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Social media—it’s everywhere HR turns. In a recent BLR/HRHero-sponsored webinar, Patricia Trainor and Stephen Bruce, Ph.D., identified eight tentacles that you need to watch out for.
Attorney Trainor is BLR’s senior managing editor, HR; Bruce is editor of the HR Daily Advisor. (BLR is CER’s parent company.)
Tentacle #1—Sourcing and Recruiting with Social Media
It’s clear that social media is rising as a method of recruiting, and some employers are enjoying great success.
However, when you use only one source for finding candidates, there’s always the danger of discrimination charges, especially if protected groups aren’t well represented.
Whatever method you use for sourcing, be consistent in how you treat applicants, resumes, application forms, and interviews.
Tentacle #2—Background Checks on Social Media Sites
There are strong arguments for and against doing these checks, but if you choose to do them, there are ways to minimize your exposure.
The Position Against
First, the position against doing the checks—you’ll find out things you don’t want to know. For example:
Ultimately, the fact that you know this information can work against you in a discrimination lawsuit. As they say, you can’t unring the bell.
Social Media for California Employers: How to Reap the Benefits and Avoid the Risks—exclusively at this fall’s California Employment Law Update conference. Learn more.
The Position For
The position for doing social media background checks—if you don’t do the check, you won’t find out things you do want to know (for example, tendency to violence, racial attitudes, or extreme behavior).
Furthermore, if you don’t do the check, it could lead to a charge of negligent hiring.
And here are a couple of related issues.
First of all, FCRA—the Fair Credit Reporting Act. As you know, if you involve a third party in doing your background check, you’ll need to comply with FCRA’s notification rules.
Another issue is passwords. States are starting to pass laws restricting employers from asking for user names/passwords. Most experts recommend against this anyway.
Site access rules are another danger zone. Sites have access rules that you shouldn’t violate when trying to enter. For example, you shouldn’t try to go in under a false or made-up name or under any false pretenses.
So what should you do?
One solution, of course, is don’t do these checks. But that’s going to be hard to maintain.
If you do check, here are two things you can do that will minimize your exposure.
First, filter—that is, have someone else do the check and filter out unwanted information before reporting to you. You could use an outside firm or use an inside person not in the hiring chain.
Inside or outside, you should provide a list of what you want checked and what you want reported and then be consistent in applying your guidelines.
The second thing you can do is to limit the check to finalists only. By that time, you’ve probably interviewed the person, and you typically know all demographic information like age, race, and gender.
Whatever you decide, train your hiring managers.
Tentacle #3—Productivity Issues
The problem of employees wasting time by overusing social media at work is simply a policy/discipline issue. Plainly put, you can insist that employees work during working hours, and you can discipline them when they don’t.
Unfortunately, as a practical matter, it’s difficult to forbid all social media activity while at work. Employees have not only their work computers but also their smartphones and tablets.
So set your expectations—and then when there is a problem, go ahead and discipline. If you don’t act, you are condoning the behavior. And by the way, all the other employees are watching to see whether you act or not.
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Tentacle #4—Inappropriate Actions Toward Coworkers
These actions can consist of
These actions must be dealt with just as you would if they were on paper or in person. Initiate an investigation and take appropriate actions if the investigation reveals that the actions were contrary to company policy.
In tomorrow’s CED, more social media tentacles.
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If you have a nondiscretionary bonus plan that is awarded to nonexempt employees at intervals greater than each week (for example, on a quarterly, semiannual, or annual basis), you are required to retroactively calculate the bonus into the employee's "regular rate" of pay.
You’re also required to pay additional overtime and double-time wages to include the bonus amount for each overtime and double-time hour worked.
But how to go about this? Our free White Paper Paying Overtime on Bonuses: A Calculation Guide explains, step by step, how to do the math for both incentive-based and non-incentive-based bonuses.
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Remember, it’s Free Report Friday—get your copy of Paying Overtime on Bonuses: A Calculation Guide absolutely free.
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Yesterday’s CED detailed a highly significant report by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) on the importance of supervisors to business.
In a word, they’re critical.
As frontline managers, where the work is actually done, they can either drive productivity or drag it down, the report said. Supervisors have the same power when it comes to retention, no small matter these days. And when grievances or complaints are filed, you can often trace them to supervisory behavior.
What’s the answer? Training and development, says NAPA, even to the same level as you’d train executives. Because, to the folks on the bottom rungs of your organization, supervisors are executives.
But there are some things even the most experienced supervisors should refuse to touch with a 10-foot pole before talking with you in the HR department. Harassment complaints. Disability accommodation requests. Lawsuit threats.
The key question boils down to this: Do your supervisors know what to handle, and what to hand off to HR?
You won’t want to miss our informative, California-specific webinar next week. And bring your supervisors along, too.
Handle or Hand Off? Train Your Supervisors to Head Off Imminent Threats and Loop in HR When Necessary
Monday, May 20, 2013
10:30 a.m. to Noon Pacific
The supervisors on your staff should have a decent working knowledge of human resources best practices—what they can do, what they can’t do, what they should and shouldn’t say. But there’s a fine line between knowing enough, and knowing just enough to be dangerous.
When supervisors “play HR,” they can leave companies vulnerable to embarrassing and costly legal action. This is particularly true when garden-variety issues escalate into more complex territory—especially in California, where the rules are particularly complicated and employee-friendly.
No matter how knowledgeable your supervisors may be, there's always a point at which HR should be brought in. The key is knowing when.
Don't miss our informative webinar on May 20, this coming Monday—and bring your supervisors along, too!—when our expert explains what your supervisors should handle and what they should hand off to HR.
Don’t miss it—sign up today and claim your spot!
Download your free copy of Training Your New Supervisors: 11 Practical Lessons today!
Supervisors are the most important factor in a work unit's performance, says HR trainer Steve Oppermann. They are the driving force that brings excellence—or the dragging force that guarantees mediocrity.
Are your supervisors driving your organization or putting a drag on it?
Even a small supervisory deficiency can result in billions in losses, says Oppermann, an experienced manager, consultant, and trainer. Blogging on the website FedSmith.com, he discussed a report from the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) about the "Price of Poor Supervision."
The NAPA report suggests that three key problems develop when supervision is poor:
1. Job performance suffers. As the managers in charge on the frontlines, where the work actually gets done, supervisors are critical to mission accomplishment. The NAPA report concludes that supervisors may be the most important factor in their individual work units’ productivity.
Forget "may," Oppermann says, supervisors ARE the most important factor. When supervision is poor, performance lags and productivity drops off dramatically.
2. Poor supervision drives good employees away. Ever heard the saying, "Employees don't leave companies, they leave managers and supervisors"? If you've got poor supervisors, you've got a built-in “antiretention” tool in your workplace, says Oppermann. All your morale-boosting efforts combined can't blunt the effect of poor supervision.
Watch closely how your supervisors use power, suggests Oppermann. That's a good sign of how well they are doing. (If you discount or downplay supervisor assessments, he notes, you're leaving the door wide open for the "Boss from Hell.")
Do your supervisors know what to handle themselves and what to hand off to HR? They will if they attend our in-depth webinar next Monday. Learn more.
Even if bad supervisors don't actually drive people to leave, there are still problems. Studies have linked employee mental health to the relationship with the boss. One study suggests that rapport with the boss largely predicts incidence of depression and other psychiatric problems. There goes productivity again.
3. Problems that require or attract third-party intervention increase. Supervisory behavior impacts the number of grievances and complaints filed by employees, internal and external. As HR managers know too well, the cost of resolving these issues can be very significant.
What to Do
Executives should consider their supervisory cadre as a driving force for organizational outcomes. "While there are costs involved in starting and maintaining programs to strengthen the performance of supervisors, they pale in comparison to the price paid for inaction," says the NAPA report.
Some recommendations for employers from NAPA:
Tomorrow—an invitation to a webinar next week you and your supervisors won’t want to miss.
When administering a PTO policy in California, it’s important to understand how the law treats the accrued days in the PTO bank. This matters for California employers since accrued vacation days are treated as accrued wages and must be paid out upon termination. As such, the same rules apply to any PTO time that is the legal equivalent of vacation time.
"If the employee can take the time off without condition, it is vacation, no matter what it is called." Dan Chammas advised in a recent CER webinar. This means that laws that govern vacation days will apply, regardless of what the employees actually use the time for.
This becomes an issue for employers when they create one big PTO bank that employees are expected to use for every type of leave including vacation days, sick days, jury duty, pregnancy disability leave, holidays, doctor’s appointments, etc. Since this PTO bank is meant to cover every possible type of leave, it is usually a very large bank of days.
"But California is very clear on this. The rule is, in California, is if the employee can use all of it for vacation, then it is all considered vacation. Then the state treats it as vacation wages—even if the employee never uses any of it for vacation." Chammas confirmed.
The key question to make a distinction within the law is this: what limitations does the employer put on the leave bank? If there are no limitations, then it is all vacation for legal purposes. A lot of employers get in trouble this way. However, if the employer places restrictions on the use of the PTO bank (perhaps by designating which portions can be used for which types of leave), then it would be treated differently under the law.
This is an administrative pitfall to avoid when setting up a PTO policy—be sure to understand that designating everything as PTO without restriction will have consequences.
The biggest reason that this distinction (whether or not PTO time is viewed as vacation time under the law) matters is because California law says that vacation time is vested wages. In other words, once a leave bank has been identified as vacation, California looks at the time as hours of pay that the employer owes the employee. In other words, accrued vacation is looked at as wages earned by an employee to be paid while he is not working.
California law also states that employers cannot take away vacation wages. In other words, employers cannot reduce the vacation banks of employees once they are accrued. In fact, no "use it or lose it" vacation policies are allowed. Once an employee earns vacation wages, the employer must eventually pay it out—the payout may occur while the employee is on vacation, or at any other time.
If vacation is still accrued and unpaid at the time of termination, then the employer must pay out those vacation wages at that time. (California has a rule that all wages are due on an employee’s final day of employment). This also means that accrued vacation will be paid at the current rate of pay, as opposed to the rate of pay at the time it was earned—so, years of vacation earned at a lower wage rate become much more valuable when paid out at an elevated rate.
The above information is excerpted from the webinar "Paid Time Off in California: Strategies for Effectively and Legally Managing Your Program." To register for a future webinar, visit CER webinars.
Daniel B. Chammas, Esq., is a partner in the labor and employment practice group in Venable’s Los Angeles office. He has extensive experience defending employers in wage and hour class actions and other employment disputes, from actions for unpaid wages and sexual harassment claims to wrongful termination litigation and racial discrimination complaints.
The employment laws in California are some of the strictest in the nation.
It's no secret that we live in the most litigious society in history. And that companies like yours are a favorite target for the media, attorneys, courts, disgruntled employees, and even job candidates.
California workers are particularly prone to complain about the company that employs them.
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