Archive for February, 2011

Congressional Hearings on OSHA and Job Creation

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Hearings began on February fifteenth with a testimonial from Secretary Soils on the Labor Department’s policies and priorities. They continued yesterday with several  witnesses from small business leaders and input from committee members including committee chair Rep. John Kline (R-MN).

Two specific OSHA mandates were examined, The now-withdrawn proposal to add an MSD column to the OSHA 300 log, and the proposed occupational noise interpretation.

The result of this hearing will have an effect on the Department of Labor’s budget  that currently increases spending for agencies that regulate employers including auto dealerships. Read more here:″>Kline Statement: Hearing on Policies and Priorities at the U.S. Department of Labor | Education & the Workforce Committee

OSHA Training Video: Respiratory Protection

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

NIOSH respiratorThis 2011 video is an overview of the comprehensive respiratory protection program required of employers wherever respirators are used. It is smoothly presented, with some creative eye-catching visuals (by government standards). About a third of the hour long video is specific to the health care industry, but for the most part it is a very good general purpose refresher course for any EHS reporter.

More respiratory reporting resources are available at:

Cupid’s Arrow May Find You At Work

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Long hours at work  and increased socialization as a workplace expectation may have lead to an increase in romance in the workplace reports several recent studies. The flip side is that while employee may be finding love at work they are also concerned about the impact to their careers. reports that 59 percent of 2,083 respondents to recent survey had dated a colleague. Slightly more than one-fourth dated a subordinate, and 18 percent dated their supervisor. A  Career Builder survey reports that more than one-third of 3,910 full-time U.S. employees have made a love connection in the workplace and nearly two-thirds are not keeping secret a once-taboo type of relationship.

The survey also found that thirty-eight percent thought a co-worker gained a professional advantage because of a romantic relationship with a supervisor or co-worker, and 31 percent were uncomfortable with a co-worker’s office romance.   The respondents  indicated the following behaviors as not acceptable for workplace relationships:

•Dating someone in the same department (29 percent).
•Dating someone who is working on a project with you (29 percent).
•Dating someone you work with who is from a different company (22 percent).
Eleven percent thought a workplace romance is never acceptable.

So can Cupid’s arrow kill your career and is it worth it? It depends on which survey you read. Sixty-five percent of workers in the survey said the economy was not a factor in pursuing a workplace liaison. However, 70 percent of 423 registered Monster users think that dating a co-worker openly could jeopardize job security or advancement, according to a survey in the U.S. for Spherion Staffing Services, a division of SFN Group Inc. Only one-third of those surveyed in 2008 were hesitant to start an office romance.

John Heins, senior vice president and chief HR officer at SFN Group acknowledged that many companies do not have clear policies or workers are not aware of them.  36 percent of the respondents to the Monster survey work at companies without such a policy; 43 percent don’t know if their company has a policy. “If office policies aren’t clearly communicated or don’t exist at all, people can’t measure the potential consequences of how an office romance will be perceived or handled by the company,” Heins said.

Employers should have a clearly stated and non discriminatory policy for office relationship.  The policy should eliminate any cause for possible harassment or discrimination lawsuits (employees and mangers cannot date if there is a reporting relationship for example).   Have an attorney review the policy and have all employees read and acknowledge it.

Employees should endeavor to keep all workplace interactions (even with your sweetie) at the highest level of professionalism.  Your goal is that know that no one knows that you are even dating by your behavior.  However in today’s world you should also limit office gossip by informing co-workers and manager prior to status updates on social media sites.

Join the conversation: What do you think about romance in the workplace?


SHRM Online Newsletter,  2/11/2010,   Every Day is Valentine’s Day for Some Workers,

www.Vault .com 2/10/2011

www. Career Builder. com,2/10/2011

www., 2/11/2011

HR, Heart or Head?

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Is HR a job of the heart or of the mind?    It’s an interesting conundrum that many of us in HR got into it because we wanted to create dynamic and diverse workplaces filled with engaged employees and ended up being the “enforcer” or the “paper pusher”.  It is  possible to do both- ensure compliance with the rules and regulations and create a place the employees want to work and those objectives are actually complimentary.  HR can make a difference in both the bottom line (no lawsuits and engaged employees improves profits) and in the lives of the employees  by creating and fostering a fair, diverse and motivational workplace.

Need a refresher or some new ideas about how to use both your head and your heart?   Interested in how HR can be the “moral compass” of the company?  Take a look at  Leading With Your Heart. The Society for Human Resources (SHRM) notes “HR professionals will find Leading With Your Heart instrumental in bridging the gap between the idealized expectations of the C-suite and the pressing realities of needing to get the job done at the line manager and local levels”.

Be the first person share your thought on is HR a job for heart or heads or both and I’ll send you a free copy of “Leading With Your Heart”.

About the Authors of Leading With Your Heart

Cari M. Dominguez is the owner of Dominguez & Associates, a management consulting firm that provides selective services in the areas of workforce assessments and diversity evaluations. Dominguez serves on several for profit and nonprofit boards and has numerous professional affiliations. Her public service includes being the former Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), and Department of Labor’s Assistant Secretary for the Employment Standards Administration. In the private sector she was a partner and director at two international executive search firms and held a number of senior human resources positions with Bank of America, where she had responsibility for EEO, succession planning, executive compensation, and talent development.

Judith (Jude) Sotherlund, president of Sotherlund Consulting, is a corporate consultant and published author. Her public service includes serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards and as a Staff Assistant in the Office of Communications at The White House. Private-sector experience includes Vice President of Employment Advisory Services Inc., a senior consultant to the Equal Employment Advisory Council (EEAC), and Director of Communications for the National Committee for Quality Health Care.

Successful Dealer Discusses “Hiring Right”

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Hiring the right employee is critical to your businesses success.   Unfortunately many companies treat recruiting and hiring as a necessary evil,  not a key business function,  and do not invest the time and effort to hire right.  Successful Dealer just published a great article by Denise  Rodini- “Hiring Right”- that provides an overview of best practices with practical tips and tools on how to hire the right way from John Boggs, a leading labor and employment attorney and KPA partner.   John is counsel to CNCDA (California New Car Dealer Association), was an original developer of the HotlinkHR program, and has over 26 years experience working with dealerships.  He knows of what he speaks!

The “Hiring Right” article is based on the KPA  webinar “Bullet Proof Your Employment Practices” which can be downloaded for free at

Join the conversation: How important is a consistent process that includes background checking and assessment testing to hire right?

KPA Covers Electronic Devices In EHS Regulatory Audits

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

As part of a facility inspection report, KPA engineers always check for functionality and safety of standard electronic devices, and they are very instrumental in helping dealerships keep work environments clear of shock hazards to employees. This is very helpful because electrical and wiring methods are number seven on the top ten most frequently cited standards in workplace inspection.

While Federal regulatory agencies are increasing citations and penalties for electronic equipment malfunctions in the auto industry, it is important to remember that KPA is reliable and helps protect our client’s reputation for safety.

To Pay or Not To Pay for Snow Days

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Punxsutawney Phil,  the famous groundhog weather forecaster has predicted that winter will be short and pleasant and springtime is only six weeks away. Hard to believe when much of the nation is blanketed with snow, freezing rain and bitter cold. Whether or not Phil is right and winter is on the way out it might be a good time to review and update your inclement weather pay policy before the next round of bad weather.

Wage Payment Requirements
For non-exempt employees, compliance under federal law is straightforward. Non-exempt employees must only be paid for time actually worked. The FLSA (Fair Labor Standard Act) does not require non-exempt employees to be paid when they do not come to work due to inclement weather. However, some states have “reporting time pay” laws that require non-exempt employees be paid whenever the employee reports to work as required or requested by the employer, even if no work is available. States with “reporting time laws” are California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon (minors only), and Rhode Island. Employers in these states should consult with their legal counsel to understand the implications of the state laws for their pay policies.

Compliance with the FLSA for exempt employees is more complex. Exempt employees must be paid their full salary for any week in which they perform any work, unless a deduction is specifically permitted under 29 C.F.R. § 541 (b). Section 541.602(b) (1) allows deductions for full-day absences taken for “personal reasons.” So is a snow day a “personal reason” for taking a day off?  DOL Opinion Letter FLSA2005-46 confirms that deductions of full day increments may be made from an exempt employee’s salary if the employer is open for business and the employee chooses not to report to work. However no deductions from salary can be made if the employer closes operations. DOL Opinion Letter FLSA2005-41 states that since employers are not required under the FLSA to provide any paid leave to employees, “there is no prohibition on an employer giving vacation time and later requiring that such vacation time be taken on a specific day(s).” Employers who provide paid leave may require employees to take that leave for full or a partial day absence when the offices are closed for inclement weather or “other disasters”.
To sum up the requirements for wage payment and HR best practices due to inclement weather or other disasters:
1. Non-exempt employees do not have be paid when they do not work due to inclement weather or a disaster under the FLSA. Payment may be required by state law and employers in these states should consult with legal counsel to fully understand the implications “reporting time pay” law for their pay policies.
2. If the company is open for business, an employer may make deductions, in full-day increments only, from the salary of exempt employees who do not come to work due to inclement weather or a disaster.
3. If the company closes operations, the employer cannot make deductions from salary, but can require the employee to use accrued paid leave, either in partial-day or full-day increments.
4. Beyond the legal requirements for wage payment employers should consider if providing for some form of compensation during severe weather or other disasters is a key benefit that could assist in attracting and retaining employees.
5. Have a written policy for wage payments that has been reviewed by qualified legal counsel. Provide a copy to each employee and have them acknowledge the policy in writing or by electronic signature.
For more information on compliance with the FSLA and wage payments download KPA’s free webinar “The Essentials of Wage and Hour Law for Dealerships” and “Advanced Wage and How Law for Dealerships” at

Always Confirm Employment Eligibility With E-Verify

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)  is cracking down on employers who hire illegal aliens   Make sure that you complete an I-9 form within three days of hire and take the extra step of confirming eligibility to work in the United States but using E- Verify. Not all employers are required to use E-Verify but every employer should..   E-Verify is fast, free and easy to use – and it’s the best way employers can ensure a legal workforce.

Click here to learn more or to sign up for E-Verify.

KPA offers a free webinar on What Employers Must know about Immigration Control and Enforcement. Check it out at

Is this tip helpful for your business?  Please share your thoughts and experiences about using E-Verify with the KPA blog community.