The Incredible Power of Company-Wide Goal Alignment for Small and Mid-Sized Businesses

As an HR professional this white paper will reveal how you can put the incredible power of goal alignment to work at your organization. You’ll learn:

  • The short- and long-term business benefits of company-wide goal alignment
  • How to effectively set “SMART” goals
  • How automated solutions can help get your employees working on the tasks that will accelerate your business toward even greater success

Click here to learn more!  

For more HR News, please visit: The Incredible Power of Company-Wide Goal Alignment for Small and Mid-Sized Businesses

Source: News from HR Morning

Adobe Document Cloud for HR Efficiency

In today’s race to attract and retain top talent, the ability to create and deliver professional HR paperwork quickly is a competitive advantage. Read this solution brief to learn how Adobe Document Cloud can:

  • Help HR slash the paperwork
  • Impress candidates and simplify hiring
  • Improve the employee experience with professional and compliant HR documents

Download the paper to learn more about how Adobe Document Cloud can help HR maximize efficiency while finding and retaining great talent!

Click here to learn more!  

For more HR News, please visit: Adobe Document Cloud for HR Efficiency

Source: News from HR Morning

Supreme Court upholds Obamacare again … but why?

Supreme Court upholds Obamacare again … but why?

Supreme Court

Once again the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — and upheld a component that’s become an essential part of the law. So now HR pros can start worrying about the upcoming Obamacare compliance challenges without any major distractions.

The Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell, is an appeal of a July ruling from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the law’s subsidies.

Had the subsidies been struck down by the High Court, millions of Americans could’ve lost the tax subsidies that allowed them purchase affordable coverage under the health reform law.

In fact,  USA TODAY reported that more than 5 million Americans would be affected if the subsidies are struck down.

How affected? Those subsidies have reduced monthly insurance premiums by 76% (the average monthly premium dropped from $346 to just $82) for those who qualify, according to federal officials.

How we got here

As HR Morning has reported previously, the entire case essentially hinged on one phrase in the health reform law, which says that subsidies — in the form of tax credits — would be offered in health insurance exchanges “established by the state.”

But more than 30 states passed on setting up their own exchanges, so the feds stepped in to do so.

Four Virginia residents — the original plaintiffs in the case — claim that the subsidies are illegal in the states where only federal exchanges have been established.

‘Inartful drafting’

With its ruling, the Supreme Court essentially said that the subsidies should be available to all eligible Americans regardless of whether they live in states that have set up their own health insurance exchanges.

In the ruling, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. did acknowledge that the specific language in the Affordable Care Act was confusing and problematic. As Roberts put it, the law:

“contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting … Congress wrote key parts of the act behind closed doors, rather than through the traditional legislative process.”

Despite the language, Roberts said the intent of law was clear and that:

“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”

Maintains status quo

So where does this leave employers. According to Buck Consultants global practice leader Tami Simon:

“The ruling will not have a significant impact on employers and the human resources department. It maintains the status quo for time being.”

And for employers, the status quo is finding ways to comply with the many complex Obamacare regs, such as:

  • The reporting requirement (2016), and
  • The Cadillac Tax (2018).

For more HR News, please visit: Supreme Court upholds Obamacare again … but why?

Source: News from HR Morning

6 documentation gaffes that will come back to haunt you

6 documentation gaffes that will come back to haunt you


As HR pros, you obviously get the importance of thoroughly (and carefully) documenting employee performance problems.

You know who doesn’t? A lot of managers who oversee employees. 

‘At-will’ is no excuse

This is especially true in at-will organizations, in which managers tend to think they have absolute authority to terminate workers.

But you know better, and you’ve got the unenviable task of trying to get managers to see the light.

To help, employment law attorney Katie Anderson of the firm Strasburger & Price LLP shared on her firm’s blog the biggest documentation mistakes she’s seen.

We hand-picked six gaffes from her list that you’ll want to share with your managers (the list runs from bad to totally inexcusable):

6. Backdating

So you told managers they should’ve been documenting employee problems all along. Their first reaction may be to try to correct their inaction by creating new documents and making them look like old docs.

This almost never works — and almost always lands the employer (and manager) in hot water in court.

Any savvy IT person can look into a document’s metadata and find out when it was actually created — and employee-side attorneys will retain such IT folks to sniff out forgeries.

5. Leaving no room to improve

Some managers hate performance review time. And to save themselves the hassle, they’ll do things like give staffers a “5” on a 1-to-5 scale.

The problem here is it leaves no room for improvement. And these glowing reviews can lead to trouble if a “5” employee is ever fired.

Example: If a worker is told she’s performing well and is fired anyway, she could conclude that her termination was based on a discriminatory factor (race, gender, age, etc.) and sue.

4. Adding clunky language

Steer clear of legalese like “heretofore” and “whereof.” If it’s not how your managers would say it, that’s not how they should write it.

Also, avoid confusing directives like “It would be helpful if …” Make sure instructions are as direct as can be.

Example:?“Turn in all overtime requests by Friday.”

3. Using email too much

Yes, it’s important to create a paper trail, but it helps to talk to employees face to face as well.

The goal should be to balance email communication with in-person contact. Or, at the very least, follow up an email with personal visits.

Anderson points out 93% of all communication is non-verbal, and those cues are missed when documentation is delivered without personal contact.

2. Inconsistent enforcement

The best documentation won’t save you in court if policies and discipline aren’t applied consistently.

Sure, some employees are more likable and easier to deal with than others, but make sure managers don’t let their favorites “slide.”

If they’re going to punish one employee for being late, they should punish everyone for being late (unless, of course, there’s a reasonable excuse).

Anderson sees it a lot: perfectly defensible job actions being overturned because someone was treated differently.

1. Failing to document

We couldn’t resist. Of course, the No. 1 mistake is failing to document problems.

Even if a manager’s sure an employee will “turn it around,” there’s no valid reason to avoid documenting. Period.

For more HR News, please visit: 6 documentation gaffes that will come back to haunt you

Source: News from HR Morning

Avoid legal pitfalls: 8 quick performance review do’s and don’ts

“It’s the best time of the year — time for performance reviews!” said no one, ever.

Both managers and employees get anxious when annual reviews come around. But managers may have it worse. 

Performance reviews can win or lose a lawsuit if an employee sues for wrongful termination, so the pressure’s on managers to get them right.

That also puts the onus on employers to create an effective and legally defensible review process.

Reviews: The good and the bad

To help, attorneys Susan DiMickele, Tara Aschenbrand, Jill Kirila, Meghan Hill and Traci Martinez of the law office Squire Patton Boggs compiled a quick-hitting checklist of best practices when it comes to creating defensible evaluations.

Some things they recommend employers do:

  • Set up a standardized system for establishing goals, rating performance and suggesting improvement plans
  • Be clear about what employees need to do to attain goals and any corrective actions they need to take, including specific recommendations when possible, and
  • Balance out criticism by offering up specific examples of what employees do well.

The attorneys also highlighted some common mistakes managers should avoid during reviews.

They are:

  • Failing to follow established review procedures and timelines
  • Not having enough supporting documentation to back up critiques
  • Failing to have written performance ratings sync up with verbal comments made during the review
  • Giving inflated ratings to avoid having difficult conversations or hurting workers’ feelings, and
  • Putting forth a review not grounded in specific facts.

For more HR News, please visit: Avoid legal pitfalls: 8 quick performance review do’s and don’ts

Source: News from HR Morning

Hiring disabled workers is good for the bottom line, too

Many companies already try to hire a variety of employees, like those with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD). But in case you need another reason to do so, a study says hiring qualified workers who have an IDD can be good for the bottom line. 

Hard-working, engaged

That’s one of the key points from new research released by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, a company that analyzes high-performing companies’ practices and policies. (Download the report here.)

Even though the companies studied were skeptical about workers who had an IDD at first, many ended up benefiting greatly from doing so.

For example, researchers found:

  • over 75% of companies rated qualified employees who had an IDD as “good” or “very good” in terms of attendance, productivity, motivation, work quality, engagement and integration with co-workers
  • 80% of companies had positive experiences with those employees, and
  • about a third of companies said their experiences with those workers exceeded expectations.

Even better: Researchers say hiring qualified candidates who have an IDD promotes a culture of inclusion, which can attract top talent, lead to better sales, boost customer retention and build a more positive company image.

It’s important to note, however, that the data shows hiring employees who have an IDD just to say you’ve done so typically doesn’t result in those desired effects.

For more HR News, please visit: Hiring disabled workers is good for the bottom line, too

Source: News from HR Morning

The 15 worst/funniest reasons to fire an employee

The 15 worst/funniest reasons to fire an employee

Worker fired for donating kidney

A few months ago, a single hashtag took the Twitter and HR worlds by storm (read these gut-busting tweets). This summer, a another Twitter sensation has taken its place — and it’ll give you just as big a chuckle. 

Last January, it was #FiveWordsToRuinAJobInterview. This time around, it’s the hashtag #WhyTheyFiredMe, and it’s generating some equally creative responses.

The premise is similar: People are supposed to share the humorous circumstances that lead to them being shown the door by their employers. But as it always does, the Twitterverse has thrown in mostly fictional scenarios (we hope).

And because it doesn’t limit Twitter users to five words, like its predecessor, this latest hashtag is giving people little bit more creative freedom.

The results aren’t disappointing.

Some of the highlights so far:

For more HR News, please visit: The 15 worst/funniest reasons to fire an employee

Source: News from HR Morning

Is it legal to cut workers’ hours so you don’t have to give them health insurance?

There may be a new type of Obamacare lawsuit looming on the horizon — and this one would target employers. 

Since the enactment of Obamacare’s employer mandateattorneys and employment law experts have wondered if Section 510 of ERISA could be used to bring lawsuits against employers who cut workers’ hours to circumvent that mandate.

Section 510 says, in part:

“… it shall be unlawful for any person to discharge, fine, suspend, expel, discipline, or discriminate against a participant or beneficiary of an employee benefit plan for the purpose of interfering with the attainment of any right to which such participant may become entitled under an employee benefit plan …”

Yes, ERISA was written mainly to apply to retirement plans. But could this section be used to sue employers who cut workers’ hours in an attempt to avoid having to provide them with health insurance under the Affordable Care Act?

Well, we’re about to find out.

Employees file class action lawsuit

Employees of Dave & Buster’s just filed a class action lawsuit against the restaurant chain, alleging it violated ERISA’s Section 510 by reducing their hours below 30 per week to avoid Obamacare’s employer mandate to provide full-time employees with health insurance.

In the lawsuit, the employees say Dave & Buster’s main goal in reducing their hours below 30 per week was to avoid having to off them health insurance. This, they claim is exactly the kind of move ERISA was designed to prohibit.

The suit claims that during a meeting at one Dave & Buster’s location, attended by the lead plaintiff Maria De Lourdes Parra Marrin, a company general manager said that the Obamacare mandate would wind up costing the company upwards of $2 million. And to skirt those costs, the restaurant planned to cut the hours of full-time workers, which it then did, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs then claim that similar meetings were held company-wide.

Their case hinges on whether or not ERISA can actually be applied to health plans.

Potential fallout

We’ll have the answer to that soon enough — and employers need to be paying attention.

Rumor has it lots of employers are planning to cut full-time workers’ hours to avoid the individual mandate — or have already done so.

If it’s ruled that the plaintiffs have a legitimate complaint in the Dave & Buster’s case, it would be a huge — and expensive — blow to these employers cost-control strategies.

Then there’s the potential for damages and penalties assessed to those companies that have already deployed this kind of strategy.

Stay tuned. We’ll be following this case closely.

Cite: Marin v. Dave & Buster’s Inc.

For more HR News, please visit: Is it legal to cut workers’ hours so you don’t have to give them health insurance?

Source: News from HR Morning

Good deed punished: Firm didn’t do enough to accommodate scent-sensitive worker

Just how far do employers have to bend to provide a scent-sensitive employee a reasonable accommodation? You won’t believe what a federal judge just ruled.  

Christine Brady was a credit manager for United Refrigeration in Pennsylvania. She told her employer she had a long-term “heightened sensitivity to perfumes, fragrant chemicals and lotions.”

After being under a doctor’s care for some time — and treating her sensitivity through medication — Brady’s condition apparently worsened. She asked United’s HR department “if there is a way to have a fragrance free zone or [if she] could be placed in a fragrance free area.”

The employer responded. Here’s attorney Erric B. Mayer’s rundown of the steps the company took:

  • Purchased a portable air cleaner for use at the plaintiff’s work station
  • Purchased a second portable air cleaner for the plaintiff after she broke the first one
  • Distributed — several times — a notice to all employees not to wear perfume, cologne or aftershave to the office
  • Purchased face masks for the plaintiff (which she later refused to wear)
  • Relocated an employee who had to wear medically-prescribed skin lotion
  • Cleaned a wall panel that plaintiff claimed had fragrances on it
  • Cleaned the rug around the plaintiff’s workstation, and
  • Cleaned the rug around the plaintiff’s work station.

The company also relocated her desk “out of the main stream” and sent her a memo assuring Brady that United “takes your sensitivity seriously.”

But Brady still had a hard time maintaining regular attendance at work. She was finally laid off. In a letter, the firm explained that “… [a]fter what we consider to be extraordinary efforts to accommodate you, you have still not been able to … report to work regularly, which we need you to do. We do not have work available that meets all of your restrictions. Accordingly … you are being laid off.”

And then, of course, she sued. Brady claimed that United’s ban on fragrances wasn’t enforced strictly enough, and that the company violated the ADA by firing her.

Absenteeism as accommodation?

She couldn’t possibly win, right? After all the company did to accommodate her disability?

Well, she won the first round — the court indicated that despite all the steps it took, the company may not have done enough.

The court’s reasoning:

[Brady’s] circumstances do not involve unexplained absences; rather, [her] condition is triggered by stimuli that are at least somewhat within [United’s] power to control. If [United’s] own no-fragrance policies are not being sufficiently administered or enforced, as [Brady] alleges, [United] may have to accept that [Brady] must take some time away from that environment.

Huh? So unless a firm’s policies are perfectly enforced, absenteeism is a reasonable form of accommodation? Pretty tough call for this employer.

Now the company faces an expensive trial or an expensive settlement.

The case is Brady v. United Refrigeration, Inc.

For more HR News, please visit: Good deed punished: Firm didn’t do enough to accommodate scent-sensitive worker

Source: News from HR Morning

DOL’s got another surprise for you: New guidance on ICs

While firms anxiously await the DOL’s new FLSA overtime rules, the agency just announced it will be releasing new information on another key wage-and-hour issue this summer.  

At a recent labor and employment law conference, Dr. David Weil, an administrator with the DOL’s Wage-and-Hour Division, said the agency will release new guidance on independent contractors (ICs).

Clarify criteria

Weil said the agency would clarify the criteria that must be met to properly classify a worker as an IC.

Plus, Weil said he’d “be issuing an administrator interpretation specifically about our [the DOL’s] view of what is a legitimate independent contractor.”

Some employment attorneys have speculated that the feds could include the IC guidance with its revisions to the overtime regs.

That means employers may get hit with a barrage of critical FLSA info all at once. And sifting through that info could pose an administrative nightmare for HR and benefits pros.

Compliance check

While the OT change will no doubt force many firms to make some changes, the contractor clarification isn’t likely to be any great departure from the current guidance.

If you rely on ICs, you may want to review the classifications before the DOL clarification comes out.

To ensure compliance, the agency offers a six factor “economic realities test” that includes the factors the Supreme Court considers significant in determining whether an individual is economically dependent on an employer.

In addition, the following two questions can help determine if an individual is economically dependent on your company:

  • Can we require the person to work?
  • Can we prevent someone from working?

For more HR News, please visit: DOL’s got another surprise for you: New guidance on ICs

Source: News from HR Morning