Current MVHRA Newsletter
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THANK YOU TO OUR JUNE SPONSOR!
THIS MONTH'S ARTICLES
POP-UP HR COMMUNITY EVENT! - JUNE 8, 2021
Submitted by Darla Cade, VP-Programming
We had a last-minute cancellation for the MVHRA regularly scheduled luncheon meeting June 8th. However, we are turning this around to our benefit! We have heard from many they miss getting together and while our August 10th event will be the official Return to In Person MVHRA meetings, we would like to do something special for our HR Community Leaders, their Members, and MVHRA as a whole.
We are hosting our first ever "Pop-Up HR Community Event" - a time to come together and network/deep dive with fellow HR Community members. This will be held on our normally scheduled monthly meeting date of June 8th - Tuesday. We are going to meet at 12:00 noon - Marian's Pizza, Town and Country - for any HR Community leader, their members, or general member of MVHRA.
Here is a high-level overview of what we'd like to accomplish.
If you plan to attend, lunch can be ordered/paid at the counter upon arrival, or you are welcome to just come for the networking! If you have any questions please reach out to Darla Cade and/or Steve Black.
For those of you who do not belong to an HR Community within MVHRA, come to this meeting and see what we are all about.
By Matt Bakota
In the Articles section below, you will find several legislative updates from the MVHRA Government Affairs Committee. They include summaries of updates from Ohio and the CDC related to masks, social distancing, and other COVID-19 considerations related to fully vaccinated individuals. Essentially, the rules changed for fully vaccinated people in a lot of ways in mid-May. Although not much changed at that time for those who have not been vaccinated, most of Ohio's generally applicable health orders have since been rescinded. Even so, recommendations continue that unvaccinated individuals still wear masks, social distance, and adhere to other COVID-19-related guidelines that became so familiar over the past 15 months or so.
This presents some interesting scenarios and decisions in the workplace for HR professionals and their organizations. Employers generally are free to do more than Ohio and even the CDC may require. But they are not free to totally ignore CDC guidelines, at least not without potential negative repercussions. As a result, some employers may be mulling over some creative solutions that attempt to cater to their workers' comfort and changing views on COVID-19 risks, while still protecting the business. If a contemplated "solution" to all this sounds almost too good to be true, it probably is.
For example, what if employees are willing to waive enforcement of mask and social distancing guidelines in exchange for a release of the employer from potential COVID-19-related liability? Essentially, agreeing to a workplace free of COVID-19 and its impact. There would be several problems with that type of approach. First, a release in favor of the employer probably would not even be enforceable against workplace injury claims arising from COVID-19, which could fall within Ohio's workers' compensation statutes for most employers. Under Ohio law, employees cannot waive workers' compensation benefits, and workers' compensation claims typically cannot be validly released without approval by the State. Therefore, there likely wouldn't be any real, enforceable protection for an employer trying to go this route. Second, employers and employees cannot just waive the federal OSHA workplace safety rules that govern in Ohio. Those rules includes OSHA's guidelines on COVID-19, which currently are deferential to the CDC's guidelines for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Regardless of what an employer and employee may be willing to agree to, OSHA could ignore them and cite the employer for COVID-19-related safety violations all the same. Workplace safety rules are not optional.
As another example, what if an employer decided to simply look the other way while its vaccinated and unvaccinated employees mingle together, maskless and without social distancing? Assuming the employer has a written COVID-19 policy in place that incorporates and requires employees to follow the guidelines, can't the employer just point to the employees as the ones responsible for violations if anyone gets caught? In the OSHA context, the answer generally would be no.
There is a defense to OSHA citations called "unpreventable employee misconduct." It often comes up in incidents where an employee isn't following some workplace safety rule(s), and a workplace injury occurs that draws OSHA's attention. One element of this defense includes having an applicable policy, but other elements include actual enforcement of the policy and discipline for violations of the policy. This means that if an employer decides to just look the other way in response to COVID-19 policy violations, it likely would be impossible for the employer to prove that it enforced and disciplined for violations of the policy. That would make this defense unavailable to the employer, subjecting them to fines, fees, and other costs associated with OSHA enforcement actions.
Ultimately, employers generally cannot relieve themselves of workplace safety obligations, even if their employees may be willing to go along with it and assume certain risks to their own health and safety. If anything, any policy of lax enforcement - whether written or informal - could cause extra trouble for an employer, rather than less. There is also the issue of how the employer would handle potential COVID-19 positive cases that may come up in such in an environment? Depending on what percentage of an employer's workforce is vaccinated versus unvaccinated, lax enforcement could have the unintended effect of staffing shortages, which no one needs right now.
In the end, it's important for employers not to try to get too far ahead of the curve on relaxed COVID-19 guidelines. Changes at just one level of government - the State, for example - do not necessarily signal "all clear" right now, particularly as to unvaccinated workers. If employers are concerned with the day-to-day practicalities, potential morale issues, or anything else associated with different rules applying to vaccinated and unvaccinated people, they are free to maintain policies that continue mask-wearing, social distancing, and other such measures among all their employees. At least for now, most potential solutions outside of that one probably fall within the "too good to be true" category, and carry with them more risks than many employers may be inclined to take on.
The foregoing is not intended as and should not be interpreted as legal advice of any kind. It is for informational purposes only.
Human Resources Professional Certification Study Course at Wright State University
Submitted by Betsy Brown
Interested in prepping for the PHR, SPHR, SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP? Wright State can help. The Human Resources Professional Certification Study Course (HRPCSC) will prepare you to gain credentials to advance your career. The Fall session begins Saturday, September 11, 2021 and runs for 10 consecutive weeks from 9:00am -1:00pm. Classes are held on the Wright State University campus with a streaming option also available.
Information for the HRPCSC can be found at https://business.wright.edu/management-and-international-business/human-resources-professional-certification-study-course
Registration for the upcoming HRPCSC is $1,199. Register by July 31 and receive a $99 early bird discount at checkout. Organizations registering 2 or more participants receive a 10% discount when using promo code MULTI. Participants with a WSU degree will receive a 10% discount when using promo code WSUALUM. Sign up now and take advantage of these special pricing options.
What Role Should Plan Sponsors Play in Fighting Cybercrime?
Submitted by Kathleen Carlson, CFA, CAPTRUST Financial Advisors
On April 14, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued cybersecurity guidance for plan sponsors, recordkeepers, and participants to help protect Americans' retirement plan assets from cybercrime.
The DOL document "Tips for Hiring a Service Provider with Strong Cybersecurity Practices" features six tips to assist plan sponsors in meeting their fiduciary obligations under ERISA to prudently select and monitor a service provider. Below are a few of the tips.
Government Affairs Committee Update
From Tanya Pinkelton, Chair; Ben Watson, Assistant Chair
Executive Order 14026 raises the federal contractor minimum wage from $10.95 per hour to $15 per hour starting January 30, 2022. More specifically, the Order requires that "all federal agencies incorporate a $15 minimum into new contract solicitation by January 2022 and into newly signed contracts by March 2022."
Read more here:
Executive Order 14025, signed on April 26, 2021, established a White House Task Force, which will be dedicated to mobilizing the federal government's policies, programs, and practices to empower workers to organize and successfully bargain with their employers.
Read more here:
On April 21, 2021, the NLRB decided to retain the contract-bar doctrine, which prohibits union decertification petitions or challenges until a collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) expires or three years pass.
Read more here:
State of Ohio updates:
No significant updates to report at this time.
Upcoming Diversity & Inclusion Committee Events
Thank you for your completing the D&I Survey for MVHRA. We appreciate your feedback and will be utilizing the results to develop content and programming to meet our members' specific needs and interests around these topics. Based on survey results, the Committee has decided to plan small roundtable group discussions using some of the topics generated from the survey. These virtual roundtables will allow members to have open dialogue and discussion on topics that may otherwise be considered too sensitive for large group settings. The hope is that we can collaborate on best practices, share suggestions, and learn from one another during these roundtables over the next few months.
Register Today: Please click here to register for the events. Once you register, you will receive the Zoom link and login information to add to your calendar.
June 24th 12:00-1:00 = Surviving the Workplace (Roundtable open discussion facilitated by Carlina Figueroa)
If you find yourself in a toxic work environment filled with drama, negative people, bullying or colleagues with destructive behaviors, we will discuss ways to boost your resiliency and best practices to begin to change the culture.
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 2021 and is included as part of your current membership at no additional charge. Further details available at http://mvhra.org/myMVHRA/legal-services.cfm
Note: You must be a MVHRA member AND logged into mvhra.org to access this service within the "MY MVHRA" link at the top of the page.
See Your Article In Our Newsletter!
MVHRA members, do you have something to submit to the MVHRA Newsletter? Please send it to Amy Mitchell, Newsletter Committee Chair, via email at email@example.com.
UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS
June 8, 2021
June 24, 2021
July 22, 2021
August 10, 2021
Luncheon: Culture of Engagement: Why/How to Build Passionate and Engaged Teams