INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS

Mandatory Work Hours During Busy Times

by Jeanne Knutzen | March 25, 2015

0 Blog, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS

Q: Can we dictate "mandatory" hours for our exempt and non-exempt employees during busy times? … Read More »

How to Manage Employees to Achieve Great Things

by Jeanne Knutzen | March 25, 2015

0 Blog, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS

When your management works and you see your employees surpass even their own expectations, it's wildly exciting and incredibly fulfilling! … Read More »

Work/Life Balance is Good for Business!

by Jeanne Knutzen | March 25, 2015

0 Blog, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS

Flexible work schedules and an eye for work-life balance are good for business. … Read More »

Long Term Disability and Health Insurance

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 24, 2015

0 ACA Affordable Healthcare, Blog, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS

Q: I have an employee that is on long term disability. How do I handle their health insurance benefits since they are no longer actively employed? … Read More »

Don’t Be an Exclusionary Leader

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 24, 2015

0 Blog, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS, Management.Supervision

Leaders are busy people who need to set and manage priorities, often dismissing or delegating tasks that don't provide a strong return on their investment of time....Nonetheless, there's one area of responsibility that leaders should never ignore...their employees. … Read More »

7 Signs It’s Time to Optimize Your Recruiting Function

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 24, 2015

0 Blog, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS, Recruiting. Best Practices, Temporary Staffing.Best Practices

The traditional role of the recruiter has expanded and evolved so drastically it can feel nearly impossible to keep up. With the latest tools, best practices, and an ever-growing list of new job requirements for talent acquisition specialists it requires a constant need to evaluate, assess, and optimize the recruiting process. Let's do a quick audit of the common signs of a broken recruiting function. … Read More »

In Pursuit of Accountability and an Accountability Culture

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 12, 2015

0 Blog, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS, Management.Supervision

Despite the countless management and leadership books written about the virtue of accountability, according to most employees there are significant gaps between managements knowing and doing. … Read More »

How to Hire for Cultural Fit During the Holidays

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 12, 2015

0 Blog, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS, Recruiting. Best Practices Temp Agencies in Tacoma WA, Temp Agencies in Tacoma Washington, Temp Agencies Tacoma, Temp Agencies Tacoma WA, Temp Agencies Washington

Attitude matters more than aptitude. In other words, cultural fit can be a strong determinant of candidate success, sometimes even stronger than skill sets or experience. So it’s a good idea to hire candidates who fit in, not just candidates who can do the job. … Read More »

1099 Worker Classification Audits on the Rise!

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 4, 2015

0 Blog, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS, Legal Issues - Staffing 1099 Worker, 1099 Worker Classification, Employer of Record, Employer of Record Service, W2 worker, Worker Classification Audits

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 »

Transparent Wage Policies: Honest or Chaos Provoking?

by Jeanne Knutzen | January 9, 2015

0 Blog, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS, Legal Issues - Staffing, Temporary Staffing.Best Practices, What's New in Staffing?

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 »

Leaders, Recalibrate Your Course for 2015

by Jeanne Knutzen | January 9, 2015

0 Blog, Flexible Staffing Strategies, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS

Set your course, but keep re-calibrating, here's how... … Read More »

Final Rule Issued for OSHA Recordkeeping Requirements

by Jeanne Knutzen | December 23, 2014

0 Blog, Legal Issues - Staffing

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.


Nickole Winnett is a senior associate in the Washington, D.C. Region Office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and is a member of the Workplace Safety and Health practice group. She heads the Workplace Violence sub-specialty practice group and is a member of the Process Safety Management sub-specialty practice group. Winnett is also co-author of Jackson Lewis' OSHA Law Blog.

Are These Turnover Myths Hurting Your Company?

by Jeanne Knutzen | December 23, 2014

0 Blog, Hiring.Best Practices

By Karaka Leslie There's a lot of misinformation out there regarding employee turnover. Some "experts" recommend employers keep an almost hyper vigilant watch on turnover rates, while others recommend employers stop worrying about the rates altogether! Despite all the talk, however, nobody has come up with a foolproof solution for resolving high turnover. The needs, desires, and perceptions of your employees contribute to your rates, which makes solving the problem of high turnover more difficult than one might assume. That said, some misinformation is more harmful than others. Here are the top five myths to avoid taking at face value. MYTH #1 Low turnover means your employees like their jobs. One would think that all the time, energy, and effort spent recruiting employees would amount to a workforce where everyone is a perfect fit. Not so! While this is a nice idea, the truth is low turnover could simply mean your employees can't find jobs they want. That's why turnover isn't always a bad thing. When employees become disengaged, disgruntled, and (sorry) lazy but stay put, productivity decreases and their negativity impacts the entire work environment. One weak link will drag the rest of the team down, so a higher turnover rate is a better bet than a crop of toxic long-term employees. MYTH #2. If an employee leaves your company, he or she was never a good fit to begin with. Sure, sometimes a person just isn't as right for the job as you'd hoped, but your first thought as the employee heads for the door shouldn't be, "Well, he didn't really belong anyway." It's probably more likely that business processes or company culture is the root cause of the employee's departure. Poor management, inadequate training, or incomplete onboarding will lead to turnover more often than "poor fit." MYTH #3. Employee turnover is on the rise. Rumor has it that turnover has been skyrocketing within the last few years as a result of the recovering economy. However, in fact, turnover rates have remained relatively stable. A study done by SHRM found that between 2009 and 2011, employee turnover fluctuated approximately 2%. Employee turnover is an inevitable part of doing business, as employees will always have reasons to change jobs, but it’s not an expanding problem. MYTH #4. Employees primarily leave jobs for more money. Of course some employees leave their jobs after being offered more money by another company, but money isn't the main cause of turnover. Statistics show that employees are far more likely to remain at or leave a company because of their relationship with their manager or opportunities for growth. MYTH #5. Employee turnover is unpredictable. You can't always know beforehand that an employee has decided to leave. However, you can plan for a certain amount of employee turnover. One way to go about this is to evaluate your turnover rates from past years and use the percentage to forecast future rates. Doing so can help budget for recruiting costs and determine how much time HR needs to devote to managing employee turnover. Your company's turnover rate is a significant number, especially as it relates to employee satisfaction and recruiting costs. Still, when evaluating the issues that contribute to turnover within your business, it's important not to get sucked into some of the myths being paraded around. Each company is different, and you should consider the unique needs of your organization before determining whether your turnover rates are alarmingly high, alarmingly low, or just right.


  Karaka Leslie is one of the product managers at PayScale, a compensation data and software company. Karaka started her career as an agency recruiter, helping companies find the best talent. Since then, she has worked with numerous businesses to assist them with building a solid case for good compensation planning. Outside of compensation, she also founded a Community Giving group to help connect professionals to local community organizations focused on education and career services.    

4 Tips for a Merrier Holiday Office Party

by Jeanne Knutzen | December 23, 2014

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles

By Josh Tolan The winter season, and all its attendant holidays, can make you really take stock of what you have. This is why many companies throw holiday parties for employees. It's a great way to say "thanks" for a job well done this past year. But holiday parties can come with their own set of minefields to navigate. An awkward holiday party is like an employee getting coal in their corporate stocking. Here are some tips to avoid this fate and keep your holiday party as merry as Santa Claus: 1) Keep Your Spirits Bright...but Under Control Tis the season to keep spirits bright, but employees who imbibe too many spirits can be a recipe for a holiday party disaster. By spirits, of course, we mean alcohol, which is often a key component to an office holiday party. You just need to look toward pop culture for an example of how dangerous drinking to excess at the holiday party can be. On the AMC's 60s-era drama Mad Men, a booze-filled party turned into a disaster when a drunk employee ran over the foot of a superior with a lawn mower. Most likely having a few too many drinks won't result in bodily injury, but it can certainly hurt your employee morale. Instead of pouring out hard liquor, pick something more mellow such as wine or something seasonal like eggnog. Watch employees who look like they might be on the verge of drinking to excess and quietly cut them off. Or you could even decide to forgo the alcohol entirely and instead provide fun seasonal beverages. Whatever you do, make sure employees don't wake up regretting their actions at your holiday party in the next morning. 2) Know Your Staff To craft the perfect holiday party, you'll first need to understand the makeup and needs of your employees. These are the same people you connected with in the hiring process, whether through an in-person interview or through online video. Think about their unique needs before scheduling your office party venue. Do most of your workers have families or are they single and ready to cut loose? If your employees are mostly family-minded, you don't want to schedule your holiday party at the new hip bar in town. Instead, you might decide on a holiday fair or family-friendly activity everyone can take part in. Likewise, if your employees are mostly single and looking to have fun this winter, a night out might be more alluring to them than going to a production of The Nutcracker. Many offices, however, have a mix of both types of employees. In this case, you'll want to schedule something that will be fun for everyone. For instance, going bowling or attending a karaoke night will allow the single workers to grab a few drinks and have fun while the families can still tag along and enjoy themselves. 3) Rock Around the Holiday Tree Winter is a great time of year in which many holidays occur. Staying clear of religious affiliation is a great rule of thumb in the office in general, but it's even more important around the holidays. Not all of your employees will observe the same religious holidays, and therefore it's good to keep this time of year as nondenominational as possible. Put aside the manger and Hanukkah candles for twinkle lights and snowmen. It will make your entire workforce feel included instead of just the members that share your religious views. 4) Consider ditching Secret Santa Secret Santa can be very stressful, especially if you end up with a coworker you don't know very well. The episode of NBC's The Office, where horrible boss Michael Scott reacts badly to a homemade present, shows the shortcomings of secret Santa present swaps. Avoid the awkwardness of buying the wrong present by encouraging your office to give to others instead. Start a toy drive or pool all the money that would be spent on gifts to give to charity instead. After all, the season is about giving back and being grateful for the gifts we already have, and no one really needs another scented candle from a coworker who has no idea what to get you. Holiday and Christmas work parties can be great ways to bond with your workforce and say a special thanks for a job well done in 2014. So before hanging up twinkle lights, make sure to check these holiday party tips twice.


  Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video powered hiring network that connects job seekers and employers through video resumes and online interviews. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Twitter.

We Are All Becoming Millennials

by Jeanne Knutzen | December 23, 2014

0 Blog, Hiring.Best Practices

By Darcy Jacobsen

It's hard to read anything about business today and not trip over references to millennials and the changes they are bringing to the workplace. It has everyone in something of a lather.

It is true that there are major changes afoot in modern business and they have happened with the influx of the latest generation of workers. But those changes are bigger than any one cohort.

This Generation Y, or the Millennial Generation, born between 1982 and 1999, has created an enormous amount of anxiety as employers scramble to figure out what will attract and retain them. Generation Y will, after all, constitute 75% of the workforce by 2025. Those who win the hearts of millennials will win the war on talent. No question. But there are those on the flip side of the issue who argue that nothing is new under the sun, that the differences cited in generational attitudes are fiddle faddle, and that the uniqueness we see in this younger group is largely age and development related. That is, the thought is that millennial attitudes will shift as they age and eventually fall into the same patterns as older generations. Both sides are missing the real story. It is true that our youngest workers have ushered in a lot of new ways of thinking about old ideas. But the truth is, we are ALL becoming millennial. Take this Pew test for yourself (How Millennial Are You?) and encourage those around you to take it as well. You might be surprised at how little the results correspond to chronological age. (I scored 97% millennial although I belong to Generation X.) The fact is, we're looking so hard at this new generation that we are failing to reflect enough on the changes that are sweeping the rest of us—traditionalist, boomers, and Gen Xers included. I've been crunching data recently for our upcoming Workforce Mood Tracker report and I have to say that I've been surprised that millennials do not differ from the workforce at large in as many areas as you'd think. Consider these seven qualities that we tend to attribute to our youngest workers, and how they really describe the way we've all changed: Millennials are digitally connected 24/7. I'm a Gen Xer and I sleep with my phone next to my pillow. So does my Mom. I was in a large meeting yesterday with mixed generations, and it dawned on me that not one person out of the group was wearing a traditional watch—but every one of them had their phone on the table or in their pocket. According to the Pew Internet Project, 91% of Americans now own cell phones and 55% now own smartphones. That number is expected to grow to a near 80% share by 2017. The average person checks their phone 10 times an hour. That's person... not just millennial. We are ALL connected by mobile devices, and those of us who aren't will be soon. Any attempt to connect with your workforce that doesn't take this into account will fail. Millennials don't stay for the gold watch. No one stays for the engraved gold watch anymore. (No one even wants an engraved gold watch anymore, and if they got one they'd probably put it up on eBay). When employees do stay, they stay for their co-workers and their work. When I started my career, a respectable resume had you spending at least five years in every job; then the statistic dropped to two years. Nowadays, some employers even react the opposite way–if you have too few listings on a resume they may worry you might be complacent, in low demand, or resistant to new ideas. Average tenure rates with millennials in the workforce are around 4.6 years–but that number has remained more or less the same, with some economy driven variation, since the 1980s. That means if you're waiting around to reward and thank people until they hit their five year anniversary, they have probably already moved on–regardless of what year they were born. Millennials desire continuous positive feedback. Guess what? No one likes negative feedback... even when it is constructive. And we all like positive feedback. In fact, according to Gallup, managers who give little or no feedback fail to engage 98% of employees. Those who concentrate feedback on strengths reduce employee disengagement to less than 1%. The power of feedback is a recurring topic for us on this blog, so I won't get into too much detail on it, but suffice it to say that all employees are hungry for ongoing, real-time feedback that confirms they are doing good work and shows they are appreciated for it. When we get positive reinforcement, we are more satisfied, more engaged, and happier. Millennials demand flexibility and choice. The Millennial Generation certainly didn't discover individuality or flexibility, but their advent has coincided with a broader recognition that employee well-being–physical, psychological, and developmental–is good for business. That recognition, combined with the millennials' expectation to be treated like special snowflakes, has opened up a realization that our work lives can be much richer if we are given more control, choice, and ownership over them. Companies, too, have begun to understand that when we trust employees like responsible individuals, they will behave like responsible individuals and will work all the harder for it. Most forward-thinking companies have begun to adapt this more flexible way of thinking about their workforce–designing more choice into their total rewards and talent management strategies–and are reaping the rewards. Millennials want meaningful work and to give back. Morality and responsibility have re-entered our cultural dialogue with this generation, but they are not alone in caring about these ideas, which long pre-date them. They want to work for companies with a strong mission and cultural values. They want to work for companies who have strong moral standing and practice virtuousness. Well, so do we all. According to Don MacPherson from Modern Survey, "employees are now 37 times more likely to be fully engaged if they know and understand their organization’s values." Meaning and mission have grown in importance for us all and do not belong only to our youngest employees. Millennials expect to be developed and groomed. Again, desires for advancement and development are highly associated with millennials. Only companies with strong L&D plans have a hope of keeping this generation on board. On the other hand, this is also true for all employees. When BlessingWhite asked workers why they leave companies, the #1 answer was a "lack of opportunity to grow or advance." Stagnation affects employees in every life stage, and we all respond positively to hopes of learning or advancing in our careers. Millennials need social approval and crowdsource everything. Anyone who has a relative under the age of 30 will no doubt have witnessed firsthand the intensely social nature of the Millennial Generation–especially in how they use electronics and the internet to rate and share experiences and to gauge their own success through the eyes of their peers. Social connections and crowdsourcing are advancing not only because of adoption by millennials, but because technology has finally made them possible. Connecting with one another benefits us all, and the more workplaces make that possible, the more workers in every generation will thrive. Academic research bears this out. A recent meta-review of academic studies on generational differences found that "leaders should view generational differences not merely as idiosyncratic inter-group differences, nor as a reflection of age differences at a moment in time, but as manifestations of broader trends in society and work that continue to evolve as the generations move through their respective life courses." The study, published by Sean Lyons and Lisa Kurons in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, goes on to conclude: "This means that past management practices cannot be assumed to work in the modern context and today's practices cannot be presumed to work in the future. The generational trends evident in this review suggest that workers are becoming more independent and self-focused and less committed to their organizations and, as a result, are more mobile in their careers. Workers are increasingly seeking personal fulfillment in their work, and leaders and employers who can satisfy their individualistic growth needs will have a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent. Employers may accept these trends and adjust to a new reality of transactional, short-term employment relationships, or must work to provide flexible work conditions, job offerings, and leadership to simultaneously meet the needs of multiple generations." Now to be sure, millennials are further ahead and leading the charge on all of these things I listed above, and Lyons and Kurons' article makes it clear there ARE proven differences among cohorts. But these are changes that affect us all. Millennials are clearing a path to make all our work lives better. It's time we stop thinking of this as a generational shift, and start thinking about it as a workforce shift. We are all millennials, now.
  Darcy Jacobsen is a content marketing manager at Globoforce, the world’s leading provider of SaaS (software-as-a-service)–based employee recognition solutions. Through its social, mobile, and global technology, Globoforce helps HR and business leaders elevate employee engagement, increase employee retention, manage company culture, and discover the power of real-time performance management. Contact Jacobsen or follow her writing at www.globoforce.com/gfblog.

When I’m hiring, what’s more important – skills, knowledge, experience, or “fit”?

by Jeanne Knutzen | December 10, 2014

0 Blog, Hiring.Best Practices, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS, Temporary Staffing.Best Practices get connected

When you're hiring you need to know what qualities are most critical to hiring success. Here's how to decide what's most important now.... … Read More »

Co-Employment – An Over Used Scare Tactic or a Must See Reality Show?

by Jeanne Knutzen | November 24, 2014

0 ACA Affordable Healthcare, Blog, Hiring.Best Practices Affordable Care Act, Affordable Healthcare – ACA Smart, Co Employment, Employee Benefits, Employee Hiring Decision, Employee Placement, flexible workforce strategies, Workplace Harassment

With the launch of the employer mandates of the Affordable Care Act in January 2015, staffing agencies and their clients have one more reason to worry about co-employment. While the ACA clearly states that only the “common law” employer is responsible for “offering insurance,” and case law strongly supports the notion that the staffing agency is the “common law” employer, what happens if your staffing agency doesn’t offer ACA mandated benefits as required by law. Is there any way you might be liable for fines or penalties? Questions about co-employment get triggered any time two parties share rights and responsibilities inside the traditional employer relationship which is the case with all staffing arrangements involving a third party staffing company and their clients.

  • Most staffing companies recruit and screen candidates, conduct background and reference checks, pay wages, calculate and pay wage related taxes and benefits, complete required reports, and retain at least some right to hire and fire an employee.
  • Most of their employer clients take on the responsibility of supervising, directing, and controlling the employee’s daily activities.
What creates confusion is when the client starts to specify pay rates, directs the hire or fire of employees, or involves themselves in administrative processes that should only be performed by the staffing agency. Since I’ve been in the staffing business, I’ve heard it countless times, “Don’t do ______________, or you will create an issue with co-employment.” And the “what we can’t do” has ranged from “allow our temporary employees to attend a client’s company meeting” to “allow an employee to work on an assignment for no longer than a (year, six months, or other time period “du jour”). Some of these “rules” have blurred the fact that co-employment covers many different types of overlapping liabilities—some that need to be avoided; some requiring co-management and partnership. Here are some of the co-employment scenarios we see on a regular basis and our somewhat common sense approach to how we look at each: Employee Placement/Hiring Decisions “I’m Perfect” (IP) Staffing Agency recruits and screens candidates for “I’m Even More Perfect” (IEMP) client for a 3-month technical help desk role. IEMP refuses to interview Julie, an African American female who appears to meet most, if not all, screening requirements. IEMP chooses instead to interview and hire Andrew, a Caucasian man. Julie believes she has been discriminated against because her application was not considered. Without IP’s awareness, Julie files a complaint with the EEOC. What will the investigator want to know about the roles of IP and IEMP?
  • What reasons were given to IP about why IEMP didn’t interview Julie? Were those reasons valid? Staffing companies who do not ask their client to disclose reasons for considering or not considering each candidate submitted for a job and employers who do not provide those reasons, often leave themselves open to charges of (unfounded) discrimination.
  • What screening requirements did IEMP give to IP? Were all of IEMP’s screening requirements job relevant? Screening requirements that aren’t clear or are so broad that everyone is lead to believe they are qualified, are asking for trouble. Establishing job relevant screening criteria is a joint responsibility of the staffing agency and their client.   
If IEMP’s hiring manager requested only male Caucasians and IM complied with that request, both parties are liable for that violation. If IM rejected IEMP’s illegal screening request and refused to work their request, only IEMP is liable. If IM rejected IEMP’s illegal screening request, but continued to work the request even when the client was discriminating, IM would be considered complicit. In today’s world, claims of discrimination rarely stem from overt acts of discrimination. Usually, they stem from perceptions of impropriety created by poorly designed or improperly executed screening processes. Both the staffing agency and their clients should be reviewing all recruiting and selection processes regularly to ensure that what they are doing is free of unintended consequences. Claims of Workplace Harassment… …often happen because employees don’t know who to talk with about things bothering them at work. George is 60-year-old Caucasian male working for IM, but being supervised on a daily basis by Andrea, a “20-something” supervisor who works for IEMP. Andrea is constantly harassing George about how he doesn’t fit in, and accuses him of “being slow” even though he is meeting all production requirements. George is frustrated but doesn’t know who to talk with about his concerns. He can’t go to Andrea; he goes to the Washington State Human Rights Commission. Who’s at fault? Clearly any staffing agency who doesn’t set up a formal process to receive and manage employee “concerns” is asking for a problem that can impact both themselves and their client. Most investigators consider the question “did they know” less important than “should they have known” and if IM doesn’t have clear communication policies for their employees, they are subject to liabilities stemming from workplace harassment. If, on the other hand, IM went to IEMP with George’s issue and IEMP chose not to do anything about it, it is only IM who would have a valid defense, not IEMP. Access to the Client’s Benefits As we learned from the early 90’s Microsoft settlement (90 million+ paid to its temporary and contract workers), if employers don’t adequately spell out the employees who will and will not be covered under their benefit plans, they can face serious and unexpected benefit liabilities. But avoiding unwarranted claims of benefit entitlement is not about shortening assignment lengths or requiring “breaks in service”—it’s about making sure benefit plans clearly spell out who is and is not eligible for benefits, specifically excluding employees from all third party employers. Unfortunately the core reasons behind the Microsoft settlement were never fully understood by the business community and ended up putting a whole lot of Microsoft staffing policies into mainstream HR policy without a clear understanding of what might have been an easier, less costly, solution.    Co-Employment and the Affordable Care Act… …should be as simple as making sure all contracts with staffing providers clearly state (affirm) the agencies role as the common law employer and their responsibility to administrate all ACA related requirements. This means that while it may be of interest to an employer whether or not their staffing agency is “playing or paying,” and who they would be offering benefits to (or not) they would not want to involve themselves in those decisions.    I-9. Immigration. Privacy Issues. Your staffing agency is responsible to administer the I-9 process. If they purposefully or thru negligence place an illegal employee into your workforce, they are liable for that violation. If an employer becomes aware of this practice, and fails to take action, they would be complicit in the violation and fined accordingly. If an employer stipulates that only US citizens work for them, they would be subjecting themselves to claims of discrimination based on national origin. Additionally, if they require copies of I-9 documents or any materials that include social security numbers, they incur risks of violating certain “privacy” requirements which could result in significant and costly damages (ex. identity theft, etc.). In general, employers should stay at arms length from any administrative process used by their staffing agency including how they administrate qualifications to work, pay and benefits. FMLA. ADA. Accommodation Issues. The co-managed version of co-employment is definitely alive and well when it comes to most FMLA and ADA requirements. If an issue or need comes up, particularly on a long term assignment, both staffing agency and their client are responsible for providing employees with time off to address a medical issue (FMLA) or to provide an accommodation (ADA).  Safety. All employers, both the staffing agency and their client, are responsible to provide a safe and hazard-free work environment for their employees. While the lion’s share of that accountability lies with the client, a staffing agency cannot knowingly assign its employees to work in environments where there are known violations of OSHA standards. As a matter of routine, staffing agencies should be inspecting their client’s worksites, ensuring that OSHA standards are being followed; that the work is being properly described and that employees are being issued the appropriate clothing, equipment, and instruction to ensure their safety. An employer’s safety record is a matter of public record and should be reviewed by the staffing agency before assigning an employee to begin work. Staffing agencies and their clients will typically work together to address any and all safety issues as they are revealed. Staffing agencies, who are concerned about an employer’s safety practices and repeated failures to act to remedy known issues are duty bound to remove employees from those assignments. Property Damages Frank is working in an IEMP warehouse, placed by IM. Frank drives a forklift and accidentally drives it into a wall, destroying $25,000 in product and doing another $10K in damages to the wall and the forklift. Who pays for the damages—IM or IEMP? Here are the factors that will likely make a difference to the final outcome:
  • What does the contract between IM and IEMP say should happen? Typically these contracts indemnify the other from acts of negligence—so who’s at fault? Which party was negligent?
  • Did IEMP require that IM screen Frank be a qualified forklift driver? Did they disclose that he would even be driving a forklift?
  • What training or instruction did IEMP provide Frank before asking him to drive a forklift?
  • How closely did IEMP supervise Frank’s work on the forklift?
If Frank was in an administrative or professional role, his damages might be different (ex. a violation of confidential information), but the considerations are the same:
  • Did IM screen Frank for a job that required him to handle confidential information?
  • Did IEMP properly protect the information they needed to be kept confidential?
  • Did IEMP properly instruct and supervise Frank on how to handle confidential information?
For more information on co-employment or how to implement flexible workforce strategies that minimize the impact of unforeseen co-employment liabilities, contact PSN at infodesk@pacestaffing.com or by calling 425-637-3312 to arrange a complimentary consultation with a member of our Partnership Development Team. jeanneThis article is intended for general informational purposes only and in no way is intended to provide legal advice or to circumvent the need each employer has to seek competent legal counsel. This article was written by Jeanne Knutzen, founder and CEO of the PACE Staffing Network.          

Will Unlimited Vacation be the Death of Vacation?

by Jeanne Knutzen | November 21, 2014

0 Blog, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS Employment Vacation Policies, Inc., Michael Haberman, Omega HR Solutions, Paid Vacation Days

By Mike Haberman As many of you have probably heard by now, Richard Branson has created a "non-policy" vacation policy. He said he modeled it after the Netflix policy. According to writer and entrepreneur Daniel Green, "Branson described the 'non-policy' as giving employees the flexibility to take as much vacation time as needed when they feel 100% comfortable that they are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business or indeed their own career.'" Green then raised the question, "Is this a good or bad thing?' I raise the question of whether this could be the death of vacation time in the United States. AMERICANS ARE NOTORIOUS American companies are notorious for their vacation policies that give just about the least amount of time off in the entire world. Denmark is a much happier place because of time-off, and more productive, too. Despite having the least amount of vacation in the world, many U.S. workers still don't take all their allotted time. According to Venessa Wong at Bloomberg Businessweek, as quoted by Anna North, "Already, some 40 percent of American workers don't use all their paid vacation days." The criticism of Branson's move is that the non-policy states that:

The policy-that-isn't permits all salaried staff to take off whenever they want for as long as they want. There is no need to ask for prior approval and neither the employees themselves nor their managers are asked or expected to keep track of their days away from the office. It is left to the employee alone to decide if and when he or she feels like taking a few hours, a day, a week or a month off, the assumption being that they are only going to do it when they feel a hundred percent comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business–or, for that matter, their careers!"
The emphasis in the criticism is the statement that the employee must feel "100% comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business–or, for that matter, their careers!" The naysayers feel that few Americans will ever have that confidence in their work and thus by that being the provision to live by, this policy could actually spell the doom of vacation. Not only will employees not take unlimited vacation, they will resort to taking no vacation because the work is never caught up and most people are unsure of their standing in the company to feel absolutely sure their careers will not be harmed. THERE ARE COMPANIES WHERE IT DOES WORK. Branson, by his announcement, got a lot of press; but in reality there are many companies that offer unlimited vacation. The Motley Fool is one such company. If you want to read some testimonials on this policy read the comments attached to Anna North's article in the online version of the New York Times. US VERSUS THEM One problem I see in these policies is the potential "us versus them" situation that is being set up. These unlimited vacation policies only apply to salaried exempt employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act does not allow them to be applied to non-exempt employees because you have to track their time. That is the basis on which they are paid. Just saying "work whenever you want" becomes very difficult with an hourly, non-exempt employee. Additionally, many of those positions are not ones where the employee can just take off anytime they want. Customers have to be served, food has to be delivered, and products have to assembled. That is a much different situation than that of a manager, consultant, advisor, marketing specialist, IT professional, etc. With this divide, what are the employee relations issues that companies will be faced with? I like the idea of unlimited vacation, but I have to tell you that even I, as an independent consultant, feel guilty if I take too much time off. I don't think I am alone in that mental dilemma. Michael Haberman is cofounder and senior HR consultant of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. His company offers HR solutions that include compliance reviews, wage and hour guidance, supervisory and managerial training, strategic guidance, executive advisement, and more. He can be reached at mhaberman@omegahrsolutions.com.