Top 5 Trends in Training & Developing Talent

Training and development is a critical aspect of an organization's talent management strategy. Every organization needs to invest in it to attract and retain talent and grow their employees' knowledge base and capabilities. Here are five current trends influencing training and development.

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Managing Workplace Romance...Or Not?

Managing Workplace Romance...Or Not?

In the spirit of romance on this Valentine’s Day, now might be a good time for your organization to take a good hard look at your policy on “workplace romance”. Do you have a policy in place? How does it define the limits to relationships between employees? Has this issue come up recently among your employees? Should you consider implementing one?

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Recap: Employment Law - The Year Ahead

ERC's 2013 "Employment Law: The Year Ahead" program featured presentations from three attorneys at Buckingham, Doolittle, & Burroughs LLP which covered major topics in employment law related to the NLRB, Affordable Care Act, and expected regulations for 2013.

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OSHA Summary Must be Posted: February 1 - April 30

As a reminder, OSHA rules require employers to post the OSHA 300 summary form of occupational injuries and illnesses occurring between January 1 and December 31, 2012 by no later than February 1. Employers, however, do not need to post the full log of workplace-related occupational injuries and illnesses.

Please note that the summary form needs to be completed even if no work-related injuries or illnesses were recorded and requires the certified signature of a company executive. Employers must keep the summary posted through April 30.

Employers can download these forms at the link below:
http://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/RKforms.html

6 Q&As: Managing Flu Season in the Workplace

6 Q&As: Managing Flu Season in the Workplace

With flu season in our midst, many employers face challenges in managing sickness in the workplace. These challenges can include managing absenteeism, reducing or managing the prevalence of sickness in the workplace, supporting employees who must care for sick children, and in more rare cases, dealing with longer-term medical issues. Here is a Q&A guide on some of your most frequently asked questions related to these topics.

Q: How many sick days do employers typically provide?

A: On average, organizations usually provide 6-8 paid sick days annually, though many employers incorporate sick time into a paid time off bank.

Some industries tend to provide more sick time, particularly healthcare and non-profit organizations, which typically offer double the amount of sick time that other organizations provide.

Q: How should we handle pay for exempt employees who are sick?

A: Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), if an exempt employee misses less than one full day of work due to illness, you may not deduct his or her pay for the absence. This means, if they go home early or come in late due to illness, you may not dock their pay. Conversely, with hourly employees, your organization may deduct pay for any hours not worked due to illness, including a full day or less than full day.

Also, under FLSA, your organization is not obligated to provide pay for vacation or sick days (unless other state laws mandate this). Nonetheless, many employers provide these benefits to help handle pay situations when employees are sick.

Q: How can we prevent sickness from spreading in the workplace?

A: The workplace can be fertile ground for sickness to spread with employees working in close proximity to one another, especially common colds and flus. Here are a couple common ways to reduce the likelihood of this happening:

  • Provide flu shots once a year
  • Encourage sickness prevention via hand sanitizers and office cleanliness
  • Offer the ability for sick employees to work from home
  • Allow sick employees to stay at home and use their sick time if they are ill or contagious
  • Support employees' well-being by providing wellness resources/education and work-life balance

Q: What should we do when employees need to care for sick children?

A: Missing work to care for sick children is a challenge facing many working adults, who often feel they don't have enough paid sick time or flexible work arrangements to cover the days they need to take care of them.

There are a number of options you can offer in these circumstances. First, you can allow them to work at home, if possible, to care for their child. Second, you can provide a back-up/sick child care option or resource for employees to use. Third, you can allow them to use paid time off, make up work hours, work a flexible schedule, or provide family leave. Finally, if the situation warrants a serious health condition, providing FMLA leave may be advisable.

Q: What should we do about excessive absenteeism?

A: As a business, you need to institute and enforce acceptable boundaries for absenteeism in order to run your business smoothly via internal policies and procedures, such as an attendance policy.

But excessive absenteeism due to illness may actually be due to a legitimate medical condition which is covered by federal and state laws. In these cases, employers are obligated to comply with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and must pursue the appropriate course of action.

For other more common illnesses and issues that are acute in nature, if an employee is not complying with your policy or if you have a legitimate reason to believe that abuse is taking place, you may pursue whatever disciplinary action is necessary, so long as it's consistent with past precedents and documented policy.

Q: How should we handle issues of work coverage when an employee is sick?

A: Make sure your organization has the appropriate back-up coverage for when an employee is out of the office ill. Succession and workforce planning of this nature is essential to the ongoing productivity in your organization.

Q: How should we manage a longer-term illness?

A: Unfortunately, sometimes illnesses that affect the workplace are not just common flus and colds. Prolonged illness brings many unanticipated challenges to the workplace: arranging for medical leave (short term disability, FMLA, personal leave, etc.) preparing for return to work, dealing with short or long-term accommodations, and handling staffing or work coverage issues.

These situations can often be stressful and difficult for the employer and employee alike, so it's important to approach them with as much patience and support as possible. Usually, when employers make collaborative arrangements with employees to help them in these situations, to the extent that it business operations are not significantly affected, they tend to be effective.

Employee illness is one of the most common issues employers face in the workplace, and in our experience, one of the most difficult ones to manage. Approaching this flu season and employee illness in general in a supportive but tactical manner can help you better manage your employees, their needs, and those of your business.

Please note that by providing you with research information that may be contained in this article, ERC is not providing a qualified legal opinion. 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.

View ERC's Absence Management Practices Survey Results

This report summarizes the results of ERC’s survey of organizations in Northeast Ohio on practices related to attendance and unscheduled absence.

View the Results

Upcoming National Holidays Largely Overlooked In Northeast Ohio

If you happen to have the day off on January 21, consider yourself lucky. Here in Northeast Ohio the percentage of organizations observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday has consistently fallen well below the national average and 2013 is no different. According to the 2013 ERC Paid Holiday Survey only 11% of the 202 participating organizations include Martin Luther King Jr. Day in their paid holiday allocation. This falls 21 percentage points below the national statistics recently reported by BNA.

Where the two surveys do see eye-to-eye, is in terms of the clear industry specific differences seen between the types of organizations that offer Martin Luther King Jr. Day and those that do not. For example, the BNA survey reports that manufacturers are by far the least likely to give the day off at 7% and non-business (i.e. non-profits/government) organizations are the most likely to give the day off at 56%. The ERC survey saw a similarly wide discrepancy between manufacturers and non-profit (i.e. non-business) with non-manufacturing employers falling somewhere in between the two extremes.

These industry specific variations are particularly noteworthy as they may be responsible for at least some of the discrepancy observed between the overall averages reported by the national and local surveys. In terms of the demographics represented by each survey sample, the national BNA survey included primarily non-manufacturing organizations, while over half of ERC’s local survey respondents represented manufacturing organizations. While this over-representation of manufacturers and non-profits in the local and national surveys, respectively, accounts for some of the discrepancy, the fact remains that Northeast Ohio employers are observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day at a lower rate than the national average.

Looking  ahead to February, President’s Day will be observed as a paid holiday by even fewer Northeast Ohio organizations, only 8%. Industry specific differences are slightly less prominent as the overall percentage of organizations offering the day off are lower, but a similar trend can be seen with manufacturers once again ranking last out of the three industry breakouts reported.

For more information on how many and which paid holidays Northeast Ohio employers are offering their employees in 2013, download the entire 2013 ERC Paid Holiday Survey free of charge.

2013 HR Compliance Timeline

Due Date Compliance Requirement
January 1, 2013 New tax provisions in fiscal cliff deal take effect
January 1, 2013 Ohio Minimum Wage change takes effect
January 1, 2013 Social Security and Medicare changes take effect
January 1, 2013 New Fair Credit Reporting Act forms for background checks take effect
January 1, 2013 New Medicare tax under health care reform takes effect
January 1, 2013 New defined benefit/contribution plan limits take effect
January 1, 2013 New limits on employees’ flexible spending accounts (FSA) take effect
January 31, 2013 W-2s need to be issued to employees by this date; W-2s need to include cost of employer-sponsored group health care coverage for employers required to issue 250 or more W-2s
January 31, 2013 Form 940 due and Federal Unemployment Tax Rate (FUTA) needs to be deposited if owed
February 1, 2013 OSHA 300 Log (Forms 300 & 300A) needs to be posted on February 1st through April 30th
February 10, 2013 Form 940 due if FUTA deposits have been made on time
February 15, 2013 W-4 changes must be made for employees claiming no exemptions last year
March 1, 2013 Employers must provide written notice to new-hires and current employees about health insurance exchanges under health care reform law
July 31, 2013 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; Insured and self-insured healthcare plans must pay $1 per member (applicable to 2012 plan year) to fund comparative effectiveness research of medical treatments. This payment increases to $2 per member for 2013 plan year.
September 30, 2013 EE0-1 reporting deadline
September 30, 2013 VETS-100/100A Form filing deadline
December 31, 2013 Group health plans must certify that they are compliant with HHS rules on electronic transactions between health providers and health plans.

Note: This chart is subject to change and more filing deadlines may apply for your specific organization than those listed in the chart. By providing you with research information that may be contained in this chart, 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.

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