Changes to Overtime Law Loom: What Employers Need to Know

Employment trends expert weighs in on private-sector overtime pay requirements

OvertimeOvertime continues to be a developing hot button topic in states across the United States, with Washington being the latest state to draft a proposal which would offer overtime to professional workers who earn 1.5 times that of minimum wage.

“Workers who earn slightly more than $37,000 a year would be eligible for overtime when they work over 40 hours a week,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and employment trends expert. “While some say that these changes are good news for employees, others caution that it could spell financial ruin for small-business owners.”

Since 2016 when President Obama signed an overtime law which made employees who earned less than $47,476 a year eligible for overtime compensation, many small business owners have been fearful that they will not be able to keep pace with new requirements. When a Texas judge blocked that ruling, it offered a small reprieve until President Trump took office.

“Many business owners breathed a sigh of relief when President Trump backed away from President Obama’s 2016 decree,” says Wilson. “However, we still don’t know where Trump’s administration will land on when it comes to their take on private sector overtime pay requirements.”

Wilson says that we should expect to find out what President Trump’s overtime numbers will be sometime around Jan. 2019.

“The Labor Department is in review mode right now,” says Wilson. “They are looking at the number of people who are eligible for overtime (currently those who make $23,660 a year or less), and wondering how they should apply that to more workers.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

The Don and Mike Show: Health Care Benefit Costs

Jason Eisenhut, Vice President of Human Resources at Employco USA, joins Don from the Don and Mike Show for a podcast interview on health care benefit costs. Jason’s interview comes in at the 13:30 mark.

“Don does an extensive interview with Jason on health care benefit costs, trends, what to look for to make the best cost decisions and more. Mike reports from SGIA 2018 in Las Vegas while Don is live in San Francisco at Moscone Center with news from their recent renovations.”

Contact us with any questions you may have, we’re here to help: hr@employco.com

The Don and Mike Show

How to Investigate a Sexual Harassment Complaint in the Workplace

Human resources expert explains how companies can create safe, equitable workplaces in the #MeToo era

FiredA WeWork employee recently came forward to state that she was fired after reporting rampant sexual harassment in her workplace. In her lawsuit, it is alleged that the $20B co-working company spent more on parties than on sexual harassment training, and that a ‘frat-boy culture’ permeated the offices.

“It is clear that sexual harassment on the job is a serious issue that many workplaces are not adequately addressing,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and human resources expert. “In my line of work, I have seen firsthand how companies can make severe missteps when trying to handle sexual harassment claims on their own.”

Employco helps companies to investigate claims of workplace harassment, whether it is a case of quid pro quo or hostile work environments. Wilson says that there are many things employers and managers must consider when investigating a sexual harassment complaint, including:

  1. Act quickly. “Don’t delay,” says Wilson. “Waiting can send a bad signal to the victim that what happened to them is not important in the eyes of their employer. Not to mention, as time goes on, the victim, witnesses, and the alleged harasser will be more likely to forget details, and if harassment is found to have occurred, the harasser needs to be disciplined as quickly as possible.”
  2. Determine who will do the investigation. “If you are a small or medium-sized company, I would recommend that you consider outsourcing your investigation. Why? Because it is crucial that your investigator has no ties to either the victim or perpetrator,” says Wilson. “This likely won’t be possible if you are an office of 20 people. Yes, it will be a cost that you may not wish to pay upfront, but it’s better than being sued down the road because you mishandled something as serious as a sexual harassment claim.”
  3. Keep gender in mind. “Is the accusation coming from a woman? Then, hire a female investigator. Is the accuser a man? Then, hire a male investigator,” says Wilson. “When talking about intimate and sometimes-embarrassing situations, the victims will feel more comfortable speaking to someone of their same gender. It’s easy to understand why a woman may not feel comfortable opening up to a strange man about how she was sexually assaulted at the office Christmas party. Do whatever you can to make your employees, especially those who have been victimized by the scourge of sexual assault and harassment, feel safe coming forward and telling their story.”
  4. Investigate thoroughly. “Interview all possible witnesses. Review security footage. Examine data from work computers and other devices. Perhaps the accuser sent lewd messages via email or text. Gather and save all of this data, and contact the police if you believe a crime has been committed (for instance, if an employee shares intimate photos of another employee without their consent, this could be considered a crime, depending on the state where you live).”
  5. Thank your employee for coming forward. “Regardless of what happens as a result of the investigation, make sure that your employee knows how grateful you are that they came forward. Ensure that they feel safe in the workplace and that they are not being threatened or mocked by other employees. Their safety should be of the uttermost importance.”
  6. Never transfer the victim. “Unless they come to you and ask to be moved to a new department, never move the victim. Always transfer the person who is accused of the harassment. If the victim does wish to move, make sure to get this in writing so you have proof that it was their idea and not a punishment or attempt at obfuscation coming from upper management.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Why You Shouldn’t Dress up as Donald Trump for Halloween…Plus, Other Do’s and Don’ts for Celebrating Halloween at Work

Human resources expert explains how to manage All Hallows Eve when it comes to costumes, decorations, and in-office parties

HalloweenMore than 179 million people in America celebrated Halloween last year. With Halloween 2018 quickly approaching, many people are planning their costumes, picking out pumpkins, and otherwise getting excited to celebrate All Hallows Eve…but, how should this topic be approached in the workplace?

“Countless workplaces across the country permit or even encourage Halloween costumes in the office,” says Rob Wilson, human resources expert and President of Employco USA, a national employment-solutions firm. “Some even have costume competitions. Other offices have Halloween parties and put up decorations for the holiday. But, in this day and age, it is crucial to consider how your Halloween costume could impact your employer’s opinion of you, or what legal ramifications these common Halloween practices could pose for employers.”

To that end, workplace expert Rob Wilson has provided the below Do’s and Don’ts for celebrating Halloween in the workplace:

No Drag & No Donald. “Don’t wear any costume which mocks a certain religion, ethnicity, culture, gender or sexual orientation,” says Wilson. “For example, transgender people often find it offensive when cisgender people dress in ‘drag’ because they don’t want their identity to be seen as a joke. And, in our current political climate, it would be a bad idea to show up to the office in a Donald Trump, Christine Blasey Ford, or Bill Cosby costume. Play it safe: don’t dress up as any current celebrities or politicians, and avoid nun costumes, priest costumes, and certainly any costumes which would involve you making yourself over to look like a person of another ethnicity, i.e. “blackface,” or wearing Native American costumes or Geisha costumes if you are not of those ethnic backgrounds.”

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Should You Be Paid for the Time You Spend on Your Commute?

Employment trends expert discusses new research and how it could apply to American employees  

CommuteResearch has shown that the American commute keeps getting longer and longer, with the average worker now traveling 26 minutes to get to their place of employment. No wonder a new survey has found that American workers now say that they should be considered ‘on the clock’ when they are commuting, and that their pay should reflect the time they spend traveling to and from work.

“According to this new research, when Wi-Fi is available to commuters who are traveling by bus or train, these employees use their devices to accomplish work tasks and prepare for their work day,” says Rob Wilson, employment trends expert and President of Employco USA, a national employment-solutions firm. “As a Chicagoan, I have seen this firsthand, as many hard-working individuals taking the El, the Metra or the bus often log-in and start accomplishing work tasks before they even set foot in the office.”

However, the question is, should employees be compensated for this time they spend working while in transit?

“There are many things we need to consider when it comes to this discussion,” says Wilson. “Is the employee hourly or salary? Is their work being monitored? Will employers be able to verify that work duties are completed during a commute? Is there a higher risk of errors or miscommunications when a person is working on a crowded, bustling train as opposed to sitting quietly in their cubicle? And, if the employee is hourly, what potential impact would compensation present to overtime?”

Wilson says we also need to consider the changing landscape of employment as it relates to technology and remote employees.

“As many job tasks can be accomplished with nothing more than an internet connection and a smartphone or laptop, and as more employees are working remotely, it is not far-fetched to assume that an employee can complete valuable and timely job functions while sitting on the train,” says the employment expert.

However, financial compensation might not be the only benefit to consider.

“If an employee works remotely on the train and thus finishes their tasks early for the day, perhaps it would be beneficial to consider letting workers have flexible schedules,” says Wilson. “In essence, you will be paying employees with more free time, rather than higher pay.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

The Senate Will Soon Vote on Reversing a Critical Part of Obamacare

Group employment expert explains upcoming vote on H.R. 3798 and why it’s a shame that more Americans aren’t aware of this crucial bill

ACAThe Senate could vote this week on a bill which would take apart a good deal of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, including a key piece of legislation which required employers to offer health insurance to all employees who work 30 hours or more per week.

“The average American doesn’t know too much about H.R. 3798, and that’s a shame, because I can’t think of a vote which would have a larger impact on employees’ pay and their workdays,” says Rob Wilson, group employment expert and President of Employco USA, a national employment-solutions firm which helps companies of all sizes to run more effectively.

Wilson says that H.R. 3798 will reverse President Obama’s prior legislation which required all full-time employees to be offered health insurance…and, then defined full-time employment as workers who put in 30-hours a week.

“Many people in the industry were surprised with the thirty-hour-a-week legislation,” says Wilson. “Forty-hours-a-week has always been considered full-time in American businesses of all industries, so it seemed a bit arbitrary. Unfortunately, it also had a negative impact on employees. Employers slashed workers’ hours to keep them under the 30-hour mark and avoid paying for their health insurance, meaning that these workers had to supplement their pay by getting another job. In essence, many employees wound up working 2 nearly full-time jobs, and still without company-provided health insurance.”

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5 Tips for Mark Cuban to Fix the Mavericks

Human resources and leadership expert explains how to fix the Mavericks’ corporate culture

Mark Cuban“Shark Tank” star and billionaire Mark Cuban is in hot water after accounts of sexual harassment and violence within the Dallas Mavericks came to light in recent weeks. Although Cuban has faced the charges head on, even going so far as to pledge $10M to domestic violence charities, some question whether Cuban can recover…or, if the Dallas Mavericks’ workplace will ever truly be safe for women.

“It’s easy to understand why women might not want to work for an organization like the Mavericks, or why people would be hesitant to trust Cuban,” says Rob Wilson, human resources expert and President of Employco USA, a national employment-solutions firm. “After all, this abuse went on for years within the Mavericks’ workplace, Cuban’s remorse is obvious, but for the impacted employees, the apologies might feel ‘too little, too late’.”

To this end, Rob Wilson has advice for Mark Cuban and other leaders who might find themselves in a similar situation.

“If your workplace is grappling with allegations of sexual harassment, there are several steps that managers and employers need to take right away,” says Wilson.

The human-resources expert offers these 5 tips below:

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Survey: Employers Open to Hiring People with Criminal Backgrounds

H.R. expert explains why the corporate opinion on criminal backgrounds is changing, and what it means for employers

Criminal Background CheckA recent survey of Illinois employers found that companies are more open to hiring those with a criminal past than ever before.

Additionally, many states are changing previous regulations which prevented convicted criminals from working in certain fields.

“In Illinois, for example, lawmakers have made 100 occupations newly available for those with a criminal background, such as jobs in real estate and accounting,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA, a national employment-solutions firm. “With these legal stipulations out of the way, many employers are looking at such candidates in a new light.”

But, is it wise for employers to take such a risk?

“When it comes to criminal backgrounds, you really have to be judicious in considering what the offense was, how long ago the crime occurred, as well as what position you are hiring the candidate for,” says Wilson. “Clearly, hiring someone with a string of drug offenses to work in a pharmacy environment or veterinary clinic could be problematic, but alternately, a person in recovery could thrive in other positions such as customer service or data entry.”

Wilson says that there is no guarantees when hiring an employee, even those without a criminal background.

“It’s easy to assume that just because a person has a criminal background, they should be avoided or looked at suspiciously, but if the crimes were in the past and they have paid their debt to society, then it is possible to consider that these people may be excellent candidates for employment,” says Wilson. “Yet proceed with caution, we recommend all employers conduct a criminal background screen prior to hiring an employee – and, make sure you are well-versed in what the crime was and what that could mean for your company.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.