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Tag Archives: Newsletters

Workplace Romances – October 2015

Romance in the workplace is nothing new, and neither are the problems that can result. According to a recent survey of 8,000 workers by the job-search website CareerBuilder.com, 4 out of 10 employees have dated someone at work; 17 percent have done it twice. Office romances have the potential to cause big trouble for businesses of all sizes.

Negative Aspects of Workplace Romance

  • Lawsuits brought by parties to the relationship or by coworkers
  • Potential for favoritism
  • Claimed or actual retaliation
  • Reduced performance due to distractions

Whether favoritism between couples at work is real or perceived may not even matter. One of the biggest reasons employers tend to discourage interoffice romances is because they generate gossip—and gossip wastes time and fosters distrust and dissatisfaction. Office romances that end badly can spill over into the daily work environment. Employers may find themselves dealing with issues of decreased productivity, or mediating between employees who are no longer working collaboratively with each other. Additionally, there is the potential for employees to seek out employment elsewhere when relationships come to an end. Employers risk losing strong employees who feel that they can no longer work at the company because of the breakup.

Preventing Liability

  • Implement strong harassment and discrimination policies and consistently enforce them
  • Draft realistic workplace romance policies and apply them uniformly
  • Advise employees that the company monitors all email correspondence
  • Conduct regular training to educate employees
  • Limit involvement to only those problems that directly affect the job or the company
  • Prohibit manager and subordinate relationships
  • Confirm reported relationships are truly consensual
  • Document everything and consider using a “love contract”

A “love contract” is a document providing written confirmation from both participants that the romantic relationship is voluntary and that they understand the company’s sexual harassment policies. Additionally, employers may include guidelines on appropriate behavior at work, for example no PDA. While many small businesses may think office romance policies aren’t necessary, they are the ones who can benefit most from it. No business is too small not to be worried about liability. For small businesses a lawsuit can be devastating because of the cost of defending it. If you are interested in developing a specific workplace romance policy for your company, please reach out to your HR Manager.

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Dol’s Proposed Revisions To The Flsa – August 2015

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced plans to significantly alter its overtime regulations. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires most employers to pay their employees one and a half times their usual pay for time worked above 40 hours a week. Certain executive, administrative, and professional workers are “exempt” from overtime if their job responsibilities satisfy the “duties test” and they earn more than $455 per week. The FLSA’s current salary threshold sets a floor that states are free to – and, in some cases, do – exceed. For example, the minimum weekly salary threshold in order to consider treating an employee as exempt is $720 in California (rising to $800 in 2016), $475 in Connecticut, and $656.25 in New York (rising to $675 in 2016).

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Workplace Violence Prevention – July 2015

The U.S. Department of Labor defines workplace violence as any threat or act of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at a worksite. Workplace violence often results from issues with disgruntled or terminated employees, from drug and alcohol abuse, abusive behavior, and from domestic violence that carries over into the workplace.

According to OSHA, over 2 million American workers are victims of workplace violence each year. Some workers are at increased risk and include workers who: Exchange money with the public; deliver passengers, goods, or services; work alone or in small groups; work late night or early morning hours; work in high-crime areas; or, work in community settings and homes where they have extensive contact with the public. Examples of workplace violence include, but are not limited to:

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I-9 Compliance & Common Issues – May 2015

Hiring on an employee includes a list of documents for both the employee and the employer to complete. Amongst the documents necessary to get an employee set up in the system, is the I-9. The I-9 document verifies that an employee is authorized to work in the United States, and requires that they produce the appropriate documentation for verification upon hire. Timely and accurate completion of the I-9 document is a requirement of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) and failure to comply can lead to heavy fines. While in the past, enforcement of the I-9 requirements has not been very strict, we are now seeing a rise in the audits by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and penalties can be applied for each error listed on a single I-9.

Total HR routinely audits the I-9 on file for compliance with the IRCA; however, two of the critical violations that we are noticing during these audits are employees who do not have I-9s completed within the required time frame or the employee’s documents have not been verified in person. Employees are required to complete the first page of the I-9 no later than their first day of work, with the second page being required to be completed by the supervisor within three days of the employee’s first day.

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Difference Between Exempt & Non-exempt Workers – April 2015

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that employers classify jobs as either exempt or non-exempt. Non-exempt employees are covered by FLSA rules and regulations, and exempt employees are not. See the below chart for the major differences between the two types of exemptions. When the state laws differ from the federal FLSA, an employer must comply with the standard most protective to employees.

File Type
Exempt
Non-exempt
Must be paid overtime?
No
Yes
Must take meal and rest breaks?
No
Yes (depending on the State)
How are they paid?
Salaried – paid for the work they do, not the hours they work
Hourly or Salaried – paid for the hours they work regardless of “Salaried” status. When hourly or salaried, they are paid extra for any hours over 40 in a week (and other overtime according to the State law)

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