Aug 292014
 

Many business owners think of FMLA only when an employee is ready to go out on maternity leave or if an employee is facing a catastrophic illness such as cancer. FMLA also covers migraine headaches, back pain, influenza – and other illnesses that are considered to be “chronic or a serious health condition”.

Employers and their supervisors and managers need to know the “red flags” on what to consider to be a FMLA occurrence and how to manage it.

As a reminder, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave.  FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. It also seeks to accommodate the legitimate interests of employers and promote equal employment opportunity for men and women.

FMLA applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. These employers must provide an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:

1. for the birth and care of the newborn child of an employee;
2. for placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
3. to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
4. to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

Employees are eligible for leave if they have worked for their employer at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. Whether an employee has worked the minimum 1,250 hours of service is determined according to FLSA principles for determining compensable hours or work. Time taken off work due to pregnancy complications can be counted against the 12 weeks of family and medical leave. Special rules apply to employees of local education agencies.

Many employers often think of the FMLA as a law that comes into play only when an employee is getting ready to take a maternity leave or when they have a debilitating illness requiring an extended hospital stay. Those are obviously scenarios where the FMLA is implicated, but the act provides much greater coverage.  Any chronic condition, such as asthma or diabetes, that requires a continuing course of treatment can trigger FMLA coverage, as can mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety. Those types of health conditions often require intermittent leaves of absence, which many employers find to be particularly disruptive or subject to abuse.

Simplifying Definition of ‘Serious Health Condition’

Another point of confusion for managers is how multifaceted the definition of “serious health condition” is. Try and keep it simple: If the employee or a family member is in the hospital, if the employee misses more than three consecutive days of work, or if the employee has a pattern of being absent for the same health condition or for a family member’s health condition, call HR as soon as possible or consider FMLA.

A frequent complaint from managers is that an employee who calls in sick does not provide sufficient information for the manager to determine whether the absence is FMLA-qualifying.  This is particularly true where the employer has an attendance policy that allows employees to leave messages or send e-mails regarding absences.  Also, many employees do not wish to disclose specific information about their health, and simply report they are sick and unable to come to work. When this occurs, a manager cannot, for example, discern whether the employee has a simple cold or a full-blown case of influenza.

Managers don’t know how much follow-up information they can seek and don’t always realize they need to involve HR to provide guidance and support to managers faced with vague information about an employee’s repeated or prolonged absences.

It might be prudent for companies to consider adopting a three-day rule—meaning they automatically require eligible employees to provide medical certifications clarifying whether absences due to illness lasting more than three consecutive calendar days are FMLA-qualifying.

As far as simplifying the definition of “serious health condition” for managers, try to focus training on two categories of serious health conditions that seem to be misunderstood the most: chronic serious health conditions and pregnancy.  Managers must thoroughly understand that any period of incapacity associated with these two categories of serious health conditions is covered.

Jul 302014
 

Payroll is an important aspect of running a business with employees. An efficient and organized process can make payroll less cumbersome and costly. Here are seven simple and effective payroll tips that can benefit every business owner.   1. Get the required information upfront. Make it standard practice to collect the necessary information from employees and independent contractors, including proof of identification, EIN/social security numbers, and W-4/I-9 tax information, at the start of a working relationship. (If you hire new employees, report the event to the state within 20 days). Though you may not pay an independent contractor enough to necessitate issuing a formal W-2 at the end of the year, having the required information on hand will reduce the [...]

Apr 112014
 

Companies know they have to maintain a certain level of branding when dealing with consumers – but what about with prospective employees? Company branding is becoming a major element to the hiring process. In an age where social media has personified businesses to a level not experienced before, human resources must understand the company’s image must also correspond to the way it presents itself to candidates. A Randstad survey from 2013 found an inviting company brand may be the key to attracting talent. It found 20 percent of employees under 30 would rather work at a lower-paying job with a brand they embrace than a position at a less reputable or welcoming company. So how can employers establish a strong brand? Through many ways: [...]

Jan 142014
 

The current job market is saturated with highly qualified individuals, and the most qualified job seekers are looking for much more than just a paycheck in their search for employment. In order to attract the best candidates, you should have certain measures in place in your recruiting and hiring processes. What do the top talents in your industry look for? How can you attract them? Here’s a look. The Employer of Choice You can start by approaching talent acquisition and recruitment from the perspective of branding. If you position your company as the “employer of choice” to potential employees, you will be able to choose from the best of the best. To do so, you’ll want to describe what differentiates [...]

Dec 022013
 

It may seem quiet around here, but we’ve been busy working on new enhancements to our web-based human resources management system. The most notable update would be the addition of an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). We’ve put a huge amount of effort into creating the easiest to use and most flexible online applicant tracking system in the market. With our online HR software system, you can create your very own custom online job application.  You can then embed a list of current job openings on your own website. When an application is completed, log in to rate & review candidates. Finally, with the press of one button you can hire a candidate and transfer them into your employee management system. [...]

May 242013
 

By Steve Miranda In my 17 years as a senior level HR practitioner, I’ve seen good and bad corporate policies. The only real difference between the two is that good policies are those that employees follow. Social media policies are no exception. But the most effective policies don’t just keep employees in line. They set consistent, clear, and common-sense guidelines that free employees to do their jobs better. Here are three key characteristics that should define your social media policy: 1. It’s Clear Your employees need to understand why the policy is needed; this doesn’t mean they have to agree with that reason. It’s unrealistic to believe people will automatically support your policies. And telling employees to follow policies “because [...]

Apr 222013
 

“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Everyone’s heard that expression. And we’re all familiar with what it means: An effective team can accomplish more as a whole than its individual members can accomplish on their own. The key word here is effective.  Building an effective, high-performing team requires more than simply throwing a group of outstanding individuals into a room and telling them they can’t come out until they have a solution. And maintaining an effective team requires planning, communication and decision-making. Assess individual strengths and weaknesses, build support, establish the conditions for effectiveness, agree on your goals—and you’re on the road to building a championship team. But lead with your emotions, shy away from hard [...]

Apr 152013
 
What Gets Your Attention ...?

The other day I was talking with my mentor and he asked an interesting (I thought) question.  “What does EffortlessHR offer a CEO that would make them want to use your product?” I, of course, went through all the benefits and features of EffortlessHR (which I can also recite for you if you don’t know what they are), but it made me stop and think – what is it that the busy CEO/Owner of a company is looking for in any program or service?  How do you get their attention and make them want to learn more? Let’s face it – there are a lot of products and services out there and more are available every day.  So, how do [...]

Mar 292013
 
HR Practices - Do You Have Zombies in Your Office?

A hit show (just finishing up their 3rd season) is “The Walking Dead”, about a zombie apocalypse.  Whether or not you have ever watched it or heard of it, the show is scary and if you put the concept into your office, it can be REALLY frightening.  Do you know if you have ‘real-life zombies and ghosts’ walking around your office on a daily basis? We all like a good scary movie every now and then, but nothing is scarier than hiring someone who appears to be perfect for the job, and then finding out quickly that he or she is a nightmare. Every day we see organizations use scary hiring practices! Why should you be spooked out by scary [...]

Dec 192012
 
The Best Wordpress Anti-Spam Plugins for 2012-2013

I’ m sure that there are plenty of posts on this topic, but we have had first-hand experience for several years in dealing with comment spammers. Each of the plugins below are in use by the EffortlessHR Blog and they all work in uniquely different ways to stop bots and spammers dead in their tracks. Today we are going to share our winning combination, in order of importance: G.A.S.P. (GrowMap Anti Spam Plugin) This plugin also comes installed with CommentLuv Premium. It’s very simple in design and adds a checkbox to “Confirm you are NOT a spammer” to your comment form. It also performs some validation and limits the maximum number of links that can be present in comment text. It [...]