As your co employer, how your staffing agency manages its employer and compliance responsibilities can impact you. Here's how.... … Read More »
by Jeanne Knutzen | June 26, 2018
As your co employer, how your staffing agency manages its employer and compliance responsibilities can impact you. Here's how.... … Read More »
by Jeanne Knutzen | June 21, 2018
While there are no legal reasons to shorten a temporary assignment, other factors should be considered. … Read More »
by Jeanne Knutzen | January 25, 2018
Are Your Temporary Employees Subject to Washington State’s New Mandatory Paid Time Off Policies? The short answer is yes. And this article has the details about the new law and how it will impact you! … Read More »
by Jeanne Knutzen | April 18, 2016
Are temporary employees subject to overtime pay? Am I at risk if my staffing agency isn't paying them overtime pay rates? … Read More »
by Guest Author | September 9, 2015
Under the proposed rule, an employee will need to earn a minimum of $970 per week (or $50,440 per year) and meet the duties test in order to be exempt from overtime wages, increasing from $455 per week ($23,660 per year). … Read More »
by Guest Author | July 14, 2015
Many of our employees have smartphones. Do we have to pay them for every time they use it outside of regular working hours? While I tell them not to, many still respond to emails and texts outside of work hours. What do I do? … Read More »
by Jeanne Knutzen | July 13, 2015
After months of speculation, the US Department of Labor has just published its proposed changes in the regulations that govern how employees become eligible for overtime (time and a half) pay. … Read More »
by Jeanne Knutzen | May 29, 2015
Your Background Checking Process Is Under Increased Scrutiny… …and some employers are already paying the price for processes that don’t line up with Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulations. … Read More »
by Jeanne Knutzen | March 27, 2015
Beginning April 1, both large employers (501 employees or more) and small (500 or fewer employees) located in SEATTLE must pay their employees no less than a hourly rate of $11/hr. – or a base of $10/hr. … Read More »
by Jeanne Knutzen | February 4, 2015
As we have discussed on multiple occasions, the wrong classification of workers continues to be an audit target for federal and state unemployment agencies, impacting any employer who uses 1 or 20 independent contractors as a way of doing business. … Read More »
by Jeanne Knutzen | January 9, 2015
A common policy found in many businesses is a prohibition against the disclosure of wage information. This type of policy serves the purpose of preventing workers from battling with HR and each other over who is getting paid what and why. … Read More »
by Jeanne Knutzen | December 23, 2014
By Nickole C. Winnett In a press release issued September 11, 2014, OSHA announced the final rule for Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements. For Federal Plan States, the regulation will go into effect on January 1, 2015; State Plan States will announce their dates independently but are encouraged to meet the same deadline. This regulation brings some major new changes for employers. Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, cited the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report stating that 4,405 workers were killed on the job in 2013 to emphasize the importance of this new rule. Establishments in certain low-hazard industries are partially exempt from routinely keeping OSHA injury and illness records. Under the new rule, there will be a shift in the number of industries which are partially exempt from keeping these records. Previous regulations used the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system to categorize industries. The new rule now relies on the North American Industry Classification Systems (NAICS) along with injury and illness data from BLS from 2007 through 2009 to categorize the industry as low-hazard and exempt employers from OSHA recordkeeping requirements. As a result of this update, employers in several new industries are now required to keep OSHA injury and illness records. A list of these new industries can be found here. The new rule maintains the exemption for any employer with 10 or fewer employees from the requirement to routinely keep records of worker injuries and illnesses. The rule expands the list of severe injuries, which all OSHA-covered industries must report to OSHA regardless of size or partial exemption status. The current rule stipulates that when there is a fatality or three or more hospitalizations, the employer must inform OSHA within eight hours of the occurrence. Under the new rule, a fatality (within 30 days of the work-related incident) must still be reported within eight hours of the death. However, employers will now have a 24 hour window in which to report to OSHA all work-related inpatient hospitalizations that require care and treatment of a single employee, all amputations, and all losses of an eye which occur within 24 hours of the incident. The available methods of reporting by the employer have also been expanded. In addition to calling OSHA's confidential number (1-800-321-OSHA) or calling the local OSHA Area Office, employers will be able to go to the web portal, which OSHA is developing, and make a report electronically. OSHA has stated that not all reported incidents will lead to an inspection. OSHA noted, however, that hospitalization and partial body loss are significant events that indicate serious hazards are likely to be present at a workplace and that an intervention is warranted to protect the other workers at the establishment. OSHA said in its press teleconference that it sees a report as opening a dialog with the employer and that its decisions regarding whether an investigation will be opened will be case-specific. OSHA is most interested in knowing what caused the injury, what the employer intends to do as a result of the incident, and putting the employer on notice–all of which it expects will make an employer more likely to take the necessary steps to rectify the situation. Based on OSHA's conversation(s) with an employer, OSHA indicated that it may decide to take no further action, roll the employer straight into a consultation program, or conduct an inspection. Significantly and most troubling, OSHA also stated during its press teleconference that it will make an employer's report of all fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations, and/or eye losses publicly available on the OSHA website. OSHA stated that it believes that public disclosure will incentivize employers to ensure a safe workplace for their employees.
by Jeanne Knutzen | November 24, 2014
A Complimentary Webinar for the Clients and Friends of PACE Staffing Network! MARK YOUR CALENDAR – December 10, 2014 @ 9 AM (PST) After compliance, learn what comes next! Featuring nationally acclaimed ACA attorney, Alden Bianchi. The Affordable Care Act radically restructures how heath care is funded. In 2014, its mandates impacted individuals. In 2015, its mandates impact employers. For the staffing industry and its customers, Obamacare represents the biggest compliance challenge our industry has ever faced. It impacts all of us who do or utilize staffing services—agencies and customers. The PACE Staffing Network, in conjunction with the Affiliated Staffing Group, has arranged for Alden Bianchi, a nationally recognized expert on the ACA and the Group Practice Leader for Mintz Levin’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Practice to present a complimentary webinar for PACE customers and friends on Wednesday, December 10 from 9am-10:15am PST. Click here to register! Webinar topics will include:
by Jeanne Knutzen | October 28, 2014
0 ACA Affordable Healthcare, Blog, Legal Issues - Staffing, Management.Supervision ACA and Temporary Staffing, ACA compliance, Affordable Healthcare – ACA Smart, Employment Agency Bellevue, Employment Agency Everett, Employment Agency Kent, Employment Agency Seattle, Employment Agency Tacoma, Employment Agency Washington State, Hiring Bellevue, Hiring Everett, Hiring Seattle, Hiring Tacoma, Temporary Staffing Bellevue, Temporary Staffing Everett, Temporary Staffing Kent, Temporary Staffing Seattle, Temporary Staffing Tacoma, Temporary Staffing Washington
The PACE Staffing Network has been preparing for the employer mandates of the ACA for well over two years. As members of the American Staffing Association (ASA), we provided input into several areas of proposed regulation, and attended countless hours of ACA related training. With the ACA’s employer mandates ready to launch January 1 2015, we wanted to share information on the specifics of how the ACA impacts your use of temporary/contract employees. For ideas on how to better manage your needs for staff in light of new ACA mandates, contact a member of our Partnership Development team by contacting email@example.com or calling 425-637-3312.
by Jeanne Knutzen | October 21, 2014
0 Blog, Legal Issues - Staffing, Management.Supervision drug testing, Employment Agency Bellevue, Employment Agency Everett, Employment Agency Kent, Employment Agency Seattle, Employment Agency Tacoma, Employment Agency Washington State, hiring, Hiring Bellevue, Hiring Everett, Hiring Tacoma, Marijuana testing, Marijuana testing Colorado, Marijuana testing Washington, Temporary Staffing Bellevue, Temporary Staffing Everett, Temporary Staffing Kent, Temporary Staffing Seattle, Temporary Staffing Tacoma, Temporary Staffing Washington
As reported by Allen Smith, Manager of Workplace Law for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), in a mid-September announcement. Using data provided by Quest Diagnostics for calendar years 2012 and 2013, the increase reported represents the FIRST INCREASE in marijuana positives since 2003! After reaching a high of 13.6% in 1988, positive drug testing outcomes had been steadily decreasing. In 2013, positive test results were up 3.7%, following a 3.5% increase in the positive rate the year prior. The connection between this increase and the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington did not go unnoticed. Positive results for marijuana use in Washington increased by 23% and in Colorado 20%, compared to a 5% increase among the US general workforce covering all 50 states. The PACE Staffing Network has been offering and then administering drug testing on our client’s behalf since the early 1990s. Initially, our clients got a lot of push back on their drug testing policies, but today, both pre-hire and random drug testing practices are considered the norm with only an occasional challenge from the ADA related to screenings for prescription drugs. While “for cause” testing is more frequently contested, according to Quest, it is the most common reason why workers are drug tested. At the current time, our clients range from zero tolerance employers who require all applicants for either permanent or temporary employment to be rigorously drug tested, to employers who openly request that we not drug screen, concerned that recruiting results will fall short of the numbers of employees needed—particularly when the workers are being used for short term, temporary assignments where product out the door is the driving factor in HR policy. Some employers claim that while some of their workers are known weekend marijuana users, they are amongst their best workers and don’t want an unnecessarily “restrictive” HR policy to interfere with their “business as usual” mentality. The type of drug testing our clients ask us to administer provides some clue as to their level of “tolerance” they are willing to enforce and at what cost. Employers who are serious about eliminating any type of drug use from their workforce typically require hair testing over urine or saliva testing because of its ability to uncover signs of drug use for up to 6 months. Unfortunately, we anticipate these will be the first types of drug testing methods to be legally challenged. While at the current time employers in both Washington and Colorado retain the right to restrict the recreational use of marijuana by employees and can impose sanctions on employees testing positive for marijuana whether it was ingested during a work day or on the weekend. Many believe that the court test of these “one size fits all” types of drug testing policies and sanctions are just around the corner.
by Jeanne Knutzen | September 23, 2014
0 ACA Affordable Healthcare, Blog, Legal Issues - Staffing Employment Agency Bellevue, Employment Agency Everett, Employment Agency Kent, Employment Agency Seattle, Employment Agency Tacoma, Employment Agency Washington State, hiring, Hiring Bellevue, Hiring Everett, Hiring Seattle, Hiring Tacoma, Temporary Staffing Bellevue, Temporary Staffing Everett, Temporary Staffing Kent, Temporary Staffing Seattle, Temporary Staffing Tacoma, Temporary Staffing Washington
Part II. ACA Requirements and Penalties - 2015! Yes, the 2,300 pages it took to write the law, followed by the 10,000+ pages of regulatory interpretation can be daunting, but with the January 1st launch of our transitional year just around the corner, we are taking the time to boil down the complication into the “critical few”—things our clients MUST KNOW about what lies ahead. In Part I, we provided a complete glossary of ACA terms—just so you would have a playbook. In Part II, we are providing a simple outline of employer and employee requirements for 2015.
by Jeanne Knutzen | August 19, 2014
0 ACA Affordable Healthcare, Blog, Legal Issues - Staffing ACA and contract staff, ACA and temporary staff, ACA compliance, ACA Definitions, ACA glossary, ACA vocabulary, Affordable Care Act and temporary staffing, Variable Hour Employees
Part I. A Glossary of “ACA Speak” With the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act just around the corner (January 1st, 2015 for employers with 100+ FTEs), employers everywhere are facing the last round of ACA challenges. To make sure our clients and friends are tracking with ACA requirements, particularly those that impact their use of temporary or contract staff, we will be publishing a series of informational pieces about the ACA called “ACA Smart.” We will be identifying those provisions in the law that we know will drive up your staffing costs, but also the opportunities we see to drive down these costs by making adjustments in how temporary and contract staff are put to work. “ACA Smart” will also cover the operational policies we recommend employers put in place to protect themselves from unanticipated costs or penalties stemming from misguided co-employment protocols. In Part I of “ACA Smart,” we offer a dictionary of ACA terms - all those new words that will soon become part of the regulatory landscape. Key ACA Terms and Definitions Applicable Large Employer (ALE): In 2015, refers to an employer with 100 or more full time equivalent employees. In 2016 will be adjusted to include employers with 50 or more full time equivalent employees. Only ALE’s are subject to the employer mandates and related penalties. Full Time Equivalent (FTE): A term frequently used in the context of determining an employer’s size – the number of people they employee. When applied to a part-time or non-classified employee, it is used to determine what percentage of a full time employee each part-time worker represents. Employer Size: The size of an employer’s workforce is determined by counting all full time employees and adding to that number a calculation of the aggregate number of FTEs stemming from part-time or non-classified (variable hour) employees. The FTE assigned to a part-time employee is calculated as a percentage of the number of hours actually worked during a month divided by 120 hours. For example, if a part-time employee works 110 hours, their FTE = .917 or 110 divided by 120. (Eligible) Full Time Employee: Any employee who averages at least 30 hours per week (130 hours per month; 1560 hours per year). Only full time employees are required to be covered under ACA employer mandates. (Non-Eligible) Part-Time Employee: Any employee who averages less than 30 hours per week (130 hours per month; 1560 hours per year). Part-time employees are not required to be covered by an employer, but must be included in a calculation of company. Seasonal Employees: Employees working less than 120 days in a year for “seasonal” reasons. Seasonal employees are automatically excluded from ACA coverage. Variable Hour Employees: Refers to employees who, at the time of hire, cannot reasonably be classified as either part or full time. Variable hour employees are classified as either part or full time depending on the number of hours actually worked during either an “initial” (IMP) or “standard measurement” period (SMP). Many temporary or contract workers, but not all, will be classified as “variable hour” employees depending on how the conditions of their assignment is described. Your staffing agency is responsible to classify each employee as full, part or variable hour at the point of hire. Ongoing Employee: An employee who has been employed for at least one standard measurement period (SMP). Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC): The requirement to be ACA compliant is a healthcare plan must cover certain healthcare basics – “the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease.” All individuals are required to purchase MEC compliant plans, unless they are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIPs) or a Veteran based plan that is automatically classified as MEC compliant. MEC plans are also referenced as “skinny” plans. Of note, is that most of the healthcare plans currently available for temporary or contract workers are “fixed indemnity plans” that do not meet MEC standards. Minimum Value Coverage (MVC): The requirement to be ACA compliant is a healthcare plan must cover over at least 60% of the overall costs associated with, 1) physician and mid-level practitioner services, 2) hospital and emergency care, 3) pharmacy costs, and 4) laboratory/ imaging services. Of note, is that prior to the ACA, most employer plans had an actuarial value exceeding 85%. The lack of availability of 60% plans in the insurance marketplace is a significant issue for all employers focused on containing costs. Affordability: Refers to the ACA requirement that the employee’s share of the costs associated with their purchase of a healthcare plan for themselves (not their spouse or family) can be no more than 9.5% of the employee’s gross income. If an employee earns $2,000 per month, (approx. $11.60/hr.), they cannot be asked to pay more than $190/month towards their healthcare plan in order for the plan to be considered “affordable.” A plan costing an employer $400/month will, therefore, require that employer to contribute $210/month. Play: Refers to the decision an employer makes to offer a healthcare plan that provides Minimum Essential (MEC) coverage to 70% of its full time employees and their dependent children under age 26 in 2015, 95% in 2016. NOTE: 1) It is not mandatory to offer coverage for spouses, only dependent children under age 26 and 2) employers who “play” are still subject to penalties if:
by Jeanne Knutzen | May 28, 2014
In statewide elections in November 2012, Washington and Colorado made headlines by becoming the first US states to legalize the non-medical use of marijuana. Colorado is leading the way while Washington’s law goes into effect later this year.
In both states, employees and employers are asking questions about the impact of marijuana legalizations on a variety of common workplace scenarios. Employees often get confused by what the legalization of marijuana actually means; believing that many of the corporate drug and drug testing policies will need to be changed. Employers are wondering if employees will be able to refuse drug tests. Contest personnel actions based on drug tests? Or avoid drug testing altogether – either as a prerequisite for hiring or ongoing employment?
Based on what is going on in Colorado NOW, the answers to these questions are a resounding NO. While it is expected that employers in both Washington and Colorado currently have the power to implement any anti-marijuana policy they want, what happens down the road, on the other hand, has some elements of uncertainty.
The following are excerpts taken from a recent article written by Stephen DeHoff, a business and employment partner at Fortis Law Partners, LLC, and published by our network affiliate, J. Kent Staffing headquartered in Denver Colorado. Mr. DeHoff outlines several factors that he believes will be considered by the courts as “zero tolerance” policies are tested.
1. Employers Need to Ensure Strong Workplace Safety Policies… which almost always includes some format for promoting and enforcing a drug-free workplace. Under current law, employers are still liable for acts of their employees that occur while on the job, which means that if an employee is impaired and makes a critical mistake that results in injury to themselves or others, both the employee and their employer are likely to be found liable for the injuries. Drug free policies are likely to be viewed as necessary to protect employers and their employees from management negligence.
2. Employers Are Not Required to Permit Employees to Use Marijuana – Even Outside of Work… at least not for now, not in Colorado. One of the biggest questions facing Colorado employers is whether or not they will be required to allow marijuana use “off-the-job;” an issue that comes up in the context of pre-hire drug testing policies. Employers who have pre-hire drug testing policies are by definition identifying “outside the workplace” marijuana users, theoretically not directly related to the use of marijuana on the job.
At the current time, this issue is resolved in the drug testers favor because at the federal level it is still illegal for people to use marijuana. This means that Colorado employers can continue to terminate or refuse to hire an employee if they test positive for marijuana or any other federally illegal drug – regardless of when, where and how the employee used the drug.
These rulings are currently under appeal and ultimately will be tested in Colorado Supreme Court. In the meantime, studies show that drug testing policies in Colorado are growing in popularity, not shrinking. Washington employers stay tuned…
3. Written policies regarding the company’s commitment to a drug free work environment are still vitally important on a number of fronts.
Mr. DeHoff outlines the following steps all employers should take with respect to their formal drug use policies:
Thank you J.Kent Staffing for sharing your Colorado experience and asking for guidance from a trusted member of your legal community. Washington employers can take note!
At the current time, over half of our employer clients require some form of drug testing as a component of their compliance/onboarding process. The PACE Staffing Network administers all pre-assignment compliance requirements, including customized drug testing and background checks. For more information on how these new marijuana-use policies might impact your workforce and data on the incidence of marijuana use in non-drug testing environments, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Jeanne Knutzen | February 18, 2014
0 Blog, Legal Issues - Staffing Gen Y, Gen Y Workers, Generation Y, hiring, Management, marketplace, pace staffing, PACE Staffing Network, recruiting agency seattle, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agency, staffing agency seattle, Supervision, Teambuilding
For the generation of people born in the mid 70’s to 90’s who have been entering the workforce for the last decade and a half, their experience of work has been quite different than the experiences of previous workers. According to a recent study by Yale Economics Professor, Lisa Kahn, the impact of these first work experiences, will shape how our Gen Y’s deal with their work environment for decades to come. Unfortunately for most Gen Y’s, their first exposure to the economic marketplace has not been good. They’ve seen jobs lost, retirement funds destroyed, people losing homes and in some cases families—all because of economic realities that appear to be beyond individual control. While our Gen Y’s have been more sheltered by their parents than the generations of the past, they are also a generation who has found itself working inside an economic environment where even the most calculated risks and well thought out plans have not panned out. It is no surprise that our Gen Y’s are probably one of the most risk adverse generations of the recent past. Here’s how that risk adversity plays out in the workplace: ● They are less likely to change jobs, IF you treat them right. Even if more difficult for your Gen Y workers to develop loyalty towards you as their employer, they will stay put at jobs and companies that meet their needs. While older generations have been told that when you are young, you are supposed to change jobs to find the right fit for you, the Gen Y folks are actually more hesitant to do so, even for an increase in pay. In fact, studies show that Gen Y’s are more likely respond favorably and stay put in jobs or work for companies and managers who provide the kind of work environment they prefer. ● They value mentorship. If you are managing someone younger, you may want to consider over explaining your instructions and decisions—making sure your Gen Y folks are mentored at a level that meets their needs for knowledge, information, and praise. While lacking the experience and perspective to read between the lines, they are very eager to learn, and enjoy opportunities you can provide them to interact with you on decisions you are making. They love being asked for their ideas or feedback. The typical awards for good work—annual salary bumps, title adjustments, etc.—are often less motivating to a Gen Y worker than are ongoing opportunities for mentoring from someone they value and respect. ● They distrust hierarchies and will challenge conventional thinking. In team meetings, they will look for all parties to be treated as equal team members. If you expect to be treated as “a boss,” think again, as it likely won’t happen and could get in the way of your goal to get the most out of your generation Y workers. If they challenge your ideas, don’t take it personally. If you experience them either unwilling or reacting negatively to your requests to “keep you informed,” it’s not that they want to be secretive about what they do; it’s that they see no value in “reporting up.” What Gen Y’s value most is mentoring and coaching from someone they respect, someone who looks and sounds more like a teacher than a manager. ● They think of success as being about “luck” rather than planning. According to Paola Giuliano of UCLA’s School of Management and Antonio Spilimbergo of the International Monetary Fund, employees who started working during the last ten years, tend to believe that success is as much about “luck” and “being there” as it is about effort or planning. While they have seen government safety nets growing at a rapid rate, it has been amidst a growing skepticism about the government’s ability to do what it promises. This somewhat fatalistic attitude towards success has made our Gen Y’s good at compromising—accepting jobs or work that are very different from their planned careers, knowing that someone or something will always be there if their luck fails. For our Gen Y’s, planning for success seems more futile and less relevant to what they see as reality. ● They VALUE HARD WORK. Even though luck is a component of the Gen Y mindset, it doesn’t mean they shy away from hard work when the job requires it. Many of our Gen Y-ers have never known job security and consider “being fired” a very real possibility if they don’t work hard enough. Managers shouldn’t be afraid to challenge their Gen Y workers with “more to do,” but give them lots of latitude in how/when to do it. The lines between work and play are much more blurred for your Gen Y workers than it has been for workers of the past. ● They need clarity! Gen Y workers hate uncertainty and expect quick and clear answers, neatly defined goals and how to get there. They also want access to information that they can research on their own. Ambiguity at any scale is unsettling to our Gen Y workers; putting pressure on managers to provide them with more information than has been made available to workforces in the past. They LOVE scorecards that let them know exactly where they stand and they need to know what they must DO to improve their scores. Objective measures of success will ALWAYS trump your subjective commentary. ● They love teams; they hate conflict; they’re talented negotiators. Our Gen Y’s have been deeply engrained with the wisdom that teamwork is far more efficient than self-reliance and will look for ways to engage with others in and outside of formal team settings. You don’t have to worry about Gen Y’s becoming mavericks as did our Gen X’s. Their affinity for and the skills needed to develop teamwork is unparalleled in the history of workforces. To get your Gen Y’s assimilated into your work group; put them on project teams, preferably with short turnaround times and clearly defined deliverables. And yes, when conflict arises, be prepared to experience their negotiation skills, they’ve been negotiating with their parents and peers for years! Jeanne Knutzen is the owner and founder of the PACE Staffing Network, a 38-year-old staffing company headquartered in Bellevue Washington—a community just outside of Seattle. PACE places the full range of generationally defined workers from boomers, to X’s to Y’s and so on in a variety of work settings—interim project work, core teams, virtual work environments. “We regularly explore the mindsets and perspectives of employees and employers to assemble teams that work together effectively. Helping clients find, select, and then manage the right workers to deliver the highest levels of work performance, is what we’re all about.” For a private consultation about what is going on with the employees on your team and some ideas on how to manage each employee to optimal levels of performance, please feel free to contact Jeanne at email@example.com.