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We’re going to close our worksite due to inclement weather. Do we have to pay employees?

Answer from Sarah, PHR, SHRM-CP: Non-exempt employees need to be paid only for actual hours worked plus any reporting time pay that may be required by the state (this sometimes applies when employees show up for work but are sent home early).  Exempt employees, on the other hand, must be paid when the employer closes due to inclement weather, whether they do any work or not. You may require exempt employees to use accrued vacation or paid time off for the day if that is your regular practice when the workspace closes. However, exempt employees without enough paid time off to cover the absence must still be provided with their regular salary during the closure. Many companies h

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Are depression and anxiety considered disabilities?

Question: Are depression and anxiety considered disabilities? Answer from Kyle, PHR: They can be, yes. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an individual with a disability is a person who: Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; Has a record of such an impairment; or Is regarded as having such an impairment. The ADA prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privil

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How to Handle: Misconduct Allegations Against a Former Employee

An employee who recently quit made several allegations about the general manager, including an instance of sexual harassment. How should we respond to these complaints since the employee no longer works here? Even though the employee has left the organization, I recommend conducting an investigation into the allegations and taking disciplinary action against the alleged harasser if appropriate. Failing to look into these concerns can invite risk, especially if there are later complaints against the same individual. When an employee resigns, it's not uncommon for them to share an assortment of complaints on their way out the door. You should sift through and determine whether any of them

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HR Tip of the Month

The importance of documenting performance problems as they occur cannot be overstated. Although this requires meeting with the employee and discussing the issue, which will almost certainly be uncomfortable, it’s your best defense to a wrongful termination claim should the employee feel litigious after termination. Too many employers rely on the concept of employment at-will to protect them, when the reach of this concept is actually quite limited. The problem is that if an employer has little to no documentation and relies on at-will employment—and the theory that legally no reason is required—the terminated employee, their attorney, and possibly a jury of their peers will fill the

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Worried About Retention? The Best Way to Keep Employees Is to Be Useful to Them

According to Gallup, 51% of employees are looking for a new job, and 68% of employees believe they are overqualified for the job they have. Even engaged employees are job hunting at an alarming rate—37%. Employees who change jobs cite career growth opportunities, pay and benefits, management, company culture, and job fit as reasons for doing so. Employees surveyed said they want to do what they do best while maintaining a good work-life balance. They desire a secure and stable job that pays well and contributes to their personal wellbeing. They’re likely to leave their current employer if they can get a more flexible work schedule or a significant pay increase elsewhere. To retain

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Risk Reduction Through Progressive Discipline

Because behavioral problems and poor performance can be detrimental to the bottom line, many employers want to be rid of problematic employees ASAP. Small businesses in particular may not feel that they have the time or money to work on correcting bad behavior or improving poor performance. Additional supervision alone can be costly and a burden on already busy managers. Immediate termination often feels like the easier path, especially in industries in which it’s relatively painless to find a replacement. But, despite the ease of immediate termination, we generally recommend that employers first use progressive discipline. Terminating employment always comes with risk, even when it’s

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The Employment Laws Every Growing Organization Should Know About

Periods of growth are particularly exciting for small and midsize businesses, but they also bring new HR challenges. Along with adding employees—which may change the feel of your culture as well as your floorplan—your organization may become subject to federal and state laws that take effect once you have a certain number of employees. Most employment laws apply to organizations based on the number of people they employ, so as you grow, it’s vital to keep up-to-speed on any laws that newly apply or will soon apply to your organization. Federal Laws To understand the scope of many of the federal laws discussed below, employers need to know the definition of discrimination. In the

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Many Managers Are Uncomfortable Communicating with Their Employees – Here’s How You Can Help Them

Here’s a startling statistic: Nearly 70% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with their employees. That number comes from a Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Interact, and it indicates that managers may at times shy away from doing basic management duties. If uncomfortable managers avoid giving feedback, offering praise, showing vulnerability, providing direction, or communicating in general, they’re not helping the bottom line. Poor employee performances will go unaddressed. Star performers won’t feel recognized. Employees may distrust their managers and not admit mistakes. Efficiency and productivity won’t be a good as they could be, and that’s money down the drain.

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How to Increase Diversity in Your Recruiting and Hiring Process

The recruiting and hiring process is supposed to select the best candidates while deterring unqualified job seekers from applying or advancing. All too often, however, the process creates obstacles or disadvantages for qualified candidates due to their membership in a protected class or minority group. Even a well-meaning process be discriminatory. Below are some actions you can take to eliminate discriminatory practices and increase diversity. Reduce barriers. Consider your recruiting and hiring process from a candidate's perspective, specifically from an under-represented class member's perspective. Would a transgender person have a fair chance in the hiring process? What about someone

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Do you know what the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) means for your business?

Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to limit certain labor and management practices that can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses, and the U.S. economy. Although a good portion of the NLRA deals with unionization, Section 7 provides protections for all non-supervisory employees, even those not involved with a union. Some supervisors may even be protected by the Act, if they do not have sufficient authority and discretion. Specifically, Section 7 defines and protects concerted activity by employees. Generally, protected concerted activity takes place when employ

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