February 2015

Happy Valentine's Day from HR Advantage!  While this is a fun holiday to celebrate, it can also bring some headaches to the workplace.  Make sure your employees are aware of your workplace romance / relationship policy and know that a holiday does not make it okay to ignore it or bend the rules.

HR Advantage continues to provide ongoing, timely updates on all Human Resource related topics with social media.  Make sure you are following us on LinkedIn and Twitter

You can also contact us directly with any HR needs that you may have.   We are always available to help!
Covered Employers Must Post 
OSHA 300A by Feb. 1, 2015
Covered employers must complete and post their
2014 annual summary of work-related injuries and illnesses by Feb. 1, 2015, and keep it posted in a common area until April 30, 2015.


All employers required to keep Form 300, the Injury and Illness Log, must utilize the annual summary Form 300A to comply with posting requirements even if there have been no recordable injuries or illnesses, as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will continue to focus on record-keeping violations in 2015.


This year's summary must include the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred in 2014. More than 1.4 million establishments are required to maintain OSHA logs on an annual basis. The summary Form 300A reports a business's total year-end number of fatalities, missed workdays due to injury or illness on the job, job transfers or restrictions, and injuries and illnesses as recorded on Form 300. It also includes the number of employees and the hours they worked for the year.


HR Advantage offers the completion of Form 300 as one of our services. Please contact us if you need guidance or assistance. 

Fragrance Free Workplace Policies



Valentine's Day is often associated with various scents - perfumes, flowers, etc. but make sure you are aware of the impact those smells can have on the workplace. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. Therefore, some people with fragrance sensitivity will have a disability under the ADA, and some will not.


A person has a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment.


Since fragrance sensitivity can, in some cases, be considered a disability, it may require reasonable accommodation. The Job Accommodation Network offers the following suggestions for accommodating employees with fragrance sensitivity:

  • Implement a fragrance-free workplace policy.
  • Maintain good indoor air quality.
  • Discontinue the use of fragranced products.
  • Use only unscented cleaning products.
  • Provide scent-free meeting rooms and restrooms.
  • Modify the workstation location.
  • Modify the work schedule.
  • Allow for fresh air breaks.
  • Provide an air purification system.
  • Modify communication methods to reduce the employee's exposure to fragrances.
  • Allow telework.

Be sure to educate management and co-workers about maintaining an environment in which all employees can work. Harassment should not be tolerated on any level. Employers must foster an environment that breeds acceptance of differences through sensitivity training and disability awareness efforts.

Five Reason a Social Media Policy 

is a Good Idea


One of the biggest client needs HR Advantage has seen over the past several years is for Social Media policies.  If you haven't added a social media policy to your employee handbook yet, here a few reasons why you should consider creating one:


1. Employer Loyalty. You pay your employees and provide them with stability, so shouldn't they be loyal to your organization? If they're making derogatory remarks toward your business on social media, they should be disciplined for their disloyalty. Even if a post is made on the employee's own computer on his or her own time, you may have legal grounds for termination. Tip: Don't violate the National Labor Relations Act, which protects employee discussions about the terms and conditions of employment.

2. Company image. Many employees don't realize the impact social media posts have on the public, including your organization's potential customers. Just one negative post can lead to lasting damage to your brand.

3. Clarity. Employees need specific guidance that tells them what they can post and, more importantly, what they can't. Be specific and give examples of what isn't acceptable. Being vague could mean that you don't have a legal right to terminate, even if you feel the employee posted inappropriate comments.

4. Federal Trade Commission considerations. Social media policies don't have to just focus on the negative; they should focus on the positive comments, too. However, when employees promote your business via social media, they are required by the FTC to disclose their relationship to you. Not doing so could violate advertising policies with the FTC.

5. Wasted time. Productivity can suffer when employees use social media at work. No business can afford to have employees spending their time on personal business. As long as they're on the clock, they need to be focused on the organization's business.


Please contact us if we can assist you in creating and implementing a social media policy for your organization.


Should you hire convicted ex-offenders?



Contributed by Lauren Conners & 
Brandy Bishop of i-verified

Employers should not be afraid to hire ex-offenders just because of a conviction. While there are cases when a candidate with a criminal record should be disqualified for the safety of you and/or your employees, clients, company, etc., there are instances when you shouldn't let a conviction stand in the way of your decision.


On the candidate's side of the argument, it's fair to say for most-they are looking for jobs. They want to work. Whether they spent time in prison, or simply made unfortunate mistakes in the past, many want to redeem themselves by finding a stable job. And it's for individuals like these that employers have the choice to look beyond the results of an employment background check.


1. Careful Consideration of Ex-Offenders

The idea of hiring ex-felons is not right for everyone. And employers consider hiring ex-offenders for a variety of reasons-one being there are a number of tax credit opportunities available. However, for companies open to hiring ex-offenders-it's one matter to be careless and not conduct employment background checks and/or ignore appropriate state and federal screening laws; and it's quite another to be a company that responsibly conducts background checks and then carefully considers hiring ex-felons. This might include understanding the mitigating circumstances such as severity of the crime, if the person is a repeat offender, amount of time since the crime was committed, etc. 

2. Focus on Industry & Position

There are many opportunities to look at the skills ex-offenders possess to determine if they would be the right fit for a position. In addition, there are companies with the ability to rehabilitate by training people with the required skills in order to succeed in a particular industry. Of course, you should also monitor their work and ensure that they continue to be a good fit with your company.

3. Make Smarter Decisions

One assumption about background checks is that they exist to find candidates with a criminal record and eliminate them from the hiring process. But in reality, background screening companies should strive to provide their clients with all of the necessary information to make smarter decisions. As a background screening company, we never advise a client to willingly put themselves or their workforce at risk by hiring or renting to an ex-offender. Our belief is simply that you should be aware of a criminal history before determining whether or not the candidate is the right fit.

4. Ensure Compliant Background Screening

If a background check reveals your candidate has a criminal record, you must take the appropriate steps to ensure compliance. This might include the use of a hiring matrix in your screening program, an individualized assessment, and the two-step adverse action notification. Following the proper steps to compliance is essential when determining whether or not someone with a criminal record is right for you and/or your company.

Why You Still Need to Do a Background Check

So at the end of the day, you might wonder-if they admit they have a record and I want to hire them, why not just skip the background check? While you may or may not be able to ask candidates if they've been convicted of a crime before you interview them (due to legislation like ban the box), without question, you should be conducting a background check on all applicants. Even if they're honest about a conviction, you'll still want to verify the details of the conviction before welcoming them with open arms.


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Lynette Weatherford, MA, SPHR 




Sunny Fuller, MA

Professional Advisor




Andrea Turner, MBA

Professional Advisor



Callie Rainey

Administrative Services





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