12 Tested Ways to Manage Time-Off Requests around the Holidays

12 Tested Ways to Manage Time-Off Requests around the Holidays time off request policy request time off policy

For most HR practitioners, trying to coordinate a pile of time-off requests for the upcoming holiday season is hardly your favorite part of the job. No one really wants to be the one to tell employees that their request to spend time with their families during the holidays is being rejected, but depending on a whole slew of factors—industry, company size, production schedules, client demands, staffing levels, or even job specific duties—sometimes the reality is, the work has to get done.

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Protect Your Workplace—5 Frequently Asked Workplace Violence Questions

Workplace Violence: 5 Frequently Asked Questions

Every year, nearly 2 million American workers are reported victims of workplace violence. Workplace violence covers a wide range of acts or threats that are disruptive to the inside or outside of a workplace. Exposure to workplace violence or a lack of security may lower employees’ morale, leaving them feeling disengaged and unproductive. This is a rapidly growing concern for organizations worldwide, and we encourage seeking proper training to prevent and protect employees from possibly hostile situations.

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What’s Hot and What’s Not: What the Data Says About 10 HR Practices

What’s Hot and What’s Not: What the Data Says About 10 HR Practices

Just like in any profession, there are plenty of fads, “hot topics”, and trends that come and go in the world of human resources. But which of these workplace practices are really here to stay and which are just a flash in the pan? Here at ERC we are taking a dive into the data from our most comprehensive survey of the year, the recently published 2017/2018 ERC Policies & Benefits Survey, to find out!

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Why Employee Handbooks Matter

 Why Employee Handbooks Matter electronic employee handbook acknowledgement form

Employee handbooks first and foremost reserve and protect the rights of an employer.  In addition, they can help clarify expectations, facilitate better communication with employees, and can reduce risk related to litigation or unionization. As Merritt Bumpass, a partner in the Frantz Ward Labor and Employment Group said,

“An employer has a legal relationship with each of its employees. The crucial issue is what are the terms of that relationship, and the creation of a well written handbook is a very good way to establish clear and acceptable terms of that relationship.”

However, not all handbooks are created equal, and in order to maximize the impact of your organization’s handbook,  we spoke with the attorneys at Frantz Ward LLP, who gave a few suggestions for essential policies you should consider.

Essential Policies:

  • At will disclaimer
  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)
  • Anti-harassment – including sexual and workplace harassment
  • NLRA disclaimer
  • Non-solicitation
  • Work rules/Discipline
  • Electronic communications
  • Employment status/Classification
  • Attendance/Tardiness
  • Family and Medical Leave
  • Personal/Non FMLA Leave
  • Military Leave
  • Firearms/Weapons
  • Drug free workplace/ Drug testing
  • Workplace injury/Illness
  • Employee Acknowledgement Form

Additional Policies to Consider Including:

  • Welcome statement/Introduction
  • Description of benefits
  • Hours/Work schedule/Lunch/Breaks
  • Timekeeping
  • Employee benefits
  • Dress code
  • Reference requests
  • Updating personnel information
  • Access to personnel records
  • Employee suggestions
  • Continued education
  • Emergencies
  • Business reimbursement
  • Travel
  • Performance evaluations
  • Promotions/Transfers
  • Layoff/Recall
  • Payroll
  • Industry specific regulations
  • Reasonable accommodations
  • Employee complaints
  • Termination of employment/Resignation
  • Non-Fraternization/Dating/Personal relationships including relatives
  • Conflict of interest
  • Receiving/Receipt of gifts
  • Cell phones/Electronic devices while driving – Cell phones/Electronic devices at work
  • Smoking and use of tobacco
  • Working from home

Handbooks are not a one-size-fits-all. These are just some examples of sample policies that could be added to your handbook. All handbooks should be reviewed by legal counsel for compliance with federal and state laws and regulations–and should be modified to fit the organizations culture, industry and practices. If you are a ERC Member, contact the HR Help Desk for additional information on sample handbook policies.

Frantz Ward LLP is an ERC Partner and offers a Litigation Prevention Plan (LPP) that helps ERC members with their annual employment law expenses. Not a member of ERC? See what our Membership has to offer.

Source: Employment Law 2015 guidelines, “What’s Cooking in Labor and Employment Law in 2015,” Frantz Ward LLP.

IMPORTANT: By providing you with information that may be contained in this article, the Employers Resource Council (ERC) is not providing a qualified legal opinion concerning any particular human resource issue. As such, research information that ERC provides to its members should not be relied upon or considered a substitute for legal advice. The information that we provide is for general employer use and not necessarily for individual application. We also recommend that you consult your legal counsel regarding workplace matters when and if appropriate.

This document is intended to provide general information about legal developments, not legal advice. Receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Frantz Ward LLP.

ERC Partners Frantz Ward and Meyers Roman Litigation Prevention Plan

Is Your Organization Ready for Another Northeast Ohio Winter?

Is Your Organization Ready for Another Northeast Ohio Winter?

We haven’t even hit the official start of winter and already the region has seen its fair share of snow, ice, and frigid temperatures; not to mention traffic jams, car accidents, power outages, school closings, and of course, frantic phone calls from employees who aren’t going to make it to the office on time (or at all).

Although this week’s milder temperatures make it easy to forget, we still have at least three months of this unpredictable winter weather ahead of us here in Northeast Ohio and it is as important as ever that employers are prepared to handle whatever mother nature throws at them.

Does your organization have a protocol in place for weather related closures or delays?

While ERC’s annual Inclement Weather Survey consistently demonstrates that less than half of employers have formal inclement weather polices on the books, most organizations have some semblance of an informal policy that guides them in cases of emergency.

At the very least, designating one or more people to assess poor weather conditions and make a determination about the safety of the commute for employees is a good start.

A solid policy (formal or not) would then take into consideration how to communicate any change to the normal work day with employees, address how to handle absenteeism & tardiness, potentially include work from home options, and of course, follow fair (and legal) pay practices.

Do your employees know what to expect in case of weather related emergency?

Even if it’s not spelled out in an employee handbook, employees still need to be made aware of the protocol that will go into effect should a weather related emergency arise. Timing as well as the method by which the decision will be communicated are both critical.

At some organizations (usually larger organizations), the responsibility lies with the employee to check a hotline or voicemail.

Increasingly, organizations are turning to higher tech methods of communication, which still rely on the employees to check in, but go directly to each individual employee, i.e. email and text message. Particularly if your organization has employees that may be commuting long distances, the sooner you can inform your employees of any changes to arrival times or general closures, the better.

For safety’s sake, keep in mind how early these employees may need to leave in order to get to work on time—especially if they leave extra early to try to avoid traffic on bad weather days.

Making the decision as early as possible in the morning can also be a huge help for employees who have school age children. If their school district cancels school for the day, they may be faced with the challenge of arranging alternative child care.

Whenever possible, is your inclement weather policy fair (and FLSA compliant)?

Consistency is critical both in terms of employee safety, making sure your employees know what to expect so they can make informed choices about their travel, as well as in terms of equity and employee morale. Although most organizations treat exempt and non-exempt employees very similarly from a disciplinary standpoint when it comes to absences, there are some differences in the pay practices that are implemented.

These differences have legal grounds in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which places many more restrictions on docking pay for exempt employees than for non-exempt employees. Of course, depending on the nature of your business and the nature of the specific job duties that must be performed by certain individual employees within the organization, there are plenty of industries or job titles that are considered “critical” and therefore are left out of any closures or delays.

Helping all types of employees (e.g., exempt vs. non-exempt, critical vs. non-critical, outward facing vs. inward facing) understand these differences can help prevent or smooth over potential conflicts related to pay that might otherwise occur.

Ultimately, the key to any inclement/adverse weather protocol is balance – a balance between clear expectations and flexibility. Expectations need to be clear to maintain fairness, keep employees informed, and depending on the industry keep the business running for the safety of clients or even the general public.

However, on the flip-side, the policy also needs to have enough flexibility to accommodate the extenuating circumstances that undoubtedly accompany extreme weather.

Although the written policy may not address a particularly unique situation, by applying basic logic and keeping employee safety front of mind, any organization can be successful at navigating even the worst Northeast Ohio winter weather.

View ERC's Inclement Weather Practices Survey Results

This survey reports trends among Northeast Ohio employers in terms of how they handle communication, employee absence and tardiness, and pay during inclement weather.

View the Results

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