What are the Hardest Positions to Fill in Northeast Ohio?

A majority of Northeast Ohio organizations are planning to grow their businesses this year. Hiring projections from the 2015 ERC Hiring Trends & Practices Survey show that 84% of participating organizations have already hired one or more employees in 2015, and plan to make additional hires. Only 4% do not plan on hiring any employees this year. The 2015 ERC Hiring Trends and Practices Survey highlights hiring practices of 102 participating employers. 

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The Changing Landscape of Online Recruiting

The Changing Landscape of Online Recruiting

It’s no secret that the landscape for recruiting has changed dramatically with the rise of social media. In the early stages, recruiters felt they were ‘recruiting’ on social media by simply posting a status update that they were hiring. Then, many social media platforms began selling job postings and targeted display ads. LinkedIn has always sold expanded access to members and their profiles. To further complicate matters, some social sites are now aggregating job listings (similar to Indeed’s model).

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Keeping up with Background Screening

Keeping up with Background Screening

As a Human Resources professional, it’s highly probable that your organization conducts pre-employment and/or employee background screening or is interested in doing so. According to a 2012 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) report, 86 percent of companies conduct some type of criminal background check.

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What HR Professionals Need to Know about the EEOC’s Guidelines on Criminal Backgrounds



According to a survey released by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2012, approximately 69% of organizations reported that they conduct criminal background checks on all of their job applicants. However, what happens if something questionable shows up on the background check that reveals a criminal past? Do you have the right to ask them about it?

Yes, you do. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines strongly recommend employers speak to their candidates about a criminal history brought up in a background check.

In a Guidance document released in 2012, the EEOC describes the circumstances under which an employer’s use of arrest and conviction records can violate Title VII’s disparate treatment and disparate impact theories. The EEOC continues to embrace a test that evaluates criminal history, known as the Green factors

The Green factors include:

  1. The nature or gravity of the offense or conduct
  2. The time elapsed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence
  3. The nature of the job sought or held

But what is significant about the enforcement Guidance? It tries to assist employers with a better understanding of how the EEOC believes these factors should be applied.

Application questions

As a best practice, the EEOC encourages employers to not ask about convictions on an employment application. However, if the employer does ask the applicant about their criminal background past, the Guidance recommends that they only ask questions that are relevant to the position and job duties.

Arrest records

The Guidance states that an employer may not use arrest records to solely treat an applicant differently and cannot use arrest records alone as a reason to deny employment. However, if an employee has been arrested, the Guidance allows employment decisions to be based on the conduct underlying the arrest. As long as the reason for which the employee or applicant was arrested is relevant and makes the individual unfit for the position, than the employee or applicant may be terminated/not offered employment for the arrest.

Individualized assessments

This is when an employer will inform an employee or applicant that he or she will be screened for a criminal background. The individual is given an opportunity to respond and then the employer considers the circumstances before making a decision.

“In the Guidance, the EEOC states that employers who develop a targeted screen using the Green factors as well as the individualized assessment, can avoid Title VII liability.”

Compliance with federal law:

“The Guidance affirms that an employer who is conducting criminal background checks in order to comply with another federal law or regulation will not violate Title VII.”

However, the EEOC states that if a screening exceeds the scope of a federally imposed restriction, liability can occur if an employer doesn’t provide evidence that justifies an enhanced policy.

EEOC Guidance check list for HR professionals

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Employment Applications: What to Include and What to Avoid



Although resumes are a valuable addition to the hiring process, it is advised that employers still use employment applications because they can provide legal and practical advantages. Some companies even reject resumes and require all job candidates to complete the company’s application. 

Why an employment application?

The primary purpose of an employment application is to ask the right questions. Those are the questions that lead to the candidate that best fits your organization or has the greatest chance of success in the current open position; that means learning specifically what skills, training, experience, achievements and behaviors make that person the best candidate for the job.

The employment application is often the first contact a job seeker has with your organization. It is the beginning of the employment relationship. The information you request from a job applicant is different than the information you will request from hired employees.

Disclaimers

It is best practice for a company to include certain disclaimers and authorizations in the application form. To avoid a wrongful discharge legal suit, include an “employment at will” statement, along with a place for applicants to sign off on their acknowledgement of this statement. 

There are no federal or state laws that require a company to include an equal employment opportunity statement on their employment application, however including this statement confirms for the applicant that the company adheres to these employment practices.

Guidelines

An application should always include a section for an applicant's signature to attest that he or she has read and understands certain policies and procedures of the employer that are spelled out on the employment application. These frequently include the fact that the employer is an at-will employer, that the employer is an equal opportunity non-discriminating employer, and any other facts that the employer wants the applicant to read and understand on the employment application.

What to avoid

The application should avoid questions that may reveal that an applicant is a member of a protected class. This includes questions about religion, age, race, disabilities, medical history, gender, marital status, and national origin, etc.  Although many equal opportunity laws do not directly prohibit employers from asking such questions on an application, these kinds of questions may be used as evidence of an employer’s intent to discriminate, unless the questions asked can be justified by some business purpose.

Background Checks

Information needed to conduct background checks should be obtained on a separate form authoring the employer to conduct a check.

Some common questions to avoid are:

  • Protected Characteristics: Federal and Ohio employers are prohibited from making hiring decisions based on characteristics such as race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, military status or any other characteristic protected by law. Although outside the definition of protected class of “sex” the EEOC now includes gender identity and sexual orientation within that classification. 
  • Date of Birth: If there is a state imposed minimum age for certain positions, it can be asked if the candidates meet the minimum age requirement , but avoid asking for date of birth. In addition to the date of birth, stay away from questions about specific graduation dates.  If educational background is important, ask for the name of the educational institution and the degree or credentials, but no dates.
  • Marital status: Discrimination based on marital status is prohibited in many states. Wait until an individual is hired to gather information on benefits and employment forms.
  • Emergency Contact: This information is only relevant once a candidate has been extended an offer of employment, and should not be requested on the initial job application. This type of inquiry may elicit information about familial status, marital status, a domestic partnership, or other associations unrelated to the applicants qualifications. 
  • Citizenship: Employers should not inquire on an application about an applicant's country of origin, but can ask if the applicant is authorized to work in the United States. 
  • Medical Information: Avoid asking questions related to a disability, amount of sick leave taken, or workers compensation history. Both FMLA and ADA prohibit discrimination and retaliation against applicants who have exercised those rights. An employer may inquire about these areas after it has offered the applicant employment if it makes the same inquiries of all applicants.
  • Criminal History:  Enforcement guidelines issued by the EEOC recommends that employers not ask about convictions on job applications. Federal law does not prohibit employers from asking about criminal history. But, federal EEO laws do prohibit employers from discriminating when they use criminal history information.

Using criminal history information to make employment decisions may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (Title VII). The fact that an individual was arrested is not proof that he/she engaged in criminal conduct. Therefore, an individual's arrest record standing alone may not be used by an employer to take a negative employment action.

Many states and cities are enforcing “Ban the Box” laws which prohibit employers from asking about or considering an applicant’s criminal background until the later stages of the application process, such as the first interview or after a conditional offer of employment has been made.

By using an application, an employer can avoid a number of potential problems in the hiring process and promote a selection process that is fair to everyone. 

HR, compliance, termination, or compensation questions?

ERC has a team of HR Help Desk Advisors to provide timely and trusted answers.

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How to Determine if a Job is Exempt or Non-Exempt

exemptvsnonexemptemployees

The terms non-exempt and exempt can cause a lot of confusion for workers and employers. Exemption status determines if you receive overtime pay for working more than 40 hours in a work week. The exemptions are governed by the Fair Labors Standard Act (FLSA).

Non-exempt 

Non-exempt employees must be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime pay for any work performed over 40 hours worked in a week. This time must be paid at a rate of time and one half of their regular pay rate for each hour of overtime.

Exempt

Exempt employees are not granted the same protection under the FLSA, therefore they are paid the same dollar amount regardless of the number of hours worked in a week. Exemptions from the overtime requirements of the FLSA are just that—exceptions to the rule. They are very narrowly construed, and as the employer, you will always bear the burden of proving that you have correctly classified an employee as exempt. When in doubt on the classification of a job, it is best to make them non-exempt.

For most professions, an individual is an exempt employee if he or she meets all of the following three tests: 

  1. Is paid at least $23,000 per year ($455 per week)
  2. Is paid on a salary basis
  3. Performs exempt job duties

But how do you know if the individual performs exempt duties?  As a general rule, exempt employees tend to perform relatively high-level duties with respect to the company’s overall operations.

The most common FLSA exemptions are white collar exemptions and are broken down into five main categories, including: 

  1. Executive
  2. Administrative
  3. Professional
  4. Outside sales
  5. Computer

Other issues

There are also some other concerns to consider when determining non-exempt and exempt status.

  • Time off. Although there are exceptions, it’s usually illegal to give non-exempt employees time off instead of paying them overtime.
  • Child labor. Federal and state laws include special requirements to protect workers under the age of 18. These laws can affect the type of work, wages, and hours that an employee can complete.
  • Breaks. Employers need to make sure they follow federal and state law requirements regarding breaks, including meal breaks, for their employees.

If you have any additional questions regarding non-exempt and exempt employees, and are an ERC Member, contact our HR Help Desk or visit the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) FLSA page at http://www.dol.gov/whd/flsa/.

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.

HR, compliance, termination, or compensation questions?

ERC has a team of HR Help Desk Advisors to provide timely and trusted answers.

Contact the Help Desk

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