3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship Program

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3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship Program

As a recent New York Times article demonstrates, the days of using interns to fetch coffee, pay them nothing and then unceremoniously dismiss them at the end of the internship without so much as a glimmer of a job prospect are far from over in many industries.

But here in Northeast Ohio, the annual ERC/NOCHE Internship & Recent Grad Pay Rates & Practices Survey demonstrates year after year that many employers are taking a very different approach to their internship programs. In order to attract the best and brightest students to their internship programs, employers need to understand what the internship landscape looks like locally, not only from a legal perspective in terms of pay, but also in terms of how much to pay and what is offered to students through the internship experience itself. Here are a few tips and trends from the ERC/NOCHE survey that organizations may want to keep in mind as they look to hire interns in 2014.
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Workers’ Compensation Claims: Strategies for Optimal Outcomes

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Workers’ Compensation Claims: Strategies for Optimal Outcomes

By utilizing workers’ compensation best practices employers can achieve a higher level of control over their workplace injuries, which can result in reduced severity and claim costs and better outcomes.

Early Reporting & Transitional Work

Early claim reporting is a crucial first step in controlling costs.  Numerous national studies have shown the longer it takes for a claim to reported, the costlier the claim.  That’s why it’s important to work with an Ohio Managed Care Organization (MCO) that has efficient options for reporting new workers’ compensation claims.  These can include fax, telephone, online or email reporting.
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2014 HR Compliance Timeline

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2014 HR Compliance Timeline

This 2014 HR Compliance Timeline is meant to be a helpful tool in identifying and remembering important dates for HR professionals. You can also download a printable PDF version of this compliance timeline.

Due Date Compliance Requirement
January 1, 2014 Ohio Minimum Wage change takes effect
January 1, 2014 New defined benefit/contribution plan limits take effect
January 1, 2014 Revised limits on health savings accounts (HSA) take effect
January 1, 2014 FSA rule dropping “use it or lose it” requirement takes effect
January 1, 2014 Health plan design requirements take effect under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
January 1, 2014 Rules regarding outcome-based wellness program incentives under the ACA take effect
January 1, 2014 Rules for applying annual limits and preventative care to defined contribution health care plans take effect
January 1, 2014 Individual health insurance mandate takes effect under the ACA
January 31, 2014 W-2s need to be issued to employees by this date; W-2s need to include cost of employer-sponsored group health care coverage
January 31, 2014 Form 940 due and Federal Unemployment Tax Rate (FUTA) needs to be deposited if owed
February 1, 2014 OSHA 300 Log (Forms 300 & 300A) needs to be posted on February 1st through April 30th
February 10, 2014 Form 940 due if FUTA deposits have been made on time
February 15, 2014 W-4 changes must be made for employees claiming no exemptions last year
July 31, 2014 Form 5500 due for calendar year defined contribution and benefit plans; Form 5500 due by the last day of the 7th month following end of the plan year for non-calendar year plans
September 30, 2014 EE0-1 reporting deadline
VETS-100/100A Form filing deadline
Deadline for distributing Summary Annual Report (SAR) to participants of defined contribution plans
December 1, 2014 Deadline for sending annual 401(k) and (m) safe harbor notice

Note: This chart is subject to change and more filing deadlines may apply for your specific organization than those listed in the chart.

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Weather Policies: Were You Ready for the Polar Vortex?

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Weather Policies: Were You Ready for the Polar Vortex?

The so called “polar vortex” that had Northeast Ohio firmly in its grip in January 2014 presented employers with weather that could unquestionably be categorized as “severe”. But the conditions resulting from sub-zero temperatures were somewhat atypical from the usual snowstorms and impassable road conditions that plague the region’s winters, prompting many organizations to question whether or not closures or delays were appropriate.

Although no formal survey was conducted on how organizations handled this most recent bout of inclement weather, a look at some of the highlights of ERC’s 2013 Inclement & Adverse Weather Practices survey report can begin to shed some light on what types of policies employers were working with when making their decisions earlier this week.
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5 Things Non-Exempt Employees Must Be Paid For Under FLSA

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Under the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA), there are certain activities beyond normal work duties that are considered work time (otherwise known as "working hours") that must be paid or "compensable" for covered employees. These include waiting/on-call time; lactation breaks; rest and meal periods; lectures, trainings, and meetings; and travel and are described below.

5 Things Non-Exempt Employees Must be Paid for Under FLSA

1. Waiting/On-Call Time

Whether waiting/on-call time should be compensable depends on whether an employee is engaged to wait or waiting to be engaged. If the employee is engaged to wait or on call for work on the employer's premises and is restricted in activities, he/she should be paid. If the employee is waiting to be engaged, this time is not considered work time and is not compensable.
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7 Creative Ideas for Your Staff Holiday Party

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company holiday party ideas office holiday party ideas 7 Creative Ideas for Your Staff Holiday Party

The holiday season is here again which means it's time to plan your company holiday party.

Holiday parties are a great way to recognize and celebrate your staff's success and accomplishments, nurture coworker relationships, and cap the year off at the end of the year. But, over time, holiday parties can sometimes feel more like an obligation than anything else, so it's important to keep them fresh, entertaining, and enjoyable. Here are seven creative office holiday party ideas.
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Tis the Season for 5 Holiday HR Issues

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Tis the Season for 5 Holiday HR Issues

Tis the season for several HR and compliance issues associated with the holidays. Here are five (5) holiday HR issues that you should revisit as the holidays ensue.

1. Holiday decorations

Holiday decorations tend to make their way into the workplace and employees' workspaces this time of year. What an employer allows in terms of decorations in the workplace is up them, but they should not discriminate and should be consistent and reasonable with their policies. 

Organizations need to be particularly careful with religious decorations, however. Refusal to accommodate an employee who wants to display a religious holiday symbol or decoration to commemorate a holiday should be considered very carefully as these can be minor religious accommodations that are protected under law and generally acceptable.

Additionally, according to the EEOC, holiday decorations should not be avoided just because someone objects to them, but organizations should ensure that all holiday decoration displays are reasonable and non-disruptive.
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Why Workplace Traditions Matter

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Why Workplace Traditions Matter

The holiday season calls to mind the importance of traditions in our organizations. Unfortunately, many companies fail to recognize the significance of traditions in the workplace, yet they are just as important in our companies as they are in our families.

If your organization wants to leave a mark on its employees and create a captivating culture, establish strong traditions—including rituals, celebrations, and routines specific to your company. Traditions may be one of your most important legacies as a company and the key to a great culture.

Not only will they be talked about for years, but they:

  • Create something timeless to hold onto, honor, and continue
  • Build meaningful connections between employees and with your organization
  • Create a shared history, rich with stories and experiences
  • Bind people together, forge bonds, and foster a sense of belonging
  • Strengthen your organization's identity
  • Bring energy to the workplace; heighten morale; and create a positive work environment

For these reasons, look for opportunities to create meaningful traditions in your workplace.

While the best workplace traditions often emerge naturally, here are some ideas that you could use:

  • Host an annual all staff event or celebration, such as a company banquet, retreat, or outing.
  • Celebrate certain holidays together, such as an annual holiday party or Thanksgiving luncheon.
  • Bring employees together for quarterly team-building.
  • Establish a tradition that connects your organization's mission to a bigger purpose.
  • Develop a monthly or quarterly recognition and rewards practice.
  • Create traditions for on-boarding new employees.
  • Establish a tradition for recognizing staff anniversaries.
  • Create traditions for recognizing employees' birthdays and other personal milestones.
  • Do something special to commemorate your organization's founding date anniversary.
  • Establish a weekly tradition (i.e. bring your pet to work day, dress down day Fridays, breakfast-on-the-company Mondays, etc.)

In addition, know what current traditions in your organization are important to your employees. Retain the valuable ones, retool others, and over time, discard the less meaningful traditions.

At times, we may be tempted to let go of our long-standing company traditions to save money, reduce time, and/or just change things for the sake of change and doing something new and different. But, if possible, resist dropping your tried and true workplace traditions...because that annual staff event you're considering canceling or overhauling may be a lot more important to your culture and employees than you think it is.

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What HR Needs to Keep Confidential

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What HR Needs to Keep Confidential

HR is not only entrusted with maintaining sensitive information about employee and management issues, but also must protect this information under laws governing confidentiality.

To protect employees’ privacy and avoid unnecessary litigation or fines, it is critical for HR to identify which processes or documents are supposed to be kept confidential, safeguard this information, keep it in secure locations, and discard it in proper ways. This also includes restricting access to sensitive data online and in various applications, databases, and servers; and creating privacy policies in collaboration with their IT department.

Not keeping certain information confidential can result in lawsuits, identify theft, data breach, or defamation lawsuits. It can also undermine an HR department's credibility and integrity. Here are four (4) types of information that HR needs to keep confidential.
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