REI December Newsletter 12.15.14

December 2014 Newsletter
What’s in This Issue:
Best Wishes into the
New Year from REI!
12 Days of HR Headaches
Appreciate Diversity
During the Holidays
‘Bad Fit’ Terminations
Love at Work
No Leave Left, No Job
Tax & Accounting
Midterm Election Results
We would like to thank all of our wonderful
Clients that helped to make this year one to
remember. As we enter the New Year, we wish
everyone peace, prosperity and good tidings. In
the spirit of holiday giving and in support of our
Clients, we will be making a special donation to
several charities on behalf of our friends and Clients.!
If you missed our last November issue, please check back on the News & Blog section of
our website to read more on final year-end preparation. Email
[email protected] if you have any further questions on the final
activities. We look forward to working with you in 2015!!
10 Ways to Donate a Happy Holiday
2015 Investment
Federal Updates Making Workplace
Technology Accessible,
OSHA Final Notification
Compliance Updates
Events and More
2015 Webinars
Previous webinars
Dallas Build Expo
Resourcing Edge Newsletter
1. Help a Needy Family!
2. Visit a Local Pediatric Wing!
3. Grant a Small Wish (The Wish Upon a Hero
Foundation or Make a Wish Foundation)!
4. Visit your local Humane Society!
5. Donate-Toys for Tots!
6. Be a Bell Ringer for the Salvation Army!
7. Adopt a Child from the Department of
Social Services!
8. Visit a nursing home!
9. Give Life-Donate Blood!
10. Donate Hair (Locks of Love)!
Weather Closures - Pay or No Pay?
Are winter storms affecting your office? Weather related emergencies often lead to office
closures. Do you have to pay your employees for those days? The answer is yes and no.!
• If you close the office or employees have the option of staying home, hourly employees
are not paid but can use vacation time if available.!
• Exempt employees are a different story. If you close the office, the exempt employee
must be paid their regular wages, unless you have a policy requiring an employee to use
PTO or vacation for weather related closures. If they have no PTO or vacation, regular
wages must be paid.!
• If reporting to work is a choice and the exempt employees stay home they can use
PTO or vacation, or if none is available, you may make a full day deduction from their
pay, UNLESS they work at home.!
All employers should remember these rules as we enter the time of year when!
weather related absences rise. !
The 12 Days of HR Headaches
Author: David L. Barron, Houston-based lawyer,!
The holidays are here and, along with them, the opportunity for employees to goof off and collectively test the limits of managers
and Human Resources professionals everywhere. Don't let these headaches disrupt your office.!
12 Online Shoppers - Cyber Monday is the biggest day of the year for online
shopping. Although some employees shop on their lunch break or at home, many take
time out of the work day to cross items off their Holiday list. Solution - remind
employees that some down time is inevitable, but work time is still for work.!
11 Fantasy Footballers - Wasting time at work is not an art enjoyed exclusively by
shoppers. The holiday season is also football season, and that means fantasy players will
be out in full force. Solution - see above. "
10 Office Party Drunks - Some folks continue to believe that getting intoxicated in
front of your boss is a good idea (hint - it is not). Solution - limit the number of drinks
at office parties and arrange for safe transportation if needed."
9 Facebook Posters - If you are going to have drunken shenanigans at your Holiday party, the last thing you want is for the
evidence to be posted online for the whole world to see. Solution - review your social media policy and prohibit employees from
posting photographs or video without management permission."
8 Whistleblowers - End of the year accounting can be the prime time for irregularities to come to light, and complaining
employees can be protected from retaliation under federal and state laws. Solution - review whistleblowing policy and ensure
managers are trained that complaining employees are protected for good faith reports of misconduct."
7 Bonus Braggers - This time often means end of year bonuses and the temptation for employees
to compare notes on the size of their checks. Solution - It is against federal law to prohibit
employees from discussing wages, but a reminder about good manners can be effective!
6 Laid Off Workers - End of the year planning often leads to budget cuts and, unfortunately,
layoffs. It is never a good time to tell someone they are being fired, but it can be even harder around
this time. Solution - consider a severance package which provides a financial cushion for the
employee and limits the liability of the company."
5 Absentees - No one wants to work around the
holidays, and workers will be looking for an excuse to spend
extra time with friends and family. Solution - encourage employees to schedule time off
in advance so management can evenly distribute the workload during holidays.!
4 Gossip Birds - A new year usually means big changes in most organizations. The
gossips will be out in full force in the month of December looking to stir up trouble
with rumors of bankruptcies and corporate takeovers. Solution - take control of lines of
communication and keep employees informed.!
3 Depression Victims - Experts say that the holidays are the hardest time of the year
for persons with depression or other mental illnesses. Solution - remind employees that the company has an Employee Assistance
Program available for individuals who are stressed out because of the holidays or just need "someone to talk to."!
2 Ship Jumpers - The beginning of the year is the most popular time for key employees to jump ship. That means the holiday
season is the time to steal trade secrets and make plans to solicit accounts, clients or customers. Solution - review computer
security protocols and review whether the company has appropriate written agreements in place to protect against unlawful
1 Sexual Harasser - Holiday parties often bring more than just intoxicated folks. Being merry can sometimes mean crossing
the line and offending a coworker. Solution - remind employees that respect and professionalism apply always.
Resourcing Edge Newsletter
Appreciating Diversity During the Holidays
Diversity is More Than Just a Simple Happy Holiday Card (Author: Simma Liberman)
Guess who's not celebrating Christmas this year? Millions of people in the United States. That's right. Tens of
millions of Americans don't celebrate Christmas religiously, either as followers of non-Christian religions (Buddhists,
Muslims, Hindus, Jews) or as individuals with no religious affiliation. Because many stores tap into the cash value of
Christmas with their plethora of Santas, ornaments, and Christmas fanfare at your nearby mall, we can easily overlook
the depth of the diversity present in America during this season. In reality, many different events, both spiritual,
religious, and tradition based, are being celebrated in many different ways during these times.!
It used to be that being inclusive meant sending out politically correct Happy Holidays greeting cards and changing
Christmas office parties to holiday parties. Today, celebrating inclusiveness and diversity is about more than just
changing labels and titles. Celebrating diversity and inclusiveness is about using the holiday celebration time to be with
friends and family to build understanding and awareness about others.!
Here are 3 ways to build your awareness of diversity and create an inclusive holiday environment:
Learn about other religious or holiday celebrations. Watch a TV special about other celebrations, do a Google
search on a holiday, or check out books at your local bookstore while gift shopping. Share your learning with
others, and use it as a chance to expand the conversation at parties and at the dinner table.!
2. Make no expectations about other religious or holiday celebrations. Realize
that people celebrate a variety of holidays during this time of year, and
some people choose to celebrate none. Be respectful of these differences by
taking interest in other people's traditions and making them feel welcome.
Don't be afraid to ask people what holidays they celebrate. Find out what
they do during this time of the year that is special. Let it be an opportunity
to learn.!
3. Mark your calendar and your address book with other scheduled religious
or holiday celebrations. If the calendar you use does not list holidays like
Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Ramadan, and Diwali, find out the dates and record
them as reminders. Many programs like Microsoft Outlook allow users to
add calendar dates for celebrations from different parts of the world
automatically, making this task quick and effortless.!
A Note for Employers about Celebrations
Here are a few extra things employers can do to make their workplaces more inclusive during the holidays.!
Make sure your event isn't a Christmas party in disguise. Decorations and food should be general, not specific.
Consider having a New Year's party instead of a holiday party. This type of party can get everyone on board with
the company's mission and vision for the New Year.!
Post holiday greetings on your webpage and Intranet for many religious holidays.!
Be respectful of these special dates, and plan events and meetings around various holidays. Be flexible with the
needs of different employees about religious or holiday celebrations.!
Display a multi-cultural calendar to help all employees stay aware of important cultural events for the rest of the
Encourage employees to share their celebrations through stories, decorations, and foods that they can bring to
their workplace.!
Resourcing Edge Newsletter
They’re a Bad Fit
Think of a better reason than “they’re a bad fit” when terminating an employee. If pushed, this cliché provides little or no
defense to a wrongful termination claim. Rely on objective examples to justify the termination. If you ask “why?” the employee
is a bad fit, you will likely find good examples to support termination.!
For example:!
Is the employee a poor performer? Give examples.!
Does the employee fail to work well with others?!
Have there been acts of insubordination? Incompetence?!
Do they have an attendance problem?!
The point is that there is probably a more objective and defensible reason why the employee is “not a good fit.” Identify the
specific reason and rely on that as the basis for your decision.!
Love At Work
Workplace romance was a big topic this month. There were a lot of questions
regarding how to handle dating in the workplace. The answer depends on the
specific employees involved and your organization’s policies and procedures.!
Manager ♥ Subordinate: Organizations should prohibit managers/ supervisors
from becoming romantically involved with a subordinate. Getting involved with a
subordinate demonstrates a serious lack of good judgment on the part of the
manager. An organization has little defense against a sexual harassment claim
involving a manager/supervisor. A consensual relationship can quickly turn
contentious and ultimately put the organization at risk. Even if you don’t have a policy prohibiting workplace romance (if you
don’t, you should), you can still prohibit this type of romance. Do not allow the relationship to continue – and do not alter the
terms and conditions of the non-manager employee’s employment at all. (If someone has to be transferred, transfer the
manager!) Any change in the non-manager employee’s status can be viewed as retaliation.!
Co-Worker ♥ Co-Worker: Co-worker relationships can deteriorate and present real risks for an organization. Accordingly,
co-worker relationships should also be prohibited by company policy and practice. Once you discover that employees are
romantically involved, take the following actions: review your sexual harassment policy with the employees, discuss appropriate
workplace conduct and, if possible, schedule the employees for different shifts.!
No Leave Left, No Job Left
Employers cannot automatically terminate an employee just because that employee has exhausted their medical leave.
Consider this common scenario:!
You have an underperforming employee that you desire to terminate. As soon as you begin to confront the employee’s
performance issues, the employee informs you that they need a leave of absence for “stress.” The doctor’s note provided by
the employee indicates that the employee will be released to work on 11/1. Then 11/1 arrives and the employee provides you
with another doctor’s note indicating a return date of 11/5. 11/5 arrives and you receive another note extending the leave. At this
point, the employee has exhausted their leave. Now what? Can you just fire the employee?!
The answer is absolutely NOT! You will have to determine whether the employee is entitled to a reasonable accommodation
under the American with Disabilities Act or a similar state law. Employers are required to provide a reasonable
accommodation for qualified individuals with disabilities. Additional leave may be a reasonable accommodation. The key is to
speak with the employee (engage in the “interactive process”) and explore whether, with additional leave, the employee would
be able to return to work. You must take this step before considering termination.!
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PAY R O L L , TA X E S & A C C O U N T I N G
Resourcing Edge Newsletter
2015 Investment Outlook
The U.S. economy continues its transition from the slow gross domestic
product (GDP) growth of 2011 – 2013 to more sustained, broad-based
growth. Ongoing progress in the labor market, an uptick in wage growth,
and continued improvement in both consumer and business spending
have propelled an uptrend in U.S. economic output. We believe inflation
— which has historically accelerated as the economy moves into the
second half of the business cycle — is poised to continue proceeding
higher, but only modestly so.!
Central banks around the world will also be on the move in 2015. In the
United States, the economy is likely to continue to travel toward a point
where the Federal Reserve (Fed) will begin raising interest rates, albeit
gradually, for the first time in nine years. The Eurozone and Japan — the
world’s second and fourth largest economies, respectively — could
benefit, as central banks in those regions embark on more aggressive
policy actions aimed at restarting and reaccelerating their longdormant
Washington shifts from a relatively quiet 2014 to take a bigger role in
2015. The Republican takeover in the Senate and approaching debt
ceiling limit might provide the opportunity for some movement out of
the gridlock that has plagued Washington in recent years. We have
several helpful tips and economic indicators to provide to you if you are
interested in joining our 401k program. If you are already enrolled,
please be sure you have this information from our benefits team. Email
[email protected] for the package. !
California Corner
“California Choice” is undergoing
their annual enrollment period
right now through 12-31-14 for
individuals and small business. Visit to view
eligibility requirements, plans and
Resourcing Edge Newsletter
Federal Updates
Making Workplace Technology Accessible
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the
activities of places of public accommodations (businesses that are generally open to the public and that fall into
one of 12 categories listed in the ADA, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreation
facilities, and doctors’ offices) and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation—as
well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses, or office
buildings)—to comply with the ADA Standards.!
The Office of Disability Employment Policy has created a web portal directed at employers to help ensure that
workplace technology is accessible to all employees. The content “aims to help employers and the technology
industry adopt accessible technology as part of everyday business practice so that all workers can benefit.” The
portal is intended to provide everything “from educational articles to interactive tools.”!
The web portal defines “accessibility in technology” as:!
In general, “accessibility” within a technology context refers to the ability of different types of users to
interact successfully with the technology. Those familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are
used to “accessibility” referring to architectural features that allow people with disabilities access, such as
buildings, bathrooms, hotel pools, etc. The definition has expanded into technology to describe something
that is easy to use and takes different types of users into account, including those with disabilities. It is
different than “assistive technology,” which is technology specifically designed for people with disabilities.!
The portal provides an 8 step guide for employers:!
1. Get a basic understanding of Title III requirements;!
2. Evaluate the accessibility of your workplace technology;!
3. Build a plan on how to improve accessibility;!
4. Buy and implement;!
5. Communicate your commitment and any changes to your workplace;!
6. Measure your success;!
7. Share what has worked and change plans as required and!
8. Re-evaluate periodically to ensure continued accessibility.!
OSHA Final Rule
On Jan. 1, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and
Health Administration’s (OSHA) final rule takes effect requiring employers
to notify OSHA within 8 hours, when an employee is killed on the job; and
within 24 hours, when an employee suffers a work-related hospitalization,
amputation or loss of an eye. !
The revised reporting rule underscores OSHA’s strategy and focus for
requiring employers to be vigilant in monitoring their workplaces and
providing a safe environment for their employees. The information
gathered as a result of the widened scope of the required reporting will be
studied and used by OSHA to target workplace hazards in specific industries. For further details regarding the
new rule, you can visit OSHA’s website at
Resourcing Edge Newsletter
State Updates
CALIFORNIA: Paid Sick Leave
Similar to Massachusetts, Paid Sick Leave will become
mandatory in California on July 1, 2015. Employers must
display a poster stating that:!
Employees are entitled to accrue, request and use paid
sick days;!
The number of sick days provided to employees;!
The terms for using the sick days; and!
Retaliation or discrimination against an employee who
request or use paid sick days is prohibited and
employees can complain of that conduct to the Labor
A $100 fine will be issued for employers who fail to display this
poster. Although the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement
has issued a sample poster, employers are encouraged to create their own containing the necessary information.
For a copy of the poster provided by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, please visit this link: http:// !
FLORIDA: Miami-Dade County Expands
Its Human Rights Law to Ban
Discrimination On the Basis of Gender
Identity And Gender Expression
Last week the Miami-Dade County Commission
amended the County’s Human Rights Ordinance (the
“ordinance”) making it illegal to discriminate based on
gender identity and expression. The ordinance states that
“gender identity” is a “persons innate, deeply felt
psychological identification as a man, woman or some
other gender, which may or may not correspond to the
sex assigned to them at birth” (i.e. on their birth
certificate). This ordinance applies to any employer who
employs 5 or more employees in the county. This amendment to the
ordinance is effective December 12, 2014. !
Multiple States: Minimum Wage Increases on January
1, 2015
Check our previous issue from November to review the various
minimum wage increases fast approaching. You can view in the News
and Blog section on our website at
Resourcing Edge Newsletter
State Updates Continued…
Massachusetts: Required Paid Sick Leave
A new Massachusetts law will require employers with 11 or more employees to provide paid sick time.
Employers with fewer than 11 employees will be required to provide 40 hours of unpaid sick time. The
law takes effect July 1, 2015.!
Definition of “sick time”
“Sick time” is defined as time needed:!
(1) to care for the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse who is suffering from a physical
or mental illness, injury or medical condition that requires
home-care, professional medical diagnosis or care, or
preventative medical care, or!
(2) to care for the employee’s own physical or mental illness,
injury or medical condition that requires home-care,
professional medical diagnosis or care, or preventative
medical care, or!
(3) to attend the employee’s routine medical appointments
or the routine medical appointments for the employee’s
child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse or address the
psychological, physical or legal effects of domestic violence.!
Accrual Rate
Employers are required to provide a minimum of 1 hour of
earned sick time for every 30 hours worked by an employee. Employees begin to accrue the earned sick time
commencing on the date of their hire (or, for current employees, the effective date of the law, July 1, 2015),
but they are not entitled to use their accrued sick time until the 90th calendar day following their hire date.!
The law caps the amount of sick time earned in a calendar year at 40 hours. Employees may carry over up to
40 hours of unused earned sick time to the next calendar year, but employees are not entitled to use more
than 40 hours of sick time in one calendar year. Moreover, employers are not required to pay out unused
earned sick time upon separation from employment (as opposed to earned but unused vacation pay, which
must be paid out upon separation). The law also states that employers who provide paid time off to
employees under a paid time off, vacation or other paid leave policy that provides for the same or better
accrual for reasons covered by the new law are not required to provide additional earned paid sick time.
Employers with PTO or sick time policies who will continue those policies, therefore, should review their
policies to determine if such policies comply with the new law.!
Doctor Certification Allowed
Employers can require certification of the need for sick time if an employee used sick time for more than 24
consecutively scheduled work hours. Employers can not delay the taking of or payment for earned sick time
because they have not received the certification. Employees need to make a good faith effort to notify the
employer in advance if the need for earned sick time is foreseeable.!
Employers would be prohibited from interfering with or retaliating based on an employee’s exercise of
earned sick time rights, and from retaliating based on an employee’s support of another employee’s exercise
of such rights.
Resourcing Edge Newsletter
2015 Webinars
There will not be a webinar this December, however, we have
a great schedule approaching in the new year. Here are a few
topics that will be covered in 2015:!
Contact Info
Main Office: 214-771-4411
General Inquiries and Sales [email protected]
invitation will be sent out in the coming weeks with
further details)!
Payroll Changes/New Hire Forms [email protected]
Workplace Bullying
Human Resources/Background & Drug
Screens - [email protected]
Benefits Questions [email protected]
Workers' Comp Questions and Certificate
Requests - [email protected]
Accounting Issues, AP/AR [email protected]
Tax Questions and Issues [email protected]
Affordable Care Act - January 28th at 2:00pm (an
Sexual Harrassment and Romance at Work
Dealing with Negative Employees and the
Questions to Ask
Effective Meetings
Attendance Management
Previous Webinars
Documentation and Discipline
If you missed our November webinar, you can watch the entire
recording, download the video or presentation by visiting the
HR webinar section of our website.!
For any follow up questions on Documentation and Discipline,
please email to [email protected] and our HR Specialists
will follow up with you.
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