More states, cities, and counties enact ‘ban-the-box’ laws

There are now 13 states and 66 cities restricting employers from inquiring about an applicant’s previous criminal background on job applications.

Most recently, the District of Columbia, Illinois, and New Jersey have passed “ban-the-box” laws.  Ban the box references the check box found on employment applications that asks an applicant if he or she has ever been convicted of a crime.

A common misconception is that if an employer removes the check box, they are abiding by the law.  The law more specifically restricts employers from asking applicants about their background until an interview or conditional job offer has been made to the applicant.

No two laws are exactly the same. Each state, county and city that has enacted the law has different restrictions and criteria. For some states, the law is for only for public sector employers.  It is important to check the law in each city or state that impacts your company.

The 13 states with statewide ban-the-box laws as of September 2014 include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island and also Washington D.C.  States that have not enacted such a law may have restrictions on how and when background checks can be conducted or may have cities or counties with laws affecting businesses in their jurisdictions.

If you have additional questions about ban-the-box policies in various state, city and/or county or other HR matters, please contact your BCN Services Partnership Manager:

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Kateyln Walzbecker, Partnership Manager

A strong safety culture has big impact on reducing workplace accidents

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), developing a strong safety culture has the single greatest impact on accident reduction of any workplace practice. That is why this in your workplace should always be a top priority for managers and supervisors in your organization.

What is a Safety Culture?

A safety culture consists of shared beliefs, practices and mindsets that exist at an organization and form an atmosphere of attitudes that shape behavior in a positive way. An organization’s safety culture is a direct result of the following factors:

  • Management and employee norms, assumptions and beliefs
  • Management and employee attitudes
  • Values, myths and stories
  • Policies and procedures
  • Supervisor priorities, responsibilities and accountability
  • Production and bottom-line pressure versus quality issues
  • Actions, or lack thereof, to correct unsafe behaviors
  • Employee training and motivation
  • Employee involvement and buy-in to the process

Four simple steps will ensure this type of work environment. Making these changes will save you money and increase your staff’s productivity:

  1. Total management buy-in and leadership.  Without the top brass believing in safety, there will be no employee involvement.  That’s up to you.
  2. Complete a worksite analysis.  BCN Services can perform such an analysis free of charge at your place of business that will establish a baseline and allow you to measure future improvements.
  3. Hazard prevention and control.  BCN Services will help you identify hazards that may be corrected in one of three ways:  Engineering controls, administrative controls or the use of personal protective equipment.
  4. Ongoing, individualized training.  BCN Services has more than 250 on-line safety courses available to you, covering a vast range of industries, environments, topics, and issues that are all OSHA compliant.  We will design and create a specialized library of online courses just for you at no charge.

Please contract Patrick Boeheim at 800-891-9911, ext. 108, to arrange a time for a productive and informative “safety walk-through” (See Step No. 2 above).  Let us also help you with.  We would be excited to show you the special services available.  At BCN Services, we are here to support your efforts at starting and maintaining a strong safety culture.

 

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Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager

Back-to-school season benefits employees as well as kids

It’s that time of year.  The days are getting shorter and cooler.  We’re sending our kids back to school, but what about our employees?

September is not typically the time of year that companies start new initiatives or take on additional expenses, but there are many continuing education opportunities available to employees in the fall, and business owners would do well to take note.

Whether you want to have a new manager trained, certify your professional staff, or simply learn more about the latest and greatest trends in your field, there are training options out there for your employees and for you .

Community Colleges
Many colleges and universities offer targeted training opportunities.  Whether you or your employee are working toward a degree, a professional certification or simply have an interest in a specific topic, most colleges and universities accommodate working schedules including offering evening and weekend classes at convenient times.

Seminars/Webinars
Both professional associations and independent training academies offer a wide variety of both on-site seminars and on-line webinars.  Whether you want your Project Manager to improve his organizational skills or your Administrative Assistant to have a stronger Excel base, business seminars may be a cost-effective alternative to a collegiate classroom.

BCN University
Have a new manager – or a manager that needs to brush up on her people skills?  Consider BCN’s Learning Management System for self-study sessions on a variety of topics including “Conflict Management,”  “Be an Effective Manager” or “Dealing with Difficult Workplace Behaviors.”

Have a need for targeted safety training?  “Hazard Communication,”  “Forklift Safety,” “ Blood-borne Pathogens” and many others can be found in our safety library which is available to BCN Services clients at no additional cost.

As always, the BCN Services Human Resources team is available to discuss specific situations in your workplace and help guide you with any and all employee matters, including training. Contact us at 800-891-9911 or visit us at www.bcnservices.com.

 

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Sue Kester, HR Manager