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MVHRA Connections - May 2020

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MAY 2020

























By Matt Bakota


More than 100 people registered for MVHRA’s May webinar meeting, which featured a panel discussion on COVID-19 issues that are continuing to impact employers and HR professionals. MVHRA will be presenting another webinar meeting for June, as we wait for further guidance on when we may be able to resume our in-person luncheon meetings. The June 9 webinar meeting will include an “HR Legal Update” that will address additional COVID-19-related issues not covered in May, as well as numerous other developments in HR law during the first half of 2020. Yes, hard as it may be to believe, there have been other HR law developments while we have been grappling with FFCRA leave, the CARES Act, lay off and furlough decisions, and other COVID-19-related issues.


In addition to staying up to speed on developments in HR law, it is important to not lose sight of some of the more familiar HR law issues while you are dealing with COVID-19. For example, although you may have less time to delve into detail in your employee personnel file documentation and/or be working with a smaller HR department right now, remember to still follow your tried and true practices of preparing and retaining documentation on things such as employee discipline and termination decisions, including those that have nothing to do with COVID-19. I mention this because I recall being in a seminar not too long ago, in which a representative of the U.S. EEOC remarked on potential causes for the continuing reduction in discrimination and retaliation charge filings. A main potential cause that was cited was the consistent decline in unemployment across the country. Now, unfortunately, we are seeing the national unemployment rate at or near all-time highs due to COVID-19. If this hypothesis was correct, then an increase in charge filings may be on the horizon, too. Either way, keep in mind that whatever documentation you are placing in employee personnel files now may be critical evidence down the road for a variety of reasons. This certainly is not the warmest or fuzziest of messages right now, and I recognize that. But it is important for HR professionals, as business partners within their organizations, to anticipate what challenges may be coming “next” for the organization.


Another example would be workers’ compensation claims that arise during this time. Many – and probably most – may have nothing to do with COVID-19. But a workers’ compensation claim still presents important decisions, even in its earliest stages, that are very time-sensitive in the short term but also have the potential to create long-term repercussions for an organization. As you heard some of my colleagues from Auman Mahan & Furry discuss at our November 2019 luncheon, employers must be careful not to automatically certify claims when that initial paperwork comes into your office. A claim that is certified for too much can lead to long-lasting, excessive costs for an employer down the road. Therefore, make sure that important notices and paperwork from places such as Ohio’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation are being monitored within your organization, and not sitting on the desk of a colleague who usually deals with such things but may be out on leave or furloughed. Many employers in the Miami Valley are small to medium-sized, with very small HR departments, so that scenario where something like BWC notices might not be getting proper attention and/or may be falling through the cracks is not as unlikely as you may think. And the BWC certainly is not the only office that sends time-sensitive notices to employers.


As you encounter these or other similar things involving “more familiar HR issues,” consider sharing them with your colleagues in the HR profession. One of the many great things about MVHRA is the culture we are continuing to develop, in which members are now – more than ever – regularly bouncing things off each other and showing a willingness to share best practices. That includes members who have joined one of our many new “HR Tribes,” whose members not only meet regularly but also stay in touch via email and other methods in between. As the Miami Valley reflects this month on the terrible storm that devastated portions of our region around this time back in 2019, we at MVHRA are encouraged to see how our members are banding together and weathering this new and strange kind of storm that has presented itself in 2020. After all, we, too, intend to come out on the other side of this latest challenge stronger than ever.



Changing the Face of Workplace Health and Safety in the COVID-19 Era


Submitted by Ryan Shean, Ascentis


As businesses slowly start to reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic and workers return to something approaching a new normal, workforce safety is foremost on the minds of every party involved. While employers, employees, and consumers are all eager to get back to business as usual, it’s evident that a lot of changes need to take place before that can happen fully. Protective measures like face coverings, employee screening and social distancing are good initial steps, but ensuring safety for workers and customers will also require some big institutional and technological changes.


In many ways, the pandemic has laid bare some major existing problems in the ways our workplaces traditionally operate. In the coming months and likely well beyond, businesses will be taking a hard look at the measures they take to protect the health and safety of their employees. Even in the difficult days of economic recovery ahead, a company’s approach to health and hygiene will be important deciding factors for many jobseekers. A workplace that offers a thoughtful and well-communicated approach to employee health will be able to attract and retain top-quality workers than one that does not.


Practices that have long been commonplace across many industries now look ill-advised or even unsafe. For instance, many places of employment, from manufacturing facilities to healthcare providers to office buildings, require employees to physically clock in and out at the beginning and end of their shifts.


That poses a problem in a time where physical contact with an object like a touch screen or punch clock is potentially dangerous. These devices are usually among the most shared surfaces in a company. Nearly every hourly employee touches them every workday. Even with the use of hand sanitizers and cleaning products, each touch increases the potential for spreading germs and infections.


To reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus and other communicable diseases, many employers have begun to consider ways to create a safer environment from the moment their employees come in the door. The Centers for Disease Control recently issued guidelines for meat-processing facilities, which have been especially hard-hit by the pandemic, recommending that businesses institute touchless clock-in practices if possible.


Touchless biometric tools such as facial recognition software had been growing in popularity even before the coronavirus outbreak. The particulars of the current pandemic, though, reveal that even those measures are not enough to maintain employee well-being in many workplaces. In fact, many practices and technologies that were considered standard practice or even cutting-edge in the very recent past will now need to be pushed aside in favor of more sanitary and technologically advanced solutions.


Consider a worker in a healthcare facility who needs to wear a face mask or other PPE throughout the workday, for instance. Facial recognition scanning would require each employee to remove their face coverings before clocking in or out for the day, potentially putting workers at risk for spreading disease while also adding extra steps that negate the time-saving aspect of a touchless time clock.


A similar situation applies to biometric fingerprint readers, which were very recently looked on as state-of-the-art timekeeping technology. In the current environment, a system requiring employees to touch a common surface multiple times per day looks far less inviting than it did just a few months ago, especially in workplaces where gloves and other personal protective equipment are required.


Fortunately, innovative businesses are stepping up to create new, more safety-minded solutions for time and attendance. Examples of businesses implementing these precautions are already starting to roll in. Cambria, a Minnesota-based manufacturer of granite products, requires employees to stand under an overhead scanner that checks for elevated body temperatures, a possible symptom of coronavirus. Northcoast Security in Ohio is using apps to take facial scans and temperature readings of their workers. Target is partnering with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to create a screening process combining temperature checks and a short questionnaire to pinpoint possible symptoms.


As with any quickly evolving technology, these touchless clock-in processes and worker temperature checks come with some legal considerations. California, Illinois, New York, and several other states have laws on the books concerning the types of biometric information employers are allowed to collect, and how that data can be processed and stored after the fact. While most commercially available time clocks should be in compliance with applicable privacy laws, it’s worth consideration for employers looking to make a new investment.


As the working world continues easing toward a new normal, Ascentis is proud to offer employers new touch-free time clock add-ons to help businesses get back to work while protecting employee health. Our new Ascentis CarePoint add-ons offer a fully touchless time clock experience including voice command capability, Bluetooth beacon technology and thermal body temperature checks. As the first completely touchless timekeeping solution on the market, Ascentis CarePoint is ready to get American workers back in action safely and securely.



HR Issues Amidst Coronavirus Disruptions:  Winning The Psychological Battle Of Returning To Work

By Steve Black


“I’m scared to come back into the office.” 

“There is no way I am wearing a mask.”

“How often will workstations be sanitized?”

“This whole pandemic is ridiculous.  We never should have shut down in the first place!”

“I’m making more money on unemployment, so I do not plan on returning to the office quite yet.”


Have you heard any of these comments?  Planning is taking place throughout American businesses to get things back to “normal.”  “Normal,” though, will be anything but normal.  Plastic shields, face masks, taping off social distancing reminders are now normal tasks for HR and business leaders.  As plans rollout, the workplace will look very different than it did three months ago.  As leaders overcome physical obstacles, a greater obstacle will need attention.  That obstacle is the psychological mindset of workersacross the nation. 


What felt like overnight, the safety needs (as defined in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) trumped other personal needs (e.g.—self-actualization).  According to Maslow, it is almost impossible to move into the higher reaches of his hierarchy (Love and Belonging, Esteem, and Self-Actualization) before first meeting the lower needs (Physiological, Safety).  Right now, employers must recognize the psychological challenges many employees face with returning to the workplace.  Successful transitioning depends upon ensuring employees both are safe and feel safe.  Employers can mandate face masks and have people follow this guidance.  Employees, though, may still feel unsafe. Time, ongoing communication, and consistent safety measures will go a long way in winning the psychological battle many employees face. 


Employers can purchase equipment, post signs, and hold meetings with little difficulty.  This is what good employers will do.  The best employers will recognize the psychological battle many employees face and strive hard to address these needs.  Here are some recommendations to consider:


1.     Form a Committee to Build Your Transition Plan


Employers need to hear from multiple voices.  In addition, all businesses need advocates to build the plan, implement it, and help employees address challenges.  The more buy-in and opportunities to hear from key employees will go a long way in having a successful plan that helps all employees transition well.


2.     Communicate Early and Often


Many companies have already built their plans.  It is vital to communicate what has been done, what is being done, and what will be done on a regular basis.  Employees need to hear from their leaders often.  Emailing a plan to employees and hoping they figure it out will not ease the psychological adjustment many employees will need.


3.     Take Time to Listen…REALLY Listen


There may be times where employees need to vent or express concern.  When/if struggling employees know that they are heard and respected, bringing up issues as they arise will help in the process of healing. 


4.   Accommodate Employee Needs That Can Be Accommodated and Provide Reasons When Requests Cannot Be Accommodated


There will be childcare and healthcare issues many employees face.  We are far from being done with this pandemic as many employment laws run through December 31, 2020.  Not all childcare and healthcare concerns fall within the reaches of the FFCRA’s Paid Leave Provisions.  Helping employees balance work-life challenges will go a long way in retaining them.  When requests cannot be met, many employees appreciate empathetic feedback and a conversation that may allow for a compromised solution. 


5.     Be Nimble and Flexible


Governmental guidance, regulations, and legislation will change as we move through this pandemic.  Adjusting transition plans to meet these recommendations and requirements will need ongoing discussion, communication, and implementation.  Doing this well shows that employers are in touch with reality. 


Employers and employees need time to adjust to whatever the “new normal” is.  This will take more than hand-sanitizing stations, masks, and hand-washing signs.  These are good, but employees need employers, who recognize and support the psychological obstacles they face.


Now, put on a mask, sit six feet apart from your team-member, and enjoy being off a Zoom call! 


 This series explores HR-related areas needing consideration as leaders deal with the current COVID-19 disruptions. If you missed part one of this multi-part series, please explore it.


Hang in there!  This will pass!  We are in this together!


Need assistance with addressing short and long term HR needs for your business? Contact me at, and we will address them proactively.


Disclaimer: This blog is not legal advice, but merely informed opinion or general information meant for no particular purpose.  Issues addressed in this blog often implicate federal, state, and local labor and employment laws.  This blog is not intended as a substitute for legal advice.  Readers should consult labor and employment counsel to determine whether their particular policies, procedures, decisions, or courses of action comply with such laws. 



Message to MVHRA Members from Kathleen Davenport of the Ohio BWC


I hope you are safe and well.  I wanted to share some more good news from BWC. 


We announced last week a new program, Protecting Ohio’s Workforce – We’ve Got You Covered.  With this program BWC will send face coverings to all state funded employers who are in good standing and report payroll.  We intend the face coverings to support and enhance, not replace, any workplace safety and health efforts employers already have in place.  Although they don't guarantee protection from COVID-19, public health experts say they lessen the risk for carriers to transmit the virus to others. 


Employers will not be billed for the items. The face coverings average less than a dollar a piece and are funded from BWC’s existing budget with no impact to employer premiums. 


We began shipping masks on 5-20-20 and will continue shipments for several weeks.  We are able to track when shipments have been prepared for delivery; however, we cannot say the exact date the delivery will be made.   The masks will be shipped via United Parcel Service (UPS) to the primary physical Ohio address on file.  


If members would like to know an estimate of how many face coverings they should receive, they can contact me directly.





Kathleen Davenport

Southwest Regional Business Consultant

Business Consulting Department

135 Merchant Street

Springdale, OH 45246-3730

P: 513-785-4591



Reminder:  MVHRA Legal Services Plan Available 


MVHRA has an agreement with local attorneys to provide a legal services plan for MVHRA members (the “Plan”).  The Plan is available again for 2020 and is included as part of your current membership at no additional charge.  Further details available at


Note:  You must be a MVHRA member AND logged into to access this service within the "MY MVHRA" link at the top of the page.



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MVHRA members, do you have something to submit to the MVHRA Newsletter?  Please send it to Amy Mitchell, Newsletter Committee Chair, via email at







June 9, 2020


Luncheon: HR Legal Update

Speaker: Matthew Bakota, Auman Mahan & Furry

Location: Webinar

Time: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


Please join MVHRA and Matt Bakota, a certified specialist in labor and employment law and the current President of MVHRA, for an HR Legal Update webinar on June 9, 2020. Matt is an attorney in the labor and employment group at Dayton law firm Auman Mahan & Furry.

This informative and interactive webinar is free to members. It will cover numerous HR law updates from the first half of 2020, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • FFCRA leave and lingering issues
  • Intermittent leave
  • Flexible schedules
  • Handling employees who have used up PTO
  • Supervisor training and other risk mitigation measures
  • Summer care, fall school issues, and proof of childcare unavailability
  • “Normal” employment law issues not to forget
  • HR law issues pending at the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Ohio employment law update
  • Dealing with continuing risks associated with lay offs
  • Importance of developing a lay off plan
  • WARN Act requirements
  • Dealing with risks related to bringing employees back from furlough/lay off
  • Handling employees who refuse to return to work
  • Unemployment compensation issues arising from COVID-19
  • Workers’ compensation issues arising from COVID-19
  • Politics in the workplace (2020 is an election year too?!)
  • And more

We look forward to you joining us!



Credits: This program is being submitted for approval of recertification credits by the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) and for SHRM Professional Development Credit (PDC).



August 11, 2020


Workshop: Disrupting HR

Speaker: Jennifer McClure

Location: Sinclair Community College

Time: 7:45 AM - 8:00 AM: Registration & Continental Breakfast

8:00 AM - 11:15 AM: Professional Development Workshop


Credits: This program is being submitted for approval of recertification credits by the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) and for SHRM Professional Development Credit (PDC).


Luncheon:  Advanced Communication Skills Masterclass

Speaker:  Toby Groves, PhD

Location: Sinclair Community College

Time: 11:15 AM - 11:30 AM: Registration & Networking

11:30 AM - 12:00 PM: Announcements & Lunch

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM: Speaker


Credits: This program is being submitted for approval of recertification credits by the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) and for SHRM Professional Development Credit (PDC).



September 8, 2020


Luncheon:  Advanced Communication Skills Masterclass

Speaker:  Holly Hall

Location: Sinclair Community College

Time: 11:15 AM - 11:30 AM: Registration & Networking

11:30 AM - 12:00 PM: Announcements & Lunch

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM: Speaker


Learning Objectives
1. Types of audits you should perform
2. Using an HR audit to improve organizational capability
3. Establishing a case within your organization.


Credits: This program is being submitted for approval of recertification credits by the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) and for SHRM Professional Development Credit (PDC).




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