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The New Overtime Rule – Legal Update

Planned for a December 1, 2016 effective date, the new overtime rule which raised the salary level test to $913 per week under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has been suspended by a federal court which issued a temporary injunction.

This means that you do not have to make changes to who gets overtime or to raise pay based on this rule now. At this time we do not know what will happen next. The US Department of Labor could appeal the ruling, the court could move to hearings over a final decision, or the entire matter could get ignored until the next administration takes action.

If you have taken any actions to meet the $913 salary level test, be careful what you do. Rolling back raises is legal, but is fraught with employee morale and retention risks. Walmart has already announced that it will not do so, as it had granted wage increases in preparation to meet this rule.
If you have communicated any plans or information on this change to your employees, do communicate that the change has been temporarily blocked by a federal court and that you will comply with current law fully while awaiting further information.
Even if you have not communicated anything to employees, do expect that many may know of this rule change and have been expecting a pay raise or overtime pay. Pay attention to your employees and address any specific concerns individually.

This salary level test is only one of three tests under the FLSA which must be met to decide whether an employee must be paid overtime or not. It is the duties test which is the most problematic for small businesses – and the most […]

By |November 29th, 2016|Compensation|Comments Off on The New Overtime Rule – Legal Update

A Fair Chance: Hiring People with Criminal Records

Does this mere title scare you? Have you ever thought about why you might hire someone with a criminal record or do you just expect other firms to do that? One of the big problems in our society is that we in the US jail far more people per capita than other countries. And if they cannot find jobs when they have paid the price for their crimes, how do you expect them to live? So yes, there is a moral case to be made.

There is also a business case – related to performance and retention. Plus in the tight labor markets in MetroDC it is still a labor market many have not tapped.

Some background:

Over half of all convicted prisoners are in for non-violent crimes
Minorities carry the highest burden and there is good evidence of discrimination in the entire legal process.
The majority of prisoners are in state prisons (59%) and local jails (28%)
One-third of working age Americans have a criminal record.
In Alexandria, their unemployment rate is 65%, which is a little lower than the national average.

The federal government has several programs to help returning citizens (one of the many terms used besides ex-convicts – and my personal favorite) with job skills and employment. There are also programs to help employers hire them – from bonding to tax incentives.

Many national employers and local construction firms have extensive experience in successfully hiring and retaining people with criminal records. Small and mid-size businesses will find excellent local support for their efforts to do so.

I recently attended the Fair Chance Business Summit, a program of the Alexandria Reentry Council on hiring returning citizens. There were a number of local employers talking about their […]

By |October 11th, 2016|hiring, values|Comments Off on A Fair Chance: Hiring People with Criminal Records

GROW! Personal and Professional Development Tips

A new regular feature covering articles and resources which can help you grow your skills, develop others, and grow your business. Recommendations welcome!

The toll of incivility on employees and morale:
http://blog.hreonline.com/2016/08/11/getting-incivility-under-control/

Employee productivity, morale and email outside work hours is covered in this article.  Note: if you have non-exempt (under the Fair Labor Standards Act) employees and they are checking email, you will need to compensate them for the time too.
http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/9241-check-email-after-work.html

Meetings, we all hate meetings -but most organizations need to have some. Good article with useful checklist at end!
http://www.performph.com/hidden-costs-company-meetings/

Increase your success – interesting infographic for every small business owner

Successful People: Working Less and Getting More Done [Infographic]

Worried about employees leaving? It is likely that you will lose people but there are some good retention ideas here.

Why Employees Plan to Leave Their Jobs at Small Businesses

Need to hire? Check out some common hiring mistakes and see which you may need to correct.
https://www.fastcompany.com/3059758/3-hiring-mistakes-most-companies-dont-realize-theyre-making

 

Also, the new rules for overtime pay go into effect December 1, 2016. Here are the annotated slides from the webinar I did for the Virginia SBDC Network.
http://alexandriasbdc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/OvertimePresentation624.pdf

The Alexandria SBDC will offer special HR Consults on this topic on October 26th, contact Gloria Flanagan if you want an appointment to discuss your issues.

By |September 27th, 2016|Small Business Development Centers, Smart practices|Comments Off on GROW! Personal and Professional Development Tips

New Overtime Tips

The salary level test for the Fair Labor Standards Act is rising on December 1 to $913 per week ($47,476 annually.) The duties test and salary basis test are unchanged. This means you must take action by December 1 to review the impact on your organization and make any needed adjustments. Many small organizations do not understand or comply with the duties tests –  this can present significant legal and financial risks if an employee or ex-employee reports you to the state wages and hours agency or seeks out an employment attorney. You may have seen legal ads for failure to pay overtime cases on TV in fact.

I did a webinar for the Alexandria SBDC on the new overtime rules – both the webinar and the annotated slides are available free. The webinar or slides can guide your thinking and action planning so that you are ready.

The New Overtime Law Webinar

The annotated slides

Guidance from the US Department of Labor  –  https://www.dol.gov/WHD/overtime/final2016/

It is smart to get started now on assessing the impact of the new salary level on your organization, as well as reviewing your compliance with existing duties test rules.  This process includes assessing what makes the most sense in terms of your desired or existing culture and extensive communications.  Ideas for these areas are included in the webinar and slides.

By |August 8th, 2016|Compensation, Policies and Practices|Comments Off on New Overtime Tips

Orlando to Dallas: “We Are Not as Divided as We Seem”

Martin Luther King Jr had been assassinated, cities were convulsed and some burned, ‘Chicago ‘68′ became a cliche for demonstrations and strong-arm police tactics. One sunny day I was deep in the beautiful wilds of Minnesota trying to find the farm of a woman whose husband had been shot down and was missing. By 2am, long before the days of social media, she was calling me terrified by the horrible calls and threats she was already getting.

Today we also face turbulent times, compounded by social media and cable news coverage. The ‘fog of war’ hurts us all. Many people are fearful for their personal future and their ‘tribe.’

What does this have to do with your business?

The conditions of our culture are reflected in our work. People spend a large portion of their lives at work. You have the power to create a better place and one that allows all your employees to be their best selves. We know that this actually increases financial success and growth. It will help your employees.  It might just help our country turn this current climate more positive too.

First, have you created a climate of respect?

Respect is more than superficial equality and basic manners – although those might be a good start in some workplaces. Respect includes valuing everyone without implicit bias or overt discrimination based on how different they might be from you. It involves creating a climate that values fairness and good faith and trust. It includes everyone in the organization treating each other well and positively. It includes neither hiring nor retaining ‘jerks’ who damage interpersonal relations and destroy trust. If your own behavior or emotions get in the way, it means learning how to control yourself […]

By |July 14th, 2016|culture, values|Comments Off on Orlando to Dallas: “We Are Not as Divided as We Seem”

What Now? The New Overtime Rules Announced

Small organizations have feared the impact of the new overtime rules which changed the level of pay below which everyone is considered eligible for overtime pay significantly. Many small businesses and non-profits assume they cannot afford to pay overtime. Others think anyone with a college degree is automatically exempt from overtime. The new rules have been announced and the salary level test is $913 per week ($47,476 annually.)

What are you going to do now?

The first step is to educate yourself. The US Department of Labor has a wide range of resources explaining the new rules and what has and has not changed. You can find this at DOL Final Overtime Rules 2016

I will be doing a webinar for the Virginia SBDC Network on June 24th which will focus on what options you have now and how to assess your next steps. Register for this free webinar via Webinar Info and Registration

Then move into assessing exactly what the impact is in your organization.

Who is newly eligible?
What are your options for each new eligible?
How many hours does each person currently work over 40 on average?
What are the reasons for overtime work?
What are the costs associated with the possible changes you are considering?  Timing?

If you have an annual pay review coming up this year, consider that date as well as the December 1 date – what does your culture imply you should do?  What other impacts on your culture will this change lead to?  What other impact will your culture have on your decisions?

Once you have a plan in place, you need to begin communicating with your employees. Although the rule changes do not take place until December 1, 2016, most employees will have […]

By |June 21st, 2016|Business planning, Compensation|Comments Off on What Now? The New Overtime Rules Announced

Lessons from Biltmore

Recently, on vacation, I visited the Biltmore Estate and saw a staff which was what any organization would want. Each person I came in contact with was positive, helpful, and focused on what they could do to make my visit enjoyable. It made the day a real pleasure.  I spent money I might not have and got experiences I really enjoyed.  I even tweeted about Biltmore and its great staff.

If you want this for your organization, you need to focus on setting the conditions for people to succeed in their work. No matter how small you are now, these aspects are critical:

Hiring the right people
Training each person in their current role and developing them for the future
Providing an environment that supports everyone there
Managing effectively and consistently

Too often these seem like climbing Mt. Everest – more effort and cost than you can sustain. But, in fact, investing in your people leads to higher financial returns and lower long-term costs. For years the management gurus have pointed to the difference in how Walmart and Costco pay and treat their employees. Costco spends more on pay, benefits, and training but has higher profits. Now Walmart has begun to raise pay and benefits to attract and retain better employees to enhance the company’s future growth and profitability.

Take a look at your organization and assess your current practices. What could you do to improve these and help grow your future success? Each small step forward can make a real difference.

Help is available in other articles on this website, the SBA has an extensive online training program, and your local SBDC can assist you. The real issue for most of us is to take the first […]

By |June 7th, 2016|culture, Policies and Practices, values|Comments Off on Lessons from Biltmore

How Will You Adapt: Changes in Paid Overtime

Over the past year, the US Department of Labor has been revising the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which governs which positions must be paid overtime. Your payroll firm and employment attorney have probably been pushing you to review your practices. The proposed rules got a lot of comments, over a quarter million, and now the new rules believed to be coming out this month with a short implementation period. Rumor has it that the salary level test will be $47,000 instead of the originally proposed $50,440.

Many small organizations had ignored the duties tests of the FLSA and called all employees exempt from the FLSA based on the old test of $23,660. In reality, exemption from FLSA is based on the duties of the position and the salary test.

What Should You Do Now?

1. Look at your existing position descriptions and requirements.

Are they accurate and current? If not, update them. Look at the duties test first and determine if the positions are in fact exempt from the law. A simple checklist: https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/fs17a_overview.pdf

2. Review the pay of individuals in each position you consider exempt from FLSA using the duties test.

Assess what you will do with each if their current salary is less than the final salary test. In some cases, it may make sense to raise pay. In others, it may make more sense to reclassify the position as non-exempt and control overtime.

3. Consider your culture.

If you have been paying all employees on a salary basis, you may wish to continue to do so. This can be done whether employees are exempt or non-exempt. If your organization pays at the end of a specific pay period through the same date, and you wish to include non-exempt […]

By |May 9th, 2016|Business planning, Compensation|Comments Off on How Will You Adapt: Changes in Paid Overtime

Successful Internships and Your Business

Many small businesses hire interns, both during the school year and over the summer. Internships offer students and career changers a great way to learn more about how business works and what a potential career is like. They offer your company an additional worker and perhaps insights into a different generation or technologies.

However, too many companies think they can just have an intern do some work and not have to pay them. Most internships are paid. Unpaid internships come with very stringent rules. You need to understand the differences to reduce your legal risks.

There are six criteria which must be met to qualify as an unpaid internship. The most important factor for most private sector employers is the similarity to training in an educational environment. Thus if you have an intern who is getting course credit for the work with you and the university/college has specific requirements of you, that often means you are likely to comply with the unpaid internship rules. You still will need a specific agreement with the school or professor and the student to cover the basics.

If you are not hiring an intern as part of a university program for course credit, here are all the federal Department of Labor criteria you must meet:

the internship must be similar to training in an educational environment
the internship experience is for the intern’s benefit
your company derives no immediate benefit from the intern’s activities and may even have your operations impeded
the intern works under close supervision and does not displace employees
the intern is not necessarily entitled to a job following the internship
the intern and your company both understand it is an unpaid internship

Clearly in a case like this, a written agreement on what the […]

By |April 5th, 2016|Smart practices|Comments Off on Successful Internships and Your Business

March 2016 News You Can Use

Many of my clients have some form of ‘respectful workplace’ policy or practice to guide employees on discrimination, harassment, and violence in the workplace. Whether you have such a policy or not, you may want to decide what you want to do about guns in the workplace if you are a Virginia employer.

While Virginia allows both open and concealed carry and makes many restrictions on carrying guns limited, employers can prohibit guns in their workplace. You cannot prevent them generally from being locked in cars in parking areas though. As you consider a new policy or statement in your employee handbook, consider adding other potential weapons to it.

A sample statement:

Organization name X strictly prohibits the possession, use, and/ or sale of all types of weapons on work premises or while engaged in company business off premises except where expressly authorized by X and permitted by state and local laws. This policy applies to all employees, including those who have a valid permit to carry a firearm. Weapons include but are not limited to all types of guns, explosives, and knives or other edged weapons.

Further you may want to consider whether you need a plan, employee guidance, and training related to ‘active shooter’ issues. There are very good resources listed and linked on this Homeland Security page:
https://www.dhs.gov/active-shooter-preparedness

Many local police departments will assist in assessing vulnerabilities and provide resources to support your planning and training.

NEW: Virginia Safety Poster Requirement

The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry has updated their job safety and health protection poster. This is now effective and you need this new poster. Additionally there are new accident reporting information. All fatalities, injuries, or illnesses that result in patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an […]

By |March 13th, 2016|Business planning, Policies and Practices|Comments Off on March 2016 News You Can Use