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Rock Your I-9 Audit

Recently, the Peninsula chapter of SHRM  hosted Dave Basham, from the Immigration and Citizenship Services (ICE). During his engaging presentation (who thought I-9 could be engaging, right?), Dave shared a number of useful reminders and highlighted the main sources of citations for employers during I-9 audits. The Basics Employers must complete Form I-9 for all newly hired employees to verify their identity and authorization to work in the U.S. Most federal contractors are required to complete the process using E-verify an online database. Don’t backdate Scenario: You are doing an internal review of your I-9 forms. You realize that there …

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The Trouble With Business Casual

The term “Business Casual” has become an institution in the modern business world. Despite the fact that several studies show very real downsides to dressing down at work, and despite the fact that there is still no agreed-upon definition of what “Business Casual” actually is, many companies have simply given up on proposing dress codes for their offices. Believe it or not, once upon a time, there was no such thing as business casual. You either dressed for business (i.e. suits for both men and women), or you dressed in an appropriate uniform. Who had the brilliant idea for “business …

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New White Collar Salary Exemption Levels Announced

The final rule on the overtime regulations was released tonight. All employers are impacted by this change. You can’t ignore this. Are you prepared?  Get “Overtime Ready”, a step-by-step guide – Available soon on my website. Here are the key points from the Department of Labor (DOL): 1. The Salary Level Increases to $913 Per Week for White Collar Exemption. Currently, to qualify as exempt, employees must make more than $455/week or $23,660/year. The DOL has announced that the salary threshold will be increased to $913/week or $47,476/year. While the change applies to all industries, it will disproportionately impact the nonprofit, government, service-sector industries, and regions  where wages …

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Can Employees Record Conversations at Work?

Covert Recording in the Workplace Imagine you are conducting a workplace investigation after an employee complained of harassment by his supervisor. The supervisor walks in the room, grabs a cell phone, fumbles with it but doesn’t announce his intention to record the conversation. It becomes the elephant in the room. You suspect that the meeting is being recorded and yet no one acknowledges it. The tense workplace investigation has only become tenser and more uncomfortable. How should employers handle covert recording by employees? Let’s examine those 2 questions. Is it Legal? One-party versus two-party consent states The majority of the …

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Social Media, Romance, Workplace. Need We Say More?

February brings Valentine’s Day and overtures of romantic feelings, including in the workplace. Surprised? Considering how many waking hours we spend at work, it is to be expected. In fact, it is already happening: in the cafeteria, the parking lot, around the water cooler, lingering at the end of a staff meeting, or behind the stacks in the warehouse. For decades, these overtures were typically accompanied by a card, a box of chocolates, maybe a stuffed animal. Today, we express our feelings through e-mails, text messages, on social media. How those communications are received will depend on the nature of the relationship. When …

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Winter Weather Creates Hazardous Pay Conditions

  Winter storms conjure up images of playing in the snow and hot chocolate, sledding down hills, and cross country skiing in the park. Unfortunately for employers, disruption to business leads to questions about pay. Should employees be paid when they can’t go to work because of the weather?   Compensation decisions have to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which establishes two categories of employees: exempt and non-exempt. Non-Exempt Employees They are referred as “hourly workers” but the FLSA designation is non-exempt (because they are non-exempt from overtime pay). Here the situation is straightforward. Non-exempt employees do not have to …

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Employee Background Checks – Necessary even for small businesses

Checking the background of prospective employees is a must even for small businesses. If not, you might spend your vacation time on the phone, dealing with employee problems. That’s exactly what happened to a local business owner. The cause of the problem: a white collar employee with a history of substance abuse. When the substance abuse turned into jail time, the employer’s vacation turned into a tough week of dealing with problems in the office while trying to spend time with family. How can employers avoid being caught in this situation? The answer: background checks. Background checks are an established …

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Open Season On The Flu

While we have enjoyed a mild fall, flu is on its way. Every fall, I get my flu shot because when I was in college I got the flu and it made me terribly sick. This experience left a lasting impression. I am determined not to be victim of the flu again. Many employers and those in the health-related fields might consider mandatory vaccination policies for their employees. Protecting patients, fellow employees, and the public at large provide many incentives for health care providers to encourage flu vaccination. However mandatory vaccinations are hotly debated. Last year, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) admitted …

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Building Trust – Online and In The Workplace

We work best with those we trust. We buy from trusted sources. We all know how important trust is. When it came time to create a website for my HR consulting business, I knew what functionalities I needed on the website but I didn’t know how to make it happen. Over the years, I had met Courtney Buzzell (this is a recent picture of Courtney and me) and Will Melton, co-owners of Proximo Marketing. I wanted to work with a local firm so I approached them. During our initial meeting, Courtney and Will listened to my objectives for the website. …

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Transgender Employees – An Evolving Landscape

Recently, I was working at @HRCI with fellow HR volunteers. This is the group in the picture.  During a break, Lori Boyer SPHR shared her experience of dealing with an employee transitioning from male to female. The high profile transition of Bruce to Caitlin Jenner has brought attention to transgender people. It’s also an area of law that’s changing fast. It’s definitely a source of potential headaches for employers. Don’t assume it’s unlikely to happen in your organization. It is estimated that between 2 to 5 percent of the population is transgender. When a transgender employee decides to transition to the …