Landrum Human Resource Companies Blog


Equal Pay for Women in the Limelight

Equal Pay for Women in the Limelight

The week of April 7th was an eventful one in Washington D.C. as President Obama signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees who choose to discuss their compensation. This Executive Order provides a critical tool to encourage pay transparency, so workers have a potential way of discovering violations of equal pay laws and are able to seek appropriate remedies. In addition, by Presidential Memorandum, he asked the Secretary of Labor to require federal contractors to submit data on employee compensation by race and gender. The Department of Labor will use the data to encourage compliance with equal pay laws and to focus efforts where there are suspected discrepancies. After signing these initiatives, President Obama encouraged Congress to pass a Paycheck Fairness Act for the private sector.

Before considering the relative merits of the Paycheck Fairness Act, let’s review past legislation that is already the law of the land.

Fair Labor Standards Act (1938) - The FLSA established minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.

Equal Pay Act (1963) – Amended the Fair Labor Standards Act and aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex.

Civil Rights Act (1964) - Outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (2009) – Amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by stating that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action.

On April 9, 2014, the Senate did indeed consider The Paycheck Fairness Act which would have expanded the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to make it easier for employees to pursue legal claims for unequal pay based solely on the sex of the employee. It would have also allowed employees to share salary information without fear of retaliation, and increase the amount of damages that could be awarded in these types of discrimination lawsuits. Fifty four (54) Senators voted in favor of this legislation but it did not receive enough votes to overcome a partisan filibuster in the Senate.

Those who were in favor of the legislation maintain that women still make just 77 cents on average for every dollar a man earns, and continue to face prejudice in the workplace. According to their research, this gap has held constant since 2002 despite the fact that women make up roughly half of America’s workforce and graduate at a higher rate than men from college and graduate schools. They believe it is time to add some Government enforcement into the Equal Pay Act to reduce or eliminate the gap in pay between women and men.
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As a Landrum Professional Human Resources Manager, Jim is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and has over 20 years of HR generalist experience for a large government contractor and Fortune 500 Company. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from Florida State University and is an active member of the Greater Pensacola Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management (GPCSHRM), previously serving as their Vice President of Information Services and Chairman of the Workplace Diversity Committee. Jim is also certified as a County Mediator and in the administration of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator(MBTI).



Exempt or Non-Exempt, That is the Question

Exempt or Non-Exempt, That is the Question

by Edward Grayson, SPHR on April 8, 2014

Working conditions were different in 1938 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt led efforts to pass the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The act established a maximum number of work hours per week, a minimum wage, overtime for certain jobs and restrictions on child labor. The Department of Labor’s website states, “In its final form, the act applied to industries whose combined employment represented only about one-fifth of the labor force.” The American workplace in 1938 was very different from today. Through years of revisions, current FLSA regulations impact most employers and workers in America. On March 13th, President Obama directed the Department of Labor (DOL) to do its first overhaul of FLSA regulations in 10 years. At the heart of the review will be the President’s instruction to update who qualifies for overtime pay.

To be “exempt” from overtime pay, the FLSA requires an employee to pass a “duties”, “salary level” and “salary basis” test. The duties test requires employers to evaluate the tasks of a specific job and how those tasks align with the employer’s operations. Most likely, a job would pass the duties test if it required managing other employees, exercising independent judgment and discretion, and included non-manual work.

The salary level and basis test concerns the amount and how an employee is paid. To pass the salary level and basis test, the FLSA requires employees to be paid at least $455 per week and, generally speaking, have some or all of their base pay guaranteed regardless of the quality or quantity of work. President Obama’s directive is expected to focus on the salary level test and the qualifications for exemption under the FLSA duties test. However, raising the threshold for the salary level test is expected to be a primary goal of the DOL review. The salary threshold has been raised seven times since 1938 with the most recent change occurring in 2004. The test was originally intended to apply to highly compensated, white-collar employees, but now covers employees earning as little as $23,660 per year.

Preliminary information from DOL and various media articles indicate the threshold for the salary level test could be adjusted for past inflation and raised from a range of $28,756 to $51,168. No one is sure what DOL will propose, but it is expected to be in the upper end of the range. That would be a significant increase from the current level and would certainly have an impact on businesses across the country. In addition, the duties test most likely will require a certain amount of time devoted to “exempt” work and that will require a careful review of a job’s duties and responsibilities. Other changes may include narrowing the exemptions for employees in computer related occupations and outside sales.

At this time, it is not clear whether the FLSA changes will undergo the standard rule making process. If DOL proposes the regulations, it would invite input from business groups and labor organizations, and it is anticipated there would be lobbying on both sides of the proposal before a final rule is published. Consequently, the final result of the President’s directive is projected to be at least 12 to 18 months away.

So, is there anything business owners should be doing? As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Business owners can be proactive by ensuring the jobs in their organizations are classified correctly under current FLSA overtime provisions. It is important to remember that DOL is more concerned about the duties and responsibilities of a job, rather than the job title. A lofty job title does not guarantee exemption. The first step in determining whether a job is exempt or non-exempt from overtime pay should begin with a job description that accurately reflects the duties, responsibilities and accountability of the position. The job description will provide the guideline to determine whether the job is accurately classified. That should be a top priority. A second priority should be ensuring overtime pay is accurately tracked and paid to employees eligible to receive it.

Ensuring compliance with FLSA standards is a wise business practice under any circumstances and may help business owners avoid the cost of incorrectly classifying a job as exempt (For more information, see “Don’t Become a DOL Statistic.” Remember, if a business undergoes a wage and hour audit it will be the business owner’s obligation to explain why jobs are exempt from overtime pay provisions.

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     As the newest member of the Landrum team, Ed Grayson began his role as a Human Resources Manager for Landrum Professional Employer Services at full speed. With more than 27 years of HR experience with a Fortune 500 company, Ed ensures that Landrum clients are in compliance with all local, state and federal laws that impact human resources. He provides advice to business owners and employees regarding the potential resolution of work-related issues and trains and consults with employers on the implementation of Human Resources best practices.

      Ed is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources, Certified Compensation Professional and Certified Benefits Professional. He serves on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee for the Waterfront Rescue Mission, Pensacola, Fla.

Connect with Ed in the comment section of this blog post.  Your feedback is welcome.



State of Florida Offers Free Workplace Safety Seminars

State of Florida Offers Free Workplace Safety Seminars

Information provided by the Landrum Human Resources Risk Management Department on March 18, 2014

Employer responsibility towards ensuring the health and safety of employees in the workplace is not only a legal requirement, it is also essential to the success of any business. In addition to complying with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) workplace safety regulations, employers have an obligation to comply with Florida’s Workers’ Compensation laws. These laws are designed to assure quick and efficient delivery of disability and medical benefits to an injured worker and to facilitate the worker’s return to gainful employment.

In order to assist employers to better understand these requirements the State of Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Workers’ Compensation offers free seminars and webinars for employers regarding Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Laws and Workplace Safety.

More information about these programs is available here:

2014 Education Seminar Flyer Mar – June

2014 Education Seminar Registration Form Mar – June

2014 Web Based Registration Mar – Aug

If you have questions or would like to contact the Landrum Human Resources Risk Management Department click here or call 850-476-5100; toll free 800-888-0472.



Can We Talk?

Can We Talk?

by Holly McLeod, PHR on March 11, 2014

Warning:  I’m about to show my age.  It was 1987 and I had just been hired for my first full-time job.  When I completed my employment paperwork, the person who assisted me asked to see my identification documents for this new thing called an I-9 Form.  I was the first new employee hired at this company after the I-9 became mandatory in late 1986.

Next, I was trained on their various new-fangled equipment such as the Xerox 860 – a fancy computer that used 8-inch floppy (as in pliable) disks.  I also learned about this apparatus called the fax machine.  I was fascinated.  “You mean I can send this document over telephone lines and our other offices will see this exact document?  Wow!”  I’m sure my amazement was quite amusing.

The next piece of equipment I learned was a fancy word processor that I only ever knew as the “Documenter.”  It was the first time I had ever seen a machine that could alternate between two whole fonts with the click of a button.  Most amazingly, I could actually change the size of print!  It was the first time I had heard the phrase “click and drag.”

Keep in mind this was still in the days when people actually received pink “While You Were Out” messages and used Liquid Paper to hide typing errors unless, of course, you were one of the lucky few who had a self-correcting typewriter.  This was also a time when people stood around a literal water cooler to have actual face-to-face conversations; when people were genuinely interested in what people did over the weekend or if a coworker’s son pitched any strikeouts in Saturday’s game.

In this day and age we are definitely technology blessed.  It is very convenient to hit the delete button if I type something incorrectly.  It’s great to be able to send a quick text instead of waiting for a letter in the mail.  Voicemail, e-mail, instant messaging and texts have replaced “While You Were Out” message pads; scanning is making fax machines practically obsolete; and computers can now produce hundreds of different fonts.

IMG_1983_mandy&angelaWhile all of this wonderful technology makes our lives easier, I sometimes wonder if we’re replacing relationships with “stuff.”  Relationships are very important to me as an individual, and also to our company.  I strive to get to know the businesses I work with so that they in turn will get to know me.  How can you expect someone to trust your advice, after all, if you haven’t developed a trusting relationship?

It should not be a surprise that quality business relationships are key to continued success.  In an article on Ronald M. Shapiro’s Shapiro Negotiations Institute website, it is stated that “truly successful businesspeople don’t have a mountain of contacts whose names they barely know. Rather, they have a carefully developed and cultivated portfolio of relationships.”  Technology is wonderful and it is definitely needed in this fast-paced world, but talking to friends, family, neighbors, coworkers and customers is the foundation for building relationships – and relationships drive business.

Quality relationships are important within the workplace culture as well.  In an article published in the Houston Chronicle, Kate McFarlin of Demand Media states, “It is important to allow employees the opportunity to build quality relationships with their coworkers.”  She also states, “There are many benefits that can be reaped by small business owners who allow and foster good relationships in the workplace.”  According to McFarlin, those benefits are improved teamwork, improved employee morale, higher employee retention rates, and increased productivity.

So, I encourage you to engage in conversations with your employees and customers, and allow your employees to engage in conversations with each other.  Allow a work culture in which employees can engage in reasonable interactions with each other without the fear of reprimand; work on those business relationships by getting to really know your customers.  Find common ground.  Don’t hesitate to ask someone if their child is still playing baseball, or if they had a good weekend.  Customers and employees alike will appreciate the thoughtfulness, and in turn, will be more loyal to you and your business.

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Holly McLeod is a Human Resources Manager for Landrum Professional Employer Services and Landrum Consulting. She is a certified professional in human resources (PHR) and has more than 15 years of human resources consulting in the corporate world, healthcare and manufacturing environments.



Health Care Reform Update

February 26, 2014

On February 24, 2014 the U.S. departments of Treasury, Labor and Health and Human Services (HHS) have released final regulations implementing the 90-day waiting period limitation under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).   This provision of the ACA prohibits a group health plan or group health insurance issuer from requiring any waiting period for coverage that exceeds 90 days.  These final regulations are effective on April 25, 2014.  Among other things, the new regulations define the term “waiting period,” as well as how it applies to variable-hour employees.

To read the regulations go to:

http://www.americanbenefitscouncil.org/documents2014/hcr_90day_finalregs022414.pdf



Health Care Reform Update

 

February 11, 2014

Final regulations issued on February 10, 2014 by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Treasury Department provide transition relief to help employers adjust to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

  • This policy announcement does not impact employers with fewer than 50 full-time employees as they are generally exempt from the requirement to offer coverage anyway.
  • Employers with 50 to 99 employees will not have to comply  with the employer mandate, until January 1, 2016.
  • Employers with 100 or more employees will need to offer coverage to 70 percent of full-time employees in 2015 and 95 percent in 2016 and later years, or they will be subject to tax penalties.

 To read the final regulations go to:  https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/02/12/2014-03082/shared-responsibility-for-employers-regarding-health-coverage

 Or… For the “Cliff Notes” on the employer shared responsibility provisions visit the IRS’s Q & A page:  Questions and Answers on Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions Under the Affordable Care Act



Health Care Reform Update

January 27, 2014

Slightly higher poverty level guidelines for 2014 have been released by the Department of Health and Human Services.  However, the new health care reform income thresholds (based on Federal Poverty Guidelines) won’t be adjusted until the fall of 2014, when people look for health care coverage for 2015.

Due to these changes some people who are on the border of qualifying for premium subsidies will instead become eligible for the Medicaid program if their state is one that is expanding Medicaid coverage. People who are just above of the poverty level might end up with no coverage at all in 2015 in the states that aren’t expanding Medicaid.

Visit Kaiser Health News for more information and a table of the  2014 Federal Poverty Guidelines: Kaiser Health News



Don’t Become a DOL Statistic

Don’t Become a DOL Statistic

written by Ed Grayson, SPHR on January 22, 2014

If a report card was given for regulatory enforcement, the Department of Labor (DOL) probably would receive an “A” in 2013.  For the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013, DOL has reported they obtained almost a quarter of a billion dollars in back wages for 269,250 workers.  To be exact, the number is $249,954,412. Since 2009, DOL’s wage and hour division has closed 145,884 cases nationwide, which has resulted in more than $1 billion in back wages for over a million workers; a significant amount of money by any measure.  In addition, the EEOC set a new record in 2013 by obtaining $372 million in relief for bias victims. http://www.hrmorning.com/the-dol-recovered-how-much-money-last-year/

If nothing else, numbers like these should reinforce and remind employers that regulatory compliance should be a business priority.  Non-compliance with employment laws can have a direct fiscal impact on a company, but there are hidden costs as well.   The disruption of regulatory investigations can result in lost productivity.  Employee trust and morale can be set back for years.  The efficiency of business operations can be impacted.  None of these things offer a competitive advantage for an employer.

To be successful today, employers must ensure all aspects of their business run smoothly.  Compliance with employment laws may seem cumbersome or even unnecessary, but they are designed to protect the employer and employees.   In 2014, make compliance a goal to help your company be the best it can be.

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Ed Grayson is a Human Resources Manager for Landrum Professional Employer Services and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). His background is highlighted with more than 27 years of experience with a Fortune 500 company in all aspects of Human Resources. Ed serves as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Waterfront Rescue Mission, Pensacola, Fla.
Connect with Ed in the comment section of this blog post.



Health Care Reform Update

January 16, 2014

It was announced on January 14, 2014 that some people with a history of cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses will have an additional two months to enroll in a health plan through state and federal insurance enrollment websites. This extension comes on the heels of the 30 day extension granted in December, 2013. The March 31st deadline will allow patients covered by the federal Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP)  to continue treatments while they search for other coverage.  The PCIP was designed as a temporary measure to get uninsured patients with serious conditions through to 2014 when the law forbids insurers turning away people with health problems.



Health Care Reform Update

January 10, 2014

Starting in September 2014, women at increased risk for breast cancer will be able to get some drugs shown to help prevent the disease without a co-pay. On Thursday January 9, 2014 the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) issued guidance to further define preventative services. Insurers are required to provide coverage for some preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs to the insured.

HHS identified tamoxifen and raloxifene as preventative medications for woman who are at an increased risk for breast cancer. These drugs like other recommended preventive services must be offered without co-pays or other out of pocket expenses.

Visit https://www.healthcare.gov/what-are-my-preventive-care-benefits/#part=1 for a comprehensive list of covered preventative services.




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