• Employee Benefits Plans Communication

    Responsibility Rests on Both Sides in Health Benefits Communication

    A May 2011 case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Cigna v. Amara, centered on whether critical information about Cigna’s pension benefits were properly communicated in the company’s Summary Plan Description (SPD), a federally required summary of plan benefits that must be distributed to employees, retirees and beneficiaries. At the heart of the case is the employees’ contention that Cigna failed to fully and clearly disclose a change in its pension plan which, if employees had understood it, might have spurred them to retire or take another job.

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  • How to Avoid EEOC Complaints in Hiring

    Employing The Right Way

    Many employers these days have countless ways they conduct the recruitment and hiring processes. And, I’m willing to bet many of those employers have forgotten that they are bound by Federal law on discriminatory practices, starting at the very beginning…recruitment. Discrimination is a very costly mistake that can bring an employer both financial penalties, as well as a poor public image. The following are some important things to remember when it comes to recruitment and hiring practices.

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  • Summer Dress Code at Work

    Is Your Dress Code Ready for Summer?

    It is summertime, and you know what that means – it is the season when your employees bare arms, legs, and maybe more than you want to see. Find out five tips you can you use to get everyone to dress appropriately in the warm weather.

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  • FLSA on High School Summer Interns and Volunteers

    Paying Summer Interns Less Than (or No) Minimum Wage

    It’s summer intern season, and you may be tempted to hire a high school or college student who will work for less than the minimum wage or even for “free.” But, the Department of Labor (DOL) has very specific requirements for unpaid interns and volunteers, and allows only certain employees to be paid a subminimum wage.

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  • Where Does NLRA Apply?

    Prohibiting Pay Discussion May Trigger NLRA Issues Q&A

    Discussing compensation is considered a “concerted activity” and is protected under the NLRA, so rules limiting employees from talking about their pay may violate that law. Find out what the NLRA protects and how you can address this sensitive issue.

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  • FLSA Compliance for Non-Work Time

    Non-Working Time: Do You Know When It Must Be Paid?

    You know that nonexempt employees must be paid for all hours they actually perform work. But what about time when they are not really working? The FLSA requires you to pay some of this time, too.

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  • Meal Breaks Required by Law to Employees

    Meal Breaks: Issues When Employees Work Through Q&A

    How should you deal with nonexempt employees who want to work through meal breaks to shorten their workdays? Should you allow this practice, or is it better to enforce your meal periods?

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  • COBRA Health Insurance Plan Update

    COBRA Qualification and Duration Revisited

    You have to provide employees and other qualified beneficiaries with between 18 and 36 months of health care continuation coverage under COBRA. Find out the proper duration of each qualifying event and how to handle multiple qualifying events.

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  • Employee Snow Day Policy

    Snow Days and Pay Q&A

    Do you know what your obligations are to employees who cannot get to work on bad weather days? See what attorney Robin Thomas has to say about your obligations snow day pay and what you can expect from your employees.

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  • Tax Bill’s Effect on Educational Assistance

    Tuition Assistance Addressed in Last Month’s Tax Bill

    In passing the tax bill last month, Congress voted to extend several Bush-era tax cuts, including one for employer-provided educational assistance. The following post tells how the tax code differentiates between educational assistance that is directly related to the job and assistance that is not job-related.

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  • Introductory Period of Employment

    Introductory Period of Employment Versus Probationary Period Q&A

    Employers that use the phrase “probationary period” to refer to their new employees’ first few months of work may find they have created enhanced job rights that they did not intend. Find out why you should use the term “introductory period” instead.

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  • Performing Employee Reference Checks

    5 Tips for Effective Reference Checks

    It often is what you don’t know about a job applicant that can hurt you. As an employer, you can make sure you know more about who you are hiring by performing a reference check for employees.

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  • Avoid Age Discrimination

    The Wiser Workers: Why You Should Avoid Age Discrimination

    There’s been a lot of media attention lately on the possible increase in the retirement age in the U.S. It’s an interesting issue to debate, as there are both merits and dangers to changing it. Either way, the consequences of potential changes to the legislation are of concern to what are typically referred to as “older workers.” Now if you go by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, older means 40 and above. As a fairly recent entrant into the above-40 crowd, I don’t much enjoy this definition.

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  • Employee Time Off for Voting

    Know Your Employees’ Voting Rights

    You should be prepared for employees to exercise their right to vote, and you need to know your obligations to support this right. Find out below what federal and state laws require employers to do.

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  • Rescinding Job Offers – Without Trouble

    Rescinding Job Offer Based on New Information Q&A

    Can you rescind a job offer if you find out new information about a candidate? For instance, can an employer rescind a job offer due to errors on applications? Learn what steps you can take to limit liability in this situation.

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  • Bullying in the Workplace

    Bullying in the Workplace: Will Your Workers Be Able To Sue You For Bullying?

    The word “bully” often conjures up images from the mid-1980’s classic Back to the Future in which mousey George McFly is hounded and humiliated by the Goliath-sized alpha male named Biff Tanner. I can still hear the taunting words of Biff echoing through the 1950’s cafeteria: “Hello McFly. Anybody home, McFly?” And who could help but cheer when George gets up the guts to sock Biff in the face at the high school sock hop? This quintessential form of bullying and other less overt forms of intimidation exist not only in the schoolyard but also in the workplace.

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  • Writing an Employee Termination Letter

    Writing an Employee Termination Letter: How Much to Include? Q&A

    Find out the pros and cons of putting your termination reasons in a written employee termination letter.

    Q: We want to provide employees who are terminated with a brief employee termination letter explaining our reasoning and informing them about administrative issues like COBRA and returning office keys. How much detail should be included about the reason for termination?

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  • FLSA Administrative Exemption

    Complying with the FLSA Administrative Exemption Q&A

    Are you in compliance with the FLSA administrative exemption regulations? Find out if your administrative assistants meet these very specific criteria.

    Q: We have an employee whose title is administrative assistant to the CEO. She is essential to the CEO and often works more than 40 hours a week. She is paid overtime as a nonexempt employee, but we are wondering if her job duties meet the criteria for the administrative exemption. What are the criteria?
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  • Bona Fide Occupational Qualification Standards

    BFOQ Defined: Can You Exclude Women from Certain Jobs?

    Can you claim a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) to exclude women from jobs that require heavy lifting or impose safety risks? In most cases, the answer is “probably not,” unless you want to face a law suit for discrimination against hiring women.
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  • Designation of FMLA Leave

    Make Medical Certifications Part of Your FMLA Process (Part 2 of 2)

    Medical certifications can help you determine whether FMLA leave is really needed and ensure that employee rights under FMLA leave are understood and their obligations met under the law.
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