Bring Your Own Device: Consider a policy before allowing personal tech in the workplace

Employers need to carefully consider the pros and cons before instituting a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) to work policy, which can include laptops, tablets and smartphones. Once decided, employers should clearly communicate their policy to employees. Asking, or allowing, employees to bring their own devices into the workplace can keep company costs down, but it also raises many questions and concerns regarding legal compliance and security. Consider these advantages – and disadvantages.

Advantages

  • Most employees seem happiest using the mobile devices they prefer and are most comfortable using their own, preferring not to switch to a company issued device.
  • As technology constantly changes – and individuals love to get the latest and greatest – personal devices are usually more up-to-date than those issued by the company’s IT Department.
  • Individuals spend many “off-work” hours on their personal devices. When they are checking social media and personal email, that often means they are checking work email too. Employers can expect an increase in employee productivity when an employee’s ability to “work” is with them and in their hands even during leisure hours.
  • Employees take more initiative and responsibility in maintaining and keeping track of their own devices. This means less stress and strain on IT.

Disadvantages – Security, security and security

  • Whether your employee is an account representative, a warehouse supervisor or a portfolio manager, chances are that they have access to company information that you don’t want to be lost, stolen, or accessed by unauthorized individuals.
  • Malware, viruses and fake apps may still be a problem on your IT department’s “to do” list if employees have tech problems and are unable to work from their device.
  • In a work environment where employees use their cell phones at their desks, in meetings, and walking down the hall, it’s virtually impossible to tell how much non-productive personal time is happening at work.

So, do advantages outweigh the disadvantages? Your executive management team will have to make that decision based on your specific workplace needs.

At a minimum, all personal devices should require a password for access, have anti-spyware and anti-virus software installed, and use an approved operating system to access corporate resources. A policy with specific “Dos and Don’ts” is also highly recommended.

If you – or your employees – have already adopted a BYOD practice, be sure to get your policy in place. The BCN professional staff can assist you with sample policies or with customizing a policy to your specific needs.

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Marcus Merillat, IT Manager

Workers’ compensation: Here are 15 warning signs of potential fraud

The workers’ compensation insurance system is a no-fault method of paying workers for medical expenses and wage losses due to on-the-job injuries. While the majority of claims are legitimate, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that billions of dollars of false claims are submitted each year.

To help you detect possible workers’ comp fraud, experience shows a claim may be fraudulent if two or more of the following factors are present:

  1. Monday Morning: The alleged injury occurs either “first thing Monday morning,” or late on a Friday afternoon but not reported until Monday.
  2. Employment Change: The reported accident occurs immediately before or after a layoff, the end of a big project or at the conclusion of seasonal work.
  3. Job Termination: If an employee files a post-termination claim:
    • Was the alleged injury reported by the employee prior to termination?
    • Did the employee exhaust his/her unemployment benefits prior to claiming workers’ compensation benefits?
  4. History of Changes: The claimant has a history of frequently changing physicians, addresses and places of employment.
  5. Medical History: The employee has a pre-existing medical condition that is similar to the alleged work injury.
  6. No Witnesses: The accident causing the injury has no witnesses, and the employee’s own description does not logically support the cause of injury.
  7. Conflicting Descriptions: The employee’s description of the accident conflicts with the medical history or First Report of Injury.
  8. History of Claims: The claimant has a history of numerous suspicious or litigated claims.
  9. Treatment is Refused: The claimant refuses a diagnostic procedure requested by the employer to confirm the nature or extent of an injury.
  10. Late Reporting: The employee delays reporting the claim without a reasonable explanation.
  11. Hard to Reach: You have difficulty contacting a claimant at home, when he/she is allegedly disabled.
  12. Moonlighting: Does the employee have another paying job or do volunteer work?
  13. Unusual Coincidence: There is an unusual coincidence between the employee’s alleged date of injury and his/her need for personal time off.
  14. Financial Problems: The employee has tried to borrow money from co-workers or the company, or requested pay advances.
  15. Hobbies: The employee has a hobby that could cause an injury similar to the alleged work injury.

As mentioned above, most claims are truthful, but BCN Services and our partner insurance carriers keep our eyes and ears open to each of these factors throughout the life of a workers’ comp claim. If you have concerns when an injury is reported, please let us know as that information will be factored into the decision-making process for the claim. If new or different information emerges “down the road” it is important we know so it, too, can be acted upon.

The experts at BCN Services are here to guide you in workers’ compensation and other HR matters, as it relates to workplace situations. Call on us if we can offer guidance or answer questions about your workplace injuries or benefits.

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Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager

Be aware of I-9 compliance and follow the rules to avoid audits

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, recently announced that it is planning a nationwide increase of Form I-9 audits this summer. Additionally, the agency will continue to pursue criminal cases against employers and the deportation of employees who are in the United States illegally.

For fiscal year 2018, the agency has dramatically increased worksite investigations and I-9 audits, resulting in 594 criminal and 610 administrative worksite-related arrests.

In an effort to keep employers up-to-date on this topic, following are some tips for I-9 compliance:

Make sure you are using the most updated version of the form

The I-9 form is updated from time-to-time. To be compliant, an employee and employer must complete the most up-to-date version or they risk fines for each incorrect form that has been completed and submitted. The most current version of the I-9 form shows OMB No. 1615-0047 and expiration date of 8/31/2019 in the upper right-hand corner.

Adhere to signing timelines

Section 1 of the I-9 form must be completed by the employee “at the time of hire.” This is defined as starting when the employee accepts the job offer through the end of the employee’s first day of active employment. This means if your new hire is completing the I-9 form the week after his or her first day, it is not in compliance with the law.

Section 2 of the form must be completed by the employer within 3 business days of the date of hire (defined as the employee’s first day of active work).

Provide employees with the instruction document and List of Acceptable Documents

The I-9 form has a 15-page instruction document as well as a List of Acceptable Documents. Both of these items must be made available to employees as they complete Section 1 of the form. This may be provided either in print or electronically.

Documentation must be presented in original form and unexpired

Employees must present, in person, original forms of identification used to verify identity and employment eligibility. These must be presented to the company representative who will complete Section 2 of the I-9 form. The documentation must be inspected for authenticity; if the company representative feels the document does not reasonably appear to be genuine or does not relate to the employee, the representative may reject the document and ask the employee to provide another document to satisfy requirements.

As a reminder, the employer may not specify the types of documents that can be used to validate identity and eligibility to work. This means that an employer should not say, “Please bring your driver’s license and Social Security card on your first day to complete the I-9.” Any documentation presented within List of Acceptable Documents may be used.

BCN Services can assist your business with proper form completion as well as audit preparation and response. Please contact us at 1-800-891-9911 with questions or if you need assistance.

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Alicia Freeman, Operations Manager

Employers walk a fine line when personal life interferes with work

Because employees spend so much time together, it is sometimes difficult to keep their personal and work lives separate. It isn’t uncommon for co-workers to become friends and to spend time together outside of work. These relationships sometimes invite gossip and workplace drama, so what can an employer do when personal relationships affect the performance and culture within a company?

Here are a few examples of situations that may prompt concern or cause employees to focus on things other than their work tasks:

  • Jim and Betty, coworkers, have dated in the past and then parted amicably. However, now that Jim is dating another co-worker, things don’t seem quite so agreeable between them.
  • Amy and Cara became friends at work and decided to move in together to share expenses. Their personal squabbles about dishes in the sink, overnight guests and splitting expenses are affecting the workplace as colleagues are asked for opinions and are taking sides.
  • Jessica called in sick for her shift on Wednesday, but posted pictures from a concert on Facebook. Her coworker, Robin, saw the post and let Jessica’s supervisor know about it. Now Jessica’s supervisor isn’t sure what action she can take.

What can an employer do in these situations?

First of all, an employer needs to make sure action is taken only on matters that pertain to workplace performance. In the first case, the employer may want to evaluate Jim’s ability as a manager and have Betty report to someone else within the company, if their relationship is becoming a problem or conflict of interest. Gossip itself can be actionable if it becomes harassment.

Another thing to consider is involving a third party in coaching counseling and discipline. Even when addressing performance only, it can be hard for a manager or supervisor to completely separate from workplace gossip and personal feelings.

Another way to help facilitate a change in the workplace environment is to let employees know when their hard work is appreciated and offer incentives for good performance. An encouraging and uplifting policy may remove the focus from the gossip and drama to something more meaningful. This may also be a good time to evaluate the employee goal-setting process and give the employees something to focus on, other than each other. Also, create workplace policies that discourage gossip.

Educate employees on how harmful workplace drama can be, and confront employees that appear to be “stirring the pot” or creating an uncomfortable work environment for others.

Workplace friendships and other connections are unavoidable, but drama and gossip is not a necessary part of running a business. By encouraging professional behavior and minimizing conflicts of interest, employees are better able to blend their personal and work lives.

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Kari Stanley, Human Resources Customer Care Supervisor