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Stop the Violence: How to Prevent Workplace Violence

workplace violenceThe recent acts of violence that transpired in Newtown, Connecticut and during the Boston Marathon shed light on the reality that violence can strike at any time, on any occasion. These tragic events allow us to reflect on the current safety precautions in place to ensure similar situations do not occur. As a result, many employers are seeking measures to safeguard the workplace from violence.

Nearly two million American workers are victims of workplace violence each year. Workplace violence is defined as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. The spectrum for what is considered violent behavior in the workplace ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.

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HR’s Role in Top-Grading

ball of wordsHuman Resources Professionals are faced with the challenge to streamline headcount, improve hiring outcomes and enhance performance management practices in this “do more with less” economy. Developing best practices to ensure that the right people are in the right places doing the right things will ultimately help organizations maximize their Human Capital investment.

A main concept that will maximize Human Capital is a close alignment of the hiring, training, and evaluation practices with company mission, vision and values. These elements make up the “moral compass” of an organization. Just like any relationship, if you are closely aligned with a person’s morals, values and overall outlook on life – you are likely to form a strong bond. We spend a lot of time and energy picking our friends and companions in life. We typically date a few different people before we commit to long-term relationships or marriages. Why would we treat an employment relationship differently? After all, we spend a whole lot of our time in that relationship!

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Minimum Wage Increases in 2013wages

Although the Federal minimum wage will remain at $7.25 in 2013, the minimum wage in the followings States will increase for tipped and non-tipped employees, effective January 1st.   According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers in States with both Federal and State minimum wage laws must pay the higher minimum wage rate. Information related to minimum wage rate increases can be found on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) website: http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm, Federal Wage and Labor Law Institute (FWLLI) or through BNA – the Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. Employers can also access: http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm for resources related to tipped employees.

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Completing Form I-9

Employers are required by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to complete a Form I-9 for newly hired or rehired workers within (3) three days of employment. The purpose of this form is to document that each Employee hired is authorized to work in the United States. Verification of employment must be presented by both Citizens and Non-Citizens. It is the Employer’s responsibility to examine the documents to determine the authenticity of the paperwork and record the information accurately on the form. If an Employer representative is not available to review the original documents and sign the form, these documents must be presented to a Public Notary for verification.

Form I-9 consists of three sections:

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A Proactive Approach to Employee Discipline – Progressive Discipline Policy

It seems logical for an employer to terminate an employee at the first sign of a performance or behavioral issue; however on the contrary an immediate termination can potentially be more costly than keeping the employee on staff. The cost to recruit, attract and select a candidate can range from $1,500 to upwards of $5,000, depending on the number of people involved in the process and their salaries. Through the implementation of a progressive discipline policy, employers can provide a structured corrective action process that seeks to proactively prevent the recurrence of undesirable behavior and/or performance issues. A progressive discipline policy is valuable because it offers advantages for both employers and employees.

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Permissible Wage Deductions

Are you confused about what deductions can be taken out of an employee’s paycheck; well you are not alone! The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor completed 33,295 compliance actions and collected more than $224 million in back wages for more than 275,000 workers during FY 2011 (http://www.dol.gov/dol/budget/2013/bib.htm#whd). The WHD serves as the governing agency for federal laws pertaining to minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and prevailing wages for government service and construction.  The WHD provides a general overview of permissible wage deductions but most wage deduction requirements are dictated and outlined within state laws.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), permissible deductions from minimum wage include wage meals, lodging, and other facilities, tax withholdings, court-ordered payments, and voluntary deductions /payments to assignees. Specifically, these wage deductions are among the most common deductions that can legally decrease an employee’s wages below the federal or state applicable minimum wage.

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Limit your Liability: I-9 Compliance Best Practices 

Employers, are you in compliance with I-9 requirements? In the 2011 Fiscal year, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a record 2,393 notice of inspections (for federal Forms I-9 and supporting documents), a more than 375% increase from FY2008. Additionally, during FY2011, ICE issued 331 final administrative fine orders, totaling more than $9 million in fines levied on employers (compared to 18 final orders in FY2008, totaling $675,000 in fines).

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Posting the 2011 OSHA Summary

Employers, it is almost that time of year again. Are you prepared to post your 2011 OSHA Summary on February 1st?

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Recordkeeping Guidelines, a current OSHA Summary (not the OSHA 300 Log) must be posted in your workplace location(s) annually by February 1ST until April 30th. The Summary, Form 300-A, must be posted in a visible location accessible to all employees in each establishment or site. Form 300-A reports the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses, number of deaths, missed workdays and job transfers or restrictions that occurred in the previous year. Companies with no recordable injuries or illnesses in 2011 must post the form with zeros on the total line.

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Employee or Independent Contractor: Employer Guidelines

Are you finding it difficult to differentiate between employees and independent contractors? Well accurately defining a worker’s classification status may be a more serious issue than you might have anticipated. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released the 2012 proposed budget, which emphasized a strong focus on identifying employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors verse employees. The DOL requested an additional $46 million to support a multi-agency initiative with the Wage and Hour Division (WHD), the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Claims (OFCCP) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to combat employee misclassification. In recent years, the DOL has “cracked-down” on employers for intentionally misclassifying employees as a means to escape payment of employment taxes, overtime compensation and benefits in a difficult economy.

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New Poster Requirements for 2012 

Employers, are you prepared for 2012? During 2011, the Department of Labor (DOL) introduced several new poster requirements effective January 1, 2012. Additionally, several states issued legislation altering state posters pertaining to benefits, minimum wage and safety regulations.

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Impact of Wage Garnishments on Employers 

Have you received an increase in wage garnishment orders for your employees? Well you’re not alone. As response to the current economy, many Americans are falling behind on loan, child support and credit card payments. Creditors are turning to wage garnishments as a means to collect payments on delinquent loans. The increase in wage garnishments presents an additional responsibility for employers who receive garnishment orders for employees.

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Compensation Strategies in the Recession: How to Cope with the New Economy

According to a Harvard Business Review survey, which analyzed the responses of 1,379 global business leaders, 70% of the survey respondents predicted a “double” recession will transpire in the following months. Additionally in a similar survey conducted by World Bank, indicated a decrease in global growth to 2.8% in 2011 from 3.8% last year (Harvard Business Review). These statistics indicate the recession is far from over. As the economy struggles to get back on its “feet” and the potential for a second recession grows more promising, it becomes even more important to manage human capital with a compensation strategy that is cost-sensitive as well as motivating. With the addition of performance-based initiatives incorporated into the compensation strategy, employers can foster an environment for learning, innovation, creativity, problem-solving and empowerment, while managing compensation budgets and ensuring resources are allocated accurately.

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Be Proactive: Promote Healthy Habits in the Workplace

The dreadful cold and flu season is here once again. This time of year sparks new challenges for employers attempting to avoid absenteeism and lower productivity levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year due to the seasonal flu. It cost employers more than $10 billion in hospital costs and outpatient care and $76.7 million in absenteeism-related costs and other indirect expenses every year.

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Importance of Conducting a Human Resource Audit

Human Resource (HR) Audit is a comprehensive examination of organization’s current HR policies, systems, and procedures to evaluate compliance with employment regulations and identify areas for improvement. A well executed HR Audit will reveal gap areas that can potentially lead to costly legal disputes and governmental fines. It is advisable to conduct an HR audit once every year. Additional, conducting an HR Audit after a significant change in the organization (such as reconstruction, expansion, or deduction in force), will help to identify the right practices and highlight functions in need of modification.

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Body Language: Mastering the Art of Powerful Postures

Researchers from Columbia University and Harvard University have found a link among powerful leaders besides pure charisma. The connecting factor is their use of powerful body postures to convey authority. So how does posture relate to power and authority?

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Voluntary Resignation

Hiring the Right Person for the Right Job is an important goal of any organization. An organization’s employee-team is one of the determinative factors of the organization’s success. However, in recent years, employers often hear the words ‘I quit’ from their employees.

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), voluntary resignation levels have increased from 1,576 in January 2010 to 1,744 in January 2011, which currently surpasses the level of employee layoffs. Causes of voluntary resignations may be defined as real, substantial, and reasonable circumstances which would cause the employee to quit their employment. Reasons for voluntary resignations include personal dissatisfaction with job; unfavorable time and work conditions; non-job related problems associated with the employee’s personal life; new career opportunities; fear or anticipation of involuntary termination; and retirement, which is of course, based on an employee’s age.

Studies indicate that the cost to hire a new employee is five-times the salary of the position. To avoid the financial burden of hiring a new employee and to maintain productivity, employers should take steps well in advance to prevent voluntary resignations. For example, employers should track key performance indicators for each employee.

The subject of voluntary resignation presents an opportunity for the employer to reassess strategies and restructure workforce. When an employee voluntarily resigns, it is imperative for the employer to assess the reason behind the resignation. If there are job related issues, they need to be resolved in advance to ensure that these issues do not create a negative impact on other employees in the organization.

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Posted June 20, 2011 by scicompanies

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