Hot Topics in Total Rewards

  • 30 Apr 2018 7:01 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    estee lauder


    Leanna Garfield

      Apr. 25, 2018, 10:31 AM


    • Estée Lauder Companies is expanding its parental-leave policy in the US.
    • The expanded benefits package now includes 20 weeks of paid leave, $10,000 toward adoption, and a back-to-work transition program — regardless of sex, gender, and sexual orientation. The company will also continue to offer $20,000 toward fertility treatments as well as in-home child care and elder care at a reduced rate.
    • The new program is on par with many major tech companies, like IBM, Twitter, and Amazon.
    • Estée Lauder's Executive Director of Global Benefits told Business Insider that the company realizes that no one family looks the same, which is why it wants to give employees multiple benefits options if they choose to have a child.

    Starting May 1, Estée Lauder employees in the US who choose to have, foster, or adopt a child will get 20 weeks of paid leave— regardless of sex, gender, and sexual orientation. And if they conceive of that child themselves, they will receive an additional six to eight weeks of paid time off.

    The new offerings are part of the company's expanded family-benefits program. Employees at Estée Lauder can now also seek up to $10,000 for adoption fees.

    Both hourly and salaried employees are eligible, as long as they work at least 30 hours per week and have been with the company at least three months. Before the change, Estée Lauder offered 12 weeks of paid parental leave. The company will continue to offer up to $20,000 per year toward fertility treatments, as well as child or elder care at a reduced rate to eligible workers.

    In addition, the company is launching a back-to-work transition program for new parents. As part of this six-week program, Estée will give parents flexibility on where and when they work. For example, a new mom could work from home a few days per week if she chooses, or a dad could adjust his schedule in that he comes in earlier and leaves earlier than the usual 9 to 5. And those who qualify for Estée's new childcare/eldercare program expend a co-pay of $8 an hour.

    The new parental-leave program is a generous policy for a company as big as Estée Lauder. In the US, many parental-leave programs prioritize birth mothers— and therefore offer limited benefitsto fathers, adoptive parents, foster parents, or LGBT parents. Hourly workers are also less likely to receive an extensive amount of paid leave, even though they are more likely to not be able to affordnewborn child care.

    It's also fairly unusual to offer such a large reimbursement toward adoption, which costs between $34,093 and $39,966 on average for American parents. In recent years, a growing number of large American companies have started including adoption reimbursement as part of their benefits packages. American Express, for example, will give up to $35,000 per adoption to eligible, salaried and hourly employees.

    One reason for Estée's expanded policy was to stay competitive when prospective employees are considering benefits packages from other companies, according to Latricia Parker, Estée Lauder's Executive Director of Global Benefits. Approximately 84% of Estée's American workforce are also women, who tend to take more parental leave than men.

    Estée's expanded benefits package seeks to acknowledge that families are diverse as well. Its employees might want to adopt regardless of whether they're able to physically conceive. Fathers may be the lead parent and need some extra time off.

    "We're seeing a general shift away from focusing on more traditional benefits, like medical and dental," Parker told BI. "Now, it's all about the individual, rather than employers dictating what's right for them. Employees want to understand the options available to them ... We [Estée Lauder] don't want to dictate what their families should look like."

    The cosmetics giant is following several other major corporations that have recently made similar changes to their family-leave policies in the US. As of February 2018, the nation's 20 largest employers now offer paid parental leave to at least some of their workers. Out of these, IBM offers the most extensive family-leave program for hourly and salaried employees: 20 weeks of paid leave for birth mothers and 12 weeks for other types of parents. As an outlier, Netflix announced in 2015that it gives parents up to a year of paid time off.

    All three companies offer many more weeks of paid parental leave than the national maternity-leave average: 2.8 weeks for women on a typical salary. According to a 2017 report, more than 114 million Americans do not have any form of paid parental leave.

    The Family Medical Leave Act currently gives women 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave, but many workers don't qualify. In addition, only 6% of people working low-wage jobs have access to any paid family leave.

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    Source: Business Insider

  • 26 Apr 2018 9:55 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    New regulations would apply to more advisors than the DOL’s stalled rule

    By Stephen Miller, CEBS
    Apr 26, 2018

    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on April 18 issued its own proposals to enhance the quality and transparency of investors' relationships with advisors and brokers.

    The SEC's move comes at a time when the Department of Labor (DOL) struggles over implementing the Obama administration's fiduciary rule requiring retirement plan advisors to offer only advice that's in the best interest of plan participants regardless of fees or commissions—and holding plan sponsors liable for seeing that they do.

    This move by the SEC comes after a March 2018 ruling by the 5th Circuit that squashed enforcement of the DOL's 2016 fiduciary rule, putting the guidelines in limbo, in what John Ryan, a partner in law firm Seward & Kissel's employee benefits group in New York City, calls the "Kafkaesque saga of the fiduciary advice rule."

    The DOL faces an April 30 deadline to appeal the 5th Circuit decision, Ryan noted. If the DOL chooses not to appeal, the court's decision will take effect on May 7, vacating the DOL's rule. That could pave the way for the SEC to be the key regulator of investment advice.

    Among the documents the SEC issued last week were:

    • proposed investment advisor interpretation that clarifies the fiduciary duty an investment advisor owes clients, including advice about an investment strategy and recommendations to roll over assets from an employer-sponsored retirement plan to an individual retirement account.

    The public comment period will remain open for 90 days following the documents' forthcoming publication in the Federal Register.

    SEC's Broader Reach

    The DOL's fiduciary rule, proposed in 2015 and finalized in 2016, applied to some—but not all—financial advisors and brokers. The DOL can regulate services provided to retirement accounts but (unlike the SEC) lacks jurisdiction over taxable brokerage accounts.

    Excluding some types of annuities, the SEC's rule would apply uniformly across all types of investment accounts, "which is arguably a significant improvement from the DOL's fiduciary rule that was limited to 'just' retirement accounts," blogged financial writer Michael Kitces.

    Some states, including Nevada and Connecticut, have also adopted their own fiduciary rules, which can be more expansive than the DOL's rulemaking, Kitces pointed out.

    No Right to Sue

    While the SEC proposal calls for a best-interest standard for investment professionals, it does not provide for a private right of action giving investors the right to sue, which was a controversial component of the DOL's fiduciary rule.

    "The law should unambiguously require investment professionals to act in the best interests of their customers, who entrust them with their hard-earned money," said Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets, a nonprofit that supports financial reform. The SEC proposal "appears to fall well short of that standard, relying too heavily on disclosure. While some provisions may offer modest benefits to investors, the SEC appears to have missed a historic opportunity to finally establish a strong, clear, enforceable best-interest standard for all advisors."

    However, regardless of the status of its fiduciary rule, "the DOL has the authority to use its resources to investigate and discipline any plan fiduciary who breaches their fiduciary duties, and can initiate action based on complaints from plan participants who have been harmed," said Barry Kozak, a Chicago-based retirement planning advisor with October Three Consulting. "Similarly, the SEC has the authority to investigate and discipline any broker-dealer or investment advisor who violates their rules of conduct, and can initiate action based on complaints from the general public," he added.

    Future DOL Guidance

    If it doesn't appeal the 5th Circuit case and its fiduciary rule is vacated, "the DOL still could provide additional guidance that complements the SEC proposal," Ryan said. "Such guidance could require clear disclosure of the level of advice being offered"—for instance, whether it meets the Employee Retirement Income Security Act's fiduciary standard and is for participants' exclusive benefit—"that will provide plan fiduciaries with a clear understanding of the relationship they are entering into, the obligations of the financial institution, as well as the fees they are paying for those services," he explained.

    Similarly, "It is likely—at least in my view—that the DOL will follow suit and issue a proposed regulation re-defining fiduciary advice" that is less expansive than the DOL's fiduciary rule,blogged attorney Fred Reish, a partner in the Los Angeles office of Drinker Biddle & Reath. "The DOL will also need to issue prohibited transaction exemptions," he noted, adding, "I suspect that the DOL exemptions will, for the most part, follow the SEC's disclosure requirements, but perhaps adding additional protections for retirement investors."

    No Going Back

    While the future of the DOL's fiduciary rule remains uncertain, and the SEC's regulations governing the conduct of broker-dealers and investment advisors have been published only in proposed form, pending public comments, "business models are most likely being realigned right now" at financial services firms, Kozak said. Financial firms "are trying to project short-term and long-term compliance solutions with these possibly competing rules in a manner that is least disruptive to their bottom lines, which generally could mean the elimination of certain undisclosed compensation bonuses and rewards for the purchase of certain investment options over others."

    He added, "If the industry becomes more forthcoming with how compensation is actually determined, then, with informed consumers, there will be less chance of a violation of trust."

    Although the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has not taken a position on the SEC's efforts, "SHRM believes that a bedrock of sound fiscal and savings policy is ensuring that every U.S. employee has the opportunity to save and plan for retirement and protect his or her family's health," and that "public-policy efforts at both the federal and state levels should focus on expansion of and access to benefits, including retirement accounts," according to SHRM's 2018 Guide to Public Policy Issues.

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    Source: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

  • 26 Apr 2018 9:53 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Many employers can design plans to reduce addiction risks

    By Stephen Miller, CEBS
    Apr 24, 2018

    Surgeon General Jerome Adams called on employers to "step up" to combat the opioid epidemic.

    "As employers, you already understand that the health of your employees has an impact on your bottom line," said Adams, an anesthesiologist who was confirmed by the Senate as the 20th U.S. surgeon general last August. "My challenge to you is to think about how you can impact health beyond the walls of your office, beyond the factory."

    Adams spoke April 19 in Washington, D.C., at Business Health Agenda 2018, a conference sponsored by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), an association of large employers.

    Addiction is a public health crisis, Adams noted, with an estimated 2.1 million people in the U.S. struggling with an opioid-use condition. "There's a person dying of an opioid overdose every 12 and a half minutes," he said. "Four out of five people who use heroin started with a prescription opioid."

    While these drugs can be helpful for a short time, they pose serious addiction risks. "For most people, frankly, the risks outweigh the benefits," Adams said.

    More than a third of people with an opioid prescription don't realize they're taking an opioid to treat pain, he pointed out. Common opioids are OxyContin (a brand of oxycodone), Vicodin (which contains hydrocodone), morphine and methadone.

    "There are levers that you, as employers, have through your plan administration to help people understand what an opioid is. You have control over a lot of prescribing, and you can say [to health providers], 'If you're going to prescribe opioids to my employees, you better tell them that they're taking an opioid and let them know what the dangers are.' "

    Turn Off the Spigot

    Employers, especially large self-insured organizations, can ensure that health providers are following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, Adams said. "Use your levers on the health care deliver side."

    Dental prescriptions for opioids is the first step for many toward addiction, he pointed out. "If you tell your employees and their families that you're not going to pay for more than 10 pills if they go to the dentist, that will have a quicker impact than anything I can do as surgeon general to educate the prescribers in the community."

    Or, implement a three-day limit on opioid prescriptions for initial pain treatment, given that the CDC found that the probability of addiction increases on day four. A three-day limit on opioids has just become the law in Florida.

    Promote Best Practices

    "It's important that you know what successful treatment programs look like," Adams said. For instance, best-practice providers are offering:

    • Personalized diagnosis, assessment and treatment planning.
    • Access to Food and Drug Administration-approved non-opioid medications.
    • Behavioral health interventions delivered by trained professionals.
    • Long-term disease management coaching.
    • Coordinated care for co-existing diseases and disorders.
    • Support services such as mutual-aid groups that can provide emotional and practical support for recovery.

    "I've heard feedback from employers that don't want to pay for fly-by-night programs that are not evidence-based. We're working to help you understand what is evidence-based, and I'm asking that you work with me to make sure once you know the criteria that you pay for [effective treatments] for your employees," Adams said.

    Also, identify pain-management centers of excellence and "reward people for doing the right thing by incentivizing providers to accept those best practices for alternatives to opioids, such as physical therapy, music therapy and acupuncture, and other modalities that many plans aren't paying for and that aren't packaged in a way that makes them easily accessible," he said.

    Reach Out

    "Each and every one of you who is an HR director should know someone at your county or state health department, because they're the ones who know what's going on in your communities," Adams said. "They know the risks as well as the programs that can help reverse those trends beyond the levers that you have on the workplace wellness site."

    In addition, large employers can help small and medium-size businesses in their communities by sharing practices around what's working and what's not. "Share your data so they understand they can have an impact," Adams said. "Bring them to the table with local social-services providers."

    April 28 is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, "and we want you to be a part of it and to help promote it" through employee communications, Adams said. "We want to get these medications off of shelves in homes; we want to get rid of the killer that's in your medicine cabinet."

    Stepping Up

    NBGH's Large Employers' 2018 Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey found that the vast majority of big employers (80 percent) are concerned about abuse of prescription opioids and that many are taking steps to address the opioid epidemic. The survey was conducted last year from May 22 to June 2.

    (Click on graphic to view in a separate window.)

    17-1595 Opiod Abuse.jpg

    "The opioid crisis is a growing concern among large employers, and with good reason," said Brian Marcotte, NBGH president and CEO. "The misuse and abuse of opioids could negatively impact employee productivity, workplace costs, the availability of labor, absenteeism and disability costs, workers' compensation claims, as well as overall medical expenses."

    "Companies incur significant financial and legal risks, such as an increased use of ER services, hospitalizations, related medical costs, and more workers' comp claims," due to opioid use, Linda Keller, employee benefits practice leader for Hub International, a Chicago-based benefits and insurance broker, wrote last October on The SHRM Blog. "The cost per claim as a result of opioid abuse continues to grow, as well as the number of painkillers per claim."

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    Source: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

  • 20 Apr 2018 4:55 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    4 Ways to Overhaul Your Email Habits and Take Back Your Time

    U.S. workers spend more than 5 hours per weekday on email. Here's how to fix that.

    Hayden Field - Entrepreneur Staff

    Associate Editor 

    April 16, 2018 

    Castle in the sky. Pipe dream. Fool’s paradise. They all mean an unattainable fantasy, and for many, that’s the idea of finally reaching “inbox zero.”

    Each weekday in the U.S., white-collar workers spend about 5.4 hours checking email, according to an Adobe Campaign survey. More than any other age group, people ages 18 to 34 tend to check email during workouts, while eating with friends and even while driving.

    So why is email such a “time suck”? For one, email sets up the day’s agenda by time of arrival, and that’s not an accurate or efficient way to sort tasks, says Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. Realtime notifications aren’t efficient, either, since they often serve as distractions from the work at hand. Since people often check email on the go, they tend to read each message multiple times unnecessarily before they have time to respond later.

    The good news: “Inbox zero” is possible -- and so is saving hours of time each day for increased productivity. Here’s your go-to guide for revamping your email strategy.

    1. Think of email like snail mail.

    Imagine receiving one piece of snail mail every few minutes and opening each letter immediately. Inefficient, right? The way regular mail works, people get one batch a day, meaning they check it once and make decisions right away about what to throw away and what to flag.

    “We don’t do email that way,” says Peter Bregman, author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done. “We do it as if the mailman’s just sitting there and taps you on the shoulder every minute and rings a bell in your ear.”

    Even worse, imagine opening a piece of mail, reading it, closing it back up, returning it to the postman and saying, “Give it back to me in a little bit,” Bregman says. That’s essentially what we’re doing when we read an email on the go without time to respond.

    Related: A Quick Guide to Email Etiquette (Infographic)

    2. Stick to scheduled email sessions -- and turn off notifications.

    The first step in changing your email strategy is to stop checking it in realtime. Commit to opening your inbox no more than three times a day -- at the beginning, middle and end of the day. When you do check your email, do it mindfully -- sit down, focus and give it your full attention.

    First, go through and delete whatever you can, says Joseph R. Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University. Answer whatever you can immediately, file messages you need to keep in corresponding inbox folders, then close your inbox until the next planned time.

    To make this strategy work, it’s important to make sure your inbox is always closed except for the specific times you planned. That means no notifications, either -- turn off new message alerts and icon badges on your phone. That way, you won’t be tempted to check your email between scheduled sessions.

    3. Take advantage of inbox filters.

    Ariely sorts his email four different ways -- “Now,” “Daily,” “Weekly” and “One Day” -- and he sets inbox rules for which senders go into each section. For example, messages from The New York Times can go into a daily folder, while he can check Amazon promotions and shipping notifications weekly -- but Ariely only checks his “One Day” section on flights or when he has extra downtime.

    Set up your own filters. In Gmail, simply search for something in your inbox -- for example, an investor’s name. Next, click “More,” “Create filter with this search,” then choose what you’d like the filter to do (like send the investor’s email to your “Now” folder), finally, click “Create filter.” This strategy helps save time and energy since you can direct your attention according to message urgency.

    Related: 6 Keys to Email Marketing Success

    4. “Always be closing.”

    “They say about salespeople, ‘Always be closing,’” Bregman says. “You should think of your email in the same way. What do I do to respond to an email to not create seven more emails for 25 more people?”

    That might be picking up the phone and calling someone instead of going back and forth multiple times to schedule a meeting. It might mean taking unnecessary recipients off of a thread, or it might be definitively ending the conversation once goals have been met. Be intentional with every message you send, and always have the same goal in mind -- preventing unnecessary back-and-forth.

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  • 20 Apr 2018 4:51 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)


    By Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman

    APRIL 17, 2018

    When a company needs a supervisor for a team, senior leaders often anoint the team’s most productive performer. Some of these stars succeed in their new role as manager; many others do not. And when they fail, they tend to leave the organization, costing the company double: Not only has the team lost its new manager, but it’s also lost the best individual contributor. And the failure can be personally costly for the new manager, causing them to doubt their skills, smarts, and future career path. Everyone loses.

    Why, then, do some fail while others succeed?

    In another article, we explained the seven behaviors of the most productive people, based on an analysis of 7,000 workers. The behaviors were: setting stretch goals, showing consistency, having knowledge and technical expertise, driving for results, anticipating and solving problems, taking initiative, and being collaborative.

    These competencies all leverage individual skills and individual effectiveness. They are valued skills and make people more productive, but all except for the last one (collaboration) focus on the individual rather than the team. When we went back to our data, the skills that our analysis identified as making a great manager are much more other-focused: 

    • Being open to feedback and personal change. A key skill for new managers is the willingness to ask for and act on feedback from others. They seek to be more self-aware. They are on a continuing quest to get better.
    • Supporting others’ development. All leaders, whether they are supervisors or managers, need to be concerned about developing others. While individual contributors can focus on their own development, great managers take pride in helping others learn. They know how to give actionable feedback. 
    • Being open to innovation. The person who focuses on productivity often has found a workable process, and they strive to make that process work as efficiently as possible. Leaders, on the other hand, recognize that innovation often isn’t linear or particularly efficient. An inspiring leader is open to creativity and understands that it can take time.
    • Communicating well. One of the most critical skills for managers is their ability to present their ideas to others in an interesting and engaging manner. A certain amount of communication is required for the highly productive individual contributor, but communication is not the central core of their effectiveness.
    • Having good interpersonal skills. This is a requirement for effective managers. Emotional intelligence has become seen as perhaps the essential leadership skill. Although highly productive individuals are not loners, hermits, or curmudgeons, being highly productive often does not require a person to have excellent interpersonal skills.
    • Supporting organizational changes. While highly productive individuals can be relatively self-centered, leaders and managers must place the organization above themselves.

    When we further analyzed our data, we found that many of the most productive individuals were significantly less effective on these skills. Let’s be clear, these were not negatively correlated with productivity; they just didn’t go hand in hand with being highly productive. Some highly productive individuals possessed these traits and behaviors, and having these traits didn’t diminish their productivity.

    But this helps explain why some highly productive people go on to be very successful managers and why others don’t. While the best leaders are highly productive people, the most highly productive people don’t always gravitate toward leading others.

    Nearly one-quarter (23%) of the leaders who are in the top quartile on productivity are below the top quartile on these six leadership-oriented skills. So, the odds are that one out of four times a person is promoted to a leadership position because of their outstanding productivity, they will end up being a less effective leader than expected. If the highly productive person possesses technical expertise that is specific and acquired over a long period of time, it is tempting to hope the individual will quickly acquire the needed leadership skills shortly after being put into a new role. Sadly, it only happens part of the time.

    Managers need to be aware that the skills that make individual contributors effective and highly productive are not the only skills they will need to be effective managers. We are convinced that the best time for individual contributors to be learning these managerial skills is when they are still an individual contributor.

    Some organizations are much more adept at identifying those individuals who will be successful managers. These organizations tend to get a jump on developing managerial skill in these high-potential individuals, training them before they’re promoted.

    Why start early? After all, most people who end up being ineffective supervisors are not terrible at the skills listed above, and those who recommend them for promotion believe that those skills can be further developed once they’re in a managerial role. The problem is that developing these skills takes time and effort, and organizations typically want to see immediate positive results. New managers tend to be overwhelmed with their new responsibilities and often rely on the skills that made them successful individual contributors, rather than the skills needed to manage others. The time to help high-potential individuals develop these skills is before you promote them, not after.

    This should come as a wake-up call to the many organizations that put off any leadership development efforts until someone is promoted to a supervisory position. There’s no reason to wait; after all, when individual contributors improve these leadership skills, they will become more effective individual contributors. The time and money spent investing in individual contributors’ leadership development will help both those who are promoted and those who are not.

    The bottom line: Start your leadership development efforts sooner. Then when you promote your best individual contributors, you can be more certain that they’ll become your best managers.

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     Harvard Business Review (HBR)

  • 18 Apr 2018 6:36 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    By Audrey L. Stanley ... Apr 17, 2018

    A building manager who attended management meetings and supervised and directed others could still be entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held.

    Total Management Solutions (TMS) employed the plaintiff as a building manager at St. John's University in New York and paid him an annual salary of $80,000. His duties included ensuring the cleanliness of buildings, supervising six to 15 cleaners, directing cleaners in their work, reallocating workers when short-staffed, setting up rooms for meetings or events, and attending a daily management meeting led by his supervisor. His boss distributed work orders to the plaintiff, who then selected cleaners to carry out the orders.

    The plaintiff also handled off-campus work and event setups, and had a separate agreement in which he was paid for overseeing athletic facilities during basketball games. Although a collective bargaining agreement prohibited him from performing cleaning duties, the plaintiff testified that he performed nonsupervisory cleaning duties 90 percent of the time.

    In 2015, the plaintiff sued TMS, claiming it violated the FLSA by failing to pay him overtime. The district court dismissed his FLSA claim, concluding the plaintiff qualified for the executive exemption and was not entitled to overtime.

    The district court reasoned that the plaintiff's primary duty was managerial, and he had authority to recommend the hiring, firing or change in status of other employees. The district court disregarded the plaintiff's testimony that the majority of his work involved nonsupervisory duties, finding it untrue.

    The appeals court disagreed. Because the plaintiff had testified that 90 percent of his work was nonsupervisory physical cleaning, TMS could not conclusively establish that his primary duties involved management activities. According to the appellate court, the district court erroneously disregarded the plaintiff's testimony, as the district court cannot assess the credibility of evidence on summary judgment but must determine only whether a factual dispute exists.

    Similarly, because the plaintiff testified that he never recommended disciplinary action; did not have authority to hire or fire employees; and did not make recommendations to hire, promote and fire employees, there was a dispute as to whether he indeed had such authority. Additionally, TMS identified only one instance when the plaintiff recommended disciplinary action, and the plaintiff himself did not administer discipline on that occasion. Accordingly, there was a factual dispute as to whether he met the test for the executive exemption from the overtime provisions of the FLSA, and therefore dismissal was inappropriate.

    The appellate court's decision to vacate the dismissal does not establish that the plaintiff proved his claim but only that he presented enough evidence to dispute that he was employed in an executive capacity exempt from the FLSA's overtime wage provisions.

    Paganas v. Total Maintenance Solution LLC, 2d Cir., No. 17-0040 (March 12, 2018).

    Professional Pointer: This case serves as a reminder that employers should engage in a periodic analysis of exempt employees' actual job duties. The fact that an employee is called a manager and has authority to supervise according to a job description does not mean that the employee is exempt from overtime requirements.

    Audrey L. Stanley is an attorney with Marr, Jones, & Wang LLP, the Worklaw® Network member firm in Honolulu.

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    Source: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

  • 18 Apr 2018 6:32 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Related image

    reat remote work requests from workers who are recuperating the same as you would any other employee.

    By Angela Simpson
    Apr 24, 2018

    No. In fact, you should treat such an individual in the same manner you would any other employee making a request to work remotely. So, if you allow telecommuting in certain circumstances, consider whether it makes sense as an option for an employee returning to work after an illness or surgery. 

    Start by reviewing any medical documentation to confirm that the employee has been released to return to work and determine if he or she has any physical limitations that would impact a work-from-home arrangement. Consider whether to require a doctor to certify that the employee is able to work in accordance with your normal fitness-for-duty policies.

    Think, too, about how your decision will affect time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Any time that employees spend doing their jobs cannot be counted against their entitlement. So, if a worker is on FMLA leave for surgery, allowing remote work can extend the amount of FMLA time available to him or her beyond 12 workweeks. For example, if a person normally works 40 hours a week and now performs 10 hours of work while on leave, only 30 hours can be counted toward the employee’s FMLA entitlement. 

    Check your short-term disability plan to determine if partial benefits are available under that insurance. Finally, take into account the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and any other pay implications of permitting an employee to work a partial day while recuperating.

    The pay process for nonexempt workers is simple. You are required to compensate such employees only for hours worked. That said, be sure to record all nonexempt time worked and provide appropriate payment to comply with the FLSA. 

    Exempt employees, on the other hand, must be paid a minimum guaranteed salary that is not based on quantity or quality of work. Moreover, pay deductions for absences must meet the requirements of the salary basis regulation; otherwise, the employee’s exempt status could be in jeopardy. Visit the Department of Labor’s website for further guidance.

    In short, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. In some cases, it will make sense to allow telework, while in others it won’t be conducive to the employee’s recovery or the employer’s needs. Evaluate the specifics of each situation to figure out the best approach.

    Angela Simpson is an HR knowledge advisor for the Society for Human Resource Management. 

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    Source: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

  • 12 Apr 2018 9:37 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    More employers planning to offer student loan repayment assistance and financial planning services

    By Stephen Miller, CEBS
    Apr 13, 2018

    Employers no longer consider voluntary benefits as simply add-ons but rather as "a way to address a host of employee needs, offer choice and allow employees to personalize their rewards," said Lydia Jilek, director of voluntary benefits at consultancy Willis Towers Watson.

    Voluntary benefits are supplemental to core health insurance and retirement savings plans and are typically employee-paid through salary-deferred contributions. They can be a cost-efficient way to provide additional coverage to employees, who can purchase these plans through their employer at a lower, group rate.

    Newly released findings from Willis Towers Watson's 2018 Emerging Trends: Voluntary Benefits and Services Survey of large employers show that:

    • Only a handful of respondents (5 percent) say voluntary benefits will have little importance to the value they offer employees through their total rewards strategy. Five years ago, 41 percent of employers said voluntary benefits would have little importance.
    • More than two-thirds of employers (69 percent) believe voluntary benefits will be a very or more-important component of their total rewards strategy in three to five years.

    The survey was conducted in November 2017, with responses from 336 large U.S. employers representing more than 4.3 million employees. Eighty percent of the respondents have more than 1,000 employees.

    "While employers continue to embrace traditional voluntary benefits, such as life and disability coverage, they are offering benefits more often to help employees and their families with their financial issues," said Mary Tavarozzi, managing director of health and benefits at Willis Towers Watson.

    "The good news is that improvements in enrollment technology are making it easier for employers to expand their voluntary benefit offerings—and the expanded choices are resonating," said Sherri Bockhorst, managing director of benefits delivery and administration at Willis Towers Watson.

    Options on the Rise

    "Attractive benefits can make the difference between whether a prospective employee accepts a job offer or not," said Ray August, CEO of Benefitfocus, a benefits management software company. The firm's 2018 report The State of Employee Benefits, published earlier this year, analyzed data from 540 large employers with more than 1,000 employees, representing 1.3 million benefit plan enrollees.

    "For 2018, 42 percent of employers offered at least one of three voluntary income protection benefits to their employees—voluntary accident, critical illness and/or hospital indemnity plans—and 18 percent offered all three," said Justin Verona, Benefitfocus lead researcher and co-author of the report. Those numbers are up from their 2016 levels.

    "Employees continue to appreciate these options," added Logan Butler, Benefitfocus lead writer and report co-author. "When given the choice, 25 percent elected at least one of the three voluntary income protection products for 2018, with over 20 percent enrolling in multiple plans." 

    "Through a wide array of voluntary benefit options, employers can offer a more comprehensive benefits package to cover practically every aspect of their employees' lives," Butler noted, "but each life is different, and employees need help understanding the variables that impact their coverage needs and identifying the combination of benefits that's right for them."

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    Source: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

  • 12 Apr 2018 9:26 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    New findings reveal reasons behind inequalities in male and female pay

    By Stephen Miller, CEBS
    Apr 10, 2018

    Women in the U.S. earn 17.6 percent less than men on average, but that gap virtually disappears when analyzing men and women who work at the same level at the same company and perform the same function, according to new research findings from pay consultancy Korn Ferry.

    "The much-publicized pay gap between men and women in the U.S. is real, but it is predominantly caused by fewer women than men in higher-paying roles and higher-paying industries," said Korn Ferry senior client partner Maryam Morse, whose firm analyzed information from more than 1.3 million employees at 777 companies in the U.S.

    Similarly, a new report from PayScale, a compensation data and software firm, found that:

    *In 2018, women overall earn 77.9 cents for every dollar earned by men across the U.S. labor market (defined as the uncontrolled pay gap), up from 76 cents on the dollar in 2016.

    *When factors such as experience, industry and job level were taken into account, women earn 97.8 cents for every dollar earned by their male peers for doing the same work (the controlled pay gap), virtually unchanged from two years earlier.

    The findings in PayScale's The State of the Gender Pay Gap 2018 report are based on the firm's survey of over 2 million U.S. employees polled through February 2018.

    There is heightened awareness of pay equity issues because of Equal Pay Day, started by the National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996 to highlight the gap between men's and women's wages. This day, on April 10 this year, symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.

    A 'Career-Break' Penalty

    Men still move into more-senior positions at significantly higher rates, underscoring the opportunity gap problem, PayScale found.

    One reason is that women are five times more likely than men to take extended leaves from working for child rearing, and that time away is more likely to last more than a year, the research showed. 

    When employees leave the workforce for one year or more, PayScale found, their pay on returning to work is 7 percent less than that of an employee who is already employed when seeking the same job. Since women leave the workforce more often than men, and their time away tends to last longer, they are disproportionately affected by lower pay due to career interruptions.

    The report also shows that as employees progress through their careers, men are far more likely to find themselves in executive positions with bigger paychecks than their female counterparts. A breakdown:

    • Men and women enter the job market at similar junior levels.
    • By midcareer, men are 70 percent more likely than women to be in executive positions.
    • By late career, men are 142 percent more likely to be in vice president or C-suite roles, which are typically the most highly compensated positions at a company.

    "The current business climate has created a new focus and even spurred new laws aimed at achieving equal pay, but it's not enough," said Lydia Frank, vice president at PayScale. "Employers need to go a step further and determine if women have the same opportunities for advancement as men at the organization."

    Closing the Gap

    This pay gap issue can be remedied if organizations address pay parity across the organization "and continue to strive to increase the percentage of women in the best-paying parts of the labor market, including the most-senior roles and functions such as engineering and technical fields," Morse said.

    Pay parity "can be addressed if there is an ongoing effort to enable and encourage talented women to take on and thrive in challenging roles," added Jane Edison Stevenson, Korn Ferry's global leader for CEO succession. "Women have the skills and competencies needed to ascend to the highest levels within organizations, and it should be a business imperative for companies to help them get there."

    The disparity among men and women on executive teams and boards "has a huge impact on the overall pay gap, looking at the labor market as a whole," Frank said. "We'll never close the pay gap if we don't get serious about solving the opportunity gap."

    To do so means thinking about "policies and work culture changes to help balance the burden between the genders of caring for children and other family members, and alleviate the career and pay impact for women," Frank advised.

    Employers should think about providing paid parental leave regardless of gender, onsite child care and flexible work arrangements, she recommended.

    A Transparency Gap

    Small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) have a gender pay gap that exceeds the national average—female SMB employees make 66 cents for every dollar paid to men—and a lack of transparency around compensation practices is a key reason why, according to new researchby benefits management software firm Zenefits.

    The firm's SMB Fair Pay Report is based on a March 2018 survey of 1,002 full-time employees and 401 business owners and HR decision makers. Respondents worked at companies with less than 500 employees. Among the findings:

    • 78 percent of men and 67 percent of women discuss their salary expectations at the beginning of a job interview, yet when an offer is made, 55 percent of men compared with only 36 percent of women indicated they negotiated their actual offer.
    • The gap widens when it comes to asking for a raise; 62 percent of men compared with 41 percent of women felt comfortable asking. Furthermore, 17 percent of men compared with 8 percent for women will counter raises they are offered (i.e., ask for more money).
    • Only 13 percent of small businesses are transparent with their employees about pay policies and rates. Because this minimizes the need for people to negotiate, employees at transparent companies are 22 percent more likely to feel equitably paid.

    "Self-advocacy and negotiation are two major factors in perpetuating the gender pay gap," said Beth Steinberg, chief people officer at Zenefits. "Teaching people to negotiate better is a flawed solution to the issue. True compensation fairness will come when employers become more transparent in their pay policies."

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    Source: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

  • 05 Apr 2018 9:10 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    By Ius Laboris

    Apr 4, 2018

    In today's global economy, understanding which wage and hour laws apply to various operations and the specific requirements in each applicable jurisdiction can be onerous. Not only do these requirements vary by country, but they can vary even at the local level. The differences between Canada, Mexico and the United States when it comes to regulating hours worked are just one example of the potential legal minefields that an employer must navigate to ensure compliance.

    Hours Worked Generally

    In the United States, wage and hour law is governed by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA requires nonexempt workers to receive a minimum hourly pay (currently $7.25) and overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 in a given workweek. Many states have opted to implement a higher minimum hourly wage for workers, particularly since the federal minimum wage has not increased since 2009.

    Conversely, in Canada daily and/or weekly hours of work regulations governing when overtime should be paid and what constitutes the applicable minimum wage are enacted at the provincial and/or territorial level and can therefore differ. Consequently, there is no single standard workday or workweek throughout Canada. 

    Mexico's primary source of labor law is the Mexican Federal Labor Law (FLL). Unlike Canada and the United States, in Mexico there are no labor laws at the local or state levels. In addition, the Mexican legal system follows a civil-law tradition relying more on the language of the constitution, codes or statutes, rather than case-law interpretation, which is often a guiding principle in the United States and certain provinces in Canada. In Mexico, the national minimum wage is currently 88.36 pesos (approximately U.S. $4.87), and any hours worked after 48 hours a week are considered overtime. 

    Overtime and Maximum Hours of Work

    Although Mexico's overtime eligibility threshold of 48 hours a week is greater than that of the United States and the provinces and territories of Canada, Mexico's Constitution provides other additional rights to workers. Specifically, the law imposes a maximum work shift of eight hours for day shifts and seven hours for night shifts, and the maximum amount of overtime hours an employee can be required to work in Mexico is nine hours. The FLL also requires double pay for the first nine hours of overtime, and if there is a case when an employee voluntarily works in excess of the nine weekly overtime hours, such hours are to be paid at triple the normal hourly rate.

    These protections are broader than those generally provided in Canada and the United States, neither of which have countrywide regulations governing maximum hours of work, except in limited circumstances (for example, with respect to minors in the U.S.). However, in Canada, some jurisdictions do have laws prescribing the maximum number of hours that an employee may work in a day or week. In the United States, certain states do have laws that require daily overtime once a certain number of hours in a day have been worked. In both Canada and the United States, the applicable overtime rate is typically 1 1/2 times the employee's regular rate of pay.

    Both Canada and Mexico have common practices or mechanisms to work around some of the more stringent requirements regarding overtime. For example, in Mexico, it is common to have an agreement to distribute the work hours in a week such that, even though an employee may work in excess of the eight hours permitted in a day, that employee is allowed an additional day off. Such agreements have received approval from the Mexican labor authorities as long as the scheduled workweek is limited to a required 48 hours in a week. In Canada, certain jurisdictions allow employers to enter into an "averaging agreement," with employee—or union—consent and, in some cases, government authorization. These agreements permit the employer to average hours of work over a defined period to determine overtime entitlements. Employers in some Canadian jurisdictions may also obtain "excess hours" permits or agreements to exceed maximum hours-of-work regulations.

    Conversely, in the United States, agreements to deviate from the requirements of the FLSA are impermissible, and instead employers must determine whether the law permits alternative methods of compensation or contains other exceptions.

    Days of Rest and Breaks

    Most Canadian jurisdictions require employers to give employees a minimum of one day (or an average of one day) of rest per week. Some Canadian jurisdictions also prescribe a minimum period of daily rest or rest between shifts. Canadian employees are also entitled to meal breaks during their shifts of generally 30 minutes for every five (or within every five) consecutive hours of work.

    In Mexico, employees must be given one paid day off for every six days of work. In addition, employees should receive at least a 30-minute period for rest or meals per work shift.

    By contrast, in the United States, the FLSA does not require employers to give employees rest breaks, meal breaks or any days of rest. Rather, the federal Department of Labor has determined that if an employer provides an employee with short rest breaks (between five and 20 minutes), such time must be considered hours worked and is compensable. Instead, state law governs meal breaks, rest breaks and days-of-rest requirements, and each state has different requirements.

    So while the general concepts of minimum wage, overtime and breaks are common throughout Canada, Mexico and the United States, the nuances and details greatly differ. Therefore, employers must take care to ensure that they are compliant with the specific hours-of-work rules that apply wherever they operate.

    Ius Laboris is the world's largest global HR and employment law firm alliance. The article was led by Dave Kim with Ford Harrison in Berkeley Heights, N.Y., and Sal Simao with Ford Harrisonin Berkeley Heights, N.J., New York City and Washington, D.C. Other contributing members included Hilary Grice with Mathews, Dinsdale & Clark LLP in Toronto and Álvaro González-Schiaffino with  Basham, Ringe y Correa in Nuevo León, Mexico.

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    Source: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

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