Category Archives: HR

Have you hugged your coworker today?

 If you’re in the habit of wanting hugs from your coworkers, or you know someone who is an office-hugger, you should read an article written by Aaron Goldstein (partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP). It talks about how the Ninth Circuit ruled that hugging can create a hostile work environment. Also in the article are links to recent information from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about workplace civility training.
Here’s the article.

I didn’t know that! Did you?

Speaker Peter Nohle (Principal, Jackson Lewis, P.C.) gave us an awesome overview of the new exempt/non-exempt overtime rules. We had tons of questions, and he answered all of them. Chapter member Stacy Walker shares her top three “I didn’t know that!” moments from that business practice breakfast.

  1. PTO. If an exempt employee exceeds their annual PTO benefits, it is not permissible to deduct the excess hours/wages from the employee’s paycheck.  Instead, it is proper to deduct the excess time from the following year’s benefit.  Exempt employees are not allowed to “purchase” additional leave through a payroll deduction.  An exempt employee may request a full (not partial) day off for personal reasons without using their PTO benefit, and in those cases it is allowable to deduct those wages from payroll.
  2. Travel Time Pay. Unlike most states, Washington State doesn’t have a “portal-to-portal” rule. There is flexibility for employers in how to handle this. The general rule in Washington is that the employee’s commute time from home to their first stop, and from their last stop to their home, is not compensated.  However, all travel from point to point between the first stop and that last stop is to be considered “work” time and be included in compensation calculations.  This is based on the practice of not considering an employee’s commute between home and office to be work time.  The speaker cautioned that whatever policy a firm decides to employ, it is wise to work with employees who are affected to try and avoid creating situations where those employees are likely to become disgruntled.  Should a disgruntled employee file a complaint, the firm’s entire employment practices can be under scrutiny even if the issue prompting the complaint is found to be without merit.
  3. Hourly Rate Calculations for Non-Exempt Employees. “Regular” hourly rates—not “base” hourly rates—must be used for overtime calculations, and need to include non-discretionary bonuses.  Payments that must be included in calculating regular hourly rates include awards, bonuses, incentives, commissions, travel expenses, shift differentials, and lump sum on-call payments.

So, now you know.

Marcia Petrie Sue’s fireproofing strategies

According to Marcia Petrie Sue, there are 10 things you should take personal responsibility for if you want to help safeguard your job. Whether you’re new to the workforce or you’ve been around for ages, these 10 tips are common sense items you definitely want to keep in mind. Check out Marcia’s top 10 here.

SDA presenter turned author continues the knowledge-sharing


“That’s not in my job description,” said the HR director.

Whoa! You’d think that HR director would know that saying those words can sometimes ruin one’s career (or current job position).

We actually know the person (character) who said (wrote) that. It’s none other than one of our favorite presenters, Cheri Baker. If you didn’t know that Cheri is also an author, you’re in for a treat. She just rolled out her new ebook, “Orientation to Murder (A Katherine Voyzey Mystery)”. That’s book number 2 in her author career; her first was published in late 2013, “Involuntary Turnover (A Katherine Voyzey Mystery)”.

When Cheri is not writing about HR Director Katherine Voyzey, she is a consultant providing coaching and employee and leadership development to individuals and organizations. Having that subject matter expertise under her belt, you might think she’d get away from “teaching” in her mystery books and just let her readers feel the simple act of sitting back and enjoying a good read. Not entirely so.

You’ll still find golden nuggets of “how to be a good HR manager/director” throughout Cheri’s ebooks. But now you’ll be enjoying what you read (the mystery story) instead of feeling like you’re reading a dry list of how-to’s.

For example:

  • Even though you want to say “That’s not in my job description” at work, the underlying tip is, “Don’t say that out loud.”
  • An HR manager/director should always maintain a professional behavior (if you feel like cussing, don’t cuss out loud).
  • And privacy is just that. No talking about employees to other employees. Period.
  • A good reply to prying employees: “Sorry, I can’t (won’t) share confidential information about other employees.”

If you’re looking for an easy to read, interesting story on the life of an HR director and how she deals with staff at the hospital she works at (along with all the mystery stuff), you might want to check out Baker’s ebooks.

#4 on the top 10 ways to avoid employment law issues

hammer-719066_1920#4: Watch out for concerted activity

Did you know that employee handbook rules, even “well-intentioned” ones, are unlawful if they would inhibit employees (whether union or non-union) from engaging in activities protected by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)? Continue reading

Do This Before You Roll Out Your Flexible Work Policy

Telecommuting_feet on deskThink through these things before you implement a flexible work policy.

  1. Have a strategy. Which departments and individuals can successfully work remotely or on different schedules? What kind of flex work will you offer, and who has the final say? What metrics will you use to measure productivity for those on a flex work schedule? Make sure everyone is aware of the rules.
  2. Test the program. Try it out on a test group before you adopt it. Assess the program at regular intervals. What works? What doesn’t work? Adjust as needed.
  3. Train all of your managers. Help your managers do the right thing, apply the rules equally, and know at what point they have to escalate requests to HR. Maintain contact with your flex work staff.
  4. Have the infrastructure in place. Time tracking software for non-exempt staff. Encryption for sensitive data, and protocols and company policies that speak to accessing and disseminating that data. Metrics for tracking productivity. A go-to person who can field flex work questions or concerns.

Source: Seattle Chapter SDA business practice dinner. Presenter Aaron D. Goldstein, Associate at Dorsey & Whitney, LLP; 10/15/15

Workplace accommodations and ADA

Telecommuting_man on beachDid you know a firm’s biggest legal problem with telecommuting is the Americans with Disability Act (ADA)? Continue reading