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Back in January, I wrote a post entitled What is the “regular rate of pay according to the USDOL.” At that time I explained that many employers made FLSA overtime mistakes because they did not calculate overtime on the correct rate of pay. The USDOL has introduced a proposal to revise and clarify the definition of “regular rate of pay”, to clarify how to calculate overtime and to allow employers more freedom to offer employees more in the form of benefits that don’t have to be included in determining overtime rates.

The Notice of Proposed Rule Making was published in the Federal Register on March 29, 2018.  As an employer, you are given the opportunity to comment on the new rule until May 28, 2019. You can submit written comments until that date. You may submit comments, identified by Regulatory Information Number (RIN) 1235-AA24, by either of the following methods: Electronic Comments: Submit comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Mail: Address written submissions to Division of Regulations, Legislation, and Interpretation, Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor, Room S-3502, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20210. 

The Notice

The new rule takes into account how the nature of work has changed and the many alternatives employers have in compensating employees. Additionally, it offers advice on how to deal with many new state regulations that have been passed due to the lack of guidance from the FLSA. According to the proposal the new rule:

The Department believes that its current regulations do not sufficiently reflect these and other such developments in the 21st-century workplace. In this NPRM, the Department proposes to update its regulations in part 778 to reflect these changes in the modern workplace and to provide clarifications that reflect the statutory language and WHD’s enforcement practices. In so doing, the Department intends to promote compliance with the FLSA; provide appropriate and updated guidance to employers with evolving worker benefits, including employers that offer paid leave; give clarity concerning the proper treatment of scheduling-penalty payments under the FLSA; and encourage employers to provide additional and more creative benefits without fear of costly litigation.

It is important to read and understand this new rule. Don’t make any changes yet, after all it is just currently a proposal and may yet change based on the feedback the USDOL get from the public.

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Omega HR Solutions Blog by Michael Haberman - 1M ago

I am taking a break from blogging for the next several weeks. I am on a much-needed vacation. Thank you for your understanding.

I am soaking up the sun in Hawaii. Back in April.

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Today’s blog is a guest post. 

Sometimes companies take that “we are a customer-centric business” mantra so seriously that they either neglect their employees or they fail to grasp their role in their brand’s success. While it’s commendable that you’re doing your absolute best to amaze and dazzle your audience, it’s good to remember that your teams are a part of that audience, as well as your most valuable brand ambassadors, and how you treat them will shape your reputation to a great extent. In translation: motivated, happy employees do not grow on trees, you need to create them if you want your business to reap the rewards.

Surprisingly, there are several time-tested methods to motivate your workers and find people to join your team who are motivated by nature. Sometimes you’ll find them in the least likely of places, and sometimes you’ll have to search far and wide for that perfect candidate, but the result will be the same – a brand that will grow with the help of its eager employees.

Rewards work

A kind word is a great start, but tangible, actual rewards are the best way to go for companies that expect results on a daily basis. It goes beyond showing your appreciation for their exceptional accomplishments, as it also helps you express that you value their time, their work, and that you’ll gladly help them achieve that infamous work-life balance. Most importantly, reward effort, not just results. That way, some of your stressed employees can enjoy the same perks as the ones who may have closed a major deal recently.

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, on the contrary. Your reward system can come in various forms, from giving them an extra day off, tickets to a game or a play, a dinner for two in their favorite restaurant, or a pass for an event they love. Let these little tokens of gratitude do the talking, and you’ll see your employees working eagerly to earn them.

Refine your hiring process

Sometimes, the most motivated employees are found in your office. At other times, you keep missing the opportunity to ever let them become a part of your culture simply because you never consider diverse employing options. The key word here being: diverse. As a great example, working with a reputable disability employment agency can help you find exceptional candidates who can thrive with a little help and guidance.

The fact that these talented individuals have certain disabilities does not prevent them from being hard workers, eager to learn, and productive. You’d be surprised how many people can flourish if given the right chances in life. Be that employer, give everyone equal chances, and with such an open-minded hiring practice, you’ll never lack motivation among your teams.

Empower transparency

Can your employees come to you when they have concerns or questions? How often do you have meetings where you share information with people from all levels in your company? How much do you share with your employees at all? If you nurture transparent communication from the very first contact with your employees, you’ll have a better chance to motivate them properly.

This also refers to your remote teams. Regular, face-to-face communication, video conferences, team building activities, and simple meetups are necessary to build a relationship. You cannot expect your employees to feel like a part of a culture, of a team, if they are treated like expendable parts of a machine. Let transparency permeate your business structure. Organize daily or weekly meetings, ask for feedback and give feedback, share and offer advice, make sure that everyone is involved, and ask for opinions – this should be the very foundation of any modern-day business.

Make learning a part of your culture

Few people nowadays will settle for a job that will remind them of quicksand. Dead-end positions are a thing of the past, and if your company doesn’t emphasize learning opportunities, you’ll find your people looking into other employment options soon enough. Perhaps some of your team members would like to perfect their email correspondence skills, become better negotiators, or learn a new language.

Whatever it is, imbue your brand with curiosity by offering regular improvement options. However, in addition to lectures, workshops, and other profession-related events, you can and should encourage them to learn for the sake of learning. Empowering personal growth from inside your office will only motivate your employees to be loyal to your business.

Acknowledge them

Finally, no matter how confident we are, it’s perfectly human to want to be recognized for our accomplishments. Working in an office that doesn’t recognize its employees for their contribution to your company’s growth means you’re giving them a reason to look for alternative jobs. Yes, this ties into our reward idea, as incentives are a part of recognition, but it shouldn’t end there.

Show your gratitude in meetings by openly praising exceptional work, encouraging those who need a confidence boost, and empowering employees to encourage one another as well. When they support each other on a daily basis, share words of encouragement, and praise each other during meetings – you’ll have a close-knit team of people who believe in your business as much as you do.

Where to find motivated people, you ask? In places that let them thrive, and these tips, among many others, serve to help you make your office that place, so that you and your employees can all benefit from a healthy company culture focused on mutual growth.

Keith Coppersmith is a business and marketing who has experienced both the rise and fall of many businesses. He enjoys writing and providing insight of the marketing industry based on both practice and theory.

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A new salary level has been determined in order to have an exempt employee

On March 7, 2019, the United States Department of Labor released the long-awaited adjustment to the salary level that is the first hurdle to claiming an employee is exempt from being paid overtime. This movement toward a new salary level began in the Obama administration which had proposed a new salary level of $47,476 per year as the minimum salary level for exempt employees. That was stopped by a Federal judge in December of 2016 and then we changed presidential administrations. The Secretary of Labor under the Trump administration then had control of what was to happen. As I wrote in The decision on what salary level is appropriate to be considered exempt is delayed, Alexander Acosta agreed that the threshold salary level needed to be changed, but to a level more palatable to businesses. That decision has now been rendered.

$35,308 per year

According to the press release:

This new proposal would update the salary threshold using current wage data, projected to January 1, 2020. The result would boost the standard salary level from $455 to $679 per week (equivalent to $35,308 per year).

This means that any employee you have that is currently considered exempt must be paid at a minimum $679 per week to continue to be considered exempt. That is the threshold salary level. Of course, they still have to past the duties test to be considered exempt, but even if they pass that they have to be paid at the new level.

Several years ago I wrote the following advisement, which I have now altered to match this new salary level.

What to do

There are a number of things that should be done to prepare for the inevitable changes that will occur.

First, this would be a good time to review whether or not people you have classified as exempt are really exempt. Too many employers make the mistake of improperly classifying employees as exempt solely on the basis of the fact that they pay them a salary. Salary is a method of wage payment not a classification of overtime eligibility. There are numerous companies that have people classified as non-exempt yet they pay them a salary. Non-exempt employees do not have to be exclusively hourly employees. So even if you have an employee who is going to make the $35,308 salary level they may not be properly classified based on the nature of the duties required to be classified as exempt.

By the way, titles don’t count. It is all based on the job description and the actual duties performed. If you have not updated your job descriptions lately then you may want to do so by having an incumbent participate in the process.

Here are the preparation steps that need to occur:

  • Identify all current employees that are classified as exempt (not currently eligible for overtime) that are making less than $35,308 per year.
  • Determine how close these employees are to that threshold level.
  • Determine how many potential overtime hours that employee worked in the past year.
  • Calculate the cost of that overtime based on time and a half calculations.
  • Determine if it is more cost effective to increase the employee to the $35,308 level or to pay the calculated or anticipated overtime.
  • For those employees where it does not make economic sense to raise them to $35,308, it will become necessary for you to determine how you will actually record their time worked, because once these employees are declared non-exempt employees (eligible for overtime) you will have to ACCURATELY track their ACTUAL time worked.
  • You will need to institute a system of checks and balances to insure that the behavioral change of tracking time has actually occurred.
  • Monitor the annual index to insure the exempt employee remain exempt or whether further adjustments need to be made.
Additional considerations

Tracking time accurately of newly re-classified employees will also be important. You can do it old school using paper time sheets or you can do it using new technology, even including mobile devices. The important consideration is finding something your employees will adapt to most easily.

This change is estimated to make over 1 million workers eligible for overtime pay. It is incumbent on you to make sure you have people properly classified to avoid difficulties.

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Omega HR Solutions Blog by Michael Haberman - 1M ago

Shift differentials are a necessary component of overtime pay.

Two employers learned a lesson in understanding the rules of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA requires that non-exempt employees receive overtime pay based on their “regular of pay”. Unfortunately, many employers don’t understand that term. Regular rate of pay is not the hourly figure that the employee was hired at, it is, as stated in Fact Sheet #23, ” The regular rate includes all remuneration for employment except certain payments excluded by the Act itself.” This means that discretionary items do not have to be included, but things like shift differentials, which are not discretionary must be included. Bonuses based upon productivity and attendance also have to be included. These items added up and then divided by the hours work determine the actual hourly rate upon which overtime has to be calculated.

Expensive mistakes

According to one press release from the U.S. DOL a lighting manufacturer “…failed to include employees’ shift differentials when computing their overtime pay, instead basing their time-and-one-half calculation only on the workers’ hourly base rates” and as a result will pay $138,753 in back wages and liquidated damages to 829 employees. In a second press release, the USDOL announced “…a continuing care retirement community based in Ligonier, Pennsylvania paid $39,704 in back wages and liquidated damages to 92 employees” for failing to include shift differentials in calculations of overtime.

In addition to these monetary penalties, both organizations also had to revise their recordkeeping, and will also be subject to increased scrutiny from the Department of Labor.

Mistakes have their consequences and employers need to make sure they understand the rules.

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A new FLSA tool is available from the USDOL

The U.S. Department of Labor is definitely trying to be more helpful to employers. They have released a new compliance tool that will make it easier for employers to determine if they are doing the right things when it comes to overtime, proper pay and other issues from the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to the press release:

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the launch of an enhanced electronic version of the Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This new online version of one of the Wage and Hour Division’s (WHD) most popular publications will assist American employers and workers with a simple, easy-to-follow resource that provides basic WHD information, as well as links to other resources.

WHD established this electronic guide as part of its ongoing efforts to modernize compliance assistance materials for employers and workers, and to provide easily accessible, plain-language information that will guide them to compliance. This tool offers a new design – reformatted for laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices – and provides numerous additional resources and related information, including plain-language videos. It provides immediate access to materials employers frequently need, and allows users to tailor their experience by exploring available information at whatever level of detail they choose. This tool, in conjunction with worker.govemployer.gov, and other recently released online tools, will ensure greater understanding of federal labor laws and regulations.

It is pretty cool, although the voice on the videos leaves something to be desired. Take a look at it by clicking on the link in the first paragraph.

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Gen Z is much more traditional in their job searches than you might think.

When you talk to older HR people and executives about the workers in the upcoming generation of workers, those known as Generation Z, the assumption is that you will need some high tech, whizbang, method to reach these workers who have been connected online all their lives. That assumption may stop many companies from pursuing these workers promptly. However, Ryan Jenkins, the Next Generation expert, says that could not be further from the truth.

Usual methods

Jenkins, in an article called THIS IS HOW AND WHERE TO HIRE GENERATION Z, says that the results of a survey of 16,000 high school seniors, so that they are much more traditional in how they search for work. The survey shows the following methodologies for these Gen Z members:

  1. Indeed (28 percent)
  2. LinkedIn (13 percent)
  3. Google (12 percent)
  4. Snagajob (11 percent)
  5. Monster (7 percent)
  6. Company Websites (5 percent)
  7. Glassdoor (5 percent)
  8. Zip Recruiter (3 percent)
  9. USAJobs (3 percent)
  10. Facebook (3 percent)

Pretty standard search tools.

How Generation Z finds a job

The data selected also shows that these “kids” are taking lessons from parents and Millennials they know by using the methods below to find a job.

  1. View websites of companies I am interested in for open positions (76 percent)
  2. Ask my friends and relatives about available position they are aware of (61 percent)
  3. Speak to my school counseling or career services office (53 percent)
  4. Attend a job fair (53 percent)
  5. Use a local / region job website (43 percent)
  6. Use a national job website (35 percent)
  7. Work with a recruiter (25 percent)
  8. Use mobile apps (23 percent)
  9. Search for jobs using print materials (12 percent)
  10. Other (2 percent)

*Percentages may add up to over 100 percent as respondents could select multiple options.

There were more revelations in this survey about the denizens of this generation that you might find helpful to know. I would suggest you read Jenkin’s article by clicking this link: THIS IS HOW AND WHERE TO HIRE GENERATION Z

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I came across an article this morning in Forbes called What Are The Top 10 Soft Skills For The Future Of Work? written by Adi Gaskell, a self-identified “Free range human”. One of the top 10 skills he discussed was storytelling. He felt that this was particularly important in the technology-laden future. I agree with him! I think storytelling is a key competency and skill. Thus I replay for you a post from 2012 where I discuss storytelling. 

Twice in the past year, I have posted about storytelling. Here is the last one A revisit to Storytelling: A Key HR Competency? Twice in the past week, I have been reminded of the importance of storytelling in HR and business.

Storytelling = Engagement

First, I was reading something on my iPad sitting at Starbucks and came across a post on the importance of storytelling as an employee retention tool. (Unfortunately, I cannot find the link to this article.) What I recall of the article was that a company needs to have a compelling story to tell to its employees and they, in turn, have to have a compelling story to tell to their audiences, be they family, friends or social media contacts. If there is not something about the company, such as its mission, its product, the benefits, the cool president, the beer tap in the lunchroom, the fact that you can bring your dog, etc. then the employees are not talking about you. If they are not talking about you they are not engaged. Or worse they are disengaged and unhappy.

We all know that employees who are unhappy with you also tell stories. In fact, quite often they are the biggest storytellers. Do they tell the story of how you have let harassment continue without addressing it? Do they tell the story of how you used Facebook to recruit them but now will not let them check it at work? Do they tell the story of how they feel abused, underpaid and under-appreciated? You certainly need to have a feel for what they are saying so you can help change the story. And that is where the second part comes in.

Storytelling as a key competency

In my post referenced above, I said that I thought storytelling should be a key competency for all HR professionals. I came across a book by Stephen Denning called The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling. The subtitle is mastering the art and discipline of business narrative. Denning’s contention is that storytelling should be a key competency for ALL business leaders. Storytelling has been around for as long as humans have been able to speak. It was how information and learning were passed down from generation to generation before writing. However, as we came into the age of reason, especially in the business world, we quit using storytelling. We let cold hard facts speak.

I have not gotten any further in the book than the introduction, so this is not a book review, but the premise is wise. Denning said that in his work he was “…startled to find that an appropriately told story had the power to do what rigorous analysis couldn’t: to communicate a strange new idea and move people to enthusiastic action.” Denning then sites many dismal statistics about the lack of success many businesses are experiencing. He then says: “The choice for leaders in business and organizations is not whether to be involved in storytelling….but whether to use storytelling unwittingly and clumsily, or intelligently and skillfully. Management fads may come and go, but storytelling is fundamental to all nations, societies, and cultures and has been so since time immemorial.”

Think about it. Everyone loves a story. One very successful friend of mine, Kenny Burts, has a very compelling story about how he started his business Kenny’s Great Pies. (The story is on his website.) Everyone that meets him wants to hear the story. Many entrepreneurs have compelling stories and we enjoy hearing about how they became successful. (At least I do.) So don’t discount the power of the story as a business tool. All company leaders need to be schooled in the art and science of storytelling.

Here are some additional posts I have done on storytelling.

Getting your story Splained: A #SHRM2018 Vendor Profile

The art of the story: A #SHRM18 Interview with Alfredo Castro

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It would be nice to think that during the partial shutdown of the Federal government that ended January 26th, that employers stopped discriminating and employees stopped filing complaints. However, that was not the case. Since the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was one of the agencies not funded during the shutdown that world was put on hold. Cases could not be heard, complaints could not be followed up on, resolutions could not be reached, and reports could not be filed. If you were one of the companies or individuals affected by this you may wonder what is going to happen. The EEOC has issued an answer in the form of a guidance document. called What You Should Know About the Impact of the Lapse in Appropriations on EEOC Timelines.

The basic answer is that deadlines have been moved and someone from the EEOC will contact people and organizations who missed hearings. So read the document and act accordingly.

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I meant to post this yesterday, but the holiday got in the way. Originally posted two years ago.

Today is President’s Day, a Federal holiday. The origin of the day was the celebration of George Washington’s birthday, February 22nd. Although an unofficial observance at first, it was made an official holiday in 1879 by Rutherford B. Hayes, but even then, only applied to the District of Columbia. In 1885 it became a national federal holiday, and the first holiday to celebrate a specific individual. The only other holiday to do that was Martin Luther King, Jr. day. Today MLK is the only person to have a day solely named in his honor.

Consolidated

Because Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was also in February, when the holiday was deemed to be President’s Day rather than Washington’s birthday, many thought it was changed to include Lincoln in the celebration. In 1971 the Uniform Monday Holiday Act took effect and assigned Presidents Day to the third Monday of February, although the day was initially supposed to be Washington’s birthday still.

Not really celebrated

Only about 33% of the companies in the U.S. grant Presidents Day as a holiday. Even fewer companies grant this holiday to nonexempt hourly employees. The biggest recognizers of the holiday are state and local governments and banks.

The biggest celebrators of this holiday are retailers who see it as an opportunity to sell merchandise using the images of Washington and Lincoln to sell furniture, mattresses and cars, among other things.

My favorite president has been Theodore Roosevelt. I will end this post with a quote from him that many may find apropos to today.

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