Blog Archives

Wellness Programs: You Can’t Rush a Good Thing

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Early last year, the study Effect of a Workplace Wellness Program on Employee Health and Economic Outcomes was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) calling into question the effectiveness of employer run wellness programs. The study took place over a year and looked at the short term effects of wellness programming. It involved 4,000 employees at an organization with a wellness program and 29,000 at an organization that did not have a wellness program. Ultimately, the study found that these employees did personally benefit from the programs, increasing healthy habits, exercising more often, etc., but the…

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Onboarding Remotely: So Much More than Paperwork

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Onboarding remote employees can be challenging, especially if you are onboarding virtually for the first time. Over the past year, companies have had to very quickly adapt to virtual management, hiring, and on-boarding. While offices are starting to reopen, remote work has become popular and experts say it may be here to stay. Mastering virtual onboarding may be the key in helping to widen your recruiting pool and ensure that all employees remain connected and successful. Here are some tips experts offer to make your virtual onboarding seamless: Have a Plan.  Even more than in-person, virtual communication should be deliberate…

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Can Employers Require a COVID-19 Vaccine?

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As the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widespread across the country, employers are faced with the decision to require, or not require, employees to receive the vaccine. On December 16th, the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released guidance making it clear that employers may require the vaccine but will need to comply with the ADA and other protective legislation. In the guidance released, the CDC and EEOC stated that COVID-19 meets the definition of a “direct threat”, and therefore employers are able to do things like health screenings and require vaccines for…

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Flexible Spending Plans in 2021 and 2022

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In December 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) to curb the economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on millions of Americans. As a part of the CAA, temporary changes were made to expand the use of flexible spending accounts (FSAs) in 2021 and 2022. These new measures will allow employers to provide additional supports for employees who may face additional healthcare costs in the coming years. What’s changed? Carry Over.  Employers can now allow participants in health FSAs and/or dependent care FSAs to carry over balances from 2020 to 2021 and from 2021 to 2022. This includes…

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Can You Refuse to Employ Nicotine Users?

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Last year, U-Haul made headlines with their controversial decision to entirely stop hiring nicotine-users. While organizations in travel and healthcare facilities have been maintaining nicotine-free workplaces for years, U-Haul did not cite an inability to provide smoke breaks but rather made the decision based on healthcare costs and a desire to emphasize a healthier lifestyle for their workers. This left many employers wondering if they could or should enact a similar policy. While nicotine users are not a protected group under federal law, some states have enacted legislation to protect smokers, barring employers from firing or refusing to fire due…

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Drug Screening in 2021: Should You?

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Under federal law, marijuana use remains illegal, but states have rapidly legalized both medical and recreational use of the drug in recent years. As of January 2021, the majority of the United States has legalized or decriminalized the use of marijuana at the state level. This fast-paced legalization has made policies surrounding employment drug screenings a bit more challenging to navigate. Employers are left asking if they should do drug screenings if it’s fair and cost-effective, and if so how to proceed without excluding potential candidates who use the substance responsibly. Many local and state governments have begun enacting legislation…

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Can You Require Your Employees to Return to Work?

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In short, yes. Provided your local area is not under a shelter-in-place order, employers can legally require employees to return to in-person work in most situations. That said, the EEOC advises caution to employers hoping to have all employees return sooner rather than later. While federal guidelines may allow employers to require in-person work, particularly if your employees are considered essential workers, the ADA and other protective legislation at the local, state, and federal levels still apply. Before requiring employees to return to work it is important to understand all legislation that applies to ensure your organization remains compliant. Know…

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Should You Reimburse for Office Expenses?

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Last year, businesses across the country were forced to quickly move to remote work, doing their best to stop the spread of COVID-19. Employees who had never worked remotely found themselves in need of a home workspace, equipment, supplies, etc.: the necessities to successfully work from home. With more employees than ever working remotely, employers are asking if they should reimburse employees for remote working expenses. Federal law dictates that employers must reimburse employees for anything that puts them below minimum wage. This federal law provides a low bar for employers; state and local laws often stipulate stricter reimbursement requirements….

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FMLA: Compliance and Education

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The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides employees access to up to twelve weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. Employees can use this leave in cases of serious health conditions for themselves, their spouse or children, adoption/foster care placement, the birth of a child, or for any qualifying exigency that could arise out of a child, spouse, or parent’s active-duty military service. While you may generally understand what FMLA is and how employees can use it, the key to successful compliance is in the education you provide to our employees and how the policy is implemented to ensure FMLA is correctly…

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Calculating Overtime Pay

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HR professionals and leaders are expected to have a comprehensive understanding of labor laws. No matter your industry, one key aspect of this is overtime compensation. While the concept of overtime seems straightforward, in reality it can be challenging. Differences in scheduling and compensation can create unanticipated complications, and employee misunderstandings of policy can create risk. If these issues are left unaddressed the consequences can be catastrophic. Overtime laws have been a part of U.S. labor laws since 1938, and in modern years have been given more clarity by legislation like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which dictates that…

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