Be prepared for new federal rules governing overtime exemption

The U.S. Department of Labor has finalized its recommendations for revisions to the laws governing employees considered exempt from overtime. These recommendations have been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget and are expected to be substantial changes to the current law. The goal of the recommendations is to significantly increase the number of employees eligible for overtime.

Currently, employees are considered exempt from overtime under these situations:

1. Employees must be paid a salary of at least $455 per week to qualify as exempt form overtime (time and one-half for any hours worked over 40 in a pay week).
2. Job duties must include factors such as:
a. The employee must have significant influence in decisions of hiring or firing.
b. The manager should have significant authority to make decisions on matters that affect the operations of the business.
c. A significant portion of the manager’s time must be spent “managing” the business. Management responsibilities should not be incidental to the employee’s work.

The proposed rules are expected to increase the minimum salary to as much as $900 per week or more. This is a significant increase that could affect the bottom line for many companies.

Additionally, the factors the DOL uses when determining if an employee is exempt (called the duties test,) are expected to change as well. The new duties test is expected to include hard-and-fast rules requiring exempt employees to spend at least 50 percent of their time executing management or administrative duties.

Time spent in “exempt” functions is not the only consideration when determining exempt status. Other considerations include:
• The relative importance of the executive duties as compared with other types of duties
• His or her relative freedom from supervision
• The fact that his or her salary is greater than the wages paid to other employees for the type of nonexempt work performed by the executive/manager

Expect to see significant publicity once the final rules are announced. They could potentially affect millions of employees. The DOL has begun using its website to publicize new rules and laws, even creating downloadable phone apps to assist employees in calculating their overtime. The new requirements will likely be front page news on websites, social media sites and television news. Employees will become aware of the changes quickly.

With significant changes to the rules for overtime exemption, it is imperative that employers conduct an audit of their current exempt employees, correct any misclassifications, pay for any unpaid overtime and be prepared to make necessary changes to remain in compliance of the new rules.

As always, BCN stands ready to assist you in evaluating your exempt employee’s status. Please contact your Partnership Manager to assist in a review of your current employees’ status and to prepare to make changes as required by any new rules or laws.

 

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Jeff Walsh, Partnership Manager

Expect respect: Encourage staff, listen to co-workers

Every human being, of whatever origin, of whatever station, deserves respect. We must each respect others even as we respect ourselves.–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Respect: Everybody needs it and wants it.
But what is respect? And, how is it demonstrated at work?

There are simple, yet powerful, ways to demonstrate respect in the workplace. The following ideas will help you avoid needless and insensitive approaches and can avoid problems when employees disrespect each other without having that intent.
• Treat people with courtesy, politeness, and kindness.
• Encourage co-workers to express opinions and ideas.
• Listen to what others have to say before expressing your viewpoint. Never speak over, butt in, or cut off another person.
• Use people’s ideas to change or improve work. Let employees know you used their idea, or, better yet, encourage the person with the idea to implement the idea.
• Never insult people, name call, disparage or put down people or their ideas.
• Do not nitpick, constantly criticize little things, belittle, judge, demean or patronize. A series of seemingly trivial actions, added up over time, constitutes bullying.
• Treat people the same no matter their race, religion, gender, size, age, or country of origin. Implement policies and procedures consistently so people are treated fairly and equally. Such policies will ensure that they feel that way. Treating people differently can constitute harassment or a hostile work environment.
• Include all co-workers in meetings, discussions, training, and events. While not every person can participate in every activity, do not marginalize, exclude or leave anyone out. Solicit volunteers and try to involve every volunteer.
• Praise more frequently than you criticize. Encourage praise and recognition from employee-to-employee as well as from supervisors.
• Remember that the golden rule does apply at work: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

There are many other ways to demonstrate respect at work, but these 10 constitute a solid foundation. If implemented consistently at work, these actions can help ensure a respectful, considerate, professional workplace.

Do you need advice on how to improve your workplace culture or environment? Call the specialists at BCN to assist you. Visit bcnservices.com or call us toll-free at 800-891-9911 or email hr@bcnservices.com

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Lisandra Quinones, Human Resource Administrator

Take steps to ensure that reviews are positive and beneficial

Employee performance reviews are traditionally a part of the workplace that almost everyone fears. But if utilized as a tool and an interactive process, both employee and employer will benefit.

Evaluations are important for the company, management and employees. They can be an opportunity to collaborate and foster a healthier and happier relationship. We suggest having performance reviews that focus on areas in which employees are both competent and interested. Employers then can consider adjusting the employee’s assignments to those areas of interest.

Supervisors should focus on forward progression rather than last year’s struggles. When it is necessary, offering criticism shouldn’t be avoided. However, approaching the conversation with employees as an interactive discussion that focuses on progress is more beneficial. The discussion of what an employee does well, versus what the employee needs to work on, will help shift employees’ perspectives of performance reviews so they feel encouraged and supported.

In addition, when employees are held accountable, they are more likely to perform better. Performance reviews reiterate this accountability, as well as the goals and vision of the company.

Some basic guidelines supervisors should follow:

• The evaluation should take place in a location that is private and away from interruption
• Employees should have a clear understanding of their responsibilities
• Start by being positive and acknowledging accomplishments
• Highlight what you value and appreciate about the employee
• Move to discussion of areas that require improvement
• If you are going to criticize, make sure to have specific suggestions for improvement that are measurable
• Encourage the employee’s feedback, such as asking if there is something you can do to help them be successful
• End with a plan including action steps to be taken towards the goals discussed in the session

Fewer than half of workers find performance reviews to be useful. The key to changing this perspective is for employers to approach the review positively and focused on progress.

Excellent work from employees will result from constructive feedback and a support system that offers encouragement. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about performance reviews, please contact your BCN Partnership Manager at 800-891-9911or visit BCN Services on the web at http://www.bcnservices.com.

 

 

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Kateyln Walzbecker, Partnership Manager

Resources:
Society for Human Resource Management: http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/employeerelations/articles/pages/annua…
Boomer Consulting: http://www.boomer.com/blogpost/765921/145881/Look-Forward-to-Your-Perfor…
HRMorning.comhttp://www.hrmorning.com/dos-and-donts-to-make-performance-reviews-actua…

Getting through the summer vacation season

Everyone looks forward to time away from the office, but according to recent surveys, a remarkable number of Americans are not taking time off that is given to them. Paid time off, vacation and sick time are typically included in the benefits package that an employer offers and something that employees should be embracing.

The work-life balance is extremely important and there are tips and things to consider that will help everyone get through the summer months.

According to a Glassdoor study of 2,300 workers published in October 2014; only 51 percent of eligible PTO/Vacation time was used. The study went on to say that 61 percent of Americans work while they are on vacation. One in 4 employees are contacted by a colleague while on vacation, and 1 in 5 employees are contacted by their boss.

American workers receive an average of 10 paid work days off per year and 6 paid federal holidays, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. From these numbers, we can see that employees are not taking the time off that they can, and when they do, they do something work-related while on their time off.

Employers don’t want their staff to become burned out or overworked. Here are some suggestions for how to help employees achieve a healthy work-life balance:
• Offer flexible working hours
• Offer a PTO bank instead of traditional paid sick leave, personal days and vacation
• Allow limited carry-over of PTO into another calendar year
• As a manager or supervisor, be a model of work-life balance
• Don’t contact other employees while they are away on vacation or personal time
• Sponsor employee events to boost morale
• Consider job sharing (one full-time position can be shared by two part-timers).

While it is important to encourage employees to take time off, it is also important to maintain productivity. Summer can sometimes be tough for businesses dealing with staff shortages during these prime vacation months.
Here are suggestions for how to keep the momentum going:
• Put employee vacation schedules into one master schedule for the group to view
• Outline with the group what needs to be done before and during each person’s time off
• Have a coverage schedule arranged for each vacation
• Balance the extra workload among multiple employees instead of just one or two
• Consider hiring summer interns to help with smaller tasks such as filing

Summer can be an exciting time but also a stressful time for employers. Preparation and good communication can turn it into a very productive working season.

 

Kari Stanley

Kari Stanley, HR Generalist