Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Employer Impact:

  • Applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees
  • Employers under 25 may be exempt
  • Employees are eligible after 30 days of employment

 

Two Buckets of Help:

How Pay Works:

 

 

Please note: The content of this website has been prepared by Organizology, LLC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. We are reporting information as we find it and are working hard to interpret and present it based on currently available information. We hope that you will find the information informative and useful, and we are happy to help guide you through your specific circumstances. 

Coronavirus Relief Act – The Basics

Coronavirus Relief Act – The Basics

We have just witnessed a major change in the Family Medical Leave Act relating to COVID-19. This may benefit you and your employees. In short, some employees may be entitled to PAID TIME OFF under FMLA and/or PAID SICK LEAVE. This time is paid by you (the employer) and then potentially reimbursable as a tax credit.

If you are an employer of under 500 employees, your compliance is likely required.

We are watching the changes in regulations as well as agency guidance very carefully. This information is very new – the Department of Labor has not updated their website at this time. The bill becomes effective in 15 days. Here is what the bill looks like tonight (March 18, 2020):

Bill Highlights

  • FMLA remains the standard of job-protected leave, but this bill changes compliance, eligibility and pay requirements.
  • Employers with fewer than 500 employees are required to comply. This is different than the standard 50 or more employees for other FMLA provision. Employers under 50 may continue to be exempt in the final bill if it would jeopardize the ability of the business to survive.
  • Healthcare provider and emergency service employers are likely exempt.
  • Employees only have to have worked for you for the last 30 day, not 12 months.
  • This version covers employees who are unable to work or telecommute due to lack of other care for a minor child – schools or day cares are closed due to a public health emergency.
  • The first 10 days of leave can be unpaid. An employee can use any accrued paid leave to cover those days (vacation, PTO, sick time, etc.).
  • After 10 days, full time employees must be paid at 2/3 their regular pay rate, up to $200 per day.
  • The calculation is slightly different for part time or variable hour employees. There will be math!
  • If you have over 25 employees you will have to follow FMLA regulations regarding job protections unless the position no longer exists due to the emergency.
  • The wages are to be paid by the employer. Provided that you comply with the current regulations, you may qualify for a refund in the form of tax credits. These tax credits are against the employer portion of Social Security taxes. You are entitled to a tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified FMLA wages, up to $200 per day and $10,000 per calendar quarter.
  • Additional changes in the regulations define paid sick leave. These changes are also substantial and would qualify employers for tax credits as well.

Additional regulations from other entities, like the Treasury Department and the Department of Labor will help us determine exactly how to apply these regulations.

Surviving the Crisis

This can potentially help your employees to stay afloat should they be unable to work under very specific circumstances related to COVID-19. Please note that this is a very new development and we have limited information. There is no precedent for it and no federal or state guidance for it at this time. The bill is effective on April 2, 2020.

Reach Out!

Feel free to contact the Awesome HR Team for help! We’ll keep you up to date. Hang in there – some relief may be around the corner. The Coronavirus Response Act offers some additional benefits outside of FMLA that we may be able to help you and your employees explore.

 

Please note: The content of this website has been prepared by Organizology, LLC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. We hope that you will find the information informative and useful, and we are happy to help guide you through your specific circumstances. 

Find what you’re good at and keep doing it.

Find what you’re good at and keep doing it.

My 7 year old self said veterinarian. My 15 year old self said singer. My 20 year old self probably said nothing or everything. And today (insert age assumption here) says people. Specifically people in business. I have to own it! I’m good at human resources. And I love it. It’s amazing that I got to build an entire business around it.

Now, one of the challenges I face, like many businesses, is staying focused on what I’m truly good at. I love that I have this amazing opportunity to help other HR professionals learn and grow and find their own passions. I love that my clients are always so pleased by the amazing service we provide for them. It’s awesome that I’ve been able to take my HR career far from the place where it’s just about filing paperwork and complying, and instead pushed toward the value of people in a business. It’s cool that I’ve helped employees and employers find success together. I love that it’s become so personal – to me and all of those we serve at Organizology.

The flipside of finding what you’re good at and focusing on that thing is taking things you’re not good at off your plate. Am I talking to you? Are you an incredible visionary with a business that you’re excited about? Are you in your office thinking about how you’re going to balance payroll, tax reports, the remodel your front office needs, next week’s advertising push, and now your best shift manager walked in to give you her two weeks’ notice? How much of that is what you’re good at?

Knowing what you’re good at and knowing where to draw the line is critical to success. As business owners, we often want to take on everything – people, accounting, IT, marketing, facilities, and everything else. But if you really think about how much time you put into those areas, are you really saving money by doing it yourself? Maybe, assuming all is well. But what happens when there’s an audit, a plumbing emergency, or year end reports due? Right in the middle of working a big sale or developing a new product. Can you do both? Should you do both?

The answer is no. First, you don’t have time. Second, you’re not good at it. Would you hire someone to do a job they weren’t good at? No way! You may need to stop here and fire yourself from a few roles. There are a lot of aspects of business where you have to have expertise that goes beyond just going through the motions and requires experience and training. I’ll admit that I dislike accounting as much as I like HR. I outsource my bookkeeping, my taxes, my insurance, my legal…It’s cheaper and it’s done better. I don’t make costly mistakes by trying to keep everything on my plate. I let each expert do his or her job and I focus on being the best at mine.

Outsourcing HR and payroll is a great way to do this. Sure, you can hire someone. But outsourcing is powerful. We offer not just one person, but a team of experts available to you. We act as your partner and support system, helping you find, hire, retain, and pay the right people for your business. You don’t have to worry about our office space, equipment, or health – there is always someone here who answers the phone and knows what’s going on.

Are you focused on what you’re good at? If you’re interested in getting a few things off your plate, I’d love to hear from you! I’ll give a 10% discount on monthly services to anyone who is ready to get more focused on what you’re good at and offload the things you shouldn’t be doing yourself…like HR and payroll.

Business IS Personal

Business IS Personal

I hear it a lot – “it’s business, not personal”. I used to say it probably more than most. That can happen when part of your job is firing people. But one day I realized that business IS personal. That thought made me pay more attention, and I think people say that phrase most often when their personal feelings, morals, or ethics don’t align with what they are doing in the moment.

Don’t get me wrong – sometimes we have to make hard choices and we must take stock of the situation, evaluate it from all angles, and make the right call. And sometimes that means there is a person on the losing end. But to me, that’s still personal.

Once I realized that business is personal, I got a lot better at my job. Rather than using that statement as a defense for my actions and choices, I can make good decisions that are aligned with my values and goals, and sleep at night. I can sit at the dinner table with my family, proud of what I’ve done that day. Even on the hard days – where I have to let an employee go or deliver bad news to someone, I go to bed knowing that I treated people like human beings. Why? Because to me, it’s all personal.

I recently had an employee miss work. No call, didn’t show up. We tried to call him, and the number went straight to voicemail. The next day, he missed another shift. On the third day, he missed yet again. This is grounds for termination for job abandonment. We attempted to call him again and the phone number was no longer working. It would be very easy to terminate him in our system, take him off the schedule and move on, but something felt strange about the situation. He’d been a good employee and then he just quit showing up. Then his most recent paycheck came back to us in the mail. We asked around a bit and we were finally able to get him on the phone via one of his friends. Turns out, he and his family had been evicted and he was living in a car. The policy says he abandoned his job – but the human being says not this time.

My entire job revolves around how personal it is. My firm serves as the HR department for our clients. In order to do this well, we can’t just be a department that shuffles paperwork and processes payroll. We must align ourselves with what our clients want as a business and as a person. I can design the HR role a million and one different ways, but when I know about the person behind the business, I can really get to work. When I first sit down with a client, I often ask, “what are you trying to accomplish”. The answer is often a big picture business goal, like, “I want to operate at 20% net profit”. Ok, that’s awesome. But why? There’s still more information under there. So, let’s cut the business isn’t personal stuff out and say, “No, what do YOU want to accomplish?”. Now the answers I get are more along the lines of, “I want to be able to go to my daughter’s volleyball games” or, “I want to pay for my son’s grad school” or, “I want to retire in Fiji”. I can do something with that! That information helps me know how to support the business owner so as we develop a plan, I know where we’re going.

The same is true for employees. We’re silly to think that anyone is working because they just really want to. Even if that were the case, why this particular job? There’s always a personal reason. We can ignore that and believe that employees should work because we said so. But if we do a better job of understanding what’s personal to an employee, we are investing in that person. It helps us know how to communicate and motivate. It builds trust and a relationship. And when it comes to a business like mine, this is especially important.

Mixing business and personal doesn’t mean that you’d allow one to be compromised for the other. For example, I have hired friends on multiple occasions. Often, that works out beautifully. Sometimes, you realize that you’re great friends but terrible coworkers. Terminating a friend is a prime opportunity to say, “it’s business, not personal”. But that’s not really what’s going on. When I’ve had to let a friend go, I think about business and personal. It’s still personal because I care for that person. It’s still personal because that person is sad that she lost her job. It’s still personal because I want to retain the friendship. You can’t ignore one for the other – you can’t keep a terrible employee around forever or it will hurt your business. And you can’t just claim that it’s business and expect to have a friendly cup of coffee in an hour. Instead, it means that you look at the big picture and consider all facets of the situation and make the best decision you can based on the information you have. Then you sit down with your friend and have a human conversation about what’s working or not working. If you’ve addressed the personal parts of this relationship along the way, your friend shouldn’t be surprised that things aren’t working out the way you’d hoped.

It’s almost as if the idea that you can separate business from personal is a cop out. It’s a way to blame some non-descript concept for a situation or decision – absolving us of any accountability. But business affects us personally. For example, a problem with a client might keep us up at night. Or we spent a few extra hours on a project just to make sure the final presentation is rock solid. When you take that kind of pride in your work, it’s personal. It’s because we want recognition, compensation, satisfaction, or something.

Even if you wanted to separate business from personal as a business owner or leader, you cannot force your employees to do the same. People are social beings by nature. When you have people working for you, you’ve hired all their opinions, feelings, thoughts, desires, and personalities. These are people who have good days and bad days. They have fights with spouses, birthdays, flat tires, and bills to pay.  That’s a lot of moving parts to account for in your workforce, and ones that you will never see if you don’t consider the personal side of business. If you want to trust that your employees are representing you and your interests, it needs to be personal. You cannot buy that trust. You earn it by sharing beliefs, collaborating, being authentic. That’s pretty personal.

I think we need to replace the idea that business and personal somehow are like oil and water. Instead, consider author Simon Sinek’s statement, “if you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business”.

 

Managing a Remote Workforce

Managing a Remote Workforce

By Suetta Miller, HR Generalist

Have you ever thought about using flextime in your company? Have you lost good talent to companies offering flextime as a benefit? Unsurprisingly, the growth of technology in the workplace has created a culture of workers who are more comfortable working remotely or telecommuting part time. Flextime can be characterized by a nonstandard work schedule with core set hours, a shortened work week, such as four ten-hour days with one day off or four eight and half hour days and a half day on Friday, or full-time and part-time telecommuting. Today, 60 percent of employers offer some type of flex as opposed to only 20 percent in 1996.

Remote work arrangements offer both benefits and disadvantages. One disadvantage most often cited by employers is that measuring productivity of remote workers is challenging. It is also sometimes necessary to set up additional network capabilities in order for employees to log in remotely. Finally, some employers have expressed concern over treating employees equally. Another challenge of managing remote workers is that some remote employees have reported feeling disengaged from their company’s culture. One way to enhance their engagement is by providing consistent and constructive feedback. Research says that constant feedback, as opposed to an annual performance review, and a more informal approach works better than something from the top down.

This may make remote working sound like an employer’s headache. But before you ditch the idea of flexibility, consider the advantages for not only the employees, but also the employers.

The benefits of having a flexible workplace program allow the employees to enjoy reduced stress, time and money saved due to lack of a commute and increased productivity as a result of fewer distractions in the office. Forty-three percent of employees cited flexibility of scheduling as the number one reason for the upward trend in remote working.

The benefits and advantages of a flexible workplace program for the employer are to increase organizational flexibility, improve employee attrition and widen the talent pool by eliminating the need for candidate relocation. Strategy should be the top reason why a company considers flexible arrangements. Why? Because flextime is considered one of the hottest benefits for today’s workers and aids in attracting and retaining top talent. And although it takes some getting used to, supervising remote workers is no more of a challenge than supervising in-office employees.

Supervisors should learn to reward work product, not presence, and training should be required for leaders to learn effective management of remote workforces. If you are interested in trying flexible work arrangements but still have a healthy skepticism, keep the following tips in mind:

Frequent feedback, daily communication, inclusion in team activities and office events and continued mentoring are all a part of a successful remote workforce. Treating remote workers just as you would in-office employees is the key to a successful program.

Onboarding Best Practices

Onboarding Best Practices

By Suetta Miller, HR Generalist

They’ve proven themselves to you during the interview, now it’s your turn to prove you are worthy of their talent by onboarding them correctly.

Remember how middle school dances were? Your parents dropped you off. You stood in a corner praying that no one would ask you to dance, but secretly hoping someone would. And in the end, nothing happened. Onboarding shouldn’t be like a middle school dance.

Having worked at a company, which shall remain nameless, where I was unceremoniously dumped in an empty cubicle with a laptop unconnected to anything, no access card to come and go or operate the copier, and no phone number, I know how onboarding should not go.

Many companies go out of their way to welcome new employees with welcome banners and coffee and donuts or company gear. While you don’t have to get crazy, there are a few key things every company can do to help make the transition a little easier on the new employee.

1. Be ready for her. Have her workspace set up in advanced with computer equipment hooked up and functioning. Have all passwords and network addresses ready and written down.
2. Show her where to obtain the office supplies she will need.
3. Give her a tour of the facilities. Many employees wander down dark hallways looking for the break room only to walk in on a meeting in progress. Ouch!
4. Introduce her to her teammates and the people she will need to know in order to conduct her work. This includes the receptionist, HR, Benefits, and if you have one – the mailroom clerk.
5. Take her to lunch. There is nothing worse than sitting at your desk day after day and not having anyone to lunch with. Especially on your first day. If the company expense policy does not allow expensing business lunches, split the cost between the team members. Make her feel welcome.
6. Have a list of projects ready for her to begin working on. Make sure the supervisor takes the time to go over these projects with her and give her the expected outcomes. Have someone available to show her how to navigate special websites, networks and equipment,
7. Electronic onboarding – have user IDs and passwords ready for her so she can easily complete her part of the paperwork required for employment, including benefits elections and direct deposit.
8. Explain any collaborative processes, such as shared calendars, conference room reservations or screen sharing meetings.
9. Finally, check in with her at the end of the day to see how her first day was. Notate any issues that arose and make a point of resolving those issues the next business day.

Onboarding shouldn’t be a difficult task, nor does it have to be time consuming. A good plan is all that’s needed to ensure each new employee’s first day is a step toward retaining that hard-won talent, rather than losing it. Remember, treat them as you would want to be treated.