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Mixed Messages Within Your Business

I recently came across a post that I failed to publish many months ago. The news story is a dated now, but the point remains the same:

WWMGS-logo-4I talk with clients about looking at what they do and how they do it, not just what they say.  You never want an employment or compliance policy accompanied by a “wink-and-nod.” Consistency is important, just like in parenting because it is not enough to say, “I really mean it.”

There was a recent story that displays that point.  You may have seen it:  The Houston Astros had a “Ladies’ Night” fan promotion with a Baseball 101 talk, “Diamonds and Bling” music, and the chance for makeovers as a part of coming to a game. There was an outcry over the condescending way the event was promoted. Here’s one account:  http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/houston-astros-botch-ladies-night-offend-women-daily-buzz-092513.

Here is the part that struck me, and it’s not unique to a single site that carried the story:  Along with the story about how the event was offensive to women, several of the sites had even more questionable content in and around the article and in advertising bars.  Just for instance, in the column next the the story above, there was a photo for “Fox Sports Girl of the Week: Kendall” and embedded within the text of the story is “WHO SETS THE CURVE? Check out the FOXiest fans from stadiums across the country and tweet us your photo.” Bravo. What kind of message did all of the verbiage (and images) around that story send? Don’t get me wrong; I know there are other issues at play–readership, advertising dollars, etc. Nothing is simple.

But next time you roll out a new policy, have staff training, or educate on an HR issue, make sure to consider the other messages you are sending in the context of your presentation. It may be that the message is lost in the noise of how it is packaged, who is presenting, or the way you operate.

 

Tips for maintaining I-9 records

  1. Establish a consistent process for execution of I-9 forms.
  2. On the first day of work, ensure that each new hire completes and signs Section 1.
  3. Review the employee’s documents and confirm that they are on the acceptable document list and look authentic (www.uscis.gov/i-9).
  4. While it is not required in all locations, making copies of all documentation provided is a good practice.
  5. Track the expiration of documents that limit the right to work and prepare a tickler system to follow up.  Also, do not keep I-9 documentation in the personnel file.
  6. Retain I-9s and any supporting documents for the later of three years after hire or one year after termination.

OSHA Best Practices for Transgender Worker Access to Restrooms

OSHAGender identity issues continue to be a hot topic in the media, and by extension in the workplace. This month OSHA has published a Best Practices memo providing suggested guidelines for restroom access for transgender workers. The memo is available on the OSHA website or by clicking OSHA Best Practices, Restroom Access.

Retail Giant Faces Tough Questions About Employee “Look Policy”

EmploymentLawNewsletterHeaderClick here to see the recent update from Wilson Worley PC on the EEOC case involving the extent of an employer’s ability to set dress codes or “physical appearance” policies. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule this summer.

Text messages at work lol

I was in a court proceeding recently involving a termination. The proof consisted of numerous text messages between the employee and a manager. It struck me as we sorted through the electronic discussion just how much communication occurs in the job setting via text message.

It is a good idea to review your employment policies to make sure that they contemplate all the different types of electronic communication that are being used in your workplace.  Do you specify how an employee must give notice about attendance or request time off? Odds are, you have some employees requesting time off via text. If you require a more formal means, you’d best spell it out in your policy.  Do you have a communications tree for getting information disseminated? If so, it is likely that text messages will go to cell phones rather than phone calls to home land lines. Does your harassment policy make clear that harassment can occur via text messages (not to mention photos and videos sent via text)?

You get the picture. This is definitely an area of communications that has changed profoundly in the last decade. Make sure your policies have changed with the times.

Is There Time? The Need for Employee Training

image1I saw a statistic the other day for the number of minutes in a year–525,600. Even taking it a day at a time, the number is 1,440 per day. The numbers were being used to talk about parenting. As a parent, you can’t watch a child every minute of the day. That is why it is important for parents to work to train children and equip them to deal with situations when the parents aren’t there.

Serving in human resources presents some of the same challenges. In addition to being in charge of personnel policies and documentation, the HR staff often gets to serve as “parent” to the activities and relationships of employees. And even worse, sometimes the role is one of policeman. But the HR role can be more effective if the model is one of trainer rather than law enforcement. Usually, if the staff is educated and directed, they don’t have to be watched all of the time.

Next time there is resistance to budgeting money for training sessions or materials, remind the company just how many minutes untrained staff are on task each work day.

Split of circuits on same-sex marriage bans

U.S. Supreme CourtLast week, the Sixth Circuit upheld same-sex marriage bans in four states within the circuit, including Tennessee.  After four circuit courts had struck down such bans in other areas of the country, including in Virginia, there is now an expectation that the Supreme Court will address laws banning same-sex marriage.

These opinions impact employers regarding application of workplace policies and handling of benefits.  Under the Supreme Court’s 2013 Windsor opinion, same-sex spouses are married for federal tax purposes, provided they were married in a state that allows same-sex marriage.  Currently for employers, this impacts qualified retirement plans.

The Sixth Circuit opinion is a 2-1 ruling with a 42-page opinion and a 21 page dissent.  Most commentators expect the Supreme Court to take up the issue now that there is a split in the circuit courts.  We will monitor upcoming opinions for their effect 0n workplace policies and management of employees.