Onboarding. Start New Employees Out on a Road to Success

Many believe onboarding is the process by which new employees fill out new hire paperwork – they are set up for payroll and benefits and provided a quick overview of the systems they’ll be working on. While these activities are important, onboarding that results in maximizing performance and earning a greater return on your investment requires a little more strategic planning, which our clients have found to be well worth it. By viewing the onboarding process as an investment throughout a new hire’s introduction to the organization, you will greatly impact the new hire’s contribution to your organization and the timeframe in which they can make it happen. We recommend creating a process that focuses on integrating new employees into your culture and team and getting them up to speed and confident in what is expected of them from a conduct and performance perspective.

Here are some tips to consider as you build your organization’s onboarding process:

  • Allow technology to expedite the compliance portion of the process. Email the new hire all the required paperwork in advance of starting. Share relevant information upfront such as the organizations’ pay schedule, insurance options, any information that will affect their household. When they arrive on the first day, they’ll already have it completed or know questions they need answered.

  • Create a schedule for their first day, week and month so they have clear steps on how to get to know the organization (culturally and procedurally) and give them opportunities to interact with teammates. Schedule meetings throughout the first month to engage with different levels of employees throughout the organization to allow them to hear about different teams and projects.
  • Make sure there are lunch plans for their first day. They won’t know going into day one what they can anticipate for lunch, so plan that for them.
  • Communicate to all team members what will be changing when the new employee starts and how the onboarding process will unfold. It will provide a greater sense of security around what they can expect and the importance and value of their role. It’s important to remember that while it is exciting to start a new job, it also means change, which can be a challenge not just for the new employee, but also for other team members.
  • Make the process fun, interesting and productive! Don’t just provide a slide deck overviewing the organization’s mission, vision, and values. Ask other team members to provide the introduction and give them the freedom to be creative and provide anecdotes of the culture in action. Getting existing employees involved will get new employees excited about working with their new teammates.
  • Set and communicate expectations. Let new employees know what the organization, team and individual’s goals are and how their contributions support those goals.
  • Share how things operate and how different teams interact to support one another. Highlight, beyond an organizational chart, how the teams work together and who has accountability for which aspects of projects.
  • Provide a tour of the organization and if it’s a large space, provide a map for future reference. Introduce the new employee to as many people as possible. Make sure they know the logistics of the workspace such as where the cafeteria/kitchen is, the bus routes are, where to park, where the bathrooms are, etc. In addition, show them what’s available off site such as where the nearest coffee shops are, which restaurants do take-out and delivery to the office and which are great when you need to go off site for lunch.
  • Have the tools for their job ready, such as a computer and login information, mobile phone, if appropriate along with the information/instructions needed to get set up quickly and easily.
  • Create a peer onboarding system so they have someone other than their manager to go to if they have logistical questions. Provide guidance to the peer to check in frequently in the initial days to ensure they have what they need or any cultural questions can be answered in a comfortable environment.
  • Have their manager meet with them on the first day and throughout the first week to review and answer questions on expectations. Throughout the first 90 days, there should be frequent check-ins to ensure the new employee is on track, feeling comfortable with their role, and has the tools they need to perform their job.
  • Be consistent. Use the same onboarding process for each new hire and make changes and additions as you get feedback from employees on what worked well and what would have been helpful for them to have during the onboarding process.

A Resume Doesn’t Guarantee a Candidate will Deliver Results

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is a cross-transferrable phrase when reviewing resumes. As a hiring manager, you may start by combing a resume for key buzzwords highlighting skill sets, education, previous employment, professional affiliations and accomplishments but a savvy manager understands this is a one dimensional approach to hiring a potential candidate. An awesome resume does not guarantee the candidate is capable of delivering results or fits with the culture of your organization.

Vet the Candidate, Not the Resume

Automattic, a blogging service with the mantra of making the web a better place, was recently featured in Harvard Business Review for their outside-the-box approach to interviewing. Before making a hiring decision they conduct ‘try outs’. It entails engaging (and paying) strong candidates to work on a real project with the team. It provides team members and the candidate an opportunity to see if the candidate can deliver the results required and work well within their virtual team environment. The selected project is directly related to the potential role. An initial resume is useful for attracting a recruiter or hiring manager’s attention but an increasing number of businesses like Automattic are looking to gauge how a candidate will perform as part of the interview assessment and prior to extending an offer.

A comprehensive ‘try out’ may not be feasible for your organization, but there are valuable and inexpensive methods to determine whether a prospective candidate with an impressive resume will perform on the job.

Resourceful HR has some key recommendations to help you improve candidate assessments:

  • Understand what is important to you and what is required of the candidate. Create a job description that lays out the results expected of the individual. Include aspects of the environment and culture that may impact how the role must function. By taking the time to tailor a creative, culture influenced, and transparent job description, applicants will understand what is expected when they choose to apply.
  • Conduct phone screens prior to scheduling an in-person interview. Screens can be tailored to ask specific questions aligned with the position, while providing an overview of related skills sets and experience. A good screen can also discern culture fit and provide insight into problem solving abilities. Phone screens save time and money by providing an initial assessment of relevant value to the hiring team.
  • Ask the right questions and train your hiring managers on how to interview. Not all hiring managers have equivalent experience when it comes to asking behavioral and skill based questions to assess capabilities. In addition to training hiring managers on the legalities of what can and cannot be asked, train your hiring managers on how to ask relevant questions that get to the heart of whether the candidate will thrive and produce in your work culture.
  • Always check references. When you think you have found the right person, double check the person will be a good hire by validating prior work behavior and characteristics. Checking references not only confirms interview results but also should confirm a pattern in defining the individual and what they legitimately bring to the table. Design open-ended questions so references are required to share examples and situations, which will improve accuracy and showcase personal attributes.
  • Hire a recruiting consultant to support and advise you on your hiring process. Clients wear many hats in their organizations; the recruiting and hiring process can be a major drain on time and productivity. Hiring the wrong person for the job is equally costly, when you look at hard costs and the impact on morale and productivity. Working with an experienced recruiter who can take on time consuming aspects of the recruiting process such as phone screens, sourcing, training managers, checking references, and candidate engagement, can make life easier, reduce the risk of a bad hire, and greatly increase the opportunity to have a great hire.

Storing and Maintaining Employee Records – Tips for Keeping Compliant

This is the time of year when spring cleaning kicks into high gear and you may be thinking it’s finally time to clean out and organize those employee records. As you probably already know there are federal and state regulations in regards to:

  • Storing different types of files (how, where, and what to include).
  • What information you can provide to different departments and managers within your organization.
  • How long you need to retain files.
  • How to dispose of both electronic and hard copy files.

Do you have a system for organizing employee records that makes your life easier and your organization compliant? If not, this is a great time to start determining a process that helps you work more efficiently, and potentially more importantly, creates a system that is compliant with federal and state agencies.

Get started! Tips for Evaluating Your Filing Practices

  1. Do you have one file for each employee that contains all of his or her information? If so, you are probably out of compliance.
  2. It is highly likely that you should have a minimum of five separate files for each employee – primary personnel file, “confidential” file, medical records, payroll file, and I-9. If you are subject to EEO laws, that is another separate required file. Your employee files should also be separated for current and terminated employees.
  3. Do you know how long you are required to keep different kinds of documents? There are many record keeping laws that vary by state. Make sure you are aware of the laws you need to comply with.
  4. Are you storing I-9 forms correctly? We strongly recommend that I-9s be kept in a separate binder and stored in a locked file cabinet. You open yourself up to major liability if your I-9s are stored “in the mix” with other employee documents.
  5. Do you know the regulations on how to dispose of electronic and hard copy files? Make sure you understand the requirements before deleting or shredding any documents.
  6. Are you familiar with the HIPAA and ADA requirements regarding employee records? This is important when it comes to providing a manager with the information they are requesting while ensuring that you are not providing them with information that is prohibited by law for them to see.

We are excited about doing our own spring cleaning this year with our clients. (Yes, as an HR company we get excited about this stuff!). And if you need help with ensuring your filing practices are compliant let us know. As part of our services we provide an employee file maintenance training, audit, and tracking tool. You can learn more about our services here.

What Does the New City of Seattle Background Check Ordinance Mean to Employers?

Starting November 1, 2013, a newly mandated City of Seattle ‘second chance’ ordinance requires that employers change the way in which they ask about and use the criminal conviction history of its job applicants and employees. The goal of the new ordinance is to give those convicted, arrested, or charged with a crime a chance to gain employment in an effort to change their course and give back to the community.

Here is what you need to know:

  • The ordinance applies to any employee who works at least 50% of the time in the City of Seattle. Employers may no longer include a criminal history question on their employment applications.
  • To ensure compliance we suggest that employers closely review and make appropriate changes to job application questions, interview processes, as well as job descriptions and postings.
  • We also strongly recommend that employers implement a documentation process that outlines the specific circumstances when applicants with criminal histories are not hired.
  • Employers can still perform a criminal background check or require a potential candidate to provide criminal history information, but only after the screening and resume review process of all applicants has been completed and the employer has identified which applicants have the required skills to carry out the job’s responsibilities. In other words, an employer must first identify which candidates are qualified for the position before conducting a background check. A good way to manage this process is to only conduct background checks when extending an offer and to make the offer contingent upon completion of a successful background check.
  • Employers can inquire about conduct related to an arrest record but cannot deny employment based on the related arrest or criminal conviction record unless the employer can document a legitimate business related reason for the decision. For example, if during the course of employment an employee will have unsupervised access to children under 16 years old, developmentally disabled persons, or vulnerable adults then there may be a legitimate reason to deny employment based on the criminal conviction.
  • If a third party vendor conducts your background checks or if you outsource your hiring needs it is still the employers responsibility to ensure compliance with all of the requirements of this new ordinance.

Immigration Reform: Hitting Closer to Home — The New Form I-9

While Congress continues to debate the overhaul of our nation’s Immigration System, employers should also be reviewing whether an overhaul is needed in their current immigration compliance efforts.  On March 8, 2013, the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) released a new Form I-9 which is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired to work in the United States.  By May 7, 2013, all employers must use the newly revised form for all new hires, rehires or re-verification of existing employees.

Purpose of the Form

I-9 compliance procedures were born from the Immigration Control & Reform Act of 1986, which makes it unlawful for employers to knowingly hire or continue to employ individuals who are not legally authorized to work in the U.S.

Under this Act, the employer shoulders the burden to check and record the eligibility of each employee by accurately completing and maintaining an I-9 Form.  Every employee hired after November 6, 1986, must have a completed I-9 Form on file that verifies eligibility to work.  I-9 Forms must also be retained and stored by the employer either for three (3) years after the date of hire or for one (1) year after termination of employment, whichever is longer.

New Changes:  The Most Complicated 2-Page Form You’ll Ever Complete

More than 3 years have passed since USCIS last released an update to the Form I-9.  The revised Form I-9, which has traditionally been a 1-page form, is now 2 pages which may be clearer and easier to understand for both employees and employers.

The key changes on the new Form I-9 are as follows:

  • Expanded form instructions; and
  • New data fields including phone number, e-mail address, and the employee’s foreign passport information (when applicable).

While it is easy to rush this paperwork in order to get your new hire off and running, this is a two-page form where failing to cross your t’s and dot your i’s can become expensive and quickly add up if you continue to unknowingly replicate the mistake.

It May Cost You…

What may seem to be a lot of time-consuming bureaucratic paperwork can lead to a lot of green paper being taken right out of your wallet.  The U.S. Department of Justice has significantly stepped up its enforcement efforts and will continue to pursue companies for I-9 compliance deficiencies.  Penalties for failing to comply with I-9 requirements can be substantial:

  • Civil fines as high as $1,100 for each I-9 form that is not complete, not properly retained or not presented properly.
  • Monetary fines can be even higher for employers who knowingly hire or continue to employ unauthorized workers.  First time violations can total as much as $3,200 per unauthorized employee and up to $6,500 and $16,000 for second and third time violations respectively.
  • Indictments, felony charges and prison sentences have followed even more serious violations.

An Ounce of Prevention

Employers should take time to ensure that their organization:

  • Is aware of the new I-9 form and the requirements for completing each section as it relates to the regulations.
  • Has a dedicated individual(s) to help with the transition and ongoing administration of both the old and new I-9 Forms.

Over the past few years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of I-9 investigations conducted by Immigration & Customs Enforcement.  The safest way for employers to ensure compliance with I-9 regulations is to conduct an internal audit of its company records.  Otherwise, failure to comply may be more time-consuming, financially draining and become your company’s next public relations nightmare.

With Spring finally here, it is a good reminder to get your house in order.  Let us know how we can partner with you to ensure these and other compliance concerns you may have are neat and tidy.

Helpful Links

Handbook for Employers, Guidance for Completing Form I-9: http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/m-274.pdf

The Evolution of Sourcing: Momentum, Metrics, and Moxie!

As a Recruiting Consultant for Resourceful HR, sourcing continues to be the #1 priority in driving recruiting efforts for clients.  Without sourcing, there would be no candidates, and consequently, there would be no hires.  When I took a leap of “career faith” 10 years ago and left the world of non-profit management, sourcing was a rarely copped term in the industry.

As my recruiting career quickly progressed, I discovered my talents lay in the “front end” of recruiting.  I was a natural hunter and my ability to find and assess talent developed as I grew my internet research skills and overall awareness and expertise in the industries I served.

Since then, sourcing has become an industry standard as part of current recruitment driven initiatives, inclusive of small, mid-size, and large organizations. Before I was fully cognizant of my specific recruiting strengths, I was well on my way to defining my career as a sourcing specialist in a volume driven corporate culture.  At this stage of my career, I relish the opportunity to attend forums that allow me to synergize that experience, while connecting with sourcing strategists who are the driving force behind sourcing momentum, expectations, and metrics.

Attending the SourceCon 2013 conference in Atlanta this February enhanced my perception and provided valuable insight into the direction of sourcing as an industry and as it clearly aligns under the umbrella of recruiting and human resources.  Some of the critical elements to a solid recruitment/sourcing initiative remain constant; the ongoing objectives from sourcing should include:

  1. Increasing the total number of hires
  2. Decreasing candidate hiring costs
  3. Decreasing the time to fill a job opening
  4. Increasing candidate satisfaction in the hiring process

As sourcing strategy evolves with the growth of the internet, social media and mobile devices, we are seeing a transformation in recruitment sourcing priorities as it relates to hiring cost management and long-term forecasting.

As the proverbial sourcing ship sails into 2013, the opinions of top hiring leaders suggests that technology will continue to drive the momentum and metrics behind this growing and clearly defined industry.  I’d like to share some of the elements I personally found most relevant to my sourcing development from this year’s SourceCon conference:

  • Ask the right questions. Understanding the requirements of the client and the organizational culture, as well as candidate motivation is essential to the hiring process.  I see sourcing as Matchmaking 101; listen, learn, and connect!
  • Develop your persona through social media.  As I build my personal sourcing brand through social media, I have to find a way to relate to multiple candidates in a diverse array of professions and industries our clients reside while remaining authentic and approachable across the board.   By creating consistent messaging that genuinely reflects your persona, you can build your credibility.
  • Craft a strong story. Sourcing is about story telling. Job descriptions should tell a good story, but it’s your initial pitch to a candidate about the company, the opportunity, and the culture fit that drives hiring momentum.  By prioritizing key client needs, you can significantly reduce the assessment time and potential fit; know your client and take the time to understand the story you should be telling.
  • Brand baby brand. With the rise in recruiting through mobile devices and social media platforms, aligning the company profile with a positive focus on employee culture and job openings becomes mission critical.  As we move away from traditional sourcing methods, which rely on job boards and postings, candidates prefer social media engagement to get a feel for a company and further  garner their interest in you as a potential employer.  Enlighten your sourcing strategy by promoting social media branding awareness with your clients!

If you have questions or comments about sourcing as it relates to your recruitment strategies, we would love to hear them!

Keeping Compliant

Is your business compliant with the different state and federal laws that govern it?

When Resourceful HR is hired to provide HR support we often recommend starting with an HR audit to ensure your programs and processes are legally compliant and gaining you the greatest return. The following is a sample of the record keeping items we look for to help you get started:

  1. What information is contained in your employee files? Is there one file for each employee that contains all of their information or have you separated the various areas of employment? If you have everything in one file you may be out of compliance. HIPAA rules require you to keep benefit/medical information in a separate file from other general hiring information.
  2. How are the I-9s stored? We often find errors in I-9 completion and storage. We recommend that I-9s be kept in a separate binder and stored in a locked file cabinet.
  3. Are your mandatory legal posters up to date and posted where all employees can see them?
  4. Are reporting lines clear, documented, and well communicated to employees?
  5. Is there an employee handbook in place and well utilized? Do employees know where to get information if an employee handbook doesn’t exist? Do you have guidelines in place for the various questions that arise? For example, do you allow employees to use your equipment for personal use or do you restrict use to solely business related items? An employee handbook, if crafted correctly, may help protect the company in the event that an employee files a lawsuit. More information is available on our blog:
    When is the best time to introduce an employee handbook?
    What should you include in an employee handbook?
  6. Record keeping and retention. Do you know how long you are required to keep different kinds of documents? There are many record keeping laws that vary by state. Are you aware of the laws you need to comply with?

In addition to looking at your written documentation, we highly stress the importance of having your documentation process organized and “fool proof” to ensure that the information is in order and kept up to date. We encourage our clients to use checklists for hiring and termination as well as on-boarding new employees to make sure none of the steps fall through the cracks.

Check out more tips on ensuring your practices are compliant adhering to the Department of Labor requirements.

Hitting the Magic 50 Employee Mark Part 2 – More Formal, More Frequent Communications

An extremely common remark made by employers once they hit the 50-employee mark is “I don’t know everybody by name any more”. Communications, always a critical component of success, is increasingly important the bigger a company becomes. The more people, the more room for misunderstandings, the more room for not getting word around to everyone and the more important direct communications become.

In my most recent blog, Hitting the Magic 50 Employee Mark – What do You Need to Think About? – Part 1, I go over some of the Employment Laws that come into play at the 50 Employee mark. In this blog I focus more on communication with employees.

An extremely common remark made by employers once they hit the 50-employee mark is “I don’t know everybody by name any more”. Communications, always a critical component of success, is increasingly important the bigger a company becomes. The more people, the more room for misunderstandings, the more room for not getting word around to everyone and the more important direct communications become. The 50 employee mark is the time that the following should be instituted if not already in place:

Handbook, handbook, handbook

If your company has hit the 50-employee mark and you still do not have an Employee Handbook, it is now even more important that one be written and distributed. An Employee Handbook is important as a means to protect your company against litigation, provide employees with a succinct and comprehensive resource to clarify the expectations your company has of them and their conduct in their workplace, and market the benefits and services they receive as a member of your workplace. By the 50-employee mark, the employee handbook should cover, at a minimum, policy statements for standards of conduct, discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace, workplace violence, safety, technology use and security, and confidential and proprietary information, equal opportunity, employment at will, reasonable accommodations, internal complaint process and timekeeping/overtime requirements. In addition, most companies of this size have instituted paid time off benefits such as vacation, sick and holiday. Lastly there must be verbiage covering the FMLA and other federal and/or state required leaves such as military, jury duty, voluntary emergency rescue and voting. If your company has multi-state operations or is international, your employee handbook contents may include state or country specific employment law verbiage.

Company Meetings

Gone are the days of yelling out across the company “come to the break room – we’re going to meet”. With 50 people it is now time to institute some type of pre-scheduled all-staff meetings so that employees are able to attend. How often a company meets depends upon their unique culture. At minimum, a company with 50 employees should be meeting quarterly as a group.

Newsletters/Photo Boards/Venues for informal communications

More people equals more activity equals more information. It also means not being able to get around and see everyone every day and keep up with who is who. Now may be the time for your company to create some type of communication where the activities, special mentions, status updates, and new employee introductions can be consolidated and more efficiently communicated on a regular basis. A newsletter need not be fancy or complicated – a once a month email can serve the same purpose. It may also be the time to institute a photo board with everyone’s picture and name posted.

By this size, most CEO’s are no longer involved in the day-to-day aspects of the business but are spending their time at the strategic level. This translates into less time in the office and less time interacting with all levels of employees. It is CRITICAL to recognize this and to create venues for your CEO and other officers to have an opportunity for connecting with the employee population. For instance, I always start by getting a once monthly roundtable lunch on the CEO’s schedule and inviting around eight employees at random to attend. This gives the CEO and employees an informal venue to interact in a small group that encourages two way feedback.

The bigger the company grows, the more important it is to create venues that connect people across the organization. This can be as simple as doughnuts in the break room every Friday at 10:00. The CEO of one company I worked at instituted a “Safari” concept where employees were encouraged to take someone else in the company who they did not know well out to lunch (on a safari). The participants would then submit a slip containing an interesting fact they learned about one another. At the monthly staff meeting the slips were placed in a drawing and several were drawn, the facts were read and the submitters received fun prizes.

Hitting the Magic 50 Employee Mark – What do You Need to Think About? – Part 1

Just as age marks milestones for people, so does the number of employees in the business world. For instance, turning 21 is a magic milestone for many. It is a time of change – change in how a person conducts themselves, change in how they set their goals and go about their daily lives. In business, a magic milestone is reaching fifty employees. This often also marks a time of change – change in the laws that govern the employer, change in employee expectations of the employer and certainly change in how the employer conducts their daily business and goals.

Just as age marks milestones for people, so does the number of employees in the business world. For instance, turning 21 is a magic milestone for many. It is a time of change – change in how a person conducts themselves, change in how they set their goals and go about their daily lives. In business, a magic milestone is reaching fifty employees. This often also marks a time of change – change in the laws that govern the employer, change in employee expectations of the employer and certainly change in how the employer conducts their daily business and goals.

Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing a three-part series detailing what to take into account as you reach or if you have already reached the 50-employee milestone. First of all congratulations on your accomplishment! Secondly, we hope to hear from you and what you are working on to accommodate your growth. Do you have questions, best practices, additional information to share?


At the 50-employee mark, employers are responsible to comply with some additional employment laws, most notably, the Family Medical Leave Act.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA applies to any employer in the private sector who engages in commerce, or in any industry or activity affecting commerce, and who has 50 or more employees each working day during at least 20 calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. The law also covers all public agencies (state and local governments) and local education agencies (schools, whether public or private). These employers do not need to meet the “50 employee” test in order to comply.

The FMLA requires the employer to provide up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave a year, and requires group health benefits to be maintained during the leave as if employees continued to work instead of taking leave, to an employee with a pregnancy or a serious health condition. Employees of both sexes are also entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn child, or a child recently placed with them for adoption or foster care. They are also entitled to 12 weeks of leave to care for a son or daughter (under 18), spouse or parent with a serious health condition. However, FMLA is limited to 12 weeks total for all reasons in any 12-month period. As an employer, you have the responsibility to inform an employee in writing of his or her rights under FMLA, within 5 days of any absence that could be covered by FMLA. Read more about FMLA here: http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/benefits-leave/fmla.htm

Affirmative Action

Under Executive Order 11246, employers who have 50+ employees and $50,000 in government contracts must have an Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) and take affirmative action to recruit and advance qualified minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and covered veterans. Affirmative actions include training programs, outreach efforts, and other positive steps. These procedures should be incorporated into the company’s written personnel policies. Employers with written affirmative action programs must implement them, keep them on file and update them annually. To find out more about Affirmative Action Plans, reference: http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/hiring/affirmativeact.htm

State of California

CA Govt. Code Sec. 12950.1, requires California employers to provide supervisory employees with 2 hours of interactive sexual harassment training and education every 2 years. The requirement covers employers with 50 or more employees or contractors in any 20 consecutive weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. There is no requirement that the 50 employees or contractors work at the same location or that all work or reside in California. For more information: http://www.fehc.ca.gov/act/harass.asp

Background Check Policies – What you should know

Do you require prospective employees to undergo a background investigation? Do you have concerns regarding a candidate’s right to privacy? These are serious considerations to take into account while establishing a company’s policy on pre-employment background investigations.

Recent wisdom suggests that it is better to create guidelines around how your organization will handle adverse information rather than developing a cut and dry policy to determine pass and fail criteria. This approach permits you to handle each investigation on a case-by-case basis and allows for flexibility in cases of extenuating circumstances. For instance, a criminal record does not automatically preclude employment. If a criminal record is found, an HR representative has the obligation to speak with the candidate to determine accuracy and whether or not the situation warrants further consideration, given the circumstances.
>> CONTINUE READING >> Must knows when creating guidlines

How Can You Keep the Department of Labor & Industries From Knocking At Your Door?

Employers are facing increased scrutiny over their pay practices from both the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). In 2010, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis stepped up enforcement of federal wage and hour laws by hiring 250 additional investigators to snare employers who are violating wage laws. Likewise, L&I began using blogs—including Nailed, its fraud prevention and compliance blog,—Facebook, and Twitter to gather information needed to catch scofflaws.

The DOL surveyed more than 4,000 workers in three cities and concluded that “employment and labor laws are regularly and systematically violated,” with 1.1 million workers having at least one pay-based violation per week. Claiming violations in virtually every major urban industry, the report found:

  • 76% of the workers who had worked overtime were paid incorrectly.
  • 26% were not paid minimum wage.
  • 69% percent of workers had meal break violations.
  • 20% of the workers reported complaints, with 43% reporting retaliation.

The study concluded that front-line workers lose more than $56.4 million per week in underpaid wages. Among the areas of its enforcement focus, DOL continues its efforts on so-called “low wage” industries, independent contractors, misclassifications, and unpaid off-the-clock work.

Consequences to Employers for Failing to Comply
In my experience, most employers try hard to comply with the law and avoid costly litigation. The laws can be complicated though, and employers occasionally get tripped up without realizing it. Employers should remember that the DOL, L&I, and employees see a big target on their collective backs. The DOL can show up at your business with no warning, ask to see your records and interview employees on a moment’s notice. The risk of not paying employees correctly can be severe, including:

  • Investigations
  • Enforcement actions
  • Private lawsuits
  • Collective actions or
  • Class actions by:
    • Current Employees
    • Former Employees
  • Payment of back wages
  • Liquidated damages (double wages)
  • Back payment of workers’ comp premiums
  • Fines
  • Criminal penalties
  • Attorneys’ fees & costs

>> Continue Reading for What Should You Do? >>

I9 Form: The Devil is in the Details

Most employers know that having their employees complete an I9 form is a requirement and part of the new hire process, but many don’t realize the importance of the details and accuracy in the process. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 established the use of the I9 form. Since then, there have been some revisions. The Federal government is cracking down on I9 compliance and there is a plan in place through 2014 targeting employers for both civil and criminal enforcement.

Read More about I9 Form Compliance