What’s trending in human resources approaches, policies and good management practices.

March brackets may boost office morale, but consider how to minimize distractions

March Madness is upon us and you may have noticed the bustle around your office involving which teams made the tournament, filling out brackets and what time the games start.

While you may dread this time of year as a manager, you should know that a recent survey by OfficeTeam shows that this annual event may not be as detrimental to office productivity as we have traditionally thought.  The survey of 1,000 managers and 400 workers employed in office environments found that eleven percent of the managers said they find March Madness activities to be a welcome diversion stating that it can increase teamwork and boost morale.

Fifty-seven percent of the managers admitted that while they do not encourage March Madness activities in the workplace, they find said activities to be okay in moderation. The survey also found that only 1-in-5 employees are distracted at work by the inherent excitement that forms from watching major sports competitions.

While this is good news for employers, there can still be legal and human resources related issues surrounding the activities of the tournament.  Consider the following tips to help you capitalize on team building and minimize distractions:

  • Establish an office pool with no entry fee; this sends a clear message that the company does not encourage employee gambling but still allows them to participate in the fun.
  • Place a television or computer with Internet access in the lunch room to allow workers to catch up on scores during break times rather than at their desks.
  • Make sure your Internet-use policy is up-to-date; if your policy states that Internet access is for work-related purposes only, it may not hurt to remind employees of the policy before the tournament begins.
  • Offer a casual dress day in the office where employees are encouraged to wear T-shirts and sweatshirts to show the support of their favorite team.

Do you need help developing an Internet-use policy or are you looking for someone to handle your Human Resources questions and needs? Call BCN Services  at 1-800-891-9911 or contact us here.



Alicia Jester, Manager-Benefits and Payroll

Employers may send an employee home for minor illness or other reason

In all 50 states in the U.S., an employer has the right to ask a sick employee to go home.

Employers are under no obligation to allow a sick employee to stay on the job and infect their co-workers. In fact, an employer can send an employee home at any time for any reason, or without reason.  However, the employer must be careful that they do not engage in illegal discrimination against an employee based on race, color, sex, pregnancy, religion, national ancestry, or violate any written contracts.

A few examples or reasons an employer may send a worker home include:

  • There is little work for him or her to do.
  • The employee seems too ill to be productive.
  • The employer fears that the employee is contagious.
  • The employer has reason to believe that the employee is not physically fit for duty. In this case the employer may require a doctor’s release for the employee to return to work.

When an employer sends an hourly employee home, the employee must be paid for any time worked. There is no federal or state law requiring that the employee be paid for time not worked. An exempt employee who works a portion of the day must be paid his or her usual salary for the entire day, regardless of whether they have, or do not have sick leave or paid-time-off benefits.

Finally, employers must be aware that different rules apply if the employee has a permanent disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) or a serious health condition under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), rather than a minor illness.

The experts at BCN Services can offer guidance in specific employment situations.  Contact us at 734-994-4100 or toll free at 800-891-9911 or visit our website at www.www.bcnservices.com.

Lisandra Garrow, Partnership Manager


Employers should tread carefully when addressing social media use

Amazing advances in technology are allowing business owners and employees to become more efficient and productive. But these advances bring more and challenging employee issues that impact our businesses.

One of the newest and more complicated aspects that employers must consider is the ever-changing case law surrounding the growing phenomena of social media. Agencies that enact and enforce employment laws are scrambling to keep up and the courts are interpreting, creating laws and adjusting the way we handle these issues in our businesses.

Use of social media is continuing at an exponential rate, increasing not only with employees under the age of 30 but with employees over 50 as well. Social media use for those 50 and older increased from 22 percent in April 2009 to 42 percent in May of 2010 according to the Pew Research Center’s 2010 Report on Older Adults and Social Media.

As business owners and managers, there are ways to limit your liability surrounding this issue. Some examples of things you should consider:

  • Avoid using social media to investigate potential employees. Information discovered about potential employees from social media can leave you open to claims of discrimination for race, religion, national origin, disabilities and other protected class items as well as factors such as arrest records (which are being increasingly scrutinized under the current federal administration). Recently it has been reported that some employers or prospective employers have asked for or demanded access to potential employees’ Facebook passwords in order to view their activities online. Government intervention in this matter has been swift, with legislation introduced and passed to prohibit this practice.
  • Avoid disciplining or terminating employees for complaining about the company or their manager on social media sites.Under the National Labor Relations Act, employees have the legal right to discuss (or complain about) their wages, hours and working conditions publicly. Disciplining or terminating employees for these activities can result in unfair labor practice charges for you even if you are a non-union employer! Additionally, if you terminate an employee for expressing an opinion, you could be required to return the employee to work with full back pay. As always, it is important to keep an open-door policy to allow your employees to share concerns with you rather than posting them online.
  • Don’t allow managers to respond to requests for employee or professional references via LinkedIn or other social media sites. References should always go through the formal request process under company policy.
  • Be proactive and put a social media policy in place if you do not already have one. There are a number of items that you can include in your policy. A sampling would include:
    • Prohibit employees from using company computers to post to social media.
    • Inform the employees that they are not allowed to speak for or represent the company on social media sites without written approval of the company.
    • Prohibit comments that threaten demean, discriminate or harass any employee, associate, or customers of the company.
    • Don’t allow employees to use the company name, logo, photos of company products, photos of employees or customers or photos of company property in social media postings.
    • Don’t allow employees to link to the company website from their social media postings.
    • Train employees on the social media policy.

BCN Services is diligent in monitoring the ever-changing employment law landscape in order to keep our clients compliant. As always, we are here to answer your questions or assist you with any questions, concerns or issues you may have. Call or contact us here.

Jeff Walsh (200x190)

Jeff Walsh, Partnership Manager