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We’ve seen an uptick in complaints from employees. Is this cause for concern?

The mere fact that you’re getting more complaints than normal isn’t necessarily something to worry about. The increase in complaints could be a sign that there are now more issues that require your attention, or it could be a sign that your employees are—for some reason—feeling safer speaking to you about their concerns.  In and of themselves, complaints can be a good thing because they inform you about matters that may have escaped your notice and they indicate that your employees trust you to resolve those matters. The last thing you want is for employees to keep their concerns to themselves or vent about them to their colleagues (or the entire internet). You can’t solve

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We received credible reports from several employees and witnesses concerning sexual harassment by a manager. I feel confident in proceeding with termination, but we have not interviewed the accused manager. Should we get “his side of the story” before terminating?

Yes, you’re on safer ground terminating the accused employee if you interview him as part of your investigation – and do the same for other employees accused of harassment. In this case, you might not learn anything that would change your mind about the termination, but it’s still a possibility. More importantly, if the terminated employee were to challenge your decision, you would be able to show that he wasn’t treated any differently than other accused employees.  If you were to skip the interview with him, while typically interviewing other employees who have been accused of harassment or misconduct, he could claim that your decision in his case was discriminatory. A cons

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Four Ways to Show Employees That You Appreciate Them

Saying thanks and showing appreciation shouldn’t be limited to special occasions. Here are four ways to create a culture of appreciation in your workplace: Involve your employees in the big decisions and strategic planning of the organizationSolicit their ideas about the direction you’re headed. Discuss the future of the company with them, along with their place within it. Consider what they have to say and give them credit for their input. By doing all this, you show your employees that they’re important to you and to the success of the organization.  Invest in your employeesOffer opportunities for advancement. If promotions aren’t possible, then help employees up-level

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Our busy season starts next month. Is there anything we can do to help our employees reduce their stress?

There is! Here are a few things you can do to make the busy season run as smoothly and stress-free as possible: Remove or reassign non-essential work duties: Before the busy season begins, ask employees to make a list of tasks that others could feasibly handle for them or that could be put on hold. Then work on reassigning those tasks or simply hold off on non-essential tasks until business slows down.  Allow for flexible scheduling: If employees need to work longer hours on some days during the week, consider allowing them to work fewer hours other days of the week. Be aware, however, that some states have daily overtime laws.  Budget for overtime: Employees may need to

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How Employers Can Address Mental Health in the Workplace

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half the people in the United States will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives, and one in five Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year. It’s therefore not surprising that mental health has a significant impact in the workplace. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health conditions like depression and anxiety cost the global economy a trillion dollars per year in lost productivity.  Those who have never suffered from a mental illness often have a hard time understanding the depth of the problem or the inability of a person to “snap out

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New Form I-9 Released

On January 31, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a new Form I-9. The form is dated 10/21/2019 and should be used immediately. USCIS is allowing employers a three-month grace period, however, during which the old form (dated 07/17/2017) may be used. By May 1, 2020, only the new form should be used. The new form can be found on the HR Support Center by searching Form I-9, or on the USCIS website, here. Regardless of where you get it, make sure you right click on the download link and “Save link as…” then right click the saved file on your computer and select “Open with Adobe...”  USCIS made the following changes to the

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We received a wage garnishment for child support that the employee doesn’t want us to follow. What should we do?

Valid wage garnishments need to be followed regardless of the affected employee’s feelings on the matter. In this case, you should go ahead and follow the instructions from the garnishing agency, withholding and sending them the specified amounts. The instructions should tell you what kind of notice you need to provide to the employee and provide a contact number if you have questions about remitting the payments. You may want to have a separate conversation with the employee so you can explain your legal obligations and why you cannot refuse to withhold the required amounts. If the employee wishes to get the garnishment discontinued or altered, you can refer the employee to the garnishin

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During an exit interview, a departing employee accused one of our managers of harassment. Should we investigate even though the accuser is no longer employed here? The manager has been with us a long time, and we’ve never heard any complaints about him before.

Yes, I would recommend investigating the allegations even though the accusing employee has left the organization. If your investigation shows that harassment occurred, I would recommend taking disciplinary action as appropriate.  Federal law obligates employers to prevent or stop unlawful harassment. Harassment happens when behavior is unwelcome and based on a protected class such as race, gender, age, religion, national origin, or disability. It becomes unlawful when it is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment. In this case, since you’ve been made aware of alleged sexual harassment, failing to investigate the allegations could invite risk, especially if

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Federal Law Alert

Reminder—New Minimum Salary for Exempt EmployeesStarting January 1, 2020, most employees who are classified as exempt under the executive, administrative, professional, and computer employee exemptions will need to be paid at least $684 per week or $35,568 per year. See our full report in the News Desk of the HR Support Center for more information.  Minimum Wage Increase for Federal ContractorsOn January 1, 2020, the minimum wage for employees doing work on or in connection with federal contracts will increase to $10.80 per hour. The minimum wage for covered tipped employees will increase to $7.55 per hour.  New W-4In the new year, employers will need to provide the redesi

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Three Ways to Effectively Manage Your HR Responsibilities

The workplace – whether it’s an office, a salon, a restaurant, or a medical facility – is full of complexity. And many of those complexities are managed by the Human Resources Department. Sometimes the HR Department is a team of people with deep expertise, but often it’s one person who wears many hats in the organization and has no formal HR training. If your HR department looks more like the latter, and you could use a little help keeping it all together, we recommend the following three practices: Inventory who is doing whatBecause HR covers so many different tasks, those tasks are often assigned to different people in the organization. It’s common for owners, managers, and o

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