires that what they do on their own time can negatively affect their employment.

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 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.

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Be Kind, Not Nice.

Another update from the HR jungle….


“Be kind, not nice” is a favorite saying of one of my friends. Consider what that means for employers and their employees.

Leslie’s company has less than 50 employees, so the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does not apply to her company. This fact became important yesterday when Beth revealed that she has breast cancer and needs extended leave while she undergoes treatment. Beth also says that she wants to return to work full-time after completing her initial treatment.

Leslie counts Beth as a personal friend as well as an employee and wants to help. Beth was one of the first employees she hired and has always been a stellar performer. But Leslie knows that if Beth is granted extended leave, other employees will demand the same treatment later. She also worries that her staff is too small to cover for an employee who is absent for an extended period of time.

Leslie considers her situation and how she can be kind, but not nice to Beth. What options are available to Leslie?

  1. She can be kind to Beth by offering support as a friend and accommodating Beth’s treatment schedule as much as reasonably possible without disrupting the company’s work flow.
  2. She can protect her company by documenting the business reasons for making an exception to the leave policy for Beth. For example, Beth’s work performance and length of service could justify making an exception to the leave policy.

Distinguishing kind from nice may not be easy particularly when creating HR policies. Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you separate kind from nice in your employee practices with HR policies that are appropriate for your company.

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Me First!

seagullBob’s business has grown as the economy picks up and he now has 10 employees. As the holiday season approaches, every employee wants time off. Bob’s problem is that he never formalized the company’s leave policy as he added employees. Now he’s in a bind as the holidays approach and he still hasn’t figured out a system for granting leave.

Sue argues that seniority counts since she was the first employee hired. Doris argues for a “first come, first served” process, which is why she gave Bob her leave request right after the July 4th holiday. Others argue for a rotation so that all employees eventually have a chance at being the first to choose. Bob’s starting to hate his own company as he faces these daily conflicts.

What options are available to Bob?

  1. He can appeal to the better nature of the employees, imploring them to sort it out among themselves. (Everyone who thinks that will work, raise your hand).
  2. He can use a seniority system with the longest serving employee choosing first and the most recent hire choosing last. (Employees dislike this system but most employers use it).
  3. He can create a leave policy, whether seniority based or on a rotation and then meet with employees to explain how the policy will be implemented.

Has your company faced similar problems and struggled for a solution?

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!

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