E-Verify Is Down. What Do Employers Do Now?

Are you questioning what you should do now that E-Verify, the federal government's electronic employment verification system, has expired? Read this blog post from SHRM to learn more.


What are employers supposed to do now that E-Verify—the federal government's electronic employment verification system—has expired?

Funding and congressional authorization for the program ran out Dec. 22, 2018, as the government went into a partial shutdown after Congress and the White House could not agree on how to fund some agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which administers the system, for fiscal year 2019.

E-Verify compares information from an employee's Form I-9 to DHS and Social Security Administration (SSA) records to confirm employment eligibility. Employers enrolled in the program are required to use the system to run checks on new workers within three days of hiring them.

During the government shutdown, employers will not be able to enroll in E-Verify, initiate queries, access cases or resolve tentative non-confirmations (TNCs) with affected workers.

All employers remain subject to Form I-9 obligations, however. "Remember that the government shutdown has nothing to do with an employer's responsibilities to complete the Form I-9 [in a timely manner]," said Dawn Lurie, senior counsel in the Washington, D.C., office of Seyfarth Shaw. "Specifically, employees are required to complete Section 1 of the I-9 on or before the first day of employment, and employers must complete Section 2 of the I-9 no later than the third business day after an employee begins work for pay."

No Cause for Alarm

Lurie advised employers not to panic while E-Verify is down. "Employers will not be penalized as a result of the E-Verify operations shutdown," she said. "Employers will not be penalized for any delays in creating E-Verify cases. However, employers are reminded that they must continue to complete I-9s in compliance with the law, and when E-Verify becomes available, create cases in the system."

To minimize the burden on both employers and employees, DHS announced that:

  • The three-day rule for creating E-Verify cases is suspended for cases affected by the unavailability of the service. "Normally, the employer enters information from the I-9 into E-Verify within three days of hire, but that won't be possible while the system is unavailable," said Montserrat Miller, a partner in the Atlanta office of Arnall Golden Gregory. "DHS will provide a window of time to submit those held cases once service resumes."
  • The time period during which employees may resolve TNCs will be extended. The number of days E-Verify is unavailable will not count toward the days the employee has to begin the process of resolving a TNC. "Employers can't take any adverse action against a worker with a pending TNC regardless, shutdown or not," Miller said. Currently, an employee who chooses to contest a TNC must visit an SSA field office or call DHS within eight federal government working days to begin resolving it. This period will have to be extended because of the shutdown, she added.
  • Additional guidance regarding the three-day rule and time period to resolve TNC deadlines will be provided once operations resume.

Amy Peck, an immigration attorney with Jackson Lewis in Omaha, Neb., advised employers to keep track of all new hires with completed I-9s for whom there are no E-Verify queries due to the shutdown. She also recommended attaching a memo in a master E-Verify file tracking the days that the program was unavailable. "I've seen the discrepancy come up years later during an audit," she said.

"Once the system is back up, work with counsel on how much time employees have to resolve their TNCs," Peck said. "Someone receiving a TNC the day before the shutdown is a different case than somebody who had 10 days to resolve their TNC when the shutdown occurred. Those circumstances should be considered on a case-by-case basis."

Federal contractors with a federal acquisition regulation E-Verify clause should contact their government contracting officers to extend deadlines. "Federal contractors have a particular concern because nobody is supposed to be working who has not been verified through the system," Peck said. "People can be hired, but whether they are allowed to work on the contract before being run through E-Verify is a critical consideration that should be discussed with counsel."

Prepare for the Resumption of Service

Miller said employers should monitor the shutdown. "When it is over, log in to the system and see what instructions there are for creating and submitting queries," she advised. "There is an obligation to create those queries if you are enrolled in the program, even if enrolled voluntarily."

The backlog created as a result of the shutdown might have a significant impact on employers that process many E-Verify cases and specifically on the HR staff and other team members in charge of the process.

"Not all employers will be able to push all their cases through at once when the shutdown ends," Miller said. "If everyone did that, the system would crash. DHS will provide instructions on how to submit queries. Employers will be asked why the query is being submitted after the required three days. In the past, 'Government Shutdown' was one of the options in the drop-down menu."

Peck reminded employers that the loss of E-Verify does not mean there is a prohibition against hiring. "Companies should continue to hire as they need," she said.

SOURCE: Maurer, R. (3 January 2019) "E-Verify Is Down. What Do Employers Do Now?" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/Pages/EVerify-Outage-What-Do-Employers-HR-Do.aspx


The do’s and don’ts of ADA accommodations: 3 new rulings

More than 25,000 ADA charges were filed by the EEOC in the past year, despite employers best compliance efforts. Continue reading this blog post to learn more.


Employers are facing more disability discrimination lawsuits than ever – despite their best compliance efforts. 
In the past year alone, over 25,000 ADA charges were filed by the EEOC.

The right way to accommodate

One area that’s often a point of contention? The accommodation process. Workers and employers can have a very different idea of how a disability should be accommodated.

And while each disability needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis, several recent court rulings shed further light on employers’ ADA accommodation responsibilities.

1. In Brumley v. United Parcel Service, a court ruled that ADA accommodations don’t necessarily have to be given to employees immediately.

Melissa Brumley delivered packages for UPS when she hurt her back lifting a heavy box from her truck.

She took leave to heal, and her doctor said when she returned to work she could no longer lift packages or drive. Since these were two essential functions of her job, Brumley’s manager put her on leave while waiting on more information from her doctor.

After beginning the interactive process and considering a reassignment, Brumley’s doctor cleared her to go back to her old job, and UPS ended the process.

But Brumley sued the company for failing to accommodate her during those weeks she was on leave, which resulted in loss of pay.

A district court ruled in favor of UPS, and on appeal, the 6th Circuit agreed. It said just because the company didn’t accommodate the employee immediately didn’t mean it violated the ADA.

UPS began the interactive process and only stopped once Brumley was cleared to go back to her old job without an accommodation.

The key things the company did? Beginning the process and requesting additional info from Brumley’s doctor – this showed the court a good faith effort to comply with the ADA.

2. In Sharbono v. Northern States Power, a court ruled a company that failed to find an accommodation didn’t fail to fulfill its ADA duties.

After a foot injury, James Sharbono wasn’t able to wear the steel-toed boots required by his company’s safety procedures.

HR worked with Sharbono and suggested several accommodations, such as altering his boots and getting a custom pair made, but none worked out. Sharbono was forced to retire, and he sued for ADA violation.

But the 8th Circuit ruled the company acted in good faith. It worked with Sharbono and suggested several accommodations. It was only after exhausting all options that Sharbono was forced to retire. The court said the company fulfilled its ADA responsibilities, despite finding no accommodation for Sharbono.

3. In Stokes v. Nielsen, a court decided companies can be required to make accommodations that cover more than just essential job functions.

Jacqueline Stokes had impaired vision and received multiple accommodations that allowed her to do her job. Stokes then requested special meeting handouts, printed in large letters, that she could read beforehand.

Despite many promises from HR, Stokes never received her requested handouts. She sued, claiming to be denied a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

While the company argued it gave Stokes everything she needed to do her job, therefore fulfilling its ADA responsibilities, the Fifth Circuit disagreed.

“Our circuit has explicitly rejected the requirement that requested modifications must be necessary to perform essential job functions to constitute a reasonable accommodation,” it said. And Stokes’ request was deemed reasonable.

This case shows if an employee makes a reasonable request for their job, it’s easier to just grant it.

SOURCE: Mucha, R. (4 January 2019) "The do’s and don’ts of ADA accommodations: 3 new rulings" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from http://www.hrmorning.com/the-dos-and-donts-of-ada-accommodations-3-new-rulings/


It might be time for a financial wellness checkup

On average, 46 percent of workers spend two to three hours during the work week dealing with personal finance issues. Continue reading this blog post to learn how employers can help employees improve their financial wellness.


We’ve all seen the infamous statistics — 56% of American workers struggle financially, 75% live paycheck to paycheck. A majority of Americans can’t come up with $1,000 for an emergency.

It is quite obvious that financial worries have a massive impact on happiness and stress levels, but what business owners, executives and human resource professionals understand is that this lack of financial wellness in the U.S. has a devastating effect on worker productivity, and therefore, employers’ bottom lines.

Employees who spend time during their day worried about bills and loans are less focused on getting their work done. In fact, a staggering 46% of employees spend, on average, two to three hours per week dealing with personal finance issues during work hours. So what can employers offer their workers to help them become more financially sound?

There are a number of ways to help employees improve their financial well-being – including utilizing the help of a financial wellness benefit platform – but at the very least, there are three major benefits that every business should employ if they want a stress-free and productive workforce.

Savings, investment and retirement solutions. Offering employees the ability to automatically allocate their paychecks into savings, investment and retirement accounts will help them more effectively meet their financial goals without worrying about moving money around. These types of programs should allow employees to make temporary or permanent changes at any time to reflect any immediate changes that may occur in their life.

Credit solutions and loan consolidation. Having a reliable source of credit is extremely important, but access to it can also be dangerous for big spenders. Employers should guide workers towards making informed financial decisions and teach them how to use credit wisely. Employers need to be able to refer employees to affordable and trusted sources for things like credit cards, short-term loan options and mortgages, so employees don’t have to spend time doing the research for themselves (or worse, potentially becoming victims of fraud). Companies should also offer resources that teach employees how to organize their finances to pay their debt off on time without accumulating unnecessary interest or fees.

Insurance (not just health). While many large companies offer the traditional health, dental, vision, disability and life insurance, employers should also be offering resources that give easy access to vehicle, home, renters, boat, pet and other common insurance products. Some insurance carriers even offer volume discounts, so if a large percentage of employees in an organization utilize pet insurance, everyone can save some money.

While it is important for employers to offer these benefits, it is also important to follow up with employees and make sure they are utilizing all of the benefits they have access to. Sometimes people can have too much pride or can be afraid to ask for financial help. The use of these programs should be talked about, encouraged and even rewarded.

Justifying the investment in these benefits is simple. Employers want to increase productivity, and employees want to be more financially sound. The workplace is evolving and so is the workforce, so while you look to add benefits like 401(k), work from home, summer Fridays, gym memberships and free lunch, don’t forget about the financial wellness of the people you employ. Maybe next year, you will see that your workers are focused less on their college loans and are able to put more effort into growing your business.

SOURCE: Kilby, D. (14 December 2018) "It might be time for a financial wellness checkup" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/it-might-be-time-for-a-financial-wellness-checkup


Call today, work tomorrow: The future of hiring?

A recent article from the Wall Street Journal states that more and more employees are being hired without a formal face-to-face interview. Continue reading to learn more about the future of hiring.


You just called a prospective candidate with a job offer, and they accepted. Pretty standard procedure — except you won’t meet the new hire until their first day of work.

In a hot job market, more workers are being hired without ever doing a formal face-to-face interview, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. Hiring agencies and HR professionals are hearing more and more about hiring sight unseen, and the reviews are mixed. Agencies say it’s a fast and more efficient way to hire, while some HR professionals argue there’s no substitute for human interaction.

“We basically advertised jobs as call today, work tomorrow,” says Tim Gates, senior regional vice president of Adecco Staffing, which recently filled 15 openings without a formal in-person interview. “It makes it convenient for everybody involved.”

Adecco Staffing uses a digital hiring platform to prescreen candidates before setting up phone interviews. Applicants who ace the 20-minute phone conversation will likely be placed at a job site contracting Adecco. Gates says the practice gives his staffing agency a competitive edge by hiring people before they accept another position. He also believes this fast, straightforward approach is more attractive to job seekers seeking immediate employment.

Adecco hires sight unseen for entry level, manufacturing and specialized positions — like graphic design. They’re not alone. Susan Trettner, founder and director of direct hire placement firm Talent Direct 360, works with industries across the board but often hires workers for engineering, IT, HR, sales and marketing roles. Trettner says hiring without meeting a candidate is becoming more commonplace, especially for retail and e-commerce employers who have to hire large numbers of workers.

“Making a hiring determination over the phone is acceptable, and I think a lot of companies are doing that,” she says.

During the holidays, for example, retailers may not have the time to interview hundreds of candidates for a position, Trettner says. But, she adds, many companies that hire employees without meeting in person often have a “game plan” for onboarding that gets workers quickly up to speed on what they will be doing on the job. Making the hiring process more efficient is better for everyone, she says.

“It all comes down to filling the positions so they can remain productive,” she says.

Trettner says she would consider hiring workers without meeting them, but at the end of the day, it’s up to the employer client. If a client, for example, needs 300 new workers in a short period of time, Trettner says she would suggest they consider expediting the hiring process a bit to help save money and time.

“I open them up to anything I think is efficient,” she adds.

Some organizations would rather take extra time choosing candidates. Kathleen Sheridan, associate director of global staffing for Harvard Business Publishing, says she knows from 20 years of experience that phone interviews can’t tell you everything about a person. She once sat down with three candidates for a sales position; they all performed well during a phone interview, but completely fumbled while answering questions during a sit-down meeting. None of them were hired, Sheridan said.

“You can come across as a completely different person over the phone,” Sheridan says. “As cumbersome as interview process can be, the value of bringing people in and allowing them to see you is worth it.”

As someone who works with people on a daily basis, Sheridan says she would be distrustful of any job offer from someone she’s never met. She says higher-level executives at Harvard Business Publishing will travel out of the country to meet with prospective hires.

“A decision to join a company is emotional as well as very practical. I think you need to give people a chance to check their emotional response and get a feel for the culture and vibe,” Sheridan says. “I would ask myself, ‘what is it about your organization that you would deny me the opportunity to meet the people who are in the headquarters of this company that I’m going to represent?’”

Peg Buchenroth, HR director of employment agency Addison Group, says most of her clients request in-person interviews for job placements in the IT, engineering, healthcare and finance accounting industries. She says it’s unlikely to change.

“It’s maybe more common in the seasonal retail industry for the holiday season. For our types of positions, there’s no reason not to interview when we have the ability to do Skype interviews,” Buchenroth says.

SOURCE: Webster, K. (5 December 2018) "Call today, work tomorrow: The future of hiring?" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/call-today-work-tomorrow-the-future-of-hiring?brief=00000152-14a7-d1cc-a5fa-7cffccf00000


The Importance of Working For A Boss Who Supports You

Do you work for a boss who supports you? Trust and commitment are at the core of any professional relationship, and employees who work for a boss that supports them is crucial to professional and company success. Continue reading to learn more.


Employers seek loyalty and dedication from their employees but sometimes fail to return their half of the equation, leaving millennial workers feeling left behind and unsupported. Professional relationships are built on trust and commitment, and working for a boss that supports you is vital to professional and company success.

Employees who believe their company cares for them perform better. What value does an employer place on you as an employee? Are you there to get the job done and go home? Are you paid fairly, well-trained and confident in your job security? Do you work under good job conditions? Do you receive constructive feedback, or do you feel demeaned or invisible?

When millennial employees feel supported by their boss, their happiness on the job soars — and so does company success. Building a healthy relationship involves the efforts of both parties — boss and employee — and the result not only improves company success, but also the quality of policies, feedback and work culture.

Investing In A Relationship With Your Boss

When you’re first hired, you should get to know your company’s culture and closely watch your boss as you learn the ropes. It’s best to clarify any questions you have instead of going rogue on a project and ending up with a failed proposal for a valuable client.

Regardless of your boss’s communication style, speaking up on timely matters before consequences are out of your control builds trust and establishes healthy communication. Getting to know your boss begins with knowing how they move through the business day, including their moods, how they prefer to communicate and their style of leadership:

  • Mood: Perhaps your boss needs their cup of coffee to start the day. If you see other employees scurry away before the boss drains that cup of coffee, bide your time, too.
  • Communication: The boss’s communication style is also influenced by their mood. Don’t wait too late to break important news. In-depth topics may be scheduled for a meeting through a phone call or email to check in and show you respect your boss’s time. In return, your time will be respected, too.

Some professionals are more emotionally reinforcing that others. Some might appear cold, but in reality, prefer to use hard data to solidify the endpoint as an analytical style. If you’re more focused on interpersonal relationships, that’s your strength, but you must also learn and respect your boss’s communication style.

  • Leadership: What kind of leader is the boss? Various communication styles best fit an organization depending on its goals and culture, but provide both advantages and disadvantages. Autocratic leaders assume total authority on decision-making without input or challenge from others. Participative leaders value the democratic input of team members, but final decisions remain with the boss.

Autocratic leaders may be best equipped to handle emergency decisions over participative leaders, depending on the situation and information received.

While the boss wields a position of power over employees, it’s important that leaders don’t hold that over their employees’ heads. In the case of dissatisfaction at work, millennial employees don’t carry the sole blame. Respect is mutually earned, and ultimately a healthy relationship between leaders and employees betters the company and the budding careers of millennials.

A Healthy Relationship With Leaders Betters The Company

A Gallup report reveals that millennial career happiness is down while disengagement at work climbs — 71% of millennials aren’t engaged on the job and half of all employed plan on leaving within a year. What is the cause? Bosses carry the responsibility for 70% of employee engagement variances. Meanwhile, engaged bosses are 59% more prone to having and retaining engaged employees.

The supportive behaviors of these managers to engage their employees included being accessible for discussion, motivating by strengths over weaknesses and helping to set goals. According to the Gallup report, the primary determiner of employee retention and engagement are those in leadership positions. The boss is poised to affect employee happiness, satisfaction, productivity and performance directly.

The same report reveals that only 21% of millennial employees meet weekly with their boss and 17% receive meaningful feedback. The most positive engagement booster was in managers who focused on employee strengths. In the end, one out of every two employees will leave a job to get away from their boss when unsupported.

Millennials are taking the workforce by storm — one-third of those employed are millennials, and soon those numbers will take the lead. Millennials are important to companies as technology continues to shift and grow, and they are passionate about offering their talents to their employers. It’s vital that millennials have access to bosses who offer support and engage their staff through meaningful feedback, accessibility and help with goal-setting.

In return, millennial happiness and job satisfaction soar, positively impacting productivity, performance, policy and work culture. A healthy relationship between boss and employee is vital to company success and the growth of millennial careers as the workforce continues to age. Bosses shouldn’t be the reason that millennial employees leave. They should be the reason millennials stay and thrive in the workplace, pushing it toward greater success.

SOURCE: Landrum, S. (8 December 2018) "The Importance of Working For A Boss Who Supports You" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahlandrum/2017/12/08/the-importance-of-working-for-a-boss-that-supports-you/1?


Creating a culture of recognition

Does your corporation have a culture of recognition? Companies can experience an increase in engagement, productivity and retention when employees are recognized for their work. Read this blog post to learn more.


When employees are recognized for their work, employers can see gains in engagement, productivity and retention.

But such efforts must be more than a one-time event; to really enjoy the benefits, employers need a culture of recognition, experts say. This has to start at the top and include clearly defined company values.

Live the culture you want

"A purposeful, positive, productive work culture doesn't happen by default — it only happens by design," S. Chris Edmonds, founder of The Purposeful Culture Group, told HR Dive via email.

And while HR can influence culture, a recognition culture must start at the top, experts say. And it must be part of an employer's performance management strategy.

Management can signal what's important, what it needs employees to care about, Scott Conklin, VP, HR at Paycor, said. "You have to live your words," he told HR Dive, adding that "if not seen at all levels, people aren't going to do it."

Senior leaders must create credibility for these "new rules" by modeling valued behaviors and coaching on them every day, Edmonds said. Coaching means senior leaders must praise aligned behaviors everywhere they see them and redirect misaligned behaviors in the same way. Only when senior leaders model these behaviors will others understand that these new rules aren't optional, Edmonds said.

In addition, Edmonds said, the organization must measure how well leaders are modeling the valued behaviors. This measurement often comes in the form of a regular values survey, generally twice a year, where everyone in the organization rates their boss, next-level leaders and senior leaders on the degree to which those leaders demonstrate the company's valued behaviors. Only by rating leaders on valued behavior alignment can values be as important as results, Edmonds said.

And only when everyone — from senior leaders to individual team members — demonstrates valued behaviors in every interaction will the work culture shift to purposeful, positive and productive, Edmonds said.

Create an industrial constitution

Many employers don't communicate their values well, Conklin said.

The path to great team citizenship can be clearly defined by creating an organizational constitution that includes a servant purpose statement explaining how the organization specifically improves quality of life for its customers — and defines values and measurable valued behaviors, strategies and goals, Edmonds said.

If company values don't explicitly define exactly how you want people to behave, they'll struggle to model your values, Edmonds continued. If an organization values integrity but doesn't define it in measurable terms, people won't know exactly how they're supposed to behave, he explained.

Find what works

Traditional models of employee recognition are good, but they're becoming outdated in some cultures, Conklin noted. Your recognition program has to fit your culture, he said.

SOURCE: Burden, L. (26 November 2018) "Creating a culture of recognition" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.hrdive.com/news/creating-a-culture-of-recognition/542845/


How to retain good employees? Make them feel valued.

Training industry reports that U.S. companies spend $161 billion on training development every year. Read this blog post to learn how you can make employees feel valued.


Trucking as an industry is not known as being woman-friendly, but Volvo Truck wants to change this and recently completed a landmark Women in Leadership experience for selected women employees.

For Volvo, retaining female employees is a strategic objective and demonstrating the potential for women to advance and move into leadership roles is key to keeping women in the company. The six-month Women in Leadership program demonstrated that the company valued the participants, just by inviting them to the program.

“Being nominated was like winning something,” said Volvo employee Tyletha Hubbard. “It felt good to know that I was considered a key talent in the organization.”

All people like to be recognized as valuable to their organizations. This principle holds for men, women, ethnic minorities and people of different generations who appreciate employer-provided training and development. What better way to show an employee that they are needed and that they have a place to grow and move up?

Training and development is big business. Training Industry reports that US companies spend $161 billion on it annually. But it’s also a cost-effective benefit to provide your employees. Classroom programs can reach dozens at a time for a flat fee. And then you can add back the valued gained from having a more effective workforce.

Training can address the hard skills of the job or the soft skills of interpersonal relations and emotional intelligence.

In the benefits industry, you’re constantly explaining complicated products that are often fraught with emotion and stress, e.g. health insurance. Presenting benefits plans to clients in a competitive bid is a high-wire act for most salespeople. So, training that focuses on presentation skills, public speaking and body language can give your firm a competitive edge, while building a more confident workforce.

When starting up a training initiative, presentation skills are a great “101” course to include. Most people don’t get it in school and most people need a lot of help with it. Not only does learning about presentation skills and interpersonal communication help people sell better, but it also helps them “read” other people better and interact more effectively with coworkers.

Presentation skills training is a cornerstone for further development. People who have better interpersonal communications tend to do better in higher level training and, generally, better outcomes in all of their work experiences.

Team building, decision making and leadership development are learning experiences that can also “show the love” from the organization to the employee, while also improving the performance of the firm. The term “learning organization” has become a positive goal for many companies, as a means of becoming more effective through better employee engagement and opening new opportunities within the company.

At Volvo, there is a practice of allowing employees to move laterally from department to department in order to learn new skills and keep work interesting. Its Women in Leadership program encouraged staff to think and talk about what job they might want to try doing next. The policy invites workers to be open about their goals and understand that there’s always a place for them. Contrast this with feeling like you’re in a dead-end job.

And this is where HR and training can team up.

A recent study by Right Management revealed that, when asked,  68 percent of employees say they really want to talk about their careers with company management. There’s even an HR term for it: career conversations. But these conversations are not happening very much.

According to the Right Management white paper, “Only 16 percent of employees indicate that they have ongoing career conversations with their managers and about their career.”

It turns out most people get their career conversations from managers, colleagues and family. When a promising young manager starts wondering about where her career is going, she might seek out advice from her workmates of parents, but not human resources.

Why not integrate career conversations with training? It’s a golden opportunity for your human resources team. Most training engagements include personality assessments and feedback that help participants better understand themselves and others. Also, training often concludes with some sort of “what’s next” discussion or action plan about how to use what’s been learned.

A career conversation that follows such focused introspection will be better informed and will benefit from the afterglow of learning.

It’s well documented that financial compensation isn’t always the main factor that keeps people from leaving a company. Andrew Chamberlain, an economist with Glassdoor recently wrote about this in Harvard Business Review.

“One of the most striking results we’ve found is that, across all income levels, the top predictor of workplace satisfaction is not pay: It is the culture and values of the organization, followed closely by the quality of senior leadership and the career opportunities at the company,” writes Chamberlain. “Among the six workplace factors we examined, compensation and benefits were consistently rated among the least important factors of workplace happiness.”

Not feeling valued by management can become an incentive to exit even if it means taking less money in the next job.

Training, development, continual learning experiences and career conversations are proven cost-effective ways to show employees that they are unique individuals who are needed by the organization.

SOURCE: Warrick, D. (29 November 2018) "How to retain good employees? Make them feel valued." (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitspro.com/2018/11/29/how-to-retain-good-employees-make-them-feel-valued/


It’s peak flu season. Here’s what employers should do now

Employers can expect to see an influx of coughing, sneezing, and germ passing at the office this time of year. Read this blog post to learn what proactive steps employers can take to keep the workplace healthy.


The U.S. is in the height of flu season, which means employers are likely to see an influx of employees coughing, sneezing and spreading germs in the office. Aside from passing a box of tissues, employers may be wondering what they are legally permitted to do when their workers get sick.

One benefit that is becoming increasingly relevant is paid sick leave. Several cities and states — including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Chicago and others — have paid sick leave laws on the books. But while many companies offer paid sick leave as a benefit, there is no federal paid sick leave law. Paid sick leave laws may remove some incentive for sick workers to report to work, making the illness less likely to spread to the rest of the workforce.

But paid sick leave laws do place limitations on employers. For example, companies cannot make taking a paid sick leave day contingent upon the employee finding someone to cover their shift. Depending on the law, employees don’t always need to give notice of their absence before their shift begins, which could make scheduling difficult. Some laws limit an employer’s ability to ask for a doctor’s note.

Employers do, however, have some latitude when it comes to requiring employees to stay home from work or sending them home if they show signs of illness. Employers just need to be careful not to cross any lines set by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act or a state fair employment statute. This means steering clear of conducting medical examinations or making a disability-related inquiry.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers should avoid taking an employee’s temperature. This is considered a medical examination by an employer, which is generally prohibited except in limited circumstances.

They should also avoid asking employees to disclose whether they have a medical condition that could make them especially vulnerable to complications from influenza or other common illnesses. Doing so would likely violate the ADA or state laws, even if the employer is asking with the best of intentions. Employers also cannot require workers to get a flu shot, according to the EEOC.

Employees could have a disability that prevents them from taking the influenza vaccine, which could compel them to disclose an underlying medical condition to their employer to avoid taking the shot. Additionally, some employees may observe religious practices that would prevent them from taking the flu vaccines. Thus, requiring an employee to take a vaccine could lead to a violation of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 in addition to the ADA.

Beyond these limitations, employers can take these proactive steps to keep the workplace healthy.

Ask employees if they are symptomatic. In determining who should go home or not report to work, employers may ask workers if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms. This would not rise to the level of a medical exam or a disability-related inquiry, according to the EEOC.

Advise workers to go home. Employers can order an employee to go home if they are showing signs of the flu. The EEOC says that advising such workers to go home is not a disability-related action if the illness is like seasonal influenza.

Encourage workers to telecommute as an infection-control strategy. But keep in mind that the company could be establishing a precedent for telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation in other circumstances, such as for an employee recovering from major surgery who cannot come to the workplace.

Encourage flu shots. Employers may encourage — but not require — employees to get flu shots. For example, a company can invite a healthcare professional to the workplace to administer flu shots at a discounted rate or free.

Employers may require its employees to adopt certain infection-control strategies, such as regular hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, proper tissue usage and disposal, and even wearing a mask.

The ADA, Title VII, state fair employment laws and paid sick leave statutes are also incredibly nuanced. Moreover, it’s important to balance the mandates of OSHA, which require employers to maintain a safe working environment. Before taking any significant actions, employers should consult with an employment attorney or HR professional for guidance.

SOURCE: Starkman, J.; Dominguez, R. (4 December 2018) "It’s peak flu season. Here’s what employers should do now" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/its-peak-flu-season-heres-what-employers-should-do-now?brief=00000152-14a5-d1cc-a5fa-7cff48fe0001


4 mistakes to avoid at the intersection of FMLA and PTO

Administration of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can become extremely complex, especially when other leave entitlements are added. Read this blog post to learn about the four mistakes employers should avoid when it comes to FMLA and PTO.


By now, many employers can recite the basic requirements of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in their sleep. The law provides eligible employees (those who have at least one year of service and 1,250 hours under their belt) with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave over a 12-month period for qualifying family-related or medical reasons. FMLA covers companies with 50 or more employees located within 75 miles of each other.

While the law itself is conceptually straightforward, administration can become incredibly complex — especially when you throw other types of leave entitlements into the mix such as workers' comp, disability leave, and paid time off (PTO).

HR Dive recently spoke with three employment law attorneys about the most common — and costly — leave administration errors employers make when it comes to the intersection of FMLA and paid leave.

Mistake #1: Not running leaves concurrently

"I would say that the biggest issue that we see is a lot of employers do not have policies that provide for the use of paid time off concurrently with the FMLA," said attorney Molly Batsch, an officer at the St. Louis office of Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C. "[Because] the FMLA regulations allow employers to require employees to use any paid time off concurrently with unpaid FMLA leave, we really encourage employers to put that specifically in their policies."

Attorney Jeff Nowak, a partner at the Chicago office of Franczek Radelet P.C., concurred via email: "A decent number of employers don't realize that they can run FMLA leave concurrently with paid leave benefits such as worker's compensation benefits — or they forget to run both at the same time."

Failing to run leaves concurrently, when permitted, can be costly for employers. A series of consecutive leaves strung together can mean longer absences and increased workplace disruption.

Mistake #2: Policy confusion

A similar mistake employers make is that they don't explicitly outline the concurrent rule to employees. Your FMLA policy should make clear that any paid time off will run concurrently with unpaid FMLA time, advised Batsch: "I think that employers have a few misconceptions about that.

"The first misconception would be that the employee gets to pick," she said. "If the employee doesn't want to run the two concurrently, then they can go ahead and take 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA and then they can take their five weeks of vacation after that, and that is not the case. It is permissible for an employer to require that time to run concurrently. So that's the first mistake I see."

Make sure your policy is abundantly obvious about that so employees don't get upset about that requirement when it's being administered.

Mistake #3: Missing an important caveat about FMLA and paid leave

There is an important exception to the general rule that employers may require an employee to use paid leave during unpaid FMLA leave, one that many employers miss, according to all three attorneys HR Dive spoke with.

"If an employee is on FMLA leave and simultaneously in receipt of a paid benefit, in any amount, FMLA leave is considered paid. When it's paid FMLA, an employer may not require that the employee substitute PTO — but it can permit that," said attorney David Mohl, a principal at the Atlanta office of Jackson Lewis PC.

For example, he said, if short-term disability provides 70% income replacement, an employer cannot require that the employee use PTO (or other paid leave) to make up the difference. If, however, there is a waiting period before that paid benefit kicks in — say, seven days — an employer may require the use of paid leave during that seven days.

Batsch noted that even if the employee is receiving paid time off via a third-party disability plan rather than an employer disability plan, "that's still a situation where you can't require an employee to run their paid time off concurrently with their FMLA time." This was clarified by the Seventh Circuit in a 2007 case (Repa v. Roadway Express, Inc., 477 F.3d 938).

Mistake #4: Forgetting to consider the patchwork of local laws

"The growing number of state and local laws heap a load of additional compliance concerns onto employers," said Nowak. "Not only are there additional considerations for accrual, carryover, and reasons for leave, but these new leave laws tend to provide job-protected leave in situations where the medical condition is not covered by the FMLA. As a result, employers cannot discipline an employee for an absence when he or she is utilizing leave covered by one of these leave laws."

Of course, those laws only make the interactions with FMLA management more complex.

"Paid parental leave policies interact with FMLA and gender discrimination laws," said Mohl. "PPL policies are, of course, a type of paid leave; some operate as a disability benefit."

Paid leave will likely continue to expand in scope in the coming months as more states and cities consider mandating it. Currently, 10 states and about 30 localities guarantee some type of paid sick leave. A number of federal policies have also been proposed, but no movement has been seen at that level yet.

SOURCE: Carsen, J. (27 November 2018) "4 mistakes to avoid at the intersection of FMLA and PTO" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.hrdive.com/news/4-mistakes-to-avoid-at-the-intersection-of-fmla-and-pto/542962/


More pay? Nah. Employees prefer benefits

A new report by the Institute of CPAs revealed that workers would choose a job that offers benefits over a job that offers 30 percent more salary but does not offer benefits. Read this blog post to learn more.


Workers across the country say you can't put a price on great benefits, according to a new survey.

By a four-to-one margin (80% to 20%), workers would choose a job with benefits over an identical job that offered 30% more salary with no benefits, according to the American Institute of CPAs, which released the results of its 2018 Employee Benefit Report, a poll this spring of 2,026 U.S. adults (1,115 of whom are employed) about their views on workplace benefits.

“A robust benefits package is often a large chunk of total compensation, but it’s the employees' job to make sure they’re taking advantage of it to improve their financial positions and quality of life,” said Greg Anton, chairman of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “Beyond the dollar value of having good benefits, employees gain peace of mind knowing that if they can take a vacation without losing a week’s pay or if they need to see a doctor, they won’t be responsible for the entire cost.”

Employed adults estimated that their benefits represented 40% of their total compensation package, according to the study. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, though, states that benefits average 31.7% of a compensation package. Still, workers in the report see benefits as a vital part of their professional lives.

“Despite overestimating the value of their benefits as part of their total compensation, it is concerning that Americans are not taking full advantage of them,” Anton said. “Imagine how employees would react if they were not 100% confident they could get to all the money in their paycheck. Leaving benefits underutilized should be treated the same way. Americans need to take time to truly understand their benefits and make sure they’re not leaving any money on the table.”

Other notable findings from the report include:

  • 63% of employed adults believe that being their own boss is worth more than job security with an employer, while 18% added that they will likely start or continue their own businesses next year.
  • Millennials were the most likely generation to believe that being their own boss is worth more than job security. They were also the most likely generation to start their own businesses.
  • 88% of employed adults are confident they understood all the benefits available to them when they were initially hired at their current job. However, only 28% are "very confident" they are currently maximizing all of their benefits.
  • When asked which workplace benefits would help them best reach their financial goals, 56% of adults said a 401(k) match or health insurance, with 33% citing paid time off and 31% citing a pension.
  • Baby boomers favor health insurance and having a 401(k) match more than younger generations, while 54% of baby boomers also prioritized a pension, versus only 16% of millennials.
  • Millennials put the highest priority on work-life balance benefits, such as paid time off, flexible work hours, and remote work.

For the full report, visit the AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy site here.

SOURCE: McCabe, S. (3 December 2018) "More pay? Nah. Employees prefer benefits" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/workers-prefer-benefits-over-more-pay?brief=00000152-1443-d1cc-a5fa-7cfba3c60000