News You Can Use

DOL Announces Increased Civil Penalties for Violations of Federal Laws

Sun, 08/14/2016 - 23:47
The Department of Labor recently issued final rules that will increase the civil penalties assessed to employers for violating various federal laws. The higher penalties are part of a law passed last year and are scheduled to begin with those assessed after August 1, 2016. This article explains why the penalties are increasing and some of the new amounts.

New OSHA Rules Spotlight Workplace Injuries, Illnesses

Sun, 08/07/2016 - 23:46
With the goal of improving workplace safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is giving employers what they call a "nudge." The nudge takes the form of requiring some companies to publish worker injury reports online. New rules ratifying that policy will kick in for affected employers generally beginning in 2017. Here are the highlights.

Summer Weather Brings Dress Code Challenges for Businesses

Mon, 08/01/2016 - 12:41
Summertime prompts some employees to dress too casually, especially in locations that aren't warm year-round. That is, they take casual dress to the point of distracting other workers, causing unsafe working conditions or conveying a lack of professionalism in the workplace. However, before an employer takes disciplinary action, it's important to establish a formal dress code policy. Here are some best practices to consider.

Non-Compete Agreements: Finding the Right Balance

Mon, 07/25/2016 - 00:09
Employees with access to sensitive information about your operations may be valuable, but they can also be damaging to your business. Suppose one of them leaves to work for your competitor, and uses that information against you. If the purpose of your non-compete agreement is to prevent that from happening, be sure to draft it carefully, or it may be unenforceable. Here are some points to consider.

Social Media: A Growing Tool for Employee Recruitment

Sun, 07/17/2016 - 23:55
Some social media sites may seem frivolous in the business world, less about commerce than a place to post selfies and endless personal opinions. But social media is also becoming a standard tool for employee recruiting. Employers just need to be aware that, while powerful, using social media sites for recruiting also has legal risks. This article looks at some pitfalls involved as well as several advantages.

Meet Your Employee Review Goals with 360 Degree Feedback

Sun, 07/10/2016 - 23:27
Can a supervisor evaluate an employee as comprehensively as the combination of that supervisor, co-workers, subordinates and sometimes even customers? If you think not, consider a "360-degree" feedback program. If it's well planned and administered, it can be a powerful tool. Then again, if handled poorly, it can be a prescription for trouble. Here's how to get the benefits and avoid the downside.

Handling Employees at the End of an FMLA Leave

Mon, 07/04/2016 - 00:06
When an employee asks for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employers have two compliance issues to consider. The first is determining whether the employee is eligible for this type of leave. The second is deciding how to handle that employee's return to the workplace. This article provides an overview of the second task.

New Overtime Rules Issued: What it Means for You

Sun, 06/26/2016 - 23:45
Starting December 1, new overtime rules kick in that will make millions more employees qualify for overtime pay. The changes include a dramatically higher pay threshold that determines whether workers are eligible for overtime at a rate of at least one and one-half times their regular pay. With a few months of lead time, employers need to take a look at their operations and decide how to incorporate the changes. This article explains.

Transfer Business Ownership or Remain Boss?

Sun, 06/19/2016 - 23:36
For family business owners, estate planning can be a challenge. Often, most if not all of their wealth is tied up in their companies, which creates a conflict between the desire to transfer ownership to the next generation and the desire to stay in control. One potential solution is to recapitalize the business into voting and nonvoting shares. This article details this technique.

Avoid Hiring Traps that Lead to Hiring Remorse

Sun, 06/19/2016 - 23:36
Are you turning away prime job candidates, possibly before you even know they exist? It happens all the time, but it doesn't have to be that way. The key is putting yourself in the job candidate's shoes, which may be difficult if you haven't been job hunting lately. Here's a rundown of why people avoid applying with some companies, and some tips to improve your application process.

The Current State of Minimum Wage Laws, Plus the Overtime Debate

Sun, 06/12/2016 - 23:48
Raising the federal minimum wage has become a hot topic on the presidential campaign trail. Proposals are flying as candidates try to gain support for their ideas. But, in reality, what's happening at the state and local level may be more important to your business today. Here's an update on the latest changes, plus information about the proposal to change the overtime rules.

Do Your Employees Value the Benefits You Offer?

Sun, 06/05/2016 - 23:57
Employee benefits are expensive, even if the plan you offer isn't deluxe. Regardless, employees often have little realization and therefore, little appreciation of how much the company spends to make these plans available. If you're concerned that your company isn't getting enough bang for your benefit bucks, you could be right. Here's what some employers have found, and what they're doing about it.

New Rules for Certain Investment Advisers

Sun, 05/29/2016 - 23:52
Some investment advisers will be subject to higher ethical standards once newly finalized U.S. Department of Labor regulations kick in. Employers must ensure that retirement investment advisers who work with them and their employees comply with the new standards. Though the exact time frame is yet uncertain, some of these changes may take effect by next year. This article provides more information.

EEOC Takes Aim at Gender-Based Pay Discrimination

Sun, 05/22/2016 - 23:59
Unequal pay based on gender is under fire on two fronts. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is moving aggressively to combat this kind of discrimination by enforcing existing law, and also with a controversial proposal. If passed, that proposal will greatly increase the reporting burden on employers. Here are the details.

Despite Expiration Date, Employers Should Continue to Use Form I-9

Sun, 05/15/2016 - 23:58
If you're hiring employees, you may have noticed the outdated expiration date on a form required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The agency recently announced that employers can continue to use the current Form 1-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, despite the expiration date. This article explains.

Is Your Business Subject to a “Ban-the-Box” Law?

Sun, 05/15/2016 - 23:58
If you aren't doing business where a "ban-the-box" law is in effect, you soon may be without moving an inch. These laws limit when employers can ask prospective employees whether they've ever been convicted of a crime. The idea is to not dismiss an otherwise qualified applicant too soon. But the laws are proliferating so rapidly that many companies may not be aware of them. Here's the latest.

Fighting a Claim of Age Discrimination

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 00:08
What makes a charge of age discrimination stick? More than you might think. A recent ruling by a federal appeals court offers some insight into the standards a company might have to meet to defend against such charges. Here's what the court had to say when a man in his late forties filed an age discrimination claim against his long-time employer.

Watch for New Paid Sick Leave Rules for Some Workers

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 00:21
Paid sick leave benefits may be expanded soon, at least for employees of federal contractors. Eligibility for this leave could extend to caring for people "whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship under newly proposed Department of Labor regulations.

Strengthen the Weak Links in Your Cybersecurity Plan

Mon, 04/25/2016 - 00:09
Your cybersecurity "chain" is only as strong as its weakest link. Typically that weakest link is not your network systems, but your employees. Cybercriminals know that employees are busy and may not be trained in the warning signs of fraudulent activity. The threat is serious. Here's what you can do about it.

Are You a Joint Employer? The DOL Weighs In

Mon, 04/18/2016 - 00:09
Are you a joint employer? If so, you could be liable for, among other things, overtime pay even if a worker's weekly shifts at your place of business don't exceed 40 hours. The Department of Labor has offered new guidance on how it defines "joint employer" and how that changes your responsibility if you fall into that category. Here are the details.