Sunday May 31, 2020
 

Conducting virtual interviews? 6 easy body language tips

In the age of telecommuting and virtual interviews, it can be difficult to effectively get your message across or get to know someone through a computer screen.

And thanks to the pandemic, many companies are being forced
to woo talent they can’t meet in person. This can be a tricky task to
accomplish over a Zoom meeting.

Communicating nonverbally

However, there are some easy ways to impress candidates just through your body language alone.

Here are six tips from Marcel Schwantes, chief human officer
of Leadership From The Core.

1. Look at the camera. When video chatting, a lot of people tend to stare at themselves or the image of the person they’re talking to. Don’t do either – look at the camera in order to maintain eye contact.

2. Use good posture. Sit up straight in a chair instead of slouching on the couch. Good posture shows the candidate you’re alert and engaged.

3. Lean forward slightly. Don’t get too close to the camera, but leaning forward slightly while the candidate is speaking can show your interest in what they’re saying. Stay about an arm’s length away from the camera.

4. Cut back on gesturing. On the small computer screen, gesturing can be particularly distracting. Try to keep your hand movements to a minimum.

5. Don’t cross your arms. Keep your arms relaxed at your sides – folding your arms can come across as grumpy or hostile.

6. Nod and smile genuinely. It’s important to silently acknowledge what the candidate is saying, but be careful not to overdo it. Too much nodding or smiling can come across as disingenuous.

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Keys to taking advantage of remote interviewing

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to reevaluate all aspects of how they conduct their daily activities. This is especially true with the hiring process which, since the invention of the office, has mostly depended on the old-fashioned handshake and in-person interviews.

In our collective streak of bad luck with the crisis, we can at least acknowledge that many in the workforce can be thankful that we live in a software-powered age that has afforded the transition to remote work without too much friction.

For talent acquisition professionals in particular, the availability of remote hiring tools has allowed employers – especially those in essential industries – to continue hiring activities and meet important staffing demands.

While technologies like remote interviewing have surfaced in a big way due to the crisis, employers are also seeing the evergreen benefits of adopting these tools for the long term.

By design, software improves processes and simplifies tasks. Often these improvements translate into material advantages to productivity and time savings. Once organizations experience these benefits firsthand, they will be hesitant to reverse course.

One emerging type of remote interviewing solution of note is on-demand interviewing, which allows candidates to record their interview questions at their own convenience – including nights and weekends – which greatly simplifies the interviewing process for both recruiters and job candidates.

So instead of scheduling interviews during limited windows of time during business hours, recruiters can effectively interview larger volumes of candidates in a shorter period of time, effectively eliminating the bottle neck that often challenges that part of the hiring process.

Implementing remote interviewing

To take full advantage of the benefits of remote interviewing it is important to think beyond video conferencing. For most organizations, the hiring process is a well-established machine that is often intertwined with other processes and systems.

For that reason, companies should leverage tools that are flexible enough to not only fit into that well-oiled process but also capable of improving pieces within that workflow through either automation or other efficiencies.

  • Does the software solution integrate into your
    existing ATS or HCM system so that your recruiters can leverage the tools
    without having to log into a separate software system?
  • Does the service allow you to rate or rank
    candidates? Does the software securely store sensitive candidate data?
  • Are recruiters able to easily collaborate with
    hiring managers or other stakeholders?
  • Are you able to get a live person on the phone
    if help is needed and will that person understand the unique challenges of
    talent acquisition professionals?
  • Does the vendor provide training to ensure
    success of using the product or is the service completely self-service with
    little human support?

Another consideration is the flexibility of the remote hiring tool to fit a number of hiring scenarios and situations. For example, while video-based interviews sound appealing to organizations because it more closely matches the experience of an in-person interview, we must be sensitive to that fact that not all candidates are comfortable communicating through a web camera.

An on-demand audio interview will consistently produce higher candidate engagement rates versus an on-demand video interview due to comfort levels between the mediums.

As such, it may be advisable to select a solution that offers multiple methods so your organization can select the most appropriate method based on the job type.

Interviewing onsite & remote

It is important to make clear that the benefits of remote interviewing extend beyond the discussion around remote work and remote workers. The advantages clearly apply to onsite jobs types as well.

As an organization, remote interviews provide an opportunity to compress the hiring timeline through efficiencies; it delivers a faster and better candidate experience; and perhaps most importantly, it gives employers an edge getting to their top candidates faster, increasing the likelihood of making the hire.

Now that organizations have made their immediate pivots to adjust to the new normal, the next course of action is to take a step back and understand if they are using the best tools for their long-term needs.

For remote interviewing, this could be an opportunity to transform your hiring process for the better moving forward.

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U.S. women’s soccer team’s equal pay suit dismissed by federal district court

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team made headlines in 2019 with a class-action lawsuit alleging they were paid less than the U.S. men’s team.

However, a district court has dismissed the women’s unequal pay claims.

Less pay, worse conditions

The female soccer players claimed that despite performing
better, they were paid less than the male U.S. soccer players.

The women believed if they were under the same pay structure
as the men, they’d be earning much more.

They also alleged they faced less favorable work conditions,
like being booked on worse flights than the men’s team.

However, the court ended up siding with the U.S. Soccer Federation. It said the employer was able to prove the women ended up making more than the men in both cumulative and per-game pay.

The women’s suit is dead for now, but the team plans on
filing an appeal.

This case serves as a good reminder for employers to examine
potential gender pay gaps that may be lurking within your company. Some go as
far as complete pay transparency to ensure equity.

Cite: Morgan et al v. U.S. Soccer Federation, 5/1/20.

The post U.S. women’s soccer team’s equal pay suit dismissed by federal district court appeared first on HR Morning.

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U.S. women’s soccer team’s equal pay suit dismissed by federal district court

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team made headlines in 2019 with a class-action lawsuit alleging they were paid less than the U.S. men’s team.

However, a district court has dismissed the women’s unequal pay claims.

Less pay, worse conditions

The female soccer players claimed that despite performing
better, they were paid less than the male U.S. soccer players.

The women believed if they were under the same pay structure
as the men, they’d be earning much more.

They also alleged they faced less favorable work conditions,
like being booked on worse flights than the men’s team.

However, the court ended up siding with the U.S. Soccer Federation. It said the employer was able to prove the women ended up making more than the men in both cumulative and per-game pay.

The women’s suit is dead for now, but the team plans on
filing an appeal.

This case serves as a good reminder for employers to examine
potential gender pay gaps that may be lurking within your company. Some go as
far as complete pay transparency to ensure equity.

Cite: Morgan et al v. U.S. Soccer Federation, 5/1/20.

The post U.S. women’s soccer team’s equal pay suit dismissed by federal district court appeared first on HR Morning.

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DOL’s new ‘regular rate of pay’ rule: How it impacts benefits in 2020

Do you know how to correctly calculate your employees’ regular rate of pay (RROP)? There’s been some confusion among employers, which is why the feds switched up the way firms calculate RROP.

Employers might want to pump up their wellness programs now that the DOL has finalized its RROP rule, which became effective Jan. 15, 2020.

Finally, employers have clarification about which benefits may be excluded when calculating an employee’s RROP. The final rule, which is the DOL’s first adjustment to the “regular rate” rule in 50 years, updated the FLSA definition of RROP to reflect present-day perks and benefits.

To determine a nonexempt worker’s RROP, which is used to calculate their overtime rate, an employer must take into account a worker’s total compensation for each workweek, including bonuses or incentives.

Under the FLSA, courts have struggled to interpret the meaning of the “regular rate” and the correct amount of overtime owed to employees. That’s why some employers have chosen not to offer competitive benefits, or risk a lawsuit.

But the new rule spells out for employers which benefits they can now exclude when determining an employee’s RROP.

Excluded benefits

The complete list of excluded benefits includes:

  • cost of certain parking benefits, wellness programs, gym access, certain tuition benefits (including student loan programs) and adoption assistance
  • payments for unused paid leave, including paid sick leave or PTO
  • reimbursed expenses, including cellphone plans, credentialing exam fees and organization membership dues, and
  • certain sign-on bonuses and longevity bonuses, as well as discretionary bonuses.

The new RROP rule should “encourage employers to provide additional and more creative benefits without fear of costly litigation,” according to the DOL.

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Coronavirus compliance: Sick leave guidance for employers

Firms are updating paid sick leave policies as the House introduced a bill that would mandate employers offer paid sick leave to their employees, both in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The push for federal paid sick leave legislation is getting stronger, as the quickly-spreading coronavirus has been designated a pandemic, causing concerns that workers who can’t afford to stay home will accelerate the spread of the virus at work.

“It’s a very difficult tightrope for employers,” said Littler attorney Michelle Barrett Falconer. “They want to take care of their employees, but the outbreak puts them in a very precarious situation and could close a business down.”

Federal, state regs

Presently, federal law doesn’t require employers to offer paid sick leave, though 12 states and Washington, D.C. have laws on the books. (Maine will join that list in 2021.) Thirty cities and localities, including San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia, also have paid sick leave.

Since the virus outbreak, Colorado has acted quickly to temporarily mandate certain employers in the state provide a small amount of paid sick leave to employees with flu-like symptoms while awaiting COVID-19 testing. For 30 days, employers in the leisure, hospitality, food service, child care, education and home healthcare industries must provide up to four days of paid sick leave.

Other states, including Kentucky, have introduced such emergency bills, while Massachusetts has urged employers to offer paid leave to those stricken with the virus.

Arizona’s paid sick leave law, which was passed in 2017, could now become significant as the pandemic continues to spread. If a public health emergency’s declared, employers with as few as a single worker would be required to pay its employees.

The proposed federal bill is still being revised in the House before it moves to the Senate. The latest version of the bill would require employers with less than 500 employees to offer 14 paid sick days to a wide swath of workers affected by the pandemic, including those who are in quarantine or have children whose schools are closed.

And it would guarantee workers with the disease two-thirds of their salary for up to three months. The bill sets up a mechanism for the feds to reimburse employers who pay workers’ wages while they’re absent through a tax credit.

What employers should do

Many firms are updating their sick leave policies to keep staff at home to prevent the pandemic from spreading. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises firms to “ensure your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and employees are aware of these policies.”

Here are some immediate steps employers can take:

Consider revising sick leave policies. First, ensure company paid sick leave policies are consistent with state and local laws. Then consider extending or expanding sick leave, “perhaps adjusting benefits plans for employees who exceed their sick-day allotment in order to support sick employees who must stay home,” says law firm Littler Mendelson.

Employers may not be legally required to pay employees during this pandemic yet, however, choosing not to do so makes it more likely they’ll return to work prematurely, potentially infecting other employees.

Add more flexibility. The CDC recommends firms be flexible enough to allow workers who have symptoms or have potentially been exposed to the virus, but can’t work from home, to take time off from work.

You need to be really careful as an employer about thinking short term because this situation is likely to get worse before it gets better,” said Falconer.

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Post-pandemic, back-to-work compliance: New regs, policies

Now that some states are beginning to bring employees back to work after the coronavirus lockdown, employers need to be on top of their game with employee safety concerns and compliance with new regs.

Asking employees to return to work and providing a safe workplace for them will be challenging. Amidst layoffs, furloughs and emergency sick leaves, firms will have more safety, administrative and regulatory responsibilities.

Stay informed

It’s key that employers continue to follow guidance and safety orders from state and local governments, as well as federal agencies, including:

CDC: The agency continues to update its guidance for employers on its website and has also drafted proposed guidelines for a phased reopening, which will be available soon.

OSHA: The agency recently issued Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, a 35-page guide for employers to consult when preparing workplaces for employees to return. OSHA recommends employers designate one person to serve as the workplace coronavirus coordinator to address employee concerns and track employees with the virus.

The new OSHA guide includes protective measures, such as limiting the number of employees in offices, staggering arrival and departure times, and installing barriers for meetings.

EEOC: In a recent update, the EEOC issued guidance for employers on a variety of topics. They include reasonable coronavirus-related accommodations as defined by the ADA, hiring and onboarding concerns such as screening for the coronavirus symptoms, and pandemic-related harassment, which may require training for supervisors and managers.

Some employees will be hesitant to return to work for safety concerns unless granted an accommodation. Employers may need to allow them to work remotely longer or install barriers to ensure distances from
co-workers if feasible, says the EEOC.

DOL: The agency has issued a poster that’ll fulfill employers’ notice requirements under the FFCRA. The poster must be displayed on the premises.

Sick leave laws

Employers need to review their existing policies, ensuring compliance with all newly enacted sick leave laws.

First, check that your policies are consistent with the new coronavirus FFCRA law, which became effective April 1, 2020. This law includes the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act, both of which will need to be tracked.

“In some state or local jurisdictions, benefits such as extended family leave to employees would be available to the extent they are greater than federal benefits,” says Carlos Ledo, human resource consultant, Engage PEO.

In addition, it’s likely more and more states will provide paid sick leave, as the new emergency leave laws are set to expire at the end of 2020.

New policies

By examining their policies, employers can ensure compliance with new laws, as well as develop new policies for:

Coronavirus reporting – Firms need to develop clear policies for coronavirus reporting when someone begins experiencing symptoms.

Remote work – Since some staff will continue to work remotely, firms need to consider interim policies to address employee technology expenses (Wi-Fi, cell phone use, etc.).

“It’s imperative that employers stay on top of the latest guidance as it’s changing constantly, including industry-specific rules that may apply,” says Vanessa Matsis-McCready, director of human resources, Engage PEO.

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COVID-19: EEOC issues new guidelines

What can employers ask workers and disclose to them about the coronavirus? The EEOC recently hosted a webinar offering much-needed guidelines to employers on a host of topics that are upending businesses as they navigate through the pandemic.

Making inquiries

In line with the EEOC’s online guidance, which was issued in March, the agency emphasized employers may ask employees if they have COVID-19 or if they have symptoms of the virus.

Temperature checks: Employers can take employees’ temperatures during the pandemic, as long as they establish a consistent process for the procedure.

Families off limits: It’s best practice to only ask if an employee has had contact with anyone with the virus and avoid asking specifically about a worker’s family. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits firms from requesting such info.

Sending employees home: If an employee refuses to answer questions related to the virus or to have their temperature taken, they can be barred from the workplace since their presence would pose a “direct threat to health or safety,” said EEOC Attorney Sharon Rennert.

Disclosing employees’ exposure

Firms need to inform staffers if a staffer has or has been exposed to the coronavirus, without identifying the person. But the employer needs to get a list of people with whom the infected employee has had contact, so they can inform them directly.

Keep it confidential: The afflicted employee’s identity should only be shared with a few key people within the firm, “making every effort to limit the number of people who get to know the name,” says EEOC Attorney Jeanne Goldberg. Otherwise, firms could possibly run afoul of the ADA.

Granting accommodations

The EEOC is uncertain at this time whether COVID-19 is a disability under the ADA, which would normally require employers to provide reasonable accommodations. But the agency has asked that employers give requests their prompt attention.

Wearing a face mask: If wearing a mask is the only accommodation that’ll sufficiently reduce any threat to the employee, employers are obligated to allow it unless it would interfere with the person’s ability to perform an essential job function.

Working from home: Firms aren’t obligated to grant a WFH accommodation unless employees are at greater risk of COVID-19 due to preexisting disabilities, are pregnant or are over 65. But they need to treat such requests as they normally would through the interactive process.

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Coronavirus: Staying safe, compliant with federal regs

Employers have been quick to take preventive measures – imposing sharp restrictions on travel, canceling conferences and instructing employees to work at home – during the coronavirus outbreak. But it’s critical for employers to stay compliant with the CDC, ADA, EEOC, HIPAA and FMLA in the face of the new illness, especially when it comes to federal employment regs.

Federal laws, agencies

Here’s how to put employees’ health first while still protecting your firm.

CDC: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises employers to implement heightened hygienic practices and workplace cleanings. The CDC also recommends employers replace in-person meetings with video or telephone conferences.

The CDC’s list of considerations also includes using “social distancing” techniques, such as working remotely or 6 feet apart for those who still need to work onsite.

ADA: While the coronavirus is typically a temporary illness and not a “disability” under the ADA, employers need to use caution when making employee inquiries.

Employers are allowed to ask questions relating to an employee’s exposure to the virus if they pose a “direct threat” under the ADA. To determine this risk, employers can inquire about the duration of the risk, the severity of the potential harm and the likelihood the harm will occur. If the threat seems imminent, employers can request the employee submit to a medical exam.

EEOC: The agency has issued guidance for employers on the impact of the outbreak, reminding them of steps to be taken to avoid violating the ADA. It also includes a number of examples employers may find useful as they navigate the coming weeks and months. For example, employers can send employees home if they’re experiencing virus-like symptoms.

HIPAA: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a bulletin to clarify HIPAA’s privacy rules during the coronavirus outbreak. The “basic requirements of HIPAA still apply even in a public health emergency,” says Mintz Levin attorney Kristen Marotta. However, disclosures are allowed for treatment, for public health activities and to prevent a “serious and imminent threat,” says the bulletin.

FMLA: Since employees can’t use their 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave unless they have a serious health condition, an employee’s fear of contracting the virus wouldn’t quality for FMLA. However, they’re permitted to take the leave to care for a family member.

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Avoiding COVID-19 lawsuits and reputational damage as employees return to work

As organizations of all kinds prepare to reopen facilities and bring employees back onsite as the COVID-19 crisis eases, HR pros need to be ready to advise leadership of both potential legal risks and how to protect against long-term damage to their reputation.

And there is one risk factor that many executives, and even legal
counsel, are not yet thinking about – states and local governments are taking a
larger role in protecting workers from the coronavirus with new rules and
acting on their behalf in other, non-regulatory, ways as well.

As detailed in a recent paper for the Harvard Law School’s National Employment Law Project (NELP), state and local governments are now examining how they can safeguard workers in their jurisdictions with COVID-19 exposure protection rules that go beyond federal laws and regulatory standards.

COVID-19 safety naming and shaming

For example, in addition to actively enforcing state laws, especially in high-risk industries, state government agencies may begin collaborating with worker organizations and publicizing enforcement actions to “name and shame” employers who don’t adequately protect workers from the coronavirus.

Employers should also expect active efforts to publicize and enforce any state and local requirements for updating COVID-19-related safety plans and creating employer/employee safety committees.

Increased whistleblower protections for workers who report unsafe conditions due to poor coronavirus protections are also likely in many states.

Employers may also face COVID-19-related public nuisance lawsuits.

The NELP report states, “In April, two public interest law
organizations filed suit … based on the risk of community spread of COVID-19
resulting from the companies’ failure to comply with CDC guidelines in their
plants. The lawsuit sought no money damages, only safer working conditions.”

The suits were dismissed on procedural grounds, but the publicity forced coronavirus protection changes at the plants.

States using soft powers to protect workers from coronavirus

In addition to tracking any new local and state-level coronavirus safety rules, however, employers need to be aware that states are also examining whether to use “soft powers” to help improve workplace safety:

The report details potential government interventions that employers
should anticipate, including:

  • Helping with informal mediation to improve conditions in unsafe workplaces;
  • Educating workers, employers, and the general public about applicable laws and measures for workplace safety;
  • Disclosing information about employers who are endangering workers and the public, so that customers and others can be aware of this conduct;
  • Convening stakeholders, including employers, workers, or their representatives, to strategize about how to create safe workplaces;
  • Collaborating closely with worker organizations, like unions, worker centers, and others.

Getting ahead of the curve

For all employers, the best way to avoid both legal and
reputational risks related to COVID-19 is to understand and implement worker and
customer protection best practices.

That is also the best way to keep your employees focused and productive as they navigate a fresh set of challenges around returning to work while the coronavirus crisis continues impacting their personal lives with closed daycares and schools, drops in household income and other challenges.

One possible positive outcome for HR? A chance to show your partners, clients and prospective recruits that you are who they want to do business with.

By publicizing that your organization is doing everything you can to protect workers and customers from the coronavirus – and highlighting the positive impact that’s having on your ability to keep your business moving through the COVID-19 crisis – you can boost your reputation as an employer, increase awareness among potential clients and partners, and help secure future growth and success.

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