Author Archive

Follow the DOs and DONTs of Background Checking in 2015

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

The following post is from CAI’s Kevin von der Lippe. He serves as CAI’s private investigator and leads the company’s reference checking department. Kevin has some helpful tips to keep you on the right track in 2015.

Kevin von der Lippe, Private Investigator

Kevin von der Lippe, Private Investigator

With the start of the New Year, most of us are happily looking toward the future and have already began adopting our newly appointed “good habits” for 2015.  So, now that you’re back on path of good intentions, make sure you’re hiring practices are as well! Make sure you’re following the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when requesting your background checks in 2015 before you’re caught on the wrong end of a class action law suit!

Unfortunately, 2014 was a hard year for some… blindsiding several uninformed businesses with more than a few unwelcomed class action lawsuits for disobeying the FCRA.  Why you ask? Because in 2007 the Supreme Court ruled[1] that if a company displays willful acts of disregard for the FCRA, then such companies may be sued for punitive damages without proving actual damages.

And in 2014, suing is exactly what they did…

November 2014, Publix Super Markets settled their class action lawsuit for $6.8 million.  In October, Dollar General settled their suit for a little over $4 million. And after being sued by a former employee in September, Cannon Solutions America, Inc. settled for an undisclosed amount.

All from technical flaws.

Many of these cases are brought forth over the company either not obtaining proper permission from the applicant or by not providing proper notice to the applicant pending a negative hiring action.  In both cases the law is clear.

You must obtain permission – with very specific wording – on a stand-alone release form before you conduct a background check.  The release form cannot be clouded by having extraneous information, or by asking the applicant to waive his or her rights.

If you receive a background check with negative information, which gives you too much heartburn to move forward with the job offer, you must provide the applicant with a chance to review the report and dispute any inaccuracies before you make your final hiring decision.  How to comply with the process is clearly spelled out in the FCRA.  You must provide your applicant with a copy of the report, a summary of their rights under the FCRA, and a pre-adverse action letter that tells them the contact information for your background checking company.  Some states may require some additional information (NC requires a Security Freeze document).  You should then give your applicant a “reasonable amount of time” to review the report and make a dispute.  We believe that five business days will be sufficient in many cases.  Afterwards you must provide the applicant with a final adverse action letter that states they are no longer a candidate, and again provides the background checking company’s contact information.

For more information, or to see a sample of the FCRA documents, please visit our website www.capital.org/vea, or contact Kevin von der Lippe at (336) 899-1150.

[1] Safeco vs. Burr 551 U.S. 47 (2007)

The Role of Minority Coaching in Your Succession Planning Strategy

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

The following post is from Val Boston of Boston and Associates. His professional background spans more than 25 years in business and leadership roles. He is sharing his presentation Diversity and Inclusion: A Business Strategy at the 2015 HR Management Conference on March 4 and March 5 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh.

Diverse business group meetingSuccession Planning addresses your organization’s need to strategically prepare for the healthy transition of leadership. These plans are typically linked to a talent management strategy of effective recruiting, developing, retaining and preparing potential leaders for advancement. Considering the rapidly changing demographics in the workplace, special consideration should be paid to the Historically Underrepresented Groups (HUGs) in your talent pool.

Characteristics and Challenges of Successful Coaching Interventions

Executive coaching (or employee coaching or leadership coaching) is certainly not a new concept. Effective coaching occurs when the coach and the colleague have mutual trust and respect; where communications clear and understood by all parties simultaneously; when the colleague is well on track to achieving their professional goals; and the colleague is “dialed in” into the controllable behaviors that generate success.

Most challenges arise with coaching interventions  because the market changes are more rapid and unpredictable than ever before; dramatic events may compromise the integrity of the coaching intervention; the continued “buy-in” by the colleague may become out-of-sync and no one understands why; and when basic objectives are not being met.

Why Minority Executive Coaching? Scenario:  Jordan is a talented employee who is from a HUG. He has outstanding educational credentials and has an excellent employee track record to date. He is assigned an internal mentor or coach as part of his professional development who is not from his HUG. Though the mentor/coach can provide guidance and direction, the personal relationship and trust needed may not develop that would give Jordan all the “tools” he needs for further growth in the organization. The coach may not be able to provide him with the “unwritten rules” or truly and deeply be able to relate to Jordan at all levels.

Minority coaching targets HUG employees and can provide the “missing ingredient”, and can many times provide more relevancy. Since many organizations view coaching as an integral component of talent management and development strategies, this focus can enhance existing internal mentorship and coaching programs. Organizations can provide this resource to identified or self-selected colleagues as part of their development plans. Talent that can be developed to assume more responsibilities over time is a win-win, can increase retention rates of high potentials, while developing talent pools to fill key roles.

In addition to diversity, the 2015 HR Management Conference will feature presentations on making technology choices, insights on the future of work, strengthening organizational performance and more. Visit www.capital.org/hrconf to view the complete agenda and read more about conference speakers. Register today!

Photo Source: Ruth Sanderson

Prior To Discharge – Helpful Tips for Employers

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

In today’s video blog, John Gupton, CAI’s General Counsel and HR Advisor on CAI’s Advice and Resolution team, discusses helpful tips for employers prior to the discharge of an employee.

John starts with saying the first step is to make sure you involve Human Resources before you do anything else, which is often overlooked. The next few tips involve evaluating and handling the issue and making sure the actions were fair to your employee. Additional tips are given to ensure a thorough process of documenting and reviewing the issue, which is important if the discharged employee challenges the termination.

In the video, John says it is important to make sure you have done everything you can, and have done everything right before discharging an employee. If a terminated employee were to challenge the discharge, these tips would help put your company in the best position possible to defend its actions.

For more information on steps to take before discharging an employee, or if you have any questions, 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!

Top 5 Resolutions For Maintaining A Strong Benefit Plan

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

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

resolutionsYou may think New Year’s resolutions only apply to bettering yourself, but don’t forget about the health of your benefit plan! Follow these five resolutions for keeping your benefits strong:

 

  1. Look for new opportunities to communicate the value of your benefits. Many employers pull their employees together once a year to review their benefit offerings during the annual open enrollment.  Make a point to pick 2 or 3 other times a year to stress the benefits of your health plan.  For example, distribute a hidden paycheck, highlight one of your benefit offerings at a staff meeting or hold a Lunch & Learn event supported by one of carriers during the year.
  2. Test your plan for ACA and overall compliance.List all of the notices you are required to release each year.  Take inventory of all of your employee categories and know which ones are eligible for coverage under your plan.  Make certain you are able to access contracts and policies without difficulty.  Review your time recording structure and be assured it will assist you with the new 2015 reporting requirements.
  3. Develop a health and wellness calendar.Challenge your organization to engage in a health and wellness event once a month.  Select a small group of employees or form a committee to develop an activity or event each month to support.  These events can range from a lunch time walk, encouraging others to eat more fruits and vegetables or supporting a team effort at a local charity walk.  With a little forethought, these activities can be a great way to remind your employees that their health is important.
  4. Plan ahead; don’t wait until the last minute to review your plan options for 2015.Review how things are running with your current benefits mid-year and see if they are supporting your overall business objectives for the year. Are your benefits helping you retain and attract the right talent for your organization to succeed?  If not, what may you need to change or initiate to help you meet this goal.
  5. Look for ways to enhance your plan offerings.Employees are looking to their employers to offer them more choices in plans that may meet their unique needs.  The worksite benefit landscape has evolved a lot over the past few years.  Introducing new voluntary benefits are a great way to enhance your benefit portfolio.  These benefits can provide additional financial assistance or incentives to many employees alongside their major medical plans.

Regardless of which direction you go in 2015, now is the perfect time to take a step back and assess what is working well for your plan.  Talk to your benefits consultant to identify different avenues to explore in the New Year!

 

Persistence and Success

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

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

We talk much about education and talent but too little about persistence.

Success as a manager or employee usually has less to do with your degree, your natural talent or even your intelligence. It has less to do with where you were raised and whether you were privileged. It has much more to do with your own personal level of persistence and determination.

Yes, a degree may be necessary for certain roles or licenses, and it never hurts to have every advantage growing up, including involved parents and excellent teachers. However, personal determination means more to your successes and failures than any other factor.

Give me a qualified and determined person over a highly educated person with low “give a hoot” any day.

Each inspirational story you see proves my point. These success stories are about people who overcame a challenge and made something work for them or others. Overcoming obstacles. Pushing further, harder and more often than the average person. Finding ways to go at it in different ways. Saying yes rather than no. Persistence.

Look no further than your own extended family or group of friends for talented people (maybe geniuses) who struggle to make their lives and work function. You also know someone with modest resources who worked hard and long to achieve his or her version of success.

Ask any manager why so many good ideas sit idle. Do you know employees who stop and rest at each hurdle, making a nest and setting up camp until dislodged?

Think of the last team meeting where more time was spent on the lunch menu than on tasks at hand, the reasons things did not happen, and why more time was needed to execute projects rather than enjoy incremental success from dogged determination.

Leonard Mlodinow, the author of “The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives,” helped me see the power of persistence another way. Because so many factors in the workplace and business are uncontrollable, unpredictable and even random, persistence increases the chance that a good idea (or good person) will take hold as conditions change.

Think of it like this: The job openings and available candidates at any point in time are fixed. The lack of a good fit today means nothing about next month, when the candidate pool and job openings have changed. Persist.

Success at work is influenced by many factors. It never hurts to have education, talent and other advantages. Sometimes unfair things happen. But the surest way to take what you have and maximize your effect wherever you are today is to double your level of persistence. Good managers recognize the power of determination and look for it in hiring and promotions.

In 1932, at the depth of the Great Depression, former President Calvin Coolidge said that persistence “has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” It is the one variable entirely within your control. Start with your role in your workplace and enjoy the difference it will make.

Giving Your Employees a Personal “Thanks”

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

In today’s video blog, CAI’s Advice and Resolution team member, Renee’ Watkins, shares helpful information to keep your employees engaged by giving them a personal thank you. Renee’ starts by reminding employers and HR professionals that everyone likes feeling appreciated, especially when the gesture is genuine and personal.

She says employees who feel their efforts are being noticed will likely go the extra mile for their organization. In the video Renee’ shares that research shows that one of the most effective acts of appreciation comes in the form of a hand-written note. Notes should be sent right after an employee accomplishment.

Renee’ gives advice for making hand-written notes special and effective in the video. She also imparts several examples of messages you can write to employees for different reasons, such as successfully handling change or paying great attention to detail.

If writing a thank you note is just simply not your style and not going to happen, Renee’ encourages you to find another way to show your employees appreciation for their contributions. She says what may seem to be a small gesture, requiring little effort, can often translate into a significant moment of positive recognition that will be remembered by your employees long after the event has passed. She ends the video with additional ways you can reward your team members without breaking your budget.

For additional employee engagement tips, please call CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746. The team is now available 24 hours, seven days a week!

Last Minute Requirements for 2015 Affirmative Action Plans

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

CAI’s Manager for Affirmative Action Services, Kaleigh Ferraro, shares information on affirmative action plans for 2015. Make sure you are compliant.

Kaleigh Ferraro, Manager, Affirmative Action Services

Kaleigh Ferraro, Manager, Affirmative Action Services

It’s that time of the year again.  Not only is the holiday season here, but it is also the time that many federal contractors and subcontractors update their affirmative action programs (AAPs).  If your company prepares AAPs on a calendar year, you should begin preparing for your 2015 AAP update.

In order to develop your annual report, you’ll need to gather data that will be analyzed in the plan.  Below are different types of data you’ll need.

  • Employees: This is a listing of your current employees at a point in time
  • Hires: A list of employees hired in 2014
  • Applicants (internal and external): Applicants who applied for positions filled in 2014
  • Promotions: A list of all promotions that occurred in 2014
  • Terminations: A list of all terminations for 2014

Additional information you should also review and update as you prepare the AAP include:

  • Targeted outreach and recruiting efforts
  • Update your signed EEO/Affirmative Action policy
  • Notify vendors and suppliers your organization is an affirmative action employer and they may be covered by the affirmative action laws.
  • Ensure subcontracts and purchase orders contain EO Clause and specified language
  • Ensure employment openings are listed with the appropriate state employment service

Additionally, you should ensure you have implemented the requirements of the regulation changes for protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.

  • Provide applicants the opportunity to self-identify as an individual with a disability and protected veteran. This solicitation should occur both pre-job offer and post-job offer. Data on applicants and hires must be reported in subsequent AAPs.
  • Include Utilization Goals for individuals with disabilities. This 7% Goal will apply to each job group within your AAP. If you have fewer than 100 employees, you may set a goal for your workforce as a whole. Assessments on meeting these goals will occur in future AAPs.
  • Include Hiring Benchmarks for protected veterans. The hiring benchmark data provided by the OFCCP is 7.2%. The hiring benchmark is set for the AAP location as a whole.

For more information on affirmative action and the recent changes within it, please feel free to contact Kaleigh Ferraro at (919) 713-5241 or Kaleigh.ferraro@capital.org.

Which Pays First – Medicare or Private Insurance?

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

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

Picture1As we go through Medicare Open Enrollment for this year, it’s important to remember some basics about how Medicare interacts with traditional private medical insurance plans. Many individuals who are entitled to Medicare benefits are still actively working and eligible for employer sponsored health insurance. When a person has multiple insurance plans, coordination of benefits takes place.This determines which payer (insurance company) pays first.

In most instances where group health insurance is involved, Medicare is the secondary payer. That means that the group plan will pay first, paying the amount that its maximum coverage allows, and then Medicare will be asked to pay the remainder. This is important, because when you determine your potential liability, you don’t want to exclude members who may be on Medicare and assume that your group plan will not be responsible for any claims.

Check out the details in our on-demand webinar on Medicare Secondary Payer.

It’s also important to remember some prohibitions that come with Medicare and employer-sponsored group health plans. It is illegal to incentivize employees off of the group plan and onto Medicare. While some feel that this could improve their demographics and potentially eliminate some high cost claimants, the government makes it clear that penalties can be assessed for each time an incentive is offered, whether it is verbal or written.

Another consideration is when your company offers a High Deductible Health Plan paired with a Health Savings Account (HSA). Those who are entitled to Medicare, meaning both eligible and enrolled, cannot contribute to an HSA on a tax-preferred basis. If this is the only plan option your company offers, your Medicare entitled employees may not be able to take advantage of the full benefit of the plan design. Employees who carry a balance in an HSA that was accumulated prior to enrolling in Medicare may still use those funds for Medicare premiums and out of pocket expenses.

If you have any specific questions about Medicare, CMS has a variety of detailed resources.

Delivering Great New Employees – Part 3

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

In today’s video blog, CAI’s Vice President of Membership, Doug Blizzard, shares his last installment of advice for hiring great new employees. Doug starts the video by describing a triangle that represents a pool of job candidates. He says the 80 percent of candidates that are at the bottom of the triangle are aggressively searching for a new job. The five percent of candidates at the top of the triangle are not open to new opportunities. However, Doug says the actual challenge is to attract the 15 percent in the middle who aren’t looking but might be open to a better opportunity.

To uncover those 15 percent, Doug offers several tips in the video. His first tip is to engage employees. He suggests telling your employees about current openings at the company and asking them to tell their friends, as well as post about the jobs on Facebook and LinkedIn. His second tip is to encourage employees to brag about the cool things your company is doing, such as blood drives or food drives. His last tip is to ask employees questions like “why do you enjoy working for our company” or “what makes our company different from our competition.” Doug says to use their answers in campaigns and ads to target and attract new employees.

Doug’s overall message is to train your employees to be good talent scouts for your organization. Please call our Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 for additional ways to attract new talent.

 

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.