Handbook

Employee Policies

No One Tells Me What to Do!

Another update from the Jungle….

Angie’s tearing her hair out trying to help the company owner, Tom. She’s the HR manager and some days it feels like a pretty thankless task.  Tom runs several businesses, including a janitorial service and a moving company.

Tom’s a good guy most of the time and truly wants to help his employees.  He loans money to employees who need a little help between payroll checks. He kept one employee on the health plan for six months while he recuperated from a cancer scare.  

2He hires people who have interesting back stories. His moving company crews include former gang members who are expert at moving other people’s property quickly and efficiently.  Steve, an employee of the janitorial company thinks Jim Beam is a sports beverage.  Tom periodically sends Steve to rehab to 1dry out and ensures that Steve is closely supervised while on the job.

But Angie knows there’s a dark side to Tom. If Tom decides you’ve screwed up, you’re out; never mind the progressive discipline policy.  Angie’s explained countless times that knee jerk reactions can lead to trouble. But Tom says no one is going to tell him how to run his businesses.

This morning, a man shows up in the lobby. He’s Mr. Beatty, an auditor from the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. He asks for the time and attendance records, job descriptions, and payroll records to verify that everyone is paid the appropriate hourly rate.

3Tom starts rumbling like an over-pressurized steam engine as he glares at Mr. Beatty.  Angie tries to head off disaster by inviting Mr. Beatty to wait in the conference room while she gathers the requested information. She offers coffee to Mr. Beatty but Tom nixes the offer.  Tom takes a deep breath, preparatory to blasting Mr. Beatty out of the universe.

What options are available to Angie?

  1. She can tell the Department of Labor auditor to look away while she kicks Tom in the shins for antagonizing the man who can shut down the company.
  2. She can flirt with the DOL guy in hopes of distracting him.
  3. She can excuse herself from the meeting and go call a recruiting company to begin shopping her resume to a new employer.     

The above scenario is a composite of several actual incidents. The DOL is increasing the number of compliance audits of employers.  HR representatives do their best to keep their employers “legal” but they can’t save employers who think the rules don’t apply to them.

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!

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

Click here for a copy of my free Ebook

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Paper Trails

Another update from the Jungle….


Stan’s been in business for five years. His employees are 20-somethings who like to work collaboratively and take lots of coffee breaks.  Stan doesn’t understand why they want to live on healthy junk like kale 4while slurping gallons of coffee, but they’re happy.  As long as the work is done and clients are happy, Stan is happy.  

He never paid much attention to labor laws. He pays each worker a fixed amount each week and they work at their own pace.  Ashley seems to get her best ideas at 2 a.m.  Ryan and Carson work best as a team but need supervision to stay on task. His employees work at home, in coffee shops, and occasionally even show up to work in the office.

unnamedThen he hears about the new overtime rules that are effective on December 1st.  Stan rapidly reviews his employees.  A quick estimate demonstrates that most of his workers earn below the new salary threshold. Stan’s bottom line can’t take across the board salary increases. Besides, many of his workers couldn’t meet the duties test to be exempt.

That means most of his employees will need to be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. Stan mentally reviews his staff. None of them has ever completed a time sheet. Stan calls an “all hands” meeting like he does when a client has a short deadline.

He explains to his employees that they need to begin keeping track of their time. He also says that any overtime must be pre-approved. His office manager demonstrates how to use the new time-tracking software. Everyone nods like they understand.

In the firs3t week, only two employees actually record their time each day. Ashley complains that she can’t remember to “clock in” when an idea strikes her at 2 in the morning. Ryan and Carson think they’re too valuable to the company to be penalized and they ignore the software completely.  After a few weeks, Stan is furious.

What should Stan do next?

  1. He can send a screeching email every Monday morning listing the offenders from the previous week.
  2. He can assign all the worst performers to the most annoying client where they will all flame out together.   
  3. He can follow a progressive discipline policy that inexorably clears out the people who can’t or won’t follow the rules.    

In the actual situation, the employer used a combination of the options outlined above to ensure compliance with the law. A few creative people were lost but the majority stayed and the company continued to grow successfully.    

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!

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Time & Money

Another update from the HR jungle….

image007

Back in December, Sue, the HR director, decided she needed to review the employee handbook to ensure that all the information is still accurate. Now that her rum hangover from her cruise is gone, she’s focusing on this project.

Sue revised individual sections of the employee handbook over the past two years as the laws changed. For example, she changed the definition of employees eligible for health insurance. Under the old criteria, employees had to work at least 32 hours a week to be eligible. But under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employees who average 30 hours per week are eligible for health coverage.

Of course, this piecemeal approach means that she may have missed something. She also knows that her company added employees since the handbook was last updated and she thinks that the increased number of employees means that additional employment laws now apply to the company. As she surveys the scope of the project, Sue worries about how she’ll manage to review and update the handbook while still keeping up with her regular duties.

What are Sue’s options?

  1. She can research federal and state government websites to collect information about employment laws and regulations that apply to employers with the number of employees that her company has.
  2. She can attend a seminar for HR professionals to learn about recent changes to federal and state employment laws, although the update won’t include existing laws that haven’t been revised and that may apply to her company.
  3. She can convince her employer that it is a better use of her time and their money to outsource this project to a subject matter expert.

Need help 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 when the policies are implemented.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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

 

One for Them, One for Me…

Another update from the HR jungle….
image023Sue, the HR director, is finally on her cruise after a couple of weeks of clearing her desk. She’s sitting on the cruise ship deck sipping a rum drink and thinking about the office. She’s having trouble shutting off the part of her brain that thinks about work, as we all do when we finally get away.

As Sue works on her tan and sips her rum, she thinks about the company’s expansion and what it means for her career. As the company grows, its HR policies will need to grow too. That’s why she’s already decided to revise the employee handbook.

Sue also thinks about what she wants for herself. Sue got her job in HR years ago when the company’s owner decided he didn’t want to deal with employee problems. Sue’s had no special training for her HR duties; she learned on the job. She worries that as the company grows, they will look for someone with more formal education to replace her.

Suddenly, a scathingly brilliant answer to her problems presents itself. The rum helps, of course. What is Sue’s brilliant plan?

  1. Sue will present her boss with a list of the HR policies that she believes need to be updated to ensure the company’s continued growth is smooth. Her list will include the estimated time and cost for each project and compare those costs to the past costs incurred when the boss waited until there was a problem. She believes he will agree to take a proactive approach and invest in upgrading the HR policies.
  2. Sue wants to attend a local community college that offers a 2 year degree in human resources administration. A degree increases her chances of getting a pay raise and being the inside candidate for promotion as the HR department grows with the company.

As you come to the end of this year, think about your goals for your company and for yourself.

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Before the R&R…

Another update from the HR jungle….
image021Sue is the HR director for her company and last week she was working on her year-end checklist. Sue is trying to knock out all the items on her checklist before she checks out for a two week cruise in the Caribbean. Last week’s checklist covered last minute items related to the Affordable Care Act.

This week’s checklist is a general review of her HR domain. It’s good to be in charge, even if she has no minions to obey her every whim. First, she talks with the payroll service to ensure that they have all the information they will need to issue W-2’s in January 2105. This task went on her checklist after a “miscommunication” earlier in the year meant a new hire didn’t get paid on time. Now Sue obsessively re-checks everything.

Sue’s decided to postpone her second checklist item until after her vacation because it will be tedious and time consuming. She needs to review the employee handbook to ensure that all the information is still accurate. She revised a few sections of the handbook over the past two years as the growing workforce meant additional employment laws applied to her company. Now it’s time to do a general cleanup. Sue knows she needs some R&R (rum and more rum) before tackling this task.

Sue’s final checklist item is to complete a status review of the HR department when she returns to the office in January. Now she just needs to deal with any last minute crises before leaving for her well-deserved date with rum and the sea.

Do you have a year-end checklist to keep your HR duties on track? We can’t promise you a Caribbean cruise with (lots of) alcohol, but we’ve love to hear from you.

 

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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We Need Employees….But We Have No Employee Policies

Another update from the HR Jungle…

Abigail and Bob started their business five years ago after being downsized from corporate jobs. Until recently they were the only employees, working long hours and outsourcing specific tasks to free-lancers (a/k/a independent contractors).

Now they want to add employees to prepare for several new customers. They believe replacing the free-lancers with employees will allow them to streamline processes, speed up response times and become more profitable.

As refugees from corporate America they want to avoid bogging down in bureaucracy but they also know they need some administrative structure. Hiring employees involves creating human resources policies to ensure that all employees are treated the same.

What should Abigail and Bob do next?

1. They should identify all the tasks to be performed by the newly hired employees so that accurate job descriptions can be created.
2. They must decide the details of everything from a dress code to what benefits should be offered.

Abigail and Bob are smart, educated individuals who can research HR issues and create an HR department from scratch. Or they can delegate this activity in order to free up their time to focus on growing their business. Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help them create their HR department and then serve as a resource for the HR manager.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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How Can My Business Grow With All These Distractions?

Another update from the HR Jungle….

Sondra’s business grew rapidly in the past 18 months as she expanded product lines. She added three new employees last quarter when she opened a second store. With two retail locations and a constantly expanding line of products, Sondra can’t keep up with the details.

She is constantly bombarded with employee requests for time off from work. Yesterday several employees came to work with ripped jeans and t-shirts which is not the image Sondra wants to present to her customers. The employees say they thought the dress code was casual. This morning she spent an hour sorting out a dispute between two employees.

One of the new employees at the new store is not working out and should probably be fired. Sondra needs time to read the store manager’s notes to verify the grounds for terminating employment. Then she needs to hire a replacement. But first she needs to revise the job description to ensure the next employee has the qualifications she needs.

What are some of the tasks on Sondra’s “to do” list?

1. An employee handbook that explains dress codes, time and attendance, and leave policies (among many other things) would answer many employee questions, saving time for her and her employees.
2. A procedure for resolving workplace disputes could ensure that future employee disputes don’t escalate like the situation this morning.
3. Job descriptions may need to be revised to better match the evolving duties of each employee.

Sondra’s been delaying taking action because she hates these administrative tasks. But she also knows her business is getting stuck because she’s stuck making up the rules as she goes. Sondra can outsource these tasks to an HR consultant leaving her free to continue building her business.

Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help Sondra and other business owners in similar situations.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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