Stimulus Bill Brings COBRA, Other Issues for Employers

February 16, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Update Dec. 16: House Passes COBRA Subsidy Extension and Expansion

Even as President Barack Obama prepares for a trip to Denver Tuesday to sign the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the stimulus package, many are still trying to sort out the bill, which Congress passed last Friday in dizzyingly rapid fashion.

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Oklahoma Immigration Law Passes Test

February 13, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Oklahoma’s immigration law, House Bill 1804, contains a number of employment provisions, including limitations on terminating employees while knowingly retaining unauthorized workers and requiring verification of employees’ legal work status. On February 11, 2009, Tulsa District Court Judge Jefferson D. Sellers ruled that the immigration law’s employment provisions don’t violate the Oklahoma Constitution.

Oklahoma employers should keep in mind that in June 2008, an Oklahoma City federal court held that the Oklahoma immigration law’s employment provisions shouldn’t be enforced because they violated federal law. That ruling is presently on appeal to the federal court of appeals in Denver.

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Categories: Immigration / Oklahoma

Keep Long-Term Goals in Mind While Cuting Staff, Budget

February 13, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Talent Management
We’ve talked a lot about job loss. With U.S. companies slashing nearly 600,000 jobs in January, it has been top of mind for most of us.  Here’s the upside in what is an otherwise very dismal situation.  Layoffs can give a company the opportunity to cull its lowest performers, resulting in a leaner, more competitive organization. Those companies with a strong talent management program, who really know who the top performers and key employees are and which positions are most critical to the organization’s future success, will emerge from the recession on top. After losing, let’s say, the bottom 10% from their organization they’ll replace them with top talent that has become available when they begin to hire again. The net effect will be that the firms that have a strong grasp of strategic talent management will emerge from the recession miles ahead of those who don’t. This is HR’s time to shine if they’re up to the task.

Leadership Development
Is leadership development worth fighting for in a down economy? That’s a question human resources professionals and businesses should be asking themselves right now. Often travel and training are the first budget items to get slashed when a company experiences a difficult patch. In fact, a recent study showed that 23% of companies cut their training budget in 2008, with another 18% planning to do so this year. But can a company afford to sacrifice tomorrow’s leaders because of today’s economy? I’d argue strongly that a company must continually invest in its leaders and that the costs associated with not doing so, while often difficult to measure, are too great. One thing to consider might include paring the group of trainees down so that you’re investing the same amount in each future leader, but fewer of them. Another might be to start (or expand if you already have one in place) your internal mentoring program. It can often be much more cost effective to focus on existing leaders within the organization to provide the training.

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Categories: Commentary

This Week’s Changes to Federal Employment Laws

February 13, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

For the third week in a row, Congress and President Barack Obama have made changes to federal employment laws or regulations. First, it was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The next week, President Obama signed executive orders affecting federal contractors and unions. And this week brings us the stimulus plan with changes to COBRA health care continuation and unemployment benefits.

When we put this issue of HR Hero Line to bed, the economic stimulus plan still had a few hoops to jump in Congress and each hour seemed to to bring dramatic news about deals being made and then no deals. Maybe Howie Mandel and the models will jump into the fray to help the folks in Washington make up their minds, but I suspect the banker won’t show up until Congress starts work on Bail Out Round 2.

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New I-9 Form Delayed for 60 Days

February 02, 2009 - by: HR Hero 5 COMMENTS

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a 60-day delay in implementing the new Form I-9 for employment eligibility verification for new hires.

The new I-9 forms were to take effect February 2, but a seemingly last-minute decision was made on January 30 to delay implementation of the I-9 forms and their accompanying rules. The delay comes in response to a January memorandum from President Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. In that memorandum, Emanuel directed all federal agencies to put a freeze on certain unimplemented federal regulations, recommending that these regulations be subject to a 60-day hold for further agency consideration.

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Who’s to Blame for Layoffs?

January 30, 2009 - by: HR Hero 6 COMMENTS

I was speaking with a friend recently. He had worked for a large financial services company and had lost his job the day before our conversation. My friend told me that he hadn’t been surprised by the announcement. In fact, he knew it was coming for some time and was just waiting for his “package.”

Business is down more than one-third and the job cuts were inevitable, he told me. What he said next just about knocked me over. The company he worked for was laying off more than 80% of its workforce! 80 percent? Business is down by a third and you lay off 80% of your people? That doesn’t compute. How does the company get two-thirds of the work done with 20% of its employees? How does it continue to serve its customers? Either it was grossly overstaffed, which could have contributed to the company’s downturn, or someone’s overreacting and in doing so is sealing the company’s fate because there is no way it can continue to provide a quality service.

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Categories: Commentary

Responding to This Week’s Job Loss Announcements

January 30, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

The HR Hero Line you are seeing today isn’t exactly what we had planned. But by noon on what is now being called “Bloody Monday,” we knew we needed to address the fallout from so many job cut announcements, which were then followed on Tuesday by possibly the worst unemployment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in decades.

The numbers are so stunning it’s hard to comprehend them. They cut across all industry sectors and come from businesses that seemed to have solid business models and desirable, even necessary, products and services. To help put the numbers in perspective, picture one of the bigger college or professional football stadiums or basketball arenas you’ve ever seen. Fill it to capacity, and that’s about the same number of job losses that were announced on Monday alone — some 75,000.

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Categories: HR Hero Line

Obama Signs Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

January 29, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Thursday morning, President Barack Obama signed the first bill of his White House tenure, putting his campaign theme of change into immediate action by overturning U.S. Supreme Court precedent.The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act will affect employers charged with pay discrimination by significantly expanding employees’ time for filing suit.

Specifically, the Fair Pay Act amends Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to declare that an unlawful employment practice occurs not only upon adoption of a discriminatory compensation decision or practice but also when the employee becomes subject to the decision or practice as well as each additional application of the decision or practice. In other words, the 180-day statute of limitations will now be extended on every occurrence of an unlawful employment practice, including issuance of paychecks.

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U.S. Supreme Court Issues Major Decision in Title VII Retaliation Case

January 26, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled today (Jan. 26, 2009) that the anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 apply to employees who voluntarily cooperate with an employer’s internal investigations, even if the employee didn’t initiate the investigation and has filed no formal charge.

In the case, Vicky Crawford was asked to participate in an ongoing internal sexual harassment investigation. During the investigation, Crawford alleged that she herself had been sexually harassed in the workplace, and months later, she was discharged. Crawford claimed she was fired in retaliation for her statements during the investigation and filed suit against Metro Nashville Schools.

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Reminder about OSHA Posting Requirement

January 26, 2009 - by: HR Hero 2 COMMENTS

It’s time to post your Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Form 300A, the summary of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred last year. Unless you have 10 or fewer employees or fall within one of the industries normally excused from the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s (OSH Act) recordkeeping and posting requirements, you’re required to post OSHA Form 300A (not the OSHA 300 form/log) annually from February 1 to April 30. A complete list of exempt industries in the retail, services, finance, and real estate sectors is posted on OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov.

The OSHA Form 300A summary must list the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred in 2008 and were logged on the OSHA 300 form. Additional information about your annual average number of employees and total hours they worked during the calendar year also is required to help the agency calculate incidence rates. Even if you had no recordable injuries or illnesses for 2008, you still must post the OSHA Form 300A, listing zeros on the total line. All summaries must be certified by a company executive.

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Categories: Federal Regulations / OSHA

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