February 2016 - MVHRA Connections
February 2016 Connections Newsletter
How Often Do You Make Change for a Dollar?
Recently, I saw a short film on YouTube titled “Change for a dollar.” The film chronicles a day in the life of a (seemingly) homeless man. There is no dialogue, only a soundtrack.
As the film opens, The Man sits on a step holding an old can and a weathered cardboard sign that reads “Change.” He collects a few coins, maybe a dollar or so.
LaTonia McCain & Amanda Burke
Jan 2016 Luncheon Selfie!
The Man goes into a store and buys a cup of coffee for 35 cents and a package of matches for 15 cents. At the cash register, he passes a mom who is counting out pennies to purchase a loaf of bread for herself and her son.
The Man exits the store and hands the cup of coffee to a (seemingly) homeless woman. He turns the corner and keeps walking. He puts a penny on the sidewalk.
The mom and son from the convenience store walk around the corner. The son sees the penny on the sidewalk, picks it up and gives it to his mom. The mom sees a coffee shop with a “Help Wanted” sign in the window. She asks her son to wait and goes inside. She comes out smiling and gives her son a hug. The sign is removed from the window.
The scene shifts back to The Man, who is walking through a park. A young lady has a sign that reads “Dimes for David.” The Man puts 10 cents into her jar; she gives him a carnation.
In darkness, The Man walks on and encounters a group of men standing by a trash can filled with sticks for a fire. The Man gives them his book of matches.
The Man walks on. As he passes a laundromat, he sees a young couple inside fighting. The girl sits down and cries. The young man walks outside. The Man, still carrying the carnation, gives the young man the flower. The young man goes inside, hugs his girlfriend and gives her the flower.
The Man walks on. He comes to another park and sees a girl sitting alone on a bench. He gives her his last two coins. She goes to a nearby telephone and makes a call. He hears her speak, “Mom, I want to come home.”
Morning comes, and The Man is once again sitting on the steps holding the same sign. The son and his mom walk by. The son, recognizing The Man from the day before, puts his only penny in the can.
One man spent a day giving everything he had to other people and, to those recipients, it was enough. It was just enough to equip them for their next steps; it was just enough to fill their need in that moment.
Sometimes everything is enough, and sometimes enough is everything, proving that it doesn't take much to be the change in someone's life. As human resource professionals, we have an opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others.
Watch the video – make a change.
LaTonia McCane, SHRM-CP, PHR, GBA
College Corner – Job Shadow Happenings
Our 2nd annual Job Shadow Event is happening the first 2 weeks of February. MVHRA hosts and students have been matched and are in the process of connecting with each other to plan their day. A big thanks goes out to all the volunteer companies that are making this an even bigger success than last year. We encourage our hosts to bring your student with you for the MVHRA luncheon February 9 at the discounted rate. Still want to get involved with the College Relations programs? We have lots of opportunities just waiting for you. Contact Betsy Brown, College Relations Chair at 429-9225 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Save the Date!
MVHRA’s Annual Dayton Dragons Game
Tuesday, May 31, Evening Game
Food, Drinks, and Fun with your fellow MVHRAers!
Stayed tuned for exciting details and registration information.
For Ohio public employers, “ban the box” is now the law.
By Matt Bakota, JD, PHR – Dunlevey Mahan + Furry
A few days before Christmas, Governor Kasich signed into law a bill that prohibits public employers from including on job applications questions regarding an applicant’s criminal background. This and similar laws in other jurisdictions are often referred to as being part of the “ban the box” initiative.
So what is the immediate impact for employers and HR professionals? For those in the public sector in Ohio, there is a new law to comply with. Additionally, with criminal history questions removed from applications, public employers likely will have to make use of other resources—such as background checks later in the process—where the job at issue calls for a criminal history inquiry. The use of background checks by employers brings a variety of other legal compliance issues into play, as discussed below.
For those in the private sector, the impact may not be immediate, but there are still some takeaways. Overall, some circumstances surrounding the passage of this legislation in Ohio suggest that similar efforts may be in the works as to private employers, too.
First, it seems the law easily obtained approval in the Ohio legislature. It reportedly passed 89-1 in the Ohio House of Representatives and 32-1 in the Ohio Senate. Thus, there was overwhelming support and no real opposition to speak of.
Second, the day the bill was approved by the Ohio Senate, one of the bill’s cosponsors reportedly suggested that she would begin efforts to get a similar law passed to cover private employers as well. Given the support the bill received in the state legislature, there is little reason to doubt that we’ll see such efforts. Whether they would be successful, of course, remains to be seen. It is likely that this law will prompt new regulations extending the ban to private agencies performing government functions. Furthermore, some Ohio municipalities already have enacted “ban the box” ordinances covering employers in their jurisdictions. Other municipalities that are “home rule” jurisdictions may be able to exempt themselves from this new state law.
As employers and HR professionals know, however, this is not just an issue of state law. At the federal level, use of applicants’ criminal history is an issue that already has been a focus for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for quite some time, given the EEOC’s stance regarding potential discriminatory impact. Therefore, whether you’re in the public or private sector, you may have realized already that applicants’ criminal history is an area that should be approached with careful consideration and caution. Hiring practices such as a blanket rejection of applicants with criminal convictions can lead to an administrative charge and investigation.
Even employers who eliminate criminal history questions from the application process face risks, however. For employers who use background checks, other legal compliance issues come into play, such as those related to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, if applicable. Beyond compliance, the notice requirements of the FCRA also may be much more likely to call to applicants’ attention any adverse decisions that may have been associated with the applicants’ criminal history. Such notice may increase the risk of an administrative charge and investigation by a rejected applicant. This may leave some employers feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place.
In sum, the “ban the box” initiative can create several challenges for employers. It appears unlikely that the initiative ends here in Ohio with the passage of this new law. Additionally, regardless of what happens in terms of legislation, applicants’ criminal history will continue to be a source of risk for employers. While “the box” can still be used in the private sector, care should always be taken before rejecting an applicant because of criminal history. At a bare minimum, any such rejection should be done on an individualized basis, taking into account the job, the nature of the offense, and the lapse in time. This process should be documented in case the rejection of the employee is ever challenged. As with most employment law matters, a few common sense precautions now can save big problems later.
Check out the fun we had at the January Luncheon!
Human Resources Job Opportunities
· Recruiter – PSA Airlines
· Part-Time HR Administrator – Projects Unlimited, Inc.
· eLearning Specialist – Wright-Patt Credit Union
· Recruiter – Human Resources - CompuNet Clinical Laboratories
· HR Coordinator – Plating Technology
To see full job descriptions and/or apply for these employment opportunities, please visit the MVHRA website and click Job Opportunities
Veterans in the Workforce
Discipline. Reliability. Team focus. Leadership. These words all describe qualities most veterans bring into the workplace, qualities employers desire. However, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent for Montgomery County in November 2015, which means that more than 5,000 regional veterans currently are out of work.
If veterans already have these coveted employment qualities, why are there challenges in breaking out of the military model and adapting to the civil workforce?
Often, service members accustomed to having basic needs (housing, healthcare, employment and community) provided within a military environment are challenged when entering civilian life, having to find new ways and providers to meet those needs while dealing with a civilian population that may seem wholly unfamiliar, according to the University of Southern California’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families.
The three main barriers to transitioning are:
Veterans speak another language, one filled with acronyms and mannerisms that rarely apply to the civilian workforce. This becomes a barrier when creating a resume that will catch the attention of a hiring agency. Frequently, too much information is presented providing an interesting history of achievements but not specific skills that make the veteran the right fit for a job vacancy
Veterans are rarely trained to interview well. Military assignments tend to be allocated based on the needs of the military with an occasional cursory screening interview. This creates a situation where talented veterans never learn to present themselves in ways that highlight their value to a company. When added to the difficulty in translating skills into practical applications, the problem is compounded. Team performance is highlighted in the military and it is often tough for the veteran to highlight the “I did X” portion of a job.
Military culture is unique. It utilizes a very clearly defined hierarchy with roles and interactions that can be understood by everyone from the newest recruit to the 20-plus-year career soldier. Cultural expectations are drilled into every military member from the beginning of basic training throughout his or her service, whether a single tour of duty or a full career. Communication flow usually follows this defined hierarchal structure. Feedback is given frequently and is concise and deliberate.
How can the community make a difference? The key is engagement through mentoring.
Mentorship of transitioning veterans can be huge in helping them gain traction in the civil workforce. This includes not only mentorship through the pre-employment process, but also post-employment with emphasis on job development, networking and professional growth.
Job shadowing and internship opportunities are other ways to help veterans understand how their skills may play in the civil sector.
Veterans are a talent pool that can have a positive impact on the Miami Valley’s resurgence. By pointing a veteran in the right direction as they begin the transition, this talent can be leveraged for success.
Dan Semsel is the director of Veterans Employment Services at Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley.
Who is an Employee?
Jeffrey A. Mullins, Esq.
Jessica A. Lordi, Esq.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a new guidance that could change how employers classify and hire employees. The DOL recommends that employers categorize workers based on the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) definition of employment: “suffer or permit to work” instead of the control test. To that end, the DOL has provided a six-factor “economic realities” test.
Classifying employees in accordance with the “economic realities” test would result in more independent contractors falling under the employee classification. Expanding the employee classification could have a substantial impact on how employers do business. Many businesses have independent contractors because they do not require employee benefits, payments for payroll taxes, workers’ compensation, overtime, and minimum wage. Notwithstanding, the DOL argues that independent contractors reduce tax revenue and adding more employees and reducing independent contractors would level the playing field.
Because the DOL guidance is not regulation or law, many states, including Ohio, have refused to support the “economic realities” test and it is unclear whether the IRS will be enforcing the DOL guidance. With this legal ambiguity, employers should keep apprised of any permanent change in the law or regulations that would require them to re-classify employees and keep in mind the severe penalties associated with a misclassification. Employers caught misclassifying employees face severe fines and may be required to pay outstanding federal employment taxes and interest per employee. Because worker misclassification is easy to do, businesses should be sure to review classifications carefully to ensure compliance.
MVHRA is getting in SHAPE
Did you know that part of being a SHRM-affiliated chapter means that every year MVHRA submits a report called the SHRM Affiliate Program of Excellence (SHAPE)? SHAPE is designed to ensure a strong relationship between SHRM and our chapter. There are certain requirements we, as a SHRM chapter, must meet. In addition, the SHAPE report focuses on the outcomes of some of our strategic initiatives. Every January the report is due to SHRM and then in the spring SHRM provides awards to chapters based on their report. We have submitted our 2015 SHAPE report and are hoping to achieve the gold award. We are excited in all that we accomplished in 2015. Thank you MVHRA volunteers!
SHRM FOUNDATION COMMITTEE NEEDS YOUR HELP!
As 2016 begins, now is the time to think about the impact the SHRM Foundation has made on the lives of HR professionals and the HR workplace. The SHRM Foundation was able to award more than 100 scholarships to HR leaders and students as well as continue doing crucial research in the field of the aging workforce.
Whether you are starting your career or looking to leave a legacy, we need your help to grant new HR research projects, award more scholarships, produce new resources, and advance thought leadership.
Learn more and donate now, at shrmfoundation.org/impact.
Your generous donation will make an impact and help shape the future of HR.
Don't Miss the March 8th Speaker!
Maureen Metcalf -CEO Metcalf and Associates- discussion topic leadership 2050
Controlling Abuse of Intermittent FMLA Leave
Written by Rosalie M. Catalano, SHRM-SCP and SPHR on behalf of MVHRA for submission to Dayton Business Journal
Rosalie is Workforce Solutions Manager with Sinclair Workforce Development, and serves as both Assistant Secretary and a member of the Programming Committee for MVHRA.
Managing intermittent FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) leave can be a major administrative and compliance headache for employers. It is critical that employers and human resource professionals know and comply with the law in order to treat employees fairly, to avoid federal penalties and fines for non-compliance, and to reduce costs from abuse by some.
The FMLA provides for an employee to take 12 weeks of leave for their own or an immediate family member’s (spouse, child, or parent) serious injury or health condition. The leave can be taken all at once or intermittently. Under the FMLA’s military leave provisions, employees also may use intermittent FMLA leave for qualifying exigencies and to care for a covered service member with a serious illness or injury. The care needed can encompass both physical and psychological care and can even include driving the family member to the doctor.
When FMLA is taken intermittently—i.e., the 12 weeks are taken in smaller chunks vs. one solid block of time—things can get tricky. Intermittent leave can be taken in increments as small as minutes, hours, or days.
In order to control FMLA abuse, there are several steps that an employer can take.
Eligibility – An employer should first confirm that the FMLA applies to the organization. FMLA applies to all public agencies and all public and private elementary and secondary schools (regardless of number of employees) and private companies who employ 50 or more employees for at least 20 weeks a year. A covered employee is anyone who has worked for the company for at least 12 months (the 12 months need not be consecutive), and has worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months immediately preceding the leave. Also, the employee has to work at a company facility that has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
Confirm / Clarify Medical Certification – Employers should require that medical certification to justify the leave be provided within 15 days of the request. Leave can be denied until the certification is provided. The Certification must be complete and unambiguous, and it must support the need for intermittent leave. If the certification is incomplete or insufficient, the employer must give the employee a written notice stating what additional information is necessary to make the certification complete and sufficient. The employee must provide the additional information to the employer within seven calendar days, in most cases. The Certification is “incomplete” if information is missing; it is “insufficient” if the information is unclear or vague.
An appropriate representative of the employer (e.g., an HR professional) can contact the employee’s healthcare provider for clarification or to ensure legitimacy of the certification (an employee’s direct supervisor cannot contact the healthcare provider). There are circumstances in which an employer may also ask for a second or even third medical opinion, at the employer’s expense. If an employee has multiple approved leaves on file, require that they identify for which intermittent leave they are taking the time.
Tighten Up & Enforce Policies – Employers can and should include the requirement in their FMLA policies that paid leave be used for intermittent FMLA absences, which also makes it permissible for employers to ask for a doctor’s note for paid time leave. Paid time leave policies should also require employees to call designated persons or phone numbers to report that an FMLA absence is being used. Although employers cannot deny the FMLA leave if the certification is in place, they won’t have to pay for it if their policies are not followed. There are also several circumstances in which employers may ask for recertification; e.g., an employer may request recertification every thirty days for an absence related to long-term conditions or those that require irregular absences.
Know the Law and Train / Engage Front-line Supervisors & Managers – Ensure that appropriate staff know the law and stay up to date on changes.
Company officials and HR personnel may not always be aware of absences immediately, so it is important to provide some training to front-line supervisors and managers on what they need to do to help ensure proper use of intermittent leave. This should include full understanding of the call-in and call-off procedures for absence and attendance programs. And, it’s a good idea to ensure that both front-line staff and HR have centralized access to absence data. HR and front-line staff should confer regarding whether or not intermittent leave is significantly interfering with the employer's business. If so, the employee may be temporarily assigned to a different job until the leave period expires.
Follow Up on Suspicions – Employers that have reason to suspect intermittent leave abuse can have appropriately designated personnel, such as HR, follow up. Employers can manage intermittent FMLA leave by looking at patterns in attendance for any particular employee. FMLA guidelines allow employers to give the pattern of absences to the employee’s healthcare provider and question whether this pattern is consistent with the employee’s need for a leave of absence (e.g., a pattern of Friday absences). As a last resort, an employer can legally hire an investigator to conduct surveillance of an employee whom they suspect of abusing intermittent leave. There are many reported cases of employees doing activities while on leave that they claim they cannot do if they were on the job.
The Bottom Line – Employers and employees both have rights under FMLA. However, employers are obligated to educate their employees on related processes and policies; if they don’t then employees have no legal obligation. Employers can deny intermittent leave requests only if they act BEFORE leave is ever requested; AT THE TIME the leave request is made; and AFTER employees fail to meet their own obligations. Have proper policies and programs in place, educate staff who need to know the law, and be consistent in following up on use of intermittent leave.
Shanda Brown, Technology Committee Chairperson
MVHRA.org… We want to ensure the MVHRA website is meeting your needs, helping us grow as an organization and providing substantive information which allows you to get the most out of your MVHRA membership. In order to do so, we are going to be focusing efforts on learning and better understanding the wants and needs of our board and members as it relates to our website.
To do this, we have put together an Action Plan and have begun working through it. The plan has been organized into 3 phases to include the following:
Phase 1: Research
Phase 2: Plan of Attack
Phase 3: Implementation & Maintenance
We have already obtained significant feedback from board members and believe it to be fairly representative of feedback received from the MVHRA membership as a whole. The board will be meeting with the webmaster in February to move forward with Phase 1 of the Action Plan.
We will provide an update following our February board meeting and then brief status updates each month as the project progresses. If at any time you have thoughts on the website or feedback you’d like to share, please send me an email. We welcome your input!