January 2018 Human Resources Newsletter - HR Strategies to Protect Your Business
January 2018
HR Strategies to Protect Your Business
Greetings!

This edition of our newsletter is dedicated to addressing HR Strategies to Protect Your Business .

We are confident you will find value in this information. If you do, please forward this email on to those who you believe could also benefit from the content. Have an HR topic you would like to see in an upcoming newsletter, send us an email with your request and we will be happy to consider the topic for future communications.
Success can be difficult to achieve and very easy to lose… 
The headlines of the news are dismal as usual, however the recent focus on the activities of the business world are quite alarming.

Allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct in the workplace took hold just prior to the end of the year and has gained momentum. People are speaking out after years of either dealing with it or ignoring it and victims are no longer staying silent. This is the time to look at your training, or lack thereof, and educate your workforce before you are facing one of these situations that could have been avoided.

Another recent headline that made front page news is the raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on January 10, 2018 of 98 7-Eleven stores across the United States, searching for evidence of undocumented workers. The raids resulted in arrests and fines, and sent a strong message to employers of all sizes that under this administration, work authorization is going to be taken seriously. ( Read the news article here ). These raids are basically I-9 audits, and uncovered a myriad of undocumented workers in the workforce. This means it was illegal for the employer to hire these individuals, and the individuals have no right to work in the United States.  Work authorization is an easy process that must be done when a new employee is hired, and includes the completion of the I-9 form. The I-9 is a simple, straight forward doc ument that is commonly found to be incomplete, missing all together, or not filled out or signed properly.

This is a serious problem that employers need to focus more time and resources on to avoid significant fines, penalties, or media exposure that can damage your business. All of this can be remedied with appropriate compliance training on the work authorization process and how to complete the I-9 form properly.

A little bit of training and education for your workforce can go a long way when it comes to saving the business that you have worked so hard to build from serious liability.

Article by Jennifer Cook, Director of Operations
TWO UPCOMING HR WEBINARS
Demonstrating the ROI of HR for your Business

HR Practitioners work diligently each day to perform a wide range of tactical and strategic activities to support their employer. Leadership can often struggle with recognizing the impact or value of the HR practitioner’s contributions. Is leadership to blame for this perspective? It is time to reinvent your value proposition for your organization and leadership by learning how all the tactical and strategic activities you perform directly impact the success of the business.

This session will help you understand how to develop and effectively articulate the ROI of HR for your business, strengthening your engagement with leadership and opportunity to become a more influential member of the organization.

  • Enhance the HR Practitioner knowledge and understanding of HR’s direct and ongoing impact on the success of their organization.
  • Inform and motivate attendees to reflect on their role, and develop a plan to alter their current organization’s perception of their value into a strategic partner necessary in achieving goals and ultimate success for the business.
  • Teach the HR practitioner effective strategies to develop their value proposition and effectively articulate and demonstrate the ROI of their contributions to the business.
Interview Training for Managers

One of the most significant risks to a business is the exposure created by hiring managers and staff involved in the recruitment process, specifically interviewing. This training provides clear and practical guidance on the do’s and don’ts of interviewing, strategies on the recruitment process, te chniques for behavioral interviewing, and outlines the compliance risks and how to avoid them. Any employee of your workforce involved in the recruitment, selection, and hiring process should attend this training to minimize your risk and liability, and enhance the capabilities of your recruitment efforts.
Cryptocurrency: What's It All About?
Cryptocurrency: What’s It All About?
by Jeremy Brenn, MBA, CFP ®

Have you caught cryptocurrency fever, or are you at least wondering what it’s all about? Odds are, you hadn’t even heard the term until recently. Now, it seems as if everybody and their cousin are getting in on it.

Psychologists have assigned a term to the angst you might be feeling in the heat of the moment. It’s called “FoMO” or Fear of Missing Out. Education is the best first step toward facing FoMo and making informed financial choices that are right for you. So before you make any leaps, let’s take a closer look.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here :
Harassment Prevention and Management Training
There isn’t a news channel you can watch or a social media website you can review without hearing about new allegations or terminations based on sexual harassment. This social trend is going to get worse long before it gets better, and it is up to you to take the appropriate action to protect your business and educate your workforce.

Both supervisors and employees have responsibilities and obligations in working together to prohibit and address concerns and allegations in the workplace. If you haven’t provided refresher training, or have been remiss in providing any harassment prevention training to your workforce, it is time to get this scheduled today.

You can get this training for your business by contacting Jennifer Cook, Director of Operations, by calling 888-343-7340 or by email at jennifer@symbiancehr.net . You can also explore other training programs we offer , or call to discuss your needs and we can customize a training just for you!
At-Will Employment... Is It Really?
I wish I had a dollar for every client or business leader that has asked me if they can simply fire someone they are unhappy with since, well you know, it’s “at-will employment” right? Before I answer this question, let us first explore the concept of at-will, and what it truly means.

When state regulations allow employers to terminate an employee without cause for any reason whatsoever, this is known in simple terms as at-will employment. The concept goes two ways, because the employee may also resign their position at any time without notice or reason to the employer. This means that an employer can, and has the legal right, to terminate any employee at any time for any reason. What – you wore that green shirt again? You said what to that customer? You think it’s okay to show up at noon? Why, exactly, is my laptop and supplies in your backpack?

This may come across humorous, but I want to stress a significant point here, and emphasize the risks for your business. Further, I want to explain why HR Professionals are CRAZY about something we in the industry like to refer to as “documentation”.
While the belief, and certainly the law, states you can terminate anyone at any time for any reason, they fail to point out that you CANNOT discriminate against an employee and terminate them based on a protected characteristic. I know, simpler terms will help. This means, that if the basis or reason for the termination of employment is discriminatory, it is illegal. Therefore, it is an employer’s responsibility to ensure that they are not terminating an employee on the basis of a protected characteristic, and instead terminating based on a legal and defensible reason that is non-discriminatory. How do you do this? Well, part of it is documentation.

Here is where it becomes comple x, because you the employer may terminate for a reason that you feel is justified, or may feel since it is at-will no reason is necessary, and nothing needs to be documented. In the words of the dear comic John Pinette, nay nay! If you haven’t been reading our newsletters, or missed the news, social media, or the radio, our country is extremely litigious, ready to file a suit at the drop of a hat, especially when the individual feels there is money to gain or payback to be had of their employer.

Enter, stage left, Human Resources. We step in to begin asking questions to ensure the employer has taken steps to appropriately and consistently document their actions and personnel activity. Specifically, HR is looking to make sure whatever action you decide to take is defensible in a court of law, and that any risk or liability in the actions and behaviors of people leaders is corrected before exposing your business to unnecessary risk.

I ask you again, is it really “at-will” employment? YES, however there are employment attorneys making a great living off the inappropriate actions and behaviors of employers who simply fail to ensure their personnel activity is non-discriminatory. Leverage the expertise and guidance of your HR staff to design and implement processes and policies to protect your business from unintentionally discriminating against an employee you wish to separate from your business. Pausing and reviewing your situation is well worth it considering your risk, liability, and potential negative publicity you may receive from simply terminating based on at-will prior to ensuring the action is compliant.
Closing Out 2017
Closing Out 2017
by Cristina Garza, Chief Number Cruncher

As 2017 comes to an end, accountants across the United States will work diligently to close out their clients’ books, so that tax returns can be filed on time. As work stacks up, it is easy to miss a step in the closing process, which could cost your clients time and money. If you are a new firm owner, it is challenging to know exactly what to do, and you may even feel a bit l ost. Below you will find an exhaustive checklist to adapt to your end of year closing process.

Should you be a small business owner, and not an accountant, the list below will give you a little glimpse into what we review in your file. No stone is left unturned as we close out the end of year; insuring that 2018 will be a great year for you and your business.

Read the entire article here .
Regulatory Updates
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) jettisoned the Obama administration's much-criticized broad definition of "joint employer" on Dec. 14, a move that's been widely expected since President Trump appointed two additional Republicans to the board earlier this year. As a result, indirect control by one organization of another is no longer enough to be considered a joint employer. There must instead be direct control, making it tougher for contractors and workers at franchised businesses to form unions.

This means that direct control testing is once again the standard in determining if a joint-employment relationship exists.
The Internal Revenue Service on Jan. 11 released  Notice 1036 , which contains updated income-tax withholding tables for 2018 that reflect changes made by the tax reform law enacted at the end of December. The IRS also posted a set of  Withholding Tables Frequently Asked Questions .

Employers should begin using the 2018 withholding tables as soon as possible but not later than Feb. 15, 2018, the IRS said. HR compensation and payroll managers should work with their internal payroll departments and payroll vendors to ensure that their systems are appropriately adjusted in light of the IRS guidance. Employers should continue to use the 2017 withholding tables until implementing the 2018 withholding tables. Employees are not required to complete a new W-4 at this time, since an update to the form is still in progress.
New Paid Leave Tax Credit - Employers should diligently review the new federal tax credit that will only be available until the end of 2019. The IRS and Treasury are still working out guidance for businesses, but in the meantime you are encouraged to work with your tax professionals to understand and plan for taking advantage of this tax credit if you provide paid family and medical leave.
  Compliance Corner
Don't let this happen to your business!!!
Wage & Hour Violations

SEATTLE, WA – The U.S. Department of Labor has reached an agreement with a Tacoma property management company that requires the employer to pay 71 employees $255,793 in back wages to resolve Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations.

Investigators with the Department’s Wage and Hour Division established that Dobler Management Company, Inc. failed to pay the minimum wage for all hours worked by its on-site property managers, maintenance technicians, and other on-site staff working at client properties. The Department’s investigation further revealed that the workers were not paid the overtime premium of one-and-one half times the regular rate for all hours worked beyond 40 in the workweek. Instead, many employees were paid a salary that was less than the minimum and overtime wage due under federal law. The company also failed to keep records of hours worked by their on-site managers, which averaged between 42 hours and 46 hours per week.

CHARLESTON, WV – The U.S. Department of Labor and a West Virginia nursing home and rehabilitation company have reached an agreement to resolve alleged overtime violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Stonerise Healthcare LLC will pay $61,840 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 498 healthcare employees at 16 facilities in West Virginia.
The Department’s Wage and Hour Division investigation found the Charleston-based company failed to include six types of bonus payments in employees’ regular rates of pay when calculating their overtime rates. This exclusion resulted in artificially lowered overtime rates that failed to reflect time-and-a-half of the true amounts employees had earned per hour. Excluded bonuses included those paid for initial sign-on, picking up extra shifts, and good attendance records, among other incentive payments regularly made available to and earned by workers.

Additional Penalty of $30,800 Assessed for Child Labor Violations
ATGLEN, PA – The U.S. Department of Labor and a Pennsylvania manufacturing company reach ed an agreement to resolve alleged overtime, recordkeeping, and child labor violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Stoltzfus Structures LLC will pay $188,572 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 47 employees. The company also has been assessed, and has not contested, a penalty in the amount of $30,800 for violations of the child labor provisions of the FLSA.
Symbiance HR
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Protecting your Home during the Winter
In the Winter months, temperatures can drop to or below freezing. This is also the time of year many of us travel to family, friends, or on vacation to warmer destinations. The key when leaving your home during these colder times is to ensure you have someone periodically checking your home to make sure the heat is still running. Why? You absolute ly want to avoid the devastating destruction and damage caused by a burst pipe in your home. Ensuring the heat is on and operating appropriately will help avoid this catastrophe and make your returning home a pleasant experience. Safe travels!

This Winter home safety reminder is brought to you by Charles S. Reskovitz Plumbing and Heating .
Human Resource Humor
Are you CONFIDENT your employment practices are compliant? If not, SymbianceHR is here to help you. 
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