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FMLA Employer Guide

3 from the DOL: New FMLA Guide & Poster; Veterans Job Portal; FLSA Salary Test Update

Here are three updates from the Department of Labor that all employers should note.

FMLA Issues New Employee Poster & Employer’s Guide

The Department of Labor has issued a new FMLA Employee Rights poster with this reminder:

“All covered employers are required to display and keep displayed a poster prepared by the Department of Labor summarizing the major provisions of The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and telling employees how to file a complaint. The poster must be displayed in a conspicuous place where employees and applicants for employment can see it. A poster must be displayed at all locations even if there are no eligible employees.”

DOL has also issued The Employer’s Guide to Family and Medical Leave Act. The 76-page booklet can be downloaded as a PDF. Print copies of the FMLA Employer Guide will be available to order from the Wage and Hour Online Publication Ordering System by mid-June, 2016.

FMLA Employer Guide

Jeff Nowak of FMLA Insights talks about this and offers links at: DOL Issues New FMLA Poster and Publishes Guide to Help Employers Administer FMLA.  Nowak says that he and other employer-side leaders were able to offer feedback on the Guide, and notes that it is a decent, user-friendly resource even if some thorny issues remain unaddressed.

FLSA’s salary test

Jon Hyman of Ohio Employer’s Law Blog posts about the anticipated FLSA’s salary test to an expected $50,440 per year – but are they thinking of lowering the salary threshold? See his post Looks like the DOL just put its new salary test on the discount rack . Unconfirmed word on the street is that the threshold may be lowered to $47,000 – final rules are expected this summer, with the effective date being in September.

Veterans Job Resource

The US Department of Labor Blog announces the launch of a virtual, one-stop online employment services website for veterans. The new site can be found at veterans.gov. Resources include:

For Job Seekers

  • Connect with one-on-one assistance in the nearly 2,500 American Job Centers located conveniently in communities around the country.
  • Explore online job listings.
  • Search career paths by industry, by similarity to military careers, or by keyword.
  • Locate approved local training programs, colleges and universities.
  • Find federal jobs as well as government career programs in sectors like agriculture, transportation, energy/utilities and homeland security.
  • Learn how to start a business.

For Employers

  • Connect with our regional employer outreach specialists, who can share local resources for meeting your unique hiring needs.
  • Post position descriptions and openings.
  • Get a free hiring toolkit, “America’s Heroes at Work,” and other resources.
  • Make a public commitment to hire veterans.
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Wellness Focus for May: Mental Health, Physical Fitness & More

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May is Mental Health Month
This year’s May is Mental Health Month Campaign and Toolkit will use the theme B4Stage4 and will focus on how people can address their mental health early, rather than at “Stage 4” – when symptoms are more severe, and recovery a longer process. Get graphics and fact sheets and access online screenings. Also, see the National Alliance on Mental Illness for activities, resources and tools.

 

National Physical Fitness and Sports Month
Use this month to raise awareness about the benefits of physical activity. Get resources to share, including fact sheets, widgets, tips and trackers; download a sample newsletter announcement and get tweets and web badges. Get the Be Active Your Way Widget

Be Active Your Way (open accessible version in new window)

National Bike Month
May is National Bike Month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to giving biking a try. Promotional materials include posters web banners, a social media toolkit and more.

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Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. UV radiation can also come from tanning booths or sunlamps. The most dangerous kind of skin cancer is called melanoma. The good news? Skin cancer can almost always be cured when it’s found and treated early. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to prevent skin cancer or detect it early on.

National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) declares May to be “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.” It’s a peak season for asthma and allergy sufferers, and a perfect time to educate family, friends, co-workers and others about these diseases. Asthma affects approximately 25.9 million Americans and more than 50 million Americans suffer from all types of allergies. Here are Social Media tools to help spread awareness.

National Arthritis Awareness Month
The Arthritis Foundation says, “Since arthritis is often an invisible disease, it’s not always easy for people to see the physical and emotional toll it can take on those affected. Living with a disease whose symptoms and effects aren’t obvious adds an additional challenge for people trying to cope with chronic diseases like arthritis. There’s also a misconception that arthritis is a disease that only affects the elderly. In reality, this debilitating disease affects more than 50 million adults and an estimated 300,000 children in the U.S. alone. What’s more, one out of every three veterans and service members in the U.S. has arthritis.”

May is ALS Awareness Month
Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. Learn more in this infographic.

May 1-7 – North American Occupational Safety & Health (NAOSH) Week – to focus employers, employees, partners and the public on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, at home and in the community.

May 8-14 – Women’s Health Week – An observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, the goal is to empower women to make their health a priority. The week also serves as a time to help women understand what steps they can take to improve their health. The 16th annual National Women’s Health Week kicks off on Mother’s Day, May 8, and is celebrated until May 14.

May 15-21 – Dog Bite Prevention Week – Every year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs, and about 1 in 5 of those people require medical attention. It’s a serious public health issue. Children and elderly are the two most common bite victims. This week is dedicated to helping to educate about things you can do to avoid dog bites.

May 15-21 – Hurricane Preparedness Week – Hurricane hazards come in many forms, including storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, high winds, tornadoes, and rip currents. The National Weather Service is responsible for protecting life and property through issuance of timely watches and warnings, but it is essential that your family be ready before a storm approaches. Furthermore, mariners should be aware of special safety precautions when confronted with a hurricane.

May 16-20 – Bike to Work Week – In addition to being Bike Month, this week in May is dedicated to encouraging employees to bike to work for the week. Friday May 20 is Bike to Work Day.

May 17 – 23 – National EMS Week – Presented by ACEP in partnership with the National Association of EMT’s (NAEMT) to bring together local communities and medical personnel to publicize safety and honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine’s “front line.”

 

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suicide rate

Report: Suicide rate jumps from 1999 to 2014

suicide rate

A report issued recently by the National Vital Statistics System, Mortality documents a steep rise in the rate of suicide: Increase in Suicide in the United States, 1999–2014

Key report findings include:

  • The overall suicide rate rose by 24% from 1999 to 2014, from 10.5 to 13.0 per 100,000 persons
  • In hard numbers, 42,773 people died by suicide in 2014, compared to 29,199 in 1999
  • It rose by 63% for middle-aged women
  • It rose by 43% for middle-aged men
  • The rate rose by 2 percent a year starting in 2006
  • The percent increase in suicide rates for females was greatest for those aged 10–14, and for males, those aged 45–64
  • The rate of suicide in girls aged 10 to 14, while still very low, tripled.

In a New York Times analysis of the report, Sabrina Tavernise notes that this suicide surge marks a 30-year high, and points to several recent trends contributing to the rise:

The data analysis provided fresh evidence of suffering among white Americans. Recent research has highlighted the plight of less educated whites, showing surges in deaths from drug overdoses, suicides, liver disease and alcohol poisoning, particularly among those with a high school education or less. The new report did not break down suicide rates by education, but researchers who reviewed the analysis said the patterns in age and race were consistent with that recent research and painted a picture of desperation for many in American society.

“This is part of the larger emerging pattern of evidence of the links between poverty, hopelessness and health,” said Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard and the author of “Our Kids,” an investigation of new class divisions in America.

In addition to financial factors and drug-related deaths, Other cited experts point to a decline in marriage rates and an increase in divorce rates as potentially contributing to isolation and loneliness.

Employers’ Role in preventing and responding to suicide

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) suggests that employers can play an important role in helping to prevent suicide. Because people spend such a significant portion of their day at work, employers have the opportunity to observe changes in behavior, personality or mood. Training managers to be alert for and make referrals when they observe signs of depression and other early warning signs of problems may save lives.

SPRC points to the following warning signs:

  • Talking about suicide or death
  • Making statements like “I wish I were dead.” and “I’m going to end it all.”
  • Less direct verbal cues, including “What’s the point of living?” “Soon you won’t have to worry about me” and “Who cares if I’m dead, anyway?”
  • Uncharacteristically isolating themselves from others in the workplace
  • Expressing feelings that life is meaningless or hopeless
  • Giving away cherished possessions
  • A sudden and unexplained improvement in mood after being depressed or withdrawn
  • Neglect of appearance and hygiene
  • Sudden unexplained deterioration of work performance or productivity

Many suicide prevention groups suggest an easy mnemonic to remember warning signs: IS PATH WARM

Ideation
Substance Abuse
Purposelessness
Anxiety
Trapped
Hopelessness
Withdrawal
Anger
Recklessness
Mood Changes

If you observe warning signs or changes in behavior or personality, don’t try to diagnose the problem or find the reason for the behavior changes, simply help the employee to find professional assistance through your EAP or an occupational health specialist.Work performance can be a great leverage for getting people who might otherwise be reluctant to seek help for a problem.

Additional suicide resources for employers

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lost-work

Employers: How much are motor vehicle crashes costing your organization?

Images and statistics courtesy of the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety

Images and statistics courtesy of the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety

According to a recent report by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety:

  • In 2013, motor vehicle crashes killed more than 1,600 on-the-job workers and injured 293,000
    while they were working
  • Motor vehicle crash injuries on and off the job cost employers $47.4 billion in 2013
  • One quarter of this cost resulted from off-the-job injuries to workers and their dependents
  • On-the-job highway crashes cost employers $24,000 per crash, $45,000 per million vehicle-miles of travel and $68,000 per injury
  • Costs per employee vary by state, but were highest in Louisiana ($560), Montana ($620), and West Virginia ($510) and lowest in Colorado ($180), Iowa ($150), Minnesota ($190), Washington ($190) and Wyoming ($140)
  • Lack of seat belt use alone incurs $5 billion in annual costs to U.S. employers
  • It’s not just about your employees: 172,994 bystander related persons were injured in 2013
  • Investing in road safety can reduce your crash rate by 50% or more.

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Download the full report from Network of Employers for Traffic Safety Cost of Motor Vehicle Crashes to
Employers – 2015. The report includes Costs per state, costs per industry, and costs by selected risk factors, including some of the biggest cost drivers:

  • Non-seat belt use
  • Alcohol use
  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding

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The report notes that:

“Employer costs resulting from motor vehicle crashes fall into two categories: health fringe benefit costs and non-fringe costs.

Health fringe benefit costs are the costs of fringe benefits paid because of illness and injury of employees and their dependents. They cover contributions to Workers’ Compensation medical and disability insurance, health insurance, sick leave, Social Security disability insurance, life insurance and private disability insurance, as well as insurance administration and overhead.

Non-fringe costs include motor vehicle property damage and liability insurance, crash-related legal expenses and the costs of unreimbursed vehicle damage and replacement. In addition, employers pay taxes to help fund police fire, and ambulance services. Employers also lose productivity when employees suffer injuries preventing them or their coworkers from working at full capacity. Recruiting and training workers to replace fatally injured or permanently disabled employees raises the bill employers pay for injuries.”

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NETS, or the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety has numerous tools, promotions and resources to help employers initiate workplace safe-driver programs.

One current program is the 2Seconds 2Click campaign. It is designed to address the fact that nationwide, half of the people killed in motor vehicle crashes last year weren’t wearing their seat belts. It’s modeled on a program that Coca-Cola Refreshments of Bismarck, ND piloted as a 6-week workplace campaign to encourage its employees to buckle up on every trip.

 

We encourage employers to have a safe driving policy, both for those employees who have work-related driving responsibilities as well as those who don’t. A policy might include such provisions as:

  • Safe driver training programs
  • Specialized training for drivers with safety-sensitive responsibilities
  • Statement of expectations on safe, courteous driving
  • Mandatory seat belt use for drivers and passengers
  • Annual proof of a valid driver’s license
  • Policies on distracted driving, particularly cell-phone use and texting
  • Policies on drug and alcohol use
  • Requirement that any on-the-job accidents and moving violations be reported immediately
  • Requirement that off the job accidents and moving violations be reported within a week

Here are additional resources on work-related driving safety

Related: Ask about ESI EAP’s Drug Free Workplace and DOT Compliance Program.

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HR News Roundup: Recruiting mistakes, SHRM Satisfaction Survey, medical marijuana in PA & more news of note

The 5 Biggest Mistakes (Almost) Every Recruiter Makes
Matt Charney, Fistful of Talent

“Recruiting is never easy, but for some reason, many talent acquisition professionals make it somehow much harder than it really needs to be.

The fact that recruiters inherently work in silos and are largely forced to figure out the intricacies of talent sourcing and screening independently means that we tend to all make the same mistakes.

For the most part, they’re easily avoidable, but again, recruiters don’t really like to focus on what’s not working—after all, there’s too much work to do.”

SHRM Survey: Respect at Work Boosts Job Satisfaction
Kathy Gurchiek, SHRM

“Respectful treatment of all employees at all levels is the most important factor contributing to employee job satisfaction, according to the SHRM Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement survey. The annual survey results were released April 18 during the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Talent Management Conference & Exposition.

Other factors employees ranked as being very important to their job satisfaction included, in order of importance:

  • Overall compensation and pay. This has ranked among the top five contributors in SHRM’s survey since 2002
  • Overall benefits. This has ranked among the top five contributors nearly every year since 2002.
  • Job security. This has ranked among the top five contributors since 2002. After the Great Recession began in 2007, job security was the No. 1 factor in job satisfaction from 2008-11.
  • Opportunities to use skills and abilities and trust between employees and senior management tied for fifth place among the top contributors to job satisfaction.”

20 percent of employees would sell their passwords

“According to new research from identity management company SailPoint one in five employees would be willing to sell their work passwords to another organization, up from one in seven last year.

Of those who would sell their passwords, 44 percent would do it for less than $1,000, and some for less than $100. This is made worse by the fact that 65 percent admit to using a single password among applications and 32 percent share passwords with their co-workers.

Other findings include the worrying fact that more than two in five employees still have corporate account access after they leave their job.”

Educating Your Employees About Their Compensation
Sharlyn Lauby, HR Bartender

“I recently heard a speaker talk about employee pay and engagement. They said, “Misunderstood pay can be a huge distraction.” They’re absolutely right. But, misunderstanding pay is different from being disappointed or frustrated about pay. I’d like to think if an employee doesn’t understand their compensation, it can be resolved with education.”

Chasing Best Practices
Derek Irvine, Compensation Cafe

“Research from the firm PayScale may help to answer at least some of those questions, with their annual analysis of compensation trends and activity. Of particular interest, they compared the practices of average performing companies to top-performing companies, where the latter are defined as those who rank highly within their industry and exceeded revenue projections in 2015.

It turns out that high performers are more likely to provide pay increases (90% compared to 84%), bonuses (81% compared to 74%), and are also likely to leverage more of a compensation mix. High performers are also more likely to adopt a mindset in which people are valued and engage in more transparent communication around compensation.”

Pennsylvania Becomes 24th State to Legalize Medical Marijuana
Insurance Journal
Pennsylvania’s New Medical Marijuana Law Includes Employment Protections
Philip Miles, Lawffice Space

“The gist of these provisions is that employers may not discriminate or retaliate against employees who are “certified to use medical marijuana” – not to be confused with recreational users. Employers are not required to allow marijuana use on their property or place of employment. Employers may still discipline employees who are under the influence in the workplace . . . “when the employee’s conduct falls below the standard of care normally accepted for that position.” Finally, the employer does not have to do anything that would violate federal law.”

How to Diffuse an Anger Bomb in the Workplace
Dr. Michelle Rozen, Huffington Post

“Dealing with rage from one of your co workers or employees? Handling rage in the workplace will require you to let go of any impulsive instincts that you may sense crawling up your spine, and to use your emotional intelligence. The problem is that we differ greatly from each other, not only in how we address conflict but in when we prefer to address it. Our first reaction to any situation is generally emotional. In times of conflict, this emotional reaction can take over and control the process. What’s more, there’s an instinctive “fight or flight” physical response to escalating stress, but we can use these emotional, instinctive reactions to our benefit if we use them with intelligence.”

Why Criticism Is So Tough To Swallow (And How To Make It Go Down Easier)
Caroline Webb, Fast Company

“At any given time, brains are subconsciously scanning the world around us for dangers to defend against—ready to launch a fight, flight, or freeze response that will protect us from predators or poisons. But the brain doesn’t just guard us against physical threats. Research has found that it also goes on the defensive in response to things that threaten to undermine our social standing and safety, including interactions that make us feel even mildly rejected or incompetent. Since even being glanced at askance by a stranger can be enough to trigger our defenses, you can bet that receiving critical feedback is pretty likely to spark a fight, flight, or freeze response.

That matters because when our brains are in defensive mode, studies have shown that there’s reduced activity in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. That’s where our most sophisticated mental machinery generally lives: the neural systems responsible for self-control, reasoning, and forethought.”

HR Quick Takes

To commemorate Equal Pay Day last week, MTV posted the video (below) “79% Work Clock: The Daily Reminder That The Wage Gap Is Real”

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Violence prevention: Managing volatile, angry and potentially violent employees

One of the most frequently sought pages on our blog – sought by both our own client members and by Google searchers alike – is our post on planning terminations that involve potentially violent employees. This tells us that supervisors and HR managers are on the lookout for effective tools and advice for managing, interacting with and firing volatile, angry and potentially violent employees. The advice in our post still stands so if you haven’t yet read it, we think it’s worthwhile. It might merit a bookmark so that you have it handy. Based on the frequency of searches, we’ve compiled new resources on the topic that might also be helpful.

1O Necessary Tools for Workplace Violence Prevention (PDF)

Dealing With Potentially Violent Employees: Lessons Learned From the Murders of Alison Parker and Adam Ward

Dealing With a Hostile Employee: Avoiding Workplace Violence (PDF)

How To Deal With a Troubled and/or Potentially Violent Co-Worker or Employee – How to Recognize the Signs of Emotional Instability and/or Potential For Violence

How to recognize workplace violence warning signs

Violence in the Workplace – Warning Signs

Workplace Violence: 12 Signs Of A Dangerous Person

Dealing With Angry Employees

How to Deal with Angry Employees

The Paranoid Employee – Problem Behaviors, Interviewing Tips, and Violence Risk Factors

Violence Prevention Resources from SHRM

All Employers Need a Workplace Violence Plan

Workplace Violence Prevention – Sample Policy

Workplace Violence Training for Supervisors – “This is a sample presentation intended for presentation to supervisors and other individuals who manage employees. It is designed to be presented by an individual who is knowledgeable in both employee relations and managing workplace violence. This is a sample presentation that must be customized to include and match the employer’s own policies and practices.”

Defuse Workplace Violence

When and How Should HR Step into Violent Situations?

Confront Employees Who Perpetrate Domestic Violence

When Domestic Violence Comes to Work

How Can Employers Prevent Workplace Violence?

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