Author: Daniel Wangelin

National Labor Relations Board Takes Action    

Employees Candidates

Employees Candidates

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced the forthcoming final joint-employer rule, which replaces the 2020 definition. The NLRB has expanded the criteria for determining joint-employer status.

Under the new rule, two companies are considered joint-employers if they share or jointly influence essential terms or conditions of employment for their workers. This updated standard is set to take effect on February 26, 2024.

Being classified as joint-employers makes both entities accountable for each other’s unfair labor practices and obliges them to engage in negotiations with a recognized labor union. Employers typically seek to avoid this status due to these increased responsibilities and liabilities.

Also, the NLRB announced a collaboration with OSHA to enhance legal enforcement. The two agencies have created a Memo of Understanding (MOU) that provides for the following:

  • Information Sharing
  • Coordinated Investigations and Inspections
  • Informing Employees About Their Rights
  • Cross-Training Agency Employees
  • Regular Meetings and Consultations on Other Activities
  • Public-Facing Outreach

Check out the most recently published as a joint resource — Building Safe & Healthy Workplaces by Promoting Worker Voice (PDF) — which provides guidance for creating and maintaining safe workplaces. Stay tuned for conversation about this collaboration and what it means for your company or organization.

HR Compliance – Notice of Eligibility for Unemployment

Happy United Employees

Happy United Employees
Governor Hochul signed into law a mandate that employers must give written notice to certain employees about their eligibility for unemployment benefits.

This law, which has already gone into effect, says that employers must inform employees whose job has ended or whose working hours have been reduced about their right to apply for unemployment benefits. This notice must be given within five working days after the job termination or reduction in hours.

At the time we first mentioned this new law, the NYSDOL had not yet published the required form. It has since been released, here: The NYSDOL required form (PDF) >

Additionally, within the same five-day period, employers still have to provide written notice (i.e. a letter of employment separation) to employees who have been terminated, stating the exact date of termination (you will notice that NYS DOL didn’t think to include that on the form!) and the exact date when employee benefits related to the termination will be canceled.

Remember, any time you have to terminate an employee there is some level of risk. Please contact us for help, before taking action in order to mitigate negative consequences to your business or organization.

NY Extends Employee Discrimination Claims Statute of Limitations

Employee Feeling Upset due to Discrimination from coworkers

Employee Feeling Upset due to Discrimination from coworkers
Governor Kathy Hochul signed a crucial amendment in late November extending the statute of limitations for filing discrimination complaints with the Division of Human Rights (DHR) in New York.

This amendment, effective February 2024, stretches the timeframe from one to three years, significantly impacting workplace discrimination claims.

The amendment primarily addresses discrimination in the workplace, particularly concerning New York’s extensive list of protected classes. Employers would be wise to adopt an even greater vigilance about decision-making that could impact these classes in employment matters.

This change means a potential surge in workplace discrimination complaints, as employees now have an extended period to report concerns. Please contact TripleTrack for support in proactively addressing potential issues and discriminatory practices, recognizing the heightened importance of maintaining a discrimination-free workplace.

Create a Healthy Work Environment: Frequent Check-Ins

Check ins between employees and supervisors

Check ins between employees and supervisors
Frequent check-ins with your team are a great way to create a healthy work environment and boost wellness in the workplace.

These can be 1-on-1 meetings or a team office hours format, depending on the size of your team, the way you work, your industry, etc. Ideally, they would be 1-on-1 sessions – but do what works best for your company! Research shows that employees who check in with their managers at least once a week as opposed to less frequently are:

  • More than 2x as likely to trust their manager
  • Nearly 2x as likely to respect their manager
  • 5x less likely to be disengaged
  • Nearly 2x as likely to believe they can grow within the organization

Check in with your company’s health insurance provider OR ask your TripleTrack HR consultant for other ideas for creating a healthy workplace!

Governor Hochul Signed into Law Two New Mandates for NY Employers 

employees seating and waiting while holding paperwork

employees seating and waiting while holding paperwork
Unemployment Notice Requirement

Under this new legislation, employers must provide written notice of eligibility for unemployment benefits to any employee who has been terminated, temporarily separated, experienced a reduction in hours or any other interruption of continued employment that results in total or partial unemployment.

This information must be disclosed on a form furnished or approved by the Department of Labor (DOL). And, the Department of Labor has not yet published the required form to comply with the law which takes effect November 13, 2023. When the form is released by the NYS DOL, we will get it to you!

Social Media Disclosures

Many employers demand that individuals grant access to their personal social media accounts during both the application process and disciplinary investigations. This legislation effective March 2024, aims to curtail such practices by generally forbidding employers from:

  • Requesting, mandating, or coercing employees or applicants to divulge their usernames, passwords, or any other authentication data required for accessing personal accounts.
  • Observing an individual’s personal account while in the presence of the employer.
  • Replicating, in any manner, the contents of personal accounts, such as photographs, videos, or other information.

In this context, a “personal account” is precisely defined as “an account or profile on an electronic platform where users can generate, share, and view user-created content. This includes the uploading or downloading of videos or photos, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant messages, or internet website profiles or locations, solely intended for personal use by an employee or applicant.” Consequently, this legislation would encompass virtually all personal social media accounts held by both employees and applicants.

It is important to note that this law includes certain exceptions and limitations. For instance, an employer is permitted to access an electronic communications device if it has been fully or partially funded by the employer, provided that the condition of access was clearly communicated to the employee beforehand, and the employee expressly consented to it. Nevertheless, the employer remains prohibited from accessing any personal accounts on the said device.

There are other nuances and we would anticipate some additional clarification as we get closer to next year’s effective date. TripleTrack will monitor this employer mandate, and will provide more information as it becomes available.

The New York Pay Transparency Law

Supervisor and employee shaking hands

Supervisor and employee shaking hands
The New York Pay Transparency Law (FARE Grant) will take effect on September 17, 2023.  The purpose of this law is to empower job seekers with this important information up-front and to address systemic pay inequity and discriminatory wage-setting and hiring practices by employers.

The Pay Transparency Law applies to all New York employers who employ four or more employees. This law requires employers to disclose the compensation, or range of compensation, in any advertisement for a job, promotion, or transfer opportunity.

The compensation range should show the minimum and maximum annual salary or hourly rates that the employer believes in good faith to be accurate at the time of posting.

In addition to salary disclosure, employers must also publish the job description for the position, if one exists. Employers are required to keep records that show the history of compensation rates and/or ranges for each job opportunity and the job description published for the position.

This new law requires action on your part.

First, be sure to update all job postings – both internal and external – to include the required compensation information and job description.

With this directive to publish job descriptions, it is a good time to review your job descriptions for accuracy. While having written job descriptions is not a requirement of doing business, it is best practice to have them as a tool to use throughout the employment life cycle, from recruiting to hiring to promotion to resignation/termination. Job descriptions are important because:

  • They serve as a marketing tool to find and attract the best candidates for your position and organization
  • Communicates clear, written expectations for both the employer and employee
  • Allows and promotes greater employee productivity
  • Illustrates a career path for employees, which in turn leads to a greater tenure with a company
  • Can help mitigate risk for your business

Of course, if you need help or have questions regarding compliance around the New York Pay Transparency Law, contact us for assistance.

Free Lunch? Just another supplemental benefit to help sweeten the pot in a tight job market

employee sharing a meal together

employee sharing a meal together
By Tracey Drury

Reporter – Buffalo Business First

With the labor market this tight, offering standard health, vision and dental might not be enough to recruit and retain employees.

So how aobut offering free lunch and snacks every day? Or footing the bill for clubs and athletic activities like softball or golf?

That’s the strategy Nick Kisinski is using to help add another 100 employees to the 150-person workforce at Odoo Inc’s downtown Buffalo offices.

“We thought we would be unique in offering this from an employee benefits perk,” said Kosinski, managing director of the Belgium-based software developer. “You’ve got to be creative. This market is crazy.”

While Odoo is going a bit further than some, lots of companies are adding supplemental and voluntary benefits ranging from pet insurance to identity theft benefits to remain competitive on the hiring front.

According to a 2022 Metlife Employee Benefits Trends study, 73% of employees say they would stay at their current employer longer if they had a wider selection of benefits. That could include making anything from pet insurance to tuition assistance, which are available as optional perks at discounted group rates.

For other companies, that could include concierge-style benefits, like on-site dry cleaning pick-up and delivery, child care or grocery delivery.

Lisa Stefanie, president of TripleTrack HR Partners in Williamsville said employers need to consider more than just higher wages and a broader, more comprehensive benefits package offers lots of choices.

“If employers want them to stick around for a while, they kind of have to pull out all the stops,” she said. “It’s an employees’ market.”

Clients of TripleTrack, which provides outsourced HR for small and mid-sized businesses, are looking at benefits like supplemental short-term and long-term disability that provides 60% of an employees income to supplement state benefits that pay only about $170 per week. And because its a voluntary opt-in benefit, there’s not coast the employer.

“For an individual to buy that out-of-pocket outside of a small group policy is way more expensive,” she said. “But it offers peace of mind.”

Brian Murphy, an employee benefits partner with Lawley, said some employers are also offering home warranty coverage for home appliances like washers, dryers and furnaces for employees working from home.

“We are definitely seeing that increasing…all of those things to try to make it a more robust benefits package in hopes by employers to retain their key employees,” he said.

Another common supplemental benefit: accident plans and hospital plans, which in many cases reimburse the out-of-pocket costs of a health insurance deductible for emergency room visits and other unexpected health care issues like twisting an ankle on an icy sidewalk or having a child get hit in the face with a soccer ball.

Jeremy Higgins, president of Higgins Agency Group, said the cost can be as little as $5 to $10 per month.

“In some cases, the payment from the product might be greater than the cost of your health insurance bill, so you’re almost compensated for time and discomfort too” he said. “That’s a high-reward, low-cost perk an employer can offer.”

At Odoo, plans call for opening the on-site kitchen by summer at the company’s Seneca One office, with an in-h0use chef providing lunch five days a week as well as occasional breakfasts and happy hours.

The sports perk covers the cost for any group of six or more employees who want to participate in a league. So far, groups have taken advantage of the offer, signing up for softball, kickball, broomball and golf. The company provides branded gear, as well as donuts, bagels and coffee for groups that meet to play Dungeons and Dragons or other activities.

“It’s also about camaraderie, which is through the roof,” he said. “Every penny is worth its weight in gold.”

This article originally appeared in Buffalo Business First.

Read the original article here >

How to Upgrade Your Referral Program

three employees happy and celebrating together

three employees happy and celebrating together
By Jeff Wach, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

BUILDING AN EFFECTIVE REFERRAL PROGRAM

 

Does your company have a referral program for new hires?

Does anyone know about it?

Is it being used?

Referrals are by far the preferred source of new hires. Your employees know the culture. They know who will be a good fit. However, having a referral program isn’t enough. It has to be effective, and people need to know about it! How do you do that?

Follow the VIP Referral Program.

V = VALUED

First, the program needs to be VALUED. A $20 gift card is not going to cut it. Think hundreds. Or thousands! How much would you normally spend to recruit a quality employee? How much is a headhunter fee? Why not give that money to your employees? A referral program needs to be worth the effort. Use it as another benefit and incentive. And don’t be afraid to increase the amount for more difficult, hard-to-find positions.

I = INCREMENTAL

Second, your program needs to be INCREMENTAL. You want to reward quality and longevity, not just new hires. Consider starting with $100 upon hiring and $400 after 6 months of employment. Maybe another $500 at the end of a year. Get creative.

P = PUBLIC

Third, to get the most bang for your buck, it should be given in PUBLIC. If possible, IN CASH. I know, the accountants will want it in a check or just added to the person’s paycheck. But that misses the opportunity to communicate and advertise. No one reads. No one pays attention to the hundreds of emails HR has sent out to explain your referral bonus in the past.

Try something different. At a company-wide meeting, after introducing everyone to the new employee, call up the person who referred them and pay out the bonus IN CASH right there in front of the whole team! I guarantee you will get people’s attention! Make it clear to everyone that the program actually pays.

There you have it. The VIP Referral Program. Valued, Incremental, and Public.

How does your program measure up? Contact us today to set up a proper referral program.

Addressing Bias in the Workplace

Addressing bias in workplace

Addressing bias in workplace

Many employers seek the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace, but struggle to overcome challenges such as bias. While most leaders and most employees strive to make fair decisions and avoid unfair judgments, there exists the possibility that bias impacts some workplaces. Employers may be able to help mitigate bias in a number of ways, such as establishing a dialogue with employees, offering educational opportunities and evaluating current practices.

 

Bias in the Workplace

A study conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that approximately 70% of American adults have experienced some form of discrimination in their lifetime.

Some of the discrimination that occurs in the modern workplace isn’t deliberate—but rather implicit. Micro aggressions, for example, are subtle or even unintentional acts of stereotyping, which can be influenced by unconscious biases. Unfortunately, both explicit and implicit bias can result in discriminatory acts. Such decisions can impact professional opportunities—whether it be a hiring decision, a professional development opportunity or even a day-to-day decision a manager might make regarding an employee’s responsibilities.

Employers should be prepared to respond to and investigate all cases of reported discrimination, but also consider steps to mitigate bias through broader organizational initiatives.

There isn’t an exhaustive list of questions employers should avoid asking, but employers need to be careful that any questions asked cannot be interpreted as discriminatory.

To help avoid discrimination claims, information requested from the applicant should be directly related to the position for which he or she is interviewing. Acceptable topics include previous work experience, education and skills that are necessary for the position.

 

Acknowledging Societal Issues

Organizations can choose to take stances on broader issues in society, and acknowledge how topics such as bias can impact the workplace. Many employees believe that the first step to addressing bias is to acknowledge that it exists. In particular, employees may appreciate the acknowledgment from their organization that these critical issues still exist today.

Generally speaking, employees seek to be part of an organization where their values are shared—which often can include a commitment to inclusion. Employers that acknowledge current challenges and offer empathy may be able to engage employees and further address bias.

 

Establishing Open Dialogue

Employers may want to consider how they can open up constructive dialogue—both at an organization wide level and on an individual case-by-case basis.

To engage employees on these topics, consider options such as surveying employees in order to gather feedback. Employers may be able to gather insight as to how receptive employees may be toward learning more about biases and growing awareness—and often, employees appreciate opportunities to have their voices heard.

 

Promoting Acceptance

As organizations contemplate how to best establish and maintain an accepting environment, leaders may be able to use their influence to impact workplace culture. Every workplace is unique, and employers can consider what efforts might be appropriate to promote acceptance within their work environment. For some employers, these efforts might include considering topics such as inclusion as part of ongoing discussions and planning, and integrating acceptance into day-to-day business.

Leaders often set the tone for culture. By taking steps to build awareness across an organization, employers may find that acceptance may grow—and that some employees may be open to collaborating on efforts within their workplace.

 

Educating Leaders

Effective and aware managers can often lead to satisfied employees, and organizations can consider engaging management by offering educational opportunities to discuss relevant topics.

For example, employers can consider opt-in educational programs directed at supervisors and managers, with the intent of establishing a dialogue on relevant topics within the workplace and growing awareness. While some employers choose to offer stand-alone training, others include timely topics into routine training and events already taking place in the workplace. Employers can consider what types of efforts might be an appropriate option for their organization. 

 

Evaluating Current Practices

Bias can take place during day-to-day interactions but may extend to practices such as recruiting, hiring and evaluating talent for development opportunities or promotions. Most leaders mean well—but there always exists the possibility that ongoing practices in your organization may have bias built into policies and procedures.

 

Addressing Bias

Bias in the workplace is not an easy topic to address, but by taking proactive steps, employers often can boost employee retention, improve their brand and build an inclusive workplace. For additional resources, contact your TripleTrack HR Consultant.

Source: Zywave, 2020

 

Benefits of a Mentoring Program

Experienced man mentoring younger man

Experienced man mentoring younger manA mentor is an individual in the workplace who shares his or her knowledge and expertise to help another employee grow professionally. Mentoring programs can benefit not only the mentees, but also the mentors and the company as whole. The following are some of the benefits of a mentoring program.

Benefits for the Mentee

Mentees can achieve the following benefits through a mentoring program: 

Skill development—Mentors teach mentees the skills and qualities they will need to succeed, along with familiarizing them with the company’s protocol and procedures. This, in turn, can teach mentees how to do their jobs more efficiently.

Continual growth—Mentors provide ongoing feedback to their mentees and teach them how to take constructive criticism and apply it to their jobs. This type of feedback can feel less intrusive than regular performance reviews and employees may respond better to it as a result.

Networking—Mentoring allows employees to build a professional relationship over a period of time and teaches them about the value of networking.

Talent development—By providing mentees with the skills and support they need to succeed, mentees will be more prepared to advance to new positions within the company and to take on leadership roles.


Benefits for the Mentor

Mentoring programs can also reap significant benefits for the mentors themselves, including the following:

Giving back—Give mentors the opportunity to help someone else out, which may increase mentors’ self-worth.

Recharge commitment—Helps mentors re-energize their careers, which may increase their commitment to your company.

Sharpens leadership skills—Allows mentors to fine-tune their communication and leadership skills, which can be valuable as they continue to grow in their own careers.


Benefits for the Company

In addition, there are significant benefits that can be realized by your company:

Retention—Mentoring helps employees feel more engaged in their work and more in control of their careers. Employees will feel like the company cares about them and may be more loyal as a result—in turn, reducing turnover-related costs.

Recruitment—Advertising a mentoring program can help recruit qualified candidates and establish yourself as an employer of choice within your industry.

Productivity—Because employees have the skills they need to do their jobs effectively, this can increase productivity and reduce the number of errors made on the job. Employees may also feel more confident in their work and spend less time second-guessing themselves.

Company culture—By encouraging employees to build positive relationships with one another, you can promote a sense of cooperation and teamwork at your company.

Mentoring programs can be a low-cost way to increase retention, attract new talent and improve employee morale—all of which can help protect your bottom line for years to come.

 

Source: Zywave, 2020