Archive for November, 2014

5 Important Topics You Might Have Missed from the 2014 Triad Employment Law Update

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

2014 TELU Flash ImageMore than 170 people attended CAI’s annual Triad Employment Law Update on Friday, November 14. Held at the beautiful Grandover Resort in Greensboro, the conference informed participants on the most recent updates in state and federal employment law. Knowledgeable attorneys from Constangy, Brooks and Smith, LLP, as well as compliance experts from CAI, shared information on several employment law topics, such as DOMA, health care reform, I-9 and E-verify compliance and FLSA.

Below are five important topics that speakers highlighted at this year’s conference:

I-9s Made Easy

  • I-9s must be completed by employees no later than the first day of work and completed by the employer no later than the third day of the new hire’s employment.
  • Retain I-9s for the longer of three years or one year after an employee’s termination.
  • Office of Special Counsel of the US Justice Department investigates I-9 complaints of over-documenting an I-9, asking for a particular document, not accepting a valid document and requiring a document when one is not needed.

Practical Tips for Complying with Health Care Reform

  • Determination of “full-time” – employees must be treated as full-time in the following “stability period” if the employee averages 30 hours during the measurement period.
    • Stability period must last for at least six months and be the same for new employees and on-going employees.
  • Carefully consider the best measurement and stability periods to minimize costs.
  • Track hours to confirm that individuals are properly classified.

Correcting FLSA Mistakes

  • Meal breaks must be continuous and uninterrupted. If not, you must pay employees for that time.
    • Tips – Don’t let employees take lunch at their work stations, train supervisors to respect lunch, and if you use automatic meal break deductions, have a procedure in place for exceptions.
  • You must pay employees for preliminary and postliminary work that is indispensible to their principal work activities. For example, time spent logging into the computer system and shutting it down at the end of the day is likely compensable.
    • Tips – allow employees to clock in when they arrive at their work stations. If your clock in system is run through a computer system, either leave the computer on or add a set number of minutes to the time each day, and have a procedure for exceptions.

Avoid Discrimination with Unique Employees

  • Public image policies should not be based upon discriminatory preferences of clients. Be sure to avoid improper stereotypes, and if you have a questionable policy, ask yourself if you’re willing to defend it in court.

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Same-Sex Marriage

  • In 2012 North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment saying marriage is between one man and one woman. In 2013 the Supreme Court of the United States declared that amendment unconstitutional under Section 2 of DOMA.
  • Same-sex spouses will be entitled to all spousal benefits if they married in NC after October 10, 2014.
  • Same-sex spouses will be entitled to all spousal benefits if they were validly married in another state before moving to NC.
  • Same-sex spouses will not be entitled to spousal benefits if they were “married” in a state that doesn’t recognize it, but they can always remarry in NC.

For further assistance on staying compliant with state and federal employment laws, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Affirmative Action – Revised Audit Scheduling Letter for 2014

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

CAI’s Manager for Affirmative Action Services, Kaleigh Ferraro, shares information on affirmative action plans from the OFCCP. Make sure you are compliant.

Kaleigh Ferraro, Manager, Affirmative Action Services

Kaleigh Ferraro, Manager, Affirmative Action Services

On September 30, 2014, the Office of Federal Contracts Compliance Programs (OFCCP) released an updated audit Scheduling Letter. The OFCCP indicated they would begin issuing a new audit scheduling letter on October 15, 2014 for contractor audits.  Outlined below are the significant changes from the previous scheduling letter and itemized listing and the newly approved one.

  • The Itemized listing requires companies to submit 22 items versus the 11 previously required.
  • Employment Activity data (applicants, hires, promotions, terminations) must be submitted including race subgroups not just minority totals. Information on applicants with “unknown” race and gender must also be included.
  • Compensation data must be submitted at the employee level and not aggregated as previously required. Data for all employees includes: race, gender, hire date, job title, EEO-1 category, job group, hours worked, base pay or rate plus additional compensation such as bonuses, commissions, merit pay, etc. Compensation date should be submitted electronically.
  • Copies of reasonable accommodation policies, requests and resolutions.

 

The revised scheduling letter and itemized listing also incorporates new items related to the revised regulations for Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA). This newly requested information includes:

  • Evaluation results of effectiveness of outreach and recruitment efforts for individuals with disabilities and protected veterans.
  • Documentation of actions taken to comply with audit and reporting system requirements.
  • Submittal of data collected regarding number of applicants, applicants who identified as veterans or individuals with disabilities, number of hires and those that identified as veterans or disabled and job openings and jobs filled.
  • Documentation on hiring benchmarks for veterans and analysis on utilization goals for individuals with disabilities. Results of most recent assessments on personnel processes, including date performed, actions taken and date of next scheduled assessment.
  • Recent assessments of physical and mental qualifications, including date performed, actions taken and date of next scheduled assessment.

Contractors should review the revised Scheduling Letter as well as their affirmative action program and data to ensure they are properly capturing and maintaining requested information. Contractors only have 30 days from receipt of the letter to gather and submit the requested information.

For more information on affirmative action and the recent changes within it, please be sure to sign up for our free webinar Affirmative Action 101: The Basics on December 2, 2014.

For helpful tips and information on preparing your next affirmative action plan, please sign up for our next affirmative action class AAP: What it Takes To Prepare a Compliant Affirmative Action Plan on December, 12, 2014.

Employers Need To Be Prepared For The Cadillac Tax

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

The post below is a guest blog from Mike Beck who serves as Principal, Health & Welfare Consultant for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody.

cadillac taxWhile most employers are focused on managing through 2015 and the upcoming employer mandate, the Cadillac Tax will present another significant challenge for many in 2018 and deserves attention.

The Cadillac Tax is an excise tax on health coverage deemed to be high cost.  The tax begins in 2018, and levies a 40 percent excise on the value of health insurance benefits exceeding the threshold of $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage (indexed to inflation) on an annual basis. The thresholds increase for individuals in high-risk professions e.g. police officers/fireman and for employers that have a disproportionately older population.

While these thresholds seem high for some, when most evaluate their current premium and apply three years of  a trend increase to it, it is easy to see how in  2018 many employers will be  close to hitting or even exceeding the thresholds.  Industry estimates show that nearly 50% of employers will be impacted in 2018.  Making matters worse, it is not just the cost of health insurance that goes into the calculation.  Employer or employee contributions to a health flexible spending accounts must be included as well as employer contributions health savings accounts and health reimbursement accounts (HRAs).

The outcome is that employers will likely have to reduce the value of the plan they are offering, reduce the limit of their Flexible Spending Account, and eliminate any employer contributions to an H.S.A. or a combination of these tactics in an effort to avoid the tax.

The tax will apply to employers regardless of plan funding (fully insured or self insured) and is scheduled to begin in 2018 and go into perpetuity.  The tax is non deductible for employers so many employers may experience an increased tax burden due to the loss of deductibility.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates the tax will raise $80 billion between 2014 and 2023.

Employer reaction has been mixed with many taking a wait and see attitude and delaying a decision as long as possible.  In a recent survey of 333 large employers by the National Business Coalition on Health and the Benz Corp, according to the results, “the Cadillac Tax is currently not driving major benefit change.”  Of the employers surveyed, 30 percent have not made any decisions around their course of action with 46 percent of employers keeping benefit coverage the same.

Since the inception of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) there has been wide talk that the Cadillac Tax would be repealed.  Pundits proclaimed that large employers and unions would not stand for it.  As the ACA marches on, the Cadillac Tax is becoming more and more of a reality.  Congress is counting on the tax to be a major source of revenue so repealing the Tax could be unlikely.  There is a possibility that the Cadillac Tax could be redesigned or some form of compromise reached.  The long term impact to employees will most likely be reduced benefits and higher out of pocket costs which may create morale and retention issues.

Employers need to plan now and estimate what the potential costs of the Cadillac Tax to be for their organization and determine a strategy moving forward.

 

 

I Scribbled on a BMW with a Sharpie®

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

pink carThe following post is from CAI’s Marketing Design Specialist, Vanessa Laster.

Actually, there were ten of us from CAI. We all did it. And we didn’t get caught or arrested or even yelled at.

One recent Monday in October (Breast Cancer Awareness month, in case you’ve been under a rock), the Sales and Marketing team of CAI took several hours out of our busy schedules to volunteer for a greater cause. We divided into groups and each group manned a pink car – a “Hope Mobile” to be precise. Crown Automotive of Greensboro has wrapped six different cars with pink graphics to raise awareness and money for research benefiting Earlier.org – Friends for Earlier Breast Cancer Test®. Julie Newcomb, CAI’s Triad Member Solutions Manager, is very passionate about the cause and serves on the Board of this organization, and she arranged for our team to help out.

So we donned our best pink attire and gathered around our respective cars in busy intersections and corners in the middle of the High Point Furniture Market (insanity!). We asked passersby from all over the world to give just one dollar and sign the car to raise money that Earlier.org will use to help identify an earlier test for breast cancer. One hundred percent of the funds raised are given directly to Earlier.org for research grants.

Though some folks just ignored our pleas – we think perhaps they just didn’t speak English – but most people were excited to support our efforts. Many of them even took pictures with the cars. It was inspiring and humbling to learn firsthand that people from all over the globe have had similar experiences with breast cancer in their lives. Some gave over $1. One of our teams even received a $100 bill!

At the end of the day, we raised $625 for Earlier.org. Our three groups were very competitive, really. What else do you expect from the Sales and Marketing Team? So who won? Team Volvo, Team BMW or Team Acura? The winner is every woman and man (yes, men can get it too) who will ever need a test to determine if they have breast cancer.

Support the cause. Visit www.earlier.org for more information.

 

3 Tips for Managing Stress Around the Holidays

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

ThanksgivingThe holiday season can be a wonderful time of year. It is a season of spending time with family and friends, celebrating the year’s successes, and ringing in the new year. Yet this time can also cause stress at work because it is notorious for being busy, and you find yourself having five to-do lists that never seem to get completed. As the year is coming to a close, you may wonder where the year went and how you are going to manage to meet your annual goals while preparing for the holidays. While being busy can be overwhelming, there are ways to ease your stress and manage work so that you can enjoy the season!

By following these three tips, you can start to say goodbye to stress for the holidays!

1. Make to-do lists

This may be an obvious concept that you could already be doing, but do you make to-do lists that sit around and inevitably become longer? To-do lists can be very helpful if they are specific and have an end. You may be thinking that you have an endless amount of things to do, but try to make to-do lists for different areas of your life. At work, categorize your to-do lists and make sure that they contain specific tasks that will be completed. It is also helpful to add completion dates to your list, so there’s a definite end in sight.

 

2. Prioritize your tasks

Now that you have your to-do list(s), you can now start prioritizing all of the tasks you need to do. It can be helpful to prioritize tasks by relevance if there are certain things that need to be done before others, or you can prioritize by desire. Putting the less desired tasks first gets them out of the way, so that you can make room for more enjoyable tasks that leave you feeling more motivated. By prioritizing your work, you then have a direction that you are going in to reach your goal.

 

3. Stop multitasking

Multitasking may seem helpful to do around the holidays because it allows you to get a lot done at once, but the fact is, we were not designed to multitask. It seems like a lot of things are getting done faster, but it in actuality, with your focus divided so much, you start to work at a slower pace and your quality of work could get diminished. You can only stretch yourself so thin before things start to get chaotic and stressful. Focus on one thing at a time so you can produce your best quality of work.

 

The holidays only happen once a year so make the most of them! Relax and enjoy yourself by following these three steps. By reducing the stress in your life, you make room for joy!

For more information on managing stress at work, call a member of our Advice and Resolution team today at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746. The team is now available 24 hours each day throughout the week! Please give us a call!

 

Photo Source: Satya Murthy

 

 

Is There a Good Termination?

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News and Observer Column, The View from HR.

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

The best job terminations resemble resignations. The issues are clear, and efforts were made to improve. Dignity is preserved.

The truth is, most firings happen under difficult conditions. A manager dropped the ball, or the employee behaved badly. How can a difficult firing be better?

The firing manager usually controls the “terms of the termination” and can make a difficult situation better. There is discretion on basic terms like time off payouts, future references, how an unemployment claim will be handled, and even a written release of legal claims. There is discretion on what others are told and what the employee record reflects. There is even discretion on the last day of work and whether the employee will stay to finish some projects. The facts vary widely.

A much more complicated and misunderstood category of discretion is how the employee is fired. Call it the “human treatment” option. It is much more powerful than you might think.

The key to “human treatment” is whether the employee views the termination process itself as fair, not whether the decision was correct.

Some questions that could come up:

Was my treatment on the way out the final insult in a long line of insults, or was it something quite different?

Did it recognize my humanity, my need for dignity, my need to tell others why I was fired, and my need to leave this group of work friends without a sudden and public divorce?

The most important way a manager can make the process fair is to tell the truth. “This is why we are firing you. This is how the decision was made. This is how we investigated the facts. Yes, we value the work you did for us on that, but the failures on this led to your discharge.”

This is not the time to say everything that is true, nor the time to debate, but it can often be a time to establish the basic fairness of the decision process itself. It is also not the time to destroy the last shred of an employee’s dignity.

The most important way a fired employee can encourage “human treatment” is to be capable of handling his or her end of the bargain. Can you as an employee depersonalize this firing? Can you disagree or agree on a point without coming unglued? Can you show you are ready to move on if the exit makes that possible? Can you set out your ideas for internal communication and future references, or say goodbye to your team without making matters worse? Can you be trusted?

Research by a Duke professor and his team found that employees who perceived the process as fair were much less likely to make claims against employers, even if they disagreed with the discharge. Employees who saw the process itself as unfair became vindictive and made legal claims at a much higher rate.

Giving no reason for firing is not perceived as fair! Fairness in the termination process itself may be a better predictor of future legal problems than whether the actual reasons for termination were valid or not.

You can make a difficult termination better or worse by how the exit is handled. Your choice.