Wednesday April 1, 2020
 

Coronavirus and compliance: Obligations Under FMLA, ADA and Title VII

Employers are scrambling to determine what they should be doing now to prepare for the very frightening and growing threat of the coronavirus.

And that massive challenge comes at the same time as this influenza season,
which is well on its way to being the worst in a decade.

The impact of these viral illnesses will ripple through every workplace, regardless of location or industry, cautions veteran labor and employment attorney Dr. Jim Castagnera, in a Premiere Learning Solutions webinar.

Employers are taking a serious look at how they can keep their businesses
operating and protect employees.

And, with state and federal government agencies telling most employees to stay at home, the number of people working remotely is exploding, raising policy issues and potentially creating very real employment law concerns.

Coronavirus and compliance issues

Potential compliance issues include:

  • Permitted employer actions under the ADA, FMLA,
    Title VII and other federal and state statutes and regulations
  • The important ADA concepts of
    “disability-related inquiries,” “medical examinations,” “direct threat,” “undue
    hardship, and other similar terms
  • Leave policies and FMLA requirements
  • Acceptable teleworking arrangements to protect
    employee

Taking effective action will require advanced planning and strategic management decisions, according to Castagnera.

And, while these are clearly extraordinary circumstances, many of the issues
raised or exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic will reverberate long after things
begin returning to normal, said Castagnera.

COVID-19 workplace questions

For example, employers need to understand what they can ask a worker who
calls in sick during this crisis.

Are you allowed to check temperature and send employees home if they show
symptoms of COVID-19 or other influenzas?

Similarly, it isn’t completely clear if you’ll be able to demand a doctor’s
certification for an employee before they can return to work after contracting
COVID-19.

Meanwhile, OSHA is telling employers they must track any COVID-19 infections confirmed to have occurred in the workplace and employers may be on the hook for workers’ compensation related to the illness

And some experts are even pondering whether employers need to immediately update job descriptions to accommodate the new remote work reality.

For more compliance information

The Premiere Learning Solutions webinar, Coronavirus & Influenza: Obligations Under FMLA, ADA, Title VII & More, on Tuesday, March 31 at 1 PM, provides the answers you need to these urgent questions.

In addition to the issues discussed here, Dr. Castagnera explores:

  • Best practices employers should implement now to protect employees
  • What if an employee refuses to work near someone who appears to be ill?
  • How do you handle leave time – is it paid or unpaid?
  • Updates from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and state health authorities

Additional resources

Join Premier Learning Solutions for these additional workshops:

Coronavirus & Remote Work: Pivoting from Bricks to Clicks, on Monday, March 30 at 1 PM will give you internationally-recognized business consultant Michelle Coussens’ insight into:

  • Keys to creating robust business continuity plans
  • How to scale online collaboration and enhance results
  • Keeping Up Off-site Productivity & Morale
  • Tactics to take traditional business functions from the office to the web
  • Implications of the increasingly remote workplace
  • Maintaining in-person culture in a remote workplace
  • Workforce skills needed to succeed in the remote work future
  • How you can help your team counter social isolation

Coronavirus in the Workplace: Employers’ Duty to Protect Employees Available on demand

  • The coronavirus and other common diseases putting employees at risk today
  • OSHA requirements for guarding against infectious diseases in the workplace
  • What you need to know about diseases and how they’re transmitted
  • How employers can protect employees, reduce risks and stay compliant
  • Should employers put a stop to employee travel – especially internationally?

and much more

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Infographic: What you need to know about COVID-19

There’s a lot of information out there on COVID-19 – and unfortunately, not all of it is accurate.

This is an accurate and simple infographic that offers trusted guidance. Share a copy with your staff, or share the link to other HR professionals.

  Fast Facts on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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The Centers for Disease Control: The authoritative online resource for COVID-19

If you’ve been paying attention (and who hasn’t) you’ve probably noticed the abundance of bad information, misinformation and deliberate disinformation about COVID-19.

Hoaxes, spear-phishing email, GoFundMe scams and more.

Thankfully, there is a one-stop place to get all the information that you, your company and your employees need to protect yourselves, your families and your interests during these extraordinary times.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading national public health institute of the United States, has created a reliable and authoritative online resource for everything related to COVID-19.

Here is a breakdown — with links — of what the CDC is saying about Corona Virus Disease, 2019 (COVID-19).

How to Prepare

This is the best breakdown on what you can do to prepare your family in case COVID-19 spreads in your community.

How It Spreads

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes, and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

How to Protect Yourself

Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Please consult with your health care provider about additional steps you may be able to take to protect yourself.

Protect Your Family

You can take steps to protect the health of you and your family during a COVID-19 outbreak. Learn what you can do to plan and prepare

Protect Your Home

You can plan and make decisions now that will protect you and your family during a COVID-19 outbreak. Learn what you can do to prepare your home and family.

Manage Anxiety & Stress

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Symptoms & Testing

Call your doctor:  If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

Schools, Workplaces & Community Locations

TheCenters for Disease Control, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.

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Biz owes almost $100K for extreme harassment, bullying

When an employer subjected its employees to pervasive
harassment, the EEOC had to get involved.

Porous Materials, a manufacturer in Ithaca, NY, is under fire for harassment based on race, sex and national origin, according to a recent EEOC lawsuit.

The extreme bullying and harassment allegedly included a
manager using racial slurs toward his employees, calling foreign workers
“terrorists,” telling immigrants to leave America and making unwanted sexual
advances toward female employees.

The EEOC further claims the owner of Porous Materials did nothing to put a stop to the harassment. This is a violation of the Civil Rights Act.

Porous Materials must pay $93,000 in monetary relief and
report any future harassment allegations directly to the EEOC.

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Employer out $25K for severe race-based harassment

When one employee experienced racial harassment so severe he was forced to quit, the EEOC stepped in.

Driven Fence, a fencing company outside of Chicago, was hit with a lawsuit from the EEOC after permitting a racially hostile work environment.

According to the lawsuit, an African-American employee was continually subjected to racial slurs. Ultimately, when his colleagues hung a noose in the workplace and dragged him toward it, the employee quit for his own safety. The worker’s supervisor allegedly witnessed the incident and laughed, the EEOC said.

Driven Fence will pay $25,000 to the former employee and strengthen
its harassment policies.

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Could coronavirus lead to workers’ comp claims? Experts say ‘yes’

As the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak continues in the U.S., employers are being confronted with the possibility of facing workers’ comp claims from employees who either contracted the coronavirus at work or during work-related travel. 

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries announced March 5 that the state is changing its policy around workers’ compensation coverage for healthcare workers and first responders quarantined by a physician or public health officer.

Employers urged to pay quarantined workers

Washington State is providing workers’ compensation benefits to these workers during the time they’re quarantined after being exposed to the coronavirus on the job.

This coverage includes medical testing, treatment expenses and time-loss payments for those who can’t work while sick or quarantined.

The state agency “is also encouraging employers to continue to pay workers who are quarantined after being exposed,” to the coronavirus according to an L&I news release.

And some workers’ compensation professionals are warning a broader outbreak of the virus could impact workers’ compensation claims for any employer whose workers are more at risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

Ask these questions

Organizations should consider how the coronavirus outbreak could directly impact their claims, according to information from Aon Risk Management.

Company leaders should ask themselves:

  • Do we have employees located in, or traveling to, areas where there are documented and diagnosed cases of the virus?
  • Does our business or industry increase the probability of an employee becoming exposed to people infected by the virus?
  • Do our employees work in close proximity with vendors or other strategic partners with employees who are at greater risk of infection?

A “yes” to any of those questions should lead to another question:

  • Do we have a contingency plan in place to manage or mitigate workers’ compensation claims or their potential impacts?

Because of varying state laws and circumstances unique to a particular organization, each case should be independently reviewed and investigated.

At greater risk than general public

One thing that stands true across the board, however, is that for
most industries “the matter would likely not be deemed compensable if
the employee was considered at no greater risk than the general public.”

But if a healthcare worker, or someone who can confirm on-the-job exposure, has the coronavirus and it’s ultimately proven they contracted it at their place of employment “then any subsequent lost time, including the period of absence required during the quarantine/monitoring period, should trigger coverage.”

Further, absence from work during the quarantine or monitoring period could also trigger coverage under workers’ compensation even if the employee tests negative for the virus.

Exposure = injury

This is because some states see “exposure” as the “injury” rather than the symptoms, so employees at risk because of a job may be covered since exposure would trigger workers’ compensation rather than actually contracting the coronavirus.

Because of this, using time covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act for the quarantine period could be an employer’s best bet.

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$395K ‘Onionhead’ religious discrimination award stands

A Syosset, NY company sued by the EEOC for religious discrimination after employees said they were fired for refusing to participate in religious practices lost its bid to get a $394,991 award struck down and to get a new trial in the case.

The EEOC sued United Health Programs of America Inc. (UHP) and its parent company Cost Containment Group, Inc (CCG) in June 2014 for allegedly forcing its employees to partake in the practices of a belief system known as “Harnessing Happiness,” or “Onionhead.”

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids employers from practicing religious discrimination, including coercing employees to engage in religious practices at work. It also bars employers from firing or taking other adverse action against those who oppose such practices.

U.S. District Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto on March 6 denied UHP and CCG’s request for a new trial.

EEOC supervisory trial attorney Nora Curtin said in a
statement, “The EEOC is pleased that the court upheld the jury’s verdict.”

The original jury award of $5.1 million to the nine employees for religious discrimination was reduced “due to the statutory cap on damages applicable to defendant,” according to the EEOC’s 2018 annual report.

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8 reasons to focus on furthering employees’ education

The workplace is constantly evolving, and so is the
job market. With unemployment at a near record low, job seekers have tons of
options. Recruiting new talent is a challenge, so employers are focused on keeping
their current employees happy. Having your company staffed with the best people
is a full-time job by itself, not to mention all your other responsibilities.

In all this chaos, HR pros like yourself most likely
aren’t thinking about encouraging employees to advance their education – you’re
just trying to keep things running smoothly! And between employees’ busy work
and home lives, they probably aren’t thinking about it much, either.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2022 only about 18% of jobs will require a master’s degree. This means there are plenty of options for those with a bachelor’s degree or high school diploma.

So why should anyone bother? There are actually a
great deal of benefits for both the employer and employee when it comes to higher
education.

Increases retention, performance

If your company doesn’t require a master’s degree, it might seem counter-intuitive to encourage your employees to obtain one. But, according to Jenny Burrows of Training magazine, it’s a terrific investment for employers that can help spur company growth.

The first major benefit you’ll see? Increased retention, Burrows says. A lot of employers worry if they assist workers in their quest for higher education, the employee will take that new knowledge to a different company. But studies show that isn’t true.

Employees will feel valued by their employer, and in turn, are more likely to stay loyal to the company. Believing in your staff and helping them achieve their goal of an advanced degree will have a positive impact on retention – something that’s priceless in the current competitive labor market.

Not only will your people stick around, but their
performance will improve with higher education, Burrows says. When employees go
back to school after being out of the classroom for a decade plus, they’ll
learn all about new advancements in their industry. After completing their
program, these employees will come into work ready to share their new
knowledge, giving your company a competitive edge. This can also help you close
any skills gaps. Instead of finding and hiring new talent, train and educate
your current employees.

Helping your people see the value

So, you’re on board with encouraging your employees to
advance their education. Now, how do you convince them it’s the right
move?

Going back to school, whether online or in the
classroom, is a big undertaking. It takes money, time and effort, and the
average American worker is already stretched thin.

Here are six ways you can convince your employees higher education will help them thrive in their careers, courtesy of Northeastern University.

  1. You’ll gain specialized knowledge. Going back to school will help employees learn all the latest advancements in their fields. In a constantly changing workforce, a higher degree proves you know your stuff, and gives you added credibility. It’s also a great opportunity for employees to explore something specific within their field, or learn about a new area entirely. Continued education will help workers gain new skills and build on ones they already have.
  2. It’ll help you advance in your career. Got a bunch of ambitious employees looking to work their way up the ladder? Higher education can make that so much easier. Many employers like to see advanced degrees for management and leadership positions – especially in certain industries, like education and healthcare. Graduate degrees can help pave the way to big promotions. You can even emphasize how this will help employees if they ever decide to leave your company and go elsewhere – show them it’s in their best interest, not just yours.
  3. It’ll increase your earning potential. If employees are worried about putting money into their degree, ease those fears with the following numbers. The average person with a bachelor’s degree earns about $60,000 a year. The average person with a master’s earns $80,000.
  4. You’ll gain lifelong skills. It’s not just about the technical knowledge employees will learn. Higher education will help workers sharpen their researching, writing and analyzing skills. These soft skills will not only help in the workplace, but in everyday life, too.
  5. You’ll expand your professional network. Going back to school means meeting all kinds of different people. Fellow classmates will come from many different backgrounds, and it’ll give people the opportunity to connect with so many professionals and industry leaders.
  6. You’re never too old or too busy. A lot of employees think they’ve been out of school for so long that it’s too late to go back. But older students are pursuing higher education more than ever before. The average age of those seeking an advanced degrees has increased drastically in the past, and programs are adjusting to accommodate that. The rise of online programs has made it convenient for anyone to get back into the classroom. Many schools also offer night classes for working adults and online/in-person hybrid options. If anyone is worried about their computer and tech skills, a lot of universities have tutorials and help lines designed to assist students of all ages.

Taking the next steps

Once you’ve decided to focus on getting your employees
to advance their education, there are a few things you can do to get the ball
rolling.

Gauge everyone’s interest in the idea, and see what
kind of courses employees are interested in. What learning option works best
for their busy schedules? What kind of costs can they handle? When you have
this information, you can do research and present your people with programs tailored
to their needs.

Another thing to explore – is your company willing to assist with the cost of participating in these programs? If your staff can get a discounted or free ride to school, they’re much more likely to complete the program.

In the meantime, focus on fostering a company culture
that places an emphasis on learning and development. See what kind of training
you can do right now, in-house. Once a few learning options are open to your
employees, they’ll be hungry for more.

The post 8 reasons to focus on furthering employees’ education appeared first on HR Morning.

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The 5 causes of recruiter burnout … (and how not to)

We’ve seen the role of the recruiter change drastically over the years. While many recruiters get into the industry to help top talent find their dream roles and help companies build their dream teams, many end up living in the nightmare of recruiter burnout.

As it turns out, HR has the fifth-highest turnover as a job function according to this LinkedIn research. On top of that, it’s reported that there’s a 90% recruiter turnover within the first year.

The recruiter burnout is real, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

According to a study by Jobvite, 45% of recruiters believe that AI and automation will make their jobs better, leaving them to focus on more strategic work. Yet many recruiters aren’t leveraging the right automation tools to drive real results.

Instead, many teams are adding a suite of tech products that only adds to the endless list of tasks on their plate—and takes away from time that could be spent nurturing candidates or becoming a more strategic partner to Hiring Managers.

At WayUp, we see common pain points from many of our clients and partners. From lack of awareness in employer branding to the struggle of hiring diverse talent and a lack of efficiency in the hiring process to an elongated recruitment process.

Before working with us, many of our clients also struggle with analyzing their recruitment funnel to find where the drop-off is—which prevents them from being able to make strategic decisions to help increase their ROI.

If you’re a recruiter who feels like you’re inundated with copious tasks and wasting time in your hiring funnel without seeing results, there are answers to your woes. And if you’re on the edge of burnout, don’t let it escalate. In this article, we’ll tackle the most common challenges we see in the industry and how to solve them.

Minimal resources

Let’s attack one of the biggest culprits of recruiter burnout: lack of resources. Chances are, you’re inundated with applicants and referrals and don’t have time to respond to each one. The key is finding a streamlined way to review applications and surface top talent. Start by reevaluating your “knockout” questions to help you weed out unqualified applicants.

Avoid the applicant black hole problem by employing a combination of digital and phone screening to review every candidate’s application. There are vendors who will not only handle that for you, but who will help you analyze bias in your screening, and more

And for candidates that don’t pass, create a template to send them within 24 hours. Some studies show that as little as 2% percent of candidates hear back after interviews, and that can lead to a severe loss of faith in a company and negatively affect revenue. Make the most of your resources while still providing a positive candidate experience.

Recruitment takes too long

Did you know that companies lose as many as 89% of potential candidates due to a prolonged screening process? Don’t lose your sanity by losing top talent to your competitors. On average, recruiters spend 78,352 minutes on the phone per year. That’s a lot of time that could be spent focusing on more strategic work.

The answer here is not to let your funnel build up. Set up a system that allows passed candidates to schedule interviews right away (even if they’re far in advance).

Another solution is to avoid seasonal recruiting and implement an always-on approach. This always-on recruiting mentality will especially be helpful in a 3% unemployment world and help you allocate your resources more efficiently.

Brand awareness

How do you drive diverse top talent through your funnel when no one knows who you are? If you want to attract diverse candidates to your open roles, you need to create meaningful content that speaks to your values, benefits, and culture—and share it in recognizable and relatable formats. 67% of both active and passive job seekers say that when they’re evaluating companies and job offers, it is important that the company has a diverse workforce. Yet, if a diverse candidate can’t see themselves culturally or physically represented in your messaging, then these candidates likely won’t even make it to your jobs page.

Assess your employer branding and the story your brand is trying to tell. You can do this through video, articles, and so much more. It’ll save you time and money in the long run by attracting the very best candidates, year-round.

Preserve the human touch

Make automation work for you, not against you. It’s critical to have the right balance of high-tech and high-touch in your recruiting process. Useful automation includes things like tech-enabled interview scheduling through calendar applications and automatic responses to unqualified applicants.

Tasks that shouldn’t be automated? Interviews. For example, we never recommend putting a one-way recorded interview in place of a human one. Over 85% of candidates self-report that they “hate” pre-recorded one-way interviews and companies often see drop-off between 30-70% from requiring it.  After all, recruiting is a people business, and I think we should keep it that way.

Analysis paralysis

Having the right data can dramatically help you make smart decisions for your business. The problem is that your data can live in so many places, and it takes time to analyze it for actionable insights. First thing’s first: break down your funnel. Track down the demographics of your candidates and how many are passing through your screening. What criteria are your applicants not meeting?

Adjust your messaging to reflect those findings and unify your data so you can measure the points that matter over time. Tracking these numbers will help educate you on how you market open roles to prospective candidates. If you follow this strategy, you’ll have a clear view of candidate drop-off patterns and make data-driven strategies that positively affect your ROI.

In the war on talent, burnout is not the
answer. It’s time that recruiters took their jobs back and stopped feeling like
order takers and started feeling like strategic partners.

The post The 5 causes of recruiter burnout … (and how not to) appeared first on HR Morning.

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The 3 reasons why those candidates “No-Showed” you!

The conference room is set. The team prepped. Resume printed. Hiring managers are in the wings.

You’re ready! Wait. They’re five minutes late. Now 20 minutes. Well, shoot. You’ve been stood up by a No-Show candidate.

Again.

No-Show prospects are not only frustrating – they’re holding your company back and keeping you from taking yet another to-do off your list.

Why does this keep happening!?!

We work across hundreds of employers and dozens of industries and we can share that ‘no shows’ are normal, yet, they seem to happen to certain employers more than others. Let’s review some of the common factors across firms that seem to encounter no shows more frequently and what you can do about it.

You took too long

Your sales team probably knows that a lead is tremendously more likely to buy from you if 1) you’re the first to contact and 2) you respond to activity within 15 minutes. Recruiting is similar, in a way.

Often the ‘no show’ occurs because the candidate got
another job or thinks they’re about to and they simply do a poor job at tying
up the loose ends of the job hunt. Had you moved a little faster, you could
have been the company making the offer. The time it takes you to first reach
out to express interest and then schedule them to come in is the time other
employers have to seal the deal.

Yes, it can be overwhelming to review hundreds of resumes
while handling all the other responsibilities on your plate but you’ll be well-served
to reach out to candidates quickly after they apply. It’s your best bet at making
sure other employers are not developing relationships before you do and it
makes the candidate feel wanted – which is important and also related to reason
#3.

You have some image issues

“Not
cool Jared!” may be the entirety of the response you currently have when you
see someone has written a poor review online about their work experience. Maybe
a “I’m surprised to hear that” when a candidate sheepishly admits they’ve heard
‘some things’ at industry events?

We’ve
found significant correlation between poor employer reputation and first face
to face interview ‘no shows.’ People do a much deeper dive between their first
call with you and when they’re coming in for a formal, sit down interview.

It’s
not surprising that having happy team members post honest, positive feedback on
the same boards can be an effective counter to put some concerned candidates
minds at ease. We’ve also found that addressing these types of reputational
issues head on during the first phone interview can minimize downstream ‘no
shows,’ especially when paired with the plan your company has implemented to
address legitimate concerns.   

You failed to sell them

Often, the ‘no show’ occurs between the initial outreach and the first in-person interview. These early interactions are critical to not only when you’re evaluating a candidate’s potential to be successful in the role but also on how you sell them on what a great company they could be joining.

Speed not only helps with combatting competitive offers,
it also is one of the strongest genuine tools to help a candidate feel
appreciated, valued, and wanted. This helps sell them on your company being the
right firm for them.

Jobs are aplenty. Candidates, for now, are the
sought-after resource. Are your initial touches properly balancing evaluating
the candidate with building excitement around your opportunity? Have growth
plans, benefits, success stories, exciting company developments, and the right
welcoming personalities lined up on those first initial connections to ensure
you’ve got an eager (and early) candidate sitting across from you in the
conference room at your next initial face to face interview.

While you may never be able to eliminate the dreaded ‘no
show’ if you act decisively, proactively manage any known reputational issues,
and not lose sight that from the start you have to ‘sell’ as much as the
candidate does, you’ll find your frustration rate from disappearing candidates
fall dramatically.   

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