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Getting Your HR House in Order

Getting Your HR House in Order:
Employment Applications, Updated Form I-9, and Revised W-4

by Jean Seawright

 

Is your garden center ready for Spring hiring? Part of your preparation should include a review and possible update of your employment application, along with incorporation of two newly updated forms—the I-9 and W-4.


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New Minimum Salary Level for Exempt Employees

REGULATION UPDATE!  New Minimum Salary Level for Exempt Employees
Final Overtime Rule Released

by Jean Seawright

On September 27, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published its much-anticipated final “Overtime Rule” updating and revising Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 541, which sets forth rules for employers to claim an overtime exemption under Section 13(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Commonly referred to as the “white collar exemptions,” this section of the FLSA exempts from overtime any employee employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional (“EAP”) capacity.


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The Art of Effective Recruiting

The Art of Effective Recruiting

by Jean Seawright

Here's a frightening thought:  It's all up to you! 

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New and Updated Employment-Related Forms

New and Updated Employment-Related Forms, Documents, and Posters for Garden Center Group Members

from Jean Seawright

Just in time for the spring season, Seawright & Associates has provided a variety of new and updated forms, documents, and posters that are now available under the Human Resources section of Power Tools! Check out their Ideas for Sourcing (recruiting) Talent handout.

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Group Client Advisory: I-9 Compliance

Group Client Advisory: I-9 Compliance

by Seawright & Associates

On Wednesday, November 7th, Seawright & Associates' Jean Martin presented a GROUPtalk-Live webinar for Group Clients titled "Winter is Coming... Prepare for ICE!" This was one of the largest attendance for any GROUPtalk-Live sessions and for obvious reasons. This is a very important subject and it also underscores the importance of having the talents and resources of Seawright & Associates for our Group Centers (a huge benefit of being in The Group). Prior to the session, Jean had supplied both the current I-9 Paper Version Form and Instructions for each participant for note taking.

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Cold as ICE!

Cold as ICE!

by Jean Seawright

IMPORTANT: Don't miss the next GROUPtalk-Live session on this subject. Details are below!

At the federal level, things have been relatively quiet on the regulatory front with the exception of one agency, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Affectionately known as ICE, this federal agency has an annual budget of approximately $6 billion and employs more than 20,000 employees in over 400 offices in the United Stated and 46 foreign countries. ICE's mission is to "protect America from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety."

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Overtime Rule Update

Overtime Rule Update

by Jean Seawright

It's been over one year since the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) solicited written comments from the public about potential changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) White Collar overtime exemptions for administrative, executive, and professional workers. One year and no action . . . until this month that is.

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Employee Handbook Relief

Employee Handbook Relief

by Jean Seawright

Employers are finally getting a reprieve after a series of restrictive employee handbook policy decisions and guidances issued by the prior Administration's democratic majority of the five-member National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

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Ten Emerging HR Trends for 2018

Ten Emerging HR Trends for 2018

by Jean Seawright

Paid sick and parental leave . . . pay history bans . . . predictable scheduling statutes . . . mandatory E-Verify . . .  compensatory time off . . . an increase in the guaranteed salary level for White Collar workers . . . The list goes on. Which of these employment regulations will impact your business in 2018 is yet unknown, but regardless of your revenues, location, or number of employees, one thing is certain--it will be challenging to find and hire qualified workers. And the challenges won't subside any time soon. Macroeconomic realities, including a workforce that is growing at its slowest pace in over a half-century, aging workers exiting the labor force, a widening skills gap, and faster-than-average employment gains in several occupational sectors, indicate that labor shortages are here to stay.


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Sexual Harassment - The Floodgates Are Open

Sexual Harassment
The Floodgates Are Open . . . Will Your Company Sink or Swim?

by Jean Seawright

Check any news outlet today and you're almost certain to hear about a new sexual misconduct scandal involving an executive, politician, or entertainer. The allegations are nothing short of shocking, ranging from offensive acts of sexual harassment to criminal acts of sexual assault. In response, a multitude of corporations are mandating sexual harassment training for all employees.

This surge of sexual misconduct allegations has, once again, put sexual harassment in the spotlight. Sexual harassment is a prohibited form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This federal law is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and covers businesses with 15 or more employees in 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding year. Even if your business is not covered by Title VII, it may be covered by a state, local, or county anti-discrimination law that prohibits workplace harassment for smaller businesses.


Sexual conduct becomes unlawful under employment regulations when it is unwelcome and severe or pervasive enough to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive working environment. This happens when the harassment culminates in a tangible employment action (e.g., termination, demotion, etc.) or is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile work environment. Today, an employer can be held liable for sexual harassment by a supervisor even if it had no knowledge of the supervisor's misconduct. Gone are the days of "hear no evil, see no evil, know no evil" defenses. If your business receives a charge of sexual harassment discrimination from the EEOC or another fair employment practices agency and you can't prove that you attempted to prevent harassment and/or that you adequately addressed the complaint, you're guilty.



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New Admin - New Day- for HR Update

New Administration, New Day for Business... Anticipated Changes in the HR Arena

by Jean Seawright
During The Fall Event, Jean Seawright gave us an important update on what she feels is ahead in Human Resources management.  As usual, her presentation was one of the highest-rated sessions. Here's just a few comments from Group Clients who attended: 
"Jean is an invaluable asset to the group."
"Always has so much information to try and learn from Jean. "
"One of the highlights of the event in my mind."
"What the team and I took away from this session was worth every penny of the trip."
"HR is always good and terrifying at the same time. And Jean is The Best!"
"As I said before - one of the best hours of The Fall Event."

Now, here's the summary of update directly from Jean:

 

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Revitalizing Reviews

Revitalizing Reviews

by Jean L. Seawright, CMC


There’s no question that employees are more effective when working in an environment that promotes regular communication about expectations and results. The reality is that people want to know where they stand—even if it isn’t good. A performance review is one important tool that can help address this need by answering the burning question every employee has: “How am I doing?”  

Unfortunately, in many organizations, performance reviews have gone by the wayside, even though the younger generation of workers—the Millennials—are known for their need to receive regular feedback (and praise!) from management.


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New Form I-9, Weed at Work, and New Labor Agenda in Washington

New Form I-9, Weed at Work and New Labor Agenda in Washington

Jean Seawright, Seawright & Associates

As the first 100 days of President Trump's Administration comes to a close, one thing is abundantly clear: It's a new day for businesses. But how this "new day" plays out is anyone's guess.

On the one hand, the Administration is committed to easing the regulatory burden for employers. On the other hand, government officials have made it abundantly clear that tougher enforcement of immigration laws is a priority, leaving employers who depend on immigrant workers uneasy.

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New Form I-9 and Increased Penalties

New Form I-9 and Increased Penalties - Raise the Stakes for Immigration Noncompliance

In November 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released an updated "smart" version of the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 (commonly known as the "I-9 form" or "I-9"). As of January 22, 2017, all employers were required to begin using the updated form in the paper or fillable PDF version.

 

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New Administration, A New Day for Business

New Administration, A New Day for Business

by Jean Seawright

If you're an owner or manager, it's no surprise to you that there is a government regulation for nearly every employment decision you make.  The reality is that you can't hire, promote, discipline, transfer, pay, or terminate an employee without considering local, county, state, and federal employment regulations. Depending on where your business is located and how many employees you have, you may have to comply with regulations that dictate everything from the precise questions you can ask during an interview to what you can legally deduct from the final paycheck of an employee who owes you thousands of dollars (zippo, in many cases!).

The cost of compliance is staggering. For the 28 million small businesses in the U.S., regulatory compliance costs over $10,000 per employee; 36% higher than the cost for a larger business. It's no wonder some business owners consider regulatory costs to be a hidden tax on businesses.  And it doesn't seem to quit. Over the last 20 years, the federal government has added more than 80,000 regulations---typically between 3,500 and 4,500 annually.

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Implementing an Effective and Compliant Background Check Process

Implementing an Effective and Compliant Background Check Process

Jean Seawright

With Spring hiring in full swing, we’ve received a number of calls and emails from Garden Center Group members inquiring about background checks.

Without a doubt, background checks are essential to help ensure that you hire fit, competent, and qualified workers who do not pose an unreasonable risk of harm to your business or customers. The cost of background checks is surprisingly low, but can pay off in spades by reducing the risks associated with negligent hiring claims.

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Weed at Work

Weed at Work

New marijuana laws raise vexing questions for employers.

Let’s be blunt: Like it or not, pot is here to stay. The November election proved this to be true. To date, 28 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam have legalized medical marijuana use. Nine of these have also legalized recreational use of the drug.

Support for marijuana legalization has clearly outpaced the opposition and, in light of new state laws and regulations that permit marijuana use, many employers are uncertain how far they can go and how far they should go when it comes to adopting or enforcing drug-free workplace policies and drug testing.

 

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Update - Proposed New Overtime Rule - The Wait is Almost Over

The Garden Center Group Clients:

On Tuesday, March 15, the Department of Labor (DOL) took the final step in the rulemaking process by advancing the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)  (commonly referred to as the "Overtime Rule") to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review of the final changes.

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Overtime Rule Delayed

Last June, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) setting forth its rationale for a new and higher salary test for employees classified as exempt from overtime under the White Collar Exemptions covering executive, administrative, and professional employees. The DOL proposed a new guaranteed salary level of $50,440 per year------- an increase of 113% over the current $23,660 salary level. (For details about this proposed change and others in the NPRM, refer to our July 2015 e-bulletin.)

Since March 2014, when President Obama issued his directive to the Secretary of Labor to "modernize the overtime rules," it has been widely anticipated that the Final Rule would be effective prior to the 2016 elections. Why? Because of the potential for a Republican President to be elected who, by all accounts, would likely direct the DOL to delay the release of the Final Rule or revoke it altogether. Proponents of the overtime changes know that the sooner the changes take effect, the harder it will be to overturn them.

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Paid Sick Leave: Coming Soon to a City Near You!

Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 65 percent of all workers currently receive paid sick leave benefits, across the nation there have been a proliferation of ordinances and laws that require private employers, including small businesses, to provide paid sick leave to employees.

Advocates cite statistics related to increased productivity, reduced turnover, lower rates of occupational injuries, and other workplace and societal benefits that they believe create an urgent need for paid sick leave. In addition, based on statistics showing an increase in domestic violence, supporters of these laws are proposing to include paid "safe days" for employees in need of time off to address domestic or sexual violence matters.

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