One in Four Believes a Co-Worker Capable of Violence

In the wake of the workplace murder of Yale student Annie Le and other tales of co-worker-initiated mass violence such as that at Ft. Hood, one in every four Americans believes a co-worker he or she knows is capable of violence, according to a new Rasmussen poll.

According to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, 26 percent of employed adults said they seriously thought that a co-worker was capable of violent acts, while 43 percent of government workers felt a fellow employee was capable of mass violence.

More pertinently from an employer’s perspective, 36 percent said their places of work lacked adequate procedures to help prevent workplace violence.

Unsure how to develop policies and procedures to thwart workplace violence? Get a copy of Personnel Concepts’ Workplace Violence Prevention Kit and start implementing your plan today.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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DOL Pushes for Mandated Seven Paid Sick Days Minimum

Using the H1N1 pandemic as a selling point for mandating sick leave at work, Department of Labor spokespersons have been testifying in the Senate this week in support of the Healthy Families Act.

The proposed bill would require employers to let employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, capped at 56 hours, or seven days. The bill would also allow employers (naturally) to be more generous and offer greater paid sick leave packages.

The Healthy Families Act is currently being weighed by the Subcommittee on Children and Families in the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris argued that many sick workers to go to work and many working parents send sick children to school because they have no paid sick leave. He said such a system poses a threat to public health, the nation’s economic future and a social system that depends heavily on people caring for themselves and their family members.

Currently, only San Francisco and the District of Columbia have paid sick leave mandates. Milwaukee voters passed one in November 2008, but instantly under legal challenge, it was later ruled unconstitutional by a judge.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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GAO Faults OSHA for Its Injury-Illness Audits

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report faulting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for its handling of the injury-illness reports it collects each year from the nation’s businesses.

Each year OSHA audits about 250 of the injury-illness reports it receives from approximately 130,000 high-hazard work sites in the United States. The GAO audit of these audits, however, says that OSHA fails to instruct its inspectors to conduct on-site employee interviews to determine the veracity of the reports.

In addition, since the audits often take place two years after the reports have been filed, many of the affected workers have left the employ of the companies that issued the reports and thus cannot be interviewed.

Finally, the GAO found that OSHA has not updated its list of high-hazard industries since 2002 and thus doesn’t include eight such industries in its audits.

The report recommended:

OSHA inspectors must take advantage of opportunities to verify the accuracy and completeness of employer-provided records by interviewing workers who may be aware of injuries and illness that may not have been recorded by employers. It is also important that OSHA conduct its records audits as soon as possible after it collects employers’ injury and illness data to maximize the usefulness of information collected from worker interviews.

According to the accountability office, there were 4 million workplace injuries in 2007, including 5,600 fatalities. Moreover, the report says that more than a third of occupational health practitioners surveyed revealed that employers or workers pressurized them to provide insufficient medical treatment in order to hide or play down work-related injuries or illnesses.

Workers for their part, the report says, fail to report job-related injuries as they do not wish to be fired from their jobs or disciplined, also worrying about their co-workers losing rewards that are a part of safety-based incentive programs, such as bonuses or steak dinners.

The fear of increasing worker compensation costs and hurting their chances of winning contracts are a couple of reasons employers do not report workplace injuries and illnesses.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Bills Introduced to Extend COBRA Subsidy, Length

Two bills in the House of Representatives aim to extend the eligibility date for subsidies of COBRA health coverage through June 31, 2010. Currently, those involuntarily discharged from their jobs are eligible for a 65-percent subsidy of COBRA health care only if they are terminated by Dec. 31, 2009.

Both HR 3930 and HR 3966 embrace the new cut-off date but approach matters a bit differently. HR 3966 retains the current COBRA coverage of 18 months, while HR 3930 allows for 24 months for individuals terminated by Dec. 31, 2009 and 15 months, or until Dec. 31, 2010, for all others. Both retain the subsidy level at 65 percent.

The two bills are now under consideration in various committees of the House of Representatives.

Employers, keep your workforces informed of their rights to both COBRA and the COBRA subsidy with Personnel Concepts’ All-in-One COBRA Information Poster.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Insider Identity Theft Accounts for 70% of ID Crime

Don’t let the fox guard the hen house. According to "identity theft expert" Robert Siciliano:

"As much as 70 percent of all identity theft is committed by someone with inside access to organizations such as corporations, banks, or government agencies, or by someone who has an existing relationship with the victim. People with access to sensitive personal data are most likely to commit identity theft. For many, it’s just too easy not to."

As an example, Siciliano cites the case of a 27-year-old computer technician at the Bank of New York Mellon, who has been charged with stealing the identities of more than 150 of his coworkers and charging up to $1 million in their names. His tactic was to get new credit cards issued in their names and sent to his own address, according to authorities.

With the Red Flags Rule taking effect, any business that extends credit will need to set up a program to monitor, detect and deter identity theft. To help you do this, Personnel Concepts offers its Workplace Identity Theft Program, which will enable you to stay in compliance with the Red Flags Rule.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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ICE Deal Saves Managers from Doing Hard Time

Think that maintaining properly vetted I-9 forms on your employees isn’t that big a deal?

The answer –it is a big deal–has been driven home forcefully to management at Columbia Farms in Columbia, S.C.

After an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid in 2008 discovered hundreds of illegal immigrants working at the poultry plant, most of the workers were deported, dozens of others were tried and sentenced to jail time for using fake documents, and two of the farms’ managers were criminally charged.

The two managers escaped the noose, so to speak, when the company recently agreed to a $1.5 million plea agreement that will require the accused to undergo training. The company itself, in agreeing to reform its hiring practice to legal standards and enroll in the E-Verify program, also must hire an on-site compliance officer and contract with an external auditing firm to monitor its employment practices.

The I-9 form from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is required of all new hires and is used to verify their legal status to work in the United States through the submission of identifying documents. E-Verify is a voluntary online program that can be used to check people’s records at the Social Security Administration and USCIS to verify their right to work in the states.

In short, the I-9 process is an important one. Fortunately, Personnel Concepts has developed a comprehensive I-9 Compliance Kit to help employers and human resource personnel maintain proper I-9 verifications. It is a big deal.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Wal-Mart Comes Under Fire for Sick Leave Policy

Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, is coming under fire during the H1N1 flu season for its sick-leave policy, which awards demerits for sick days and forces workers to use a floating holiday or vacation day for the first day out (or forfeit their pay for the day).

After the first day, the company does offer paid sick leave, but it’s that first day that forces employees to choose whether to stay home or come to work sick–or leave sick children at home to fend for themselves.

Demerits, or points, are accrued for absences, however. Four absences in a six-month period lead to disciplinary action that can result in termination if more points are accrued, according to sources. A clean record for six consecutive months erases all points from an employee’s record.

"I do believe Wal-Mart is creating a public health threat by encouraging workers to come to work [sick]," said Robert Field, professor of health management and policy at the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia. "It is in a position, as a retailer, to create particular exposures for the public…. It’s such a ubiquitous store, and it particularly caters to families and kids who are the ones most likely to spread the disease."

"Our attendance policy is written in a way that is flexible to meet the needs of our associates, but, by the same token, it allows us to take care of our customers and run our business," a company spokesperson explained, adding that "no one will lose their job" for getting the H1N1 flu.

Legislation has been introduced in Congress for an emergency measure to require employers to offer five days of sick leave for any employee suffering from the H1N1 virus or other infectious disease, but even that likely wouldn’t affect Wal-Mart’s policy since it does, in essence, guarantee sick leave, albeit with some onerous strings attached.

During this flu season, Personnel Concepts is offering a Pandemic Flu Workplace Preparedness Kit to help employers combat the potential ravages of H1N1 on their workforce and company productivity. Get yours today.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Majority of Businesses Plan to End Salary Freezes

An October survey by consulting firm Watson Wyatt found that 54 percent of employers plan to end salary freezes within six months, up from 33 percent in August. Some 49 percent, just shy of a majority, also said they plan to end hiring freezes in the same time frame.

Overall, 56 percent of those surveyed reported that they had enacted both hiring and salary freezes in response to the economic downturn.

Thirty-five percent of the 201 large firms in the survey said they planned to reverse reductions in 401(k) salary matches, while a whopping 96 percent said they had extended job offers in the past three months.

On the down side, one-fifth indicated they would conduct layoffs in the coming months.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Bill Would Require Paid Sick Leave for H1N1 Sufferers

A bill has been introduced by one of the authors of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) to require employers to provide up to five paid sick days for employees sent home with the H1N1 influenza.

The emergency measure, which would also extend to sufferers of any other infectious disease, would be the first paid sick leave law on the national statutes.

The author, Representative George Miller (D.-Calif.), said his House Education and Labor Committee would consider the bill during the week of Nov. 16, with a full floor vote coming shortly thereafter.

During this flu season, Personnel Concepts is offering a Pandemic Flu Workplace Preparedness Kit to help employers combat the potential ravages of H1N1 on their workforce and company productivity. Get yours today.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Wal-Mart Agrees to Another $85 Million Wage Settlement

Wal-Mart has agreed to, and a judge approved, a plan to settle unpaid-wage lawsuits for up to $85 million. The lawsuits, 30 in all that were combined into one before U.S. District Judge Philip M. Pro in Las Vegas, alleged time clock manipulation and denial of rest periods to workers in several states.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs will share in one-third of the pot.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart has been on a losing streak with these unpaid-wage lawsuits. It has either lost or settled suits to the tune of $640 million globally in the past year.

“We’re going to see some real money distributed to people,” said workers’ attorney Carolyn Beasley Burton. “Hundreds of thousands of people will get a check in the next few months of $150 to $1,000. It’s a nice little stimulus package.”

Little is the operative word here, as Ms. Burton and her colleagues will get the biggest stimulus package of all–about $28 million worth.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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