New trend prohibits employers from asking prospective hires about wages

The City of Philadelphia recently amended its fair practices and discrimination ordinance, prohibiting employers from requesting or requiring applicants to disclose wage history during the recruiting and hiring process.  This includes asking about any form of compensation or benefits and the ordinance also prohibits employers for retaliating against an applicant for failing to comply with such an inquiry.

The amendment to “The Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance” was signed into law in January and takes effect on May 23, 2017. Philadelphia follows the lead of the state of Massachusetts, which last August became the first state in the country to enact a law prohibiting employers from asking about a prospective employee’s wage history.

Laws like these appear to be a trend and a likely path to where employment laws and employment practices are headed.  As employers, it’s important to be ready to adjust your practices to be appropriate and compliant with all laws, whether federal, state or local.

The basis for the law is important.  The goal is fair pay, with a specific focus on narrowing the gender wage gap.  The law’s proponents suggest that pay should be based on the position, not on the applicant’s previous arrangement. Based upon this trend, if your practice has been to ask about an applicant’s wage history, consider focusing primarily on the value the position has to your company as the basis for your salary offers.  Some other actions to consider:

  • Remove questions on your applications relating to an applicant’s wage history
  • Train your staff to ensure they don’t ask these sorts of questions during the interview

If you have questions about your company’s policies as it relates to the hiring and interview process, the experts at BCN Services can assist. Contact us anytime for help.

 

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Trisha Crigger, HR Generalist

Workplace-appropriate Valentine-themed events can boost morale

Although we typically think of Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday, it can be one of camaraderie and team-building in the workplace.  This week we expound on some fun facts and offer ideas for you to create a celebration of your own.

Fun Fact #1: 220,000 is the average number of wedding proposals on Valentine’s Day each year.

Even though Valentine’s Day is typically celebrated between sweethearts, why not bring this sweet celebration into the workplace to boost morale and show employees your appreciation during that mid-February Winter funk.

Fun Fact #2: Did you know that about 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year?  This makes it the second-largest seasonal card sending time of the year.

Remember the excitement you felt when exchanging Valentine’s day cards at school?  Why not consider an old-fashioned card exchange in the workplace?  Ask everyone to bring a work-appropriate Valentine’s Day card for each of their teammates and you can even create mailboxes for your employees out of paper bags or shoe boxes to put them in.

Fun Fact #3: Although perhaps old-fashioned y today’s standards, girls in medieval times ate bizarre foods on Saint Valentine’s Day to make them dream of their future spouses.

How about hosting a Valentine’s day potluck (no bizarre food allowed)? Ask employees to bring Valentine’s Day themed dishes such as heart-shaped casseroles, cakes, cookies, pizza, etc. Use red decorations and encourage attendees to wear red clothing and accessories. Get creative and award prizes for the most festive red outfit, most unexpected red food, the tastiest dish, etc.

Fun Fact #4:  More than $1 billion worth of chocolate is purchased for Valentine’s Day in the U.S.

Who doesn’t like free chocolate? Fill a large glass vase or candy jar with foil wrapped Hershey’s kisses or other small candies.  During the week, ask employees to submit their guess for the number of kisses in the jar (post contest rules on the front of the jar).  The employee who gets closest to the actual number wins.  Movie theater tickets, a box of Godiva or other specialty chocolates, dinner for two at a great restaurant, or a bouquet of red roses could be prizes awarded.

Fun Fact #5:  More than 35 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate will be sold for Valentine’s Day.

Since February is American Heart Month, Valentine’s Day is a great reminder to focus on heart health for employees. Get active: take the team roller skating, hiking or just be silly and have a hula hoop contest and see who can hula hoop for the longest time. Start a healthy recipe exchange or invite a local nutritionist to come into the workplace and provide a seminar on cooking healthy foods. Hire a massage therapist to come on-site for a few hours each week for an afternoon to give free 10-minute shoulder, back and neck massages.

Using these ideas may just make this Valentine’s Day a day to remember!

Fun Facts provided by list25.com

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Lisandra Garrow, HR Generalist

Trump’s Executive Order, immigration, and the how it affects employers

On Friday, January 27, 2017, US President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”

The Executive Order does the following:

  • Suspends entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days.
  • Bars Syrian refugees indefinitely.
  • Blocks entry into the US for 90 days (until 4/27/17) for individuals from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. The ban applies to individuals with both visitor visas (B-1/B-2) and work visas (H-1B, L-1, O-1).

Naturalized U.S. citizens from the seven designated countries, as well as permanent residents with Green Cards will not be banned from entering the U.S.  Individuals who are not citizens of the designated countries but are residents of, or have strong ties to any of the countries, will be banned from entering the US.  This includes citizens of the designated countries who hold dual-citizenship with another country.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has also been ordered to suspend processing of all immigration benefit applications filed by or on behalf of nationals of the seven countries.

Wide-ranging implications for Employers

This order has wide-ranging implications for employers who employ Visa or Green Card holders from one of the designated countries.  While a small number of Visas are exempt from the executive order (including diplomatic Visas, North Atlantic Treaty Org. Visas, C-2 Visas, and G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4 Visas), most Visas, including the common H1-B, L-1, and F-1 Visas, are covered by the order.

Employees from one of the designated countries who hold Visas covered included in the order will likely have difficulty entering/re-entering the U.S. while the order is in effect. Though not technically included in the order, Green Card holders may be subject to heightened scrutiny when re-entering the country.

Suggested Employer actions:

  • Cancel international travel for at least 90 days by employees or individuals doing business with your company who will be subject to the travel ban
  • Identify pending requests for immigration benefits on behalf of individuals from one of the designated countries in order to assess the implications of the apparent suspension in the processing of those petitions or applications
  • Prepare for potential disruption with service providers whose employees may be impacted by the EO

Remember your legal obligations

Be aware that federal employment laws still prohibit discrimination based on national origin, religion, and citizenship status. Be careful about taking action based on the President’s executive order that may be perceived as averse to current employees located in the U.S.  Employers should not ask for additional documentation from employees who may be affected by the President’s order (unless it’s regarding a Visa status close to expiring), as doing so may be cited as evidence of citizenship discrimination.

Be sensitive to possible claims of harassment or discrimination in the workplace that might arise from heightened tensions between employees or as a result of affected employees feeling targeted or singled out.

Expect Further Developments

President Trump’s order provides for additional countries to be added to the list of those with prohibited entry and provides that a Presidential proclamation will be issued in the near future prohibiting the entry of foreign nationals from a list of specified countries.

At the same time, further legal challenges to the order are anticipated and additional guidance and clarifications are expected. In addition, a draft Executive Order is under consideration that would subject the H1-B program and other immigration policies and procedures to further review.

BCN Services will stay abreast of additional information about this Executive Order and others to come and will help your business interpret any federal rules, policies and legislation. Contact us if we can answer questions or offer additional guidance.

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Thomas Moore, Partnership Manager