impactnews: Legislation Introduced in Congress to Block Administration’s Proposed Overtime Rules- 04/25/2016

The Obama administration’s overtime rule continues to advance toward completion and implementation. At the same time, it’s now heading into some political headwinds. The US Department of Labor (DOL) late last month submitted to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) its final proposed rule changing eligibility for overtime pay. Once OMB completes its review (normally done so within two months), the rule could go into effect as soon as this May.

With that development, legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and the U.S. Senate by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) aiming to block the rule from being implemented. (The overtime proposal’s public comment period was completed last fall, which allows the Obama administration to proceed to implement the rule without Congressional action.)

Under the proposed rule within the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), salaried workers making up to $50,400 would be eligible for overtime pay – up from the current level of $23,660.

If you have questions about this proposed rule or about how to comply with it if it’s implemented, please contact an impactHR team member via email at info@impacthrllc.com or phone 410-312-7882.

impactHR Partners with Casey Cares Foundation to Encourage Donations of Pajamas for Critically Ill Children

ImpactHR joined in helping the Baltimore-based Casey Cares Foundation with their 2016 “Gift Card and Pajamas” drive. Casey Cares’ special campaign culminated on April 18, but the organization continues to encourage donations of gift cards and pajamas for children who are critically ill and receiving treatment in Baltimore-Washington area hospitals. If you or your organization would like to participate in this drive, we invite to consider donating:

  • $10-$20 Gift Cards from Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, chain restaurants and movie theaters
  • New, two-piece pajamas in all sizes (adult sizes for teenagers are a priority size for Casey Cares)

How do I make a donation?
If you’re in the Columbia area, just bring your pajama or gift card donations to our front desk reception at our impactHR office (10015 Old Columbia Road, Suite B-215, Columbia, MD) or mail them to us! Contact impactHR’s Nikole McWright (nmcwright@impacthrllc.com) with any questions or if you’d like more information about Casey Cares. You also can also contact Casey Cares directly to make a donation.

How will the donations be used?
Casey Cares deliver thousands of pajamas each year for hospitals in our area and throughout the Mid-Atlantic region to distribute to children on extended hospital stays. In addition, gift cards are delivered to families for a movie and pizza night at home for children too sick to leave their homes. When children are up to going out, Casey Cares adds restaurant gift cards to their tickets for the circus or sporting event to complete their “night out.”

ImpactAnalysis: How to Navigate the Shoals of Conducting Layoffs 

Even as the U.S. economic outlook gradually improves, businesses for a wide variety of reasons – such as changing business conditions, a merger and acquisition or product/service pivot – decide to reduce the size of their workforce. The layoff process, though never welcome, can be done in a way that minimizes litigation risks. On the other hand, if not done properly, employers can quickly increase their risks for wrongful termination lawsuits.

If you are considering engaging in a layoff process, keep in mind the following five basic points:

Federal WARN Act
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) requires certain employers to give employees advance notice if a reduction-in-force constitutes a “mass layoff” or a “plant closure.” The notice must be given to all affected employees, the state government and the local government where the business is based. The WARN Act applies only to business enterprises, including public entities and nonprofit corporations, which employ:

  • 100 or more employees (not including part-time)
  • 100 or more employees, including part-time employees who in the aggregate work at least 4,000 hours per week excluding overtime

Business Reasons
While you should base your decision to conduct layoffs on business needs, be careful not to unfairly discriminate a protected class of employees based on race, sex or age, for example.

Voluntary Offers
A voluntary program such as an early retirement incentive plan may be an ideal initial option. Since employees would choose to leave voluntarily in this scenario, legal liability risks would likely diminish (especially if the employees are required to sign a release).

Involuntary Layoffs
Consider terminating job positions in phases over a specific time period. In exchange for individual releases to avoid litigation, you may provide severance pay and/or early retirement benefits.

Selection Process
Establish the criteria in which employees will be selected for termination. Look first to objective methods such as a complete analysis of job positions to solidify your position of conducting layoffs based on changing business needs.

Whenever there is decision to reduce the size of your workforce, it is wise to seek guidance from a qualified HR professional and/or legal counsel. Contact us at impactHR for more information.

Employers: U.S. Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services Says Continue Using Current Form I-9

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced last week that employers are to continue using the current, albeit expired, Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. The 1-9 has been undergoing a period of revision since last fall to help employers and employees reduce errors and complete the form via online.

The Form 1-9 under revision is now open for public comment through April 27, 2016. At the end of this period, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will review the comments and make final revisions to the form. Until OMB completes its review and approves the new form, USCIS says employers “must continue to use the current version of Form I-9.” According to USCIS, the major changes to the form likely will include:

  • Validations on certain fields to ensure information is entered correctly
  • Additional spaces to enter multiple preparers and translators
  • Drop-down lists and calendars
  • Embedded instructions for completing each field
  • Buttons that will allow users to access the instructions electronically, print the form, and clear the form to start over
  • A dedicated area to enter additional information that employers are currently required to notate in the margins of the form
  • A quick-response matrix barcode, or QR code, generates once the form is printed and can be used to streamline audit processes

As a reminder, employers must complete Form I-9 “for all newly hired employees to verify their identity and authorization to work in the United States,” according to USCIS. You can find the current version of Form I-9 on USCIS’ online I-9 resource center: www.uscis.gov/I-9central

Learn more

Social Media – Do you need a policy in place? 

The biggest demographic of social media users in the U.S. is comprised of those between 25 and 44 years old, according to 2015 data from Statista. This represents roughly 65 million people. So, it may be worth asking if you, as an employer, know how many of your employees actively use social media – and it would be prudent to see if you have a policy in your employee handbook governing its use.

Without doubt, there are many benefits for employers’ and employees’ use of social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and many more. Social media, used smartly and strategically, can improve a company’s brand position, help launch new products and services and keep up with industry news and trends. On the flip side, social media can present dangers to employers such as data loss, fraud and release of sensitive company information.

To this end, employers should consider implementing clear, concise policies establishing their expectations regarding employees’ social media behavior in relation to their employer. For example, such a policy would prohibit:

  • Harassment of co-workers or customers
  • Interference or disruption of work because of social networking
  • Exposing trade secrets or other proprietary company information
  • Disparaging comments about the company and its employees
  • References to customers, vendors and business partners
  • Posts without a disclaimer that the information is the opinion of the employee and that it does not represent the opinion and position of the employer/company, if the posting directly or indirectly relates to the employer

Employers should address the issue of social media through a well-drafted policy. Or at the very least, the employer should review its current policies to ensure they address social networking issues specifically. These related policies should include EEO, harassment, electronic communications, confidentiality and inventions/trade secrets. The policy should not be so broad that they prohibit the kinds of activity protected by federal labor law. It’s also a good idea to educate employees on your social media policy and continue to modify and update it regularly.

To learn more about crafting an effective social media policy for your company or organization, please contact an impactHR team member via email at info@impacthrllc.com or phone 410-312-7882.

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