HR & Compliance

Add SBAM offers a full spectrum of human resources services to keep you compliant and help your business run more efficiently and profitably....


Human Resources Solutions

ASE LogoLooking for help with tough HR issues? 

SBAM partner ASE has the answers about hiring, firing, FMLA, ADA and more! Get access to a FREE HR hotline, affordable and cost-effective research consultation services, discounted employee handbooks and workplace posters, and more.


Section 125 Plan, FSA, HSA & HRA Administration

 

KUSHNER & COMPANY LogoLooking for ways to contain health care costs?
With the cost of health insurance continuing to rise, most employers require their employees to contribute to the cost of health insurance premiums. SBAM partner Kushner & Co. can help you put a tax-favored, consumer-directed plan in place that benefits you and your employees.

 


COBRA Administration

Personalized, affordable administration for your business. 

If you have 20 or more employees, your company is required by federal law to offer continued health insurance coverage via COBRA and will face huge fines if it's not administered correctly.  Let SBAM help you stay compliant for only $30 per month. 

Do your compliance efforts meet today’s needs?

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By George Brown  

Your compliance department needs to manage the growing demands of more and more stakeholders, while positioning itself for the future.  A recent survey sets out to provide insight to support that goal.

Before 2002—or  what some refer to as “pre-SOX”–companies left compliance issues to the accounting department to handle after payroll, month-end and a laundry list of other chores. In 2002, when scandals cut into public confidence in the financial system, oversight became much more popular. It raised the expectations of companies that had a compliance officer. And it made a lot of other companies hire one.  

The "State of Compliance: 2012 Study," an effort between PwC US and Compliance Week, was recently released at the Compliance Week annual conference in Washington, D.C.  The study found that Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs) want to be more efficient and effective as they confront a more complex regulatory world.

The data collected paints a basic picture of the state of compliance today, and how the compliance function can position itself for the future.  According to the data, the compliance team is involved to some degree in evaluating or overseeing virtually every risk or regulatory issue. These would include anti-trust, anti-corruption, ethics, import-export, supply chain, social media, and codes of conduct.

The data uncovered a number of challenges: fragmented IT systems, tight budgets, shifting and growing regulations, and always having to prove that the compliance program is effective.

"Few elements of corporate compliance are as elusive as the art of confirming that your ethics and compliance program is effective. Compliance officers today know that just tracking calls to the hotline isn't enough. The question is what is enough." said Bobby Kipp, partner in PwC's Assurance practice. "Compliance officers really need overall assurance that their program is effective. Getting that assurance requires a combination of multiple metrics and insights."

Nearly half (46%) of the CCOs surveyed say they plan to spend more money on compliance technology and tools in the coming 12 months.

Other key findings include:
 
  • Most companies now have a compliance committee (71%, up from 57% last year).
  • Seventy-eight percent of respondents anticipate more board and audit committee demands for evidence of effective compliance.
  • Only 35% are currently "very satisfied" with the most recent assessment of their compliance programs.
  • Budgets are moving in positive directions — 21% are reporting budgets of $3 million to $10 million (up from 14% in 2011).
  • Staffing levels are increasing — nearly 80% said their compliance departments grew at least modestly in the last year.
  • Reporting relationships are moving in the right direction – more compliance officers (32%) formally report to the board.  Reporting to the general counsel (GC) is also still quite prevalent (33% of respondents report formally to the GC).

SBAM has the information technology and human resources tools you need to get compliant.  Call us at (800) 362-5461 for more information.

This is your brain on drugs: Any questions?

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By Eric Brown, Anthony Kaylin 

Think of the late-1980s TV spot depicting an egg frying in a hot skillet. The voice-over bluntly states, “This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

That public-service ad is still relevant today; drugs are devastating in any context. A worker on drugs in the workplace is a liability simply from being unable to do his or her job, but even more so as a safety concern.

The two situations below are not at all uncommon. What are the professional but common-sense approaches to dealing with them?

Case 1: Joe has been with the company nearly five years. He is a diligent worker who has always had high performance reviews. In the past three months however, there has been a decrease in work quality, a sloppier than normal appearance, absenteeism, and when asked about missed work assignments, he has multiple excuses and blames other people for not meeting deadlines.

What to do: You do not know whether or not Joe has a substance abuse problem. Do not try to diagnose the problem. Instead, address the issues at hand: professional appearance and performance. Make expectations clear and inform Joe when he does not meet them. Set goals and time limits for improvement. Be prepared to support your claims with documentation about Joe’s performance.

If you take the road that Joe has a perceived disability, you may be violating the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  Therefore, you should focus on performance only.  Make sure you follow up with your legal counsel to ensure you are taking the right steps.

Case 2: Jane, a high-level employee with a positive track record, enjoys her typical smoke break as she’s been doing so for a long time. Lately, instead of standing at the usual spot, she has been taking walks around the office building. Once, as she was walking, you saw Jane was ingesting some substance.  When you go to talk to her immediately after just to have a casual conversation, you notice she has a very high energy level. Jane was complaining of long hours and no energy before, and now she doesn’t complain about the low energy.

What to do: If you believe you have reasonable suspicion that Jane has ingested an illegal substance, you may be able to have her take a drug test. However, your policy must be specific and you should immediately consult with your legal counsel to make sure you take the right steps.  If could be that she is simply taking new medication, and her actions are caused by this drug.

If a drug test finds she is using an illegal substance, the decision on what to do becomes your choice. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employees who engage in illegal use of drugs are excluded from the definition of an “individual with a disability.”

Many policies take a one-strike-and-you’re-out policy.  However, Jane is a high-level employee that your organization may wish to keep. Suggesting using an Employer Assistance Program (EAP) may be in your best interests. Hiring costs for a replacement may run higher than a drug rehabilitation program for Jane.

These two cases are only a few examples of the many possibilities of dealing with substance abuse. Depending on a “legal” or “illegal” drug, as an employer, your rights change. For example, ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against disabled employees. Alcoholism, currently, is considered a disability. Also, attending an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program falls under the ADA.  Furthermore, the suggestions above presume that you have a drug policy in place that specifically lays out what is and is not an illegal drug, your drug testing procedure, what will be tested, who will be tested, and what your organization intends to

Clark Hill PLC presenting webinar on employee substance abuse

On Wednesday, June 27th SBAM Approved Partner Clark Hill PLC will present a webinar Compliance Challenges with Employee Substance Abuse.  The webinar will air from 9:00am - 10:00am EST.

Participate, and you will learn how to avoid legal missteps when managing employees with substance abuse problems. This webinar will discuss considerations under the ADA and ADAAA, FMLA and Employer Drug Free Workplace Policies.

To reserve your space in the webinar, click here.

 
 

 

Overtime is no simple matter

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner AdvanceHR

The federal rules governing overtime seem to grow more complicated every year. To know who is entitled to overtime pay and who is exempt from it under federal wage and hour laws requires close examination.

Here are answers to questions you might have about how the current rules apply to your business.

Note: These answers discuss applications of the federal overtime rules. Some states have rules that differ from federal rules. Federal rules that are less favorable than state rules do not apply in the state. Find out how your state law treats employee overtime.

Can You "Round Up" - or Down?

There's no doubt about it. Overtime pay is a tricky issue. One recent case illustrates how employers can get into trouble calculating hours.

The FLSA allows an employer to round off hours worked, usually to the nearest 15 minutes, but such practices must be equally fair to both employer and employee. They cannot always result in less pay for employees.

In 2004, a Michigan hospital paid nearly $910,000 in back wages resulting from FLSA violations involving rounding and other issues.

Employees of Mt. Clemens General Hospital who started work early or worked late were only paid if they stayed a full 15 minutes. Otherwise, the time was rounded to the nearest quarter hour.

After being notified by the Labor Department of possible violations, the hospital performed a voluntary two-year audit. It was also cited for other technical overtime violations when employees received on-call and incentive payments for working extra shifts.

Salaried Employees

Q: All of our office employees are paid salaries. They usually work 40 hours a week. However, sometimes they put in about 35 hours weekly and occasionally, they work up to 46 hours in a week. Do we have to pay them overtime when they go over 40 hours?
 
A: Just because they're paid a salary instead of an hourly rate doesn't make salaried employees exempt from overtime pay. Salaried employees, who earn $455 weekly or more ($23,660 annually), and perform executive, administrative, or professional duties (as defined in the federal rules) are exempt from overtime pay. Salaried office employees who earn less than $455 weekly (or less than $23,660 annually) and those who do not primarily perform executive, administrative or professional duties are not exempt from overtime pay.

Defining Exempt Duties

Q:  We understand that employees who are executives, administrators and certain professionals are exempt from overtime. However, in our business, these exempt employees sometimes do tasks that really aren't typical of an executive, administrator or professional. How can we make sure that we're treating these employees correctly?

A:  First, click here for an overview from the Labor Department about overtime. If you're still uncertain about applying these rules, contact the Wage and Hour Division office of the U.S. Department of Labor in your state or consult with your payroll or human resources professional.

Regarding exempt employees who sometimes do work that really isn't typical of a manager, executive, administrator, or professional, the federal rules state that, to be exempt, employees' primary duties must be executive, managing, administrative, or professional in nature. According to the federal rules, "Determination of an employee's primary duty must be based on all the facts in a particular case, with the major emphasis on the character of the employee's job as a whole."

Computer-Related Jobs

Q:  Our company has computer employees on salary. Is this still appropriate under the current rules?

Must an employer accommodate an employee’s commute under the ADA?

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By Anthony Kaylin 

Regan began working for a Michigan automotive supplier in May 2005 as a temporary contract worker in the position of Prototype Seat Builder at the company’s facility in Troy. In July 2006, the company hired Regan for the position as a permanent employee. At that time, the typical work hours for a Prototype Seat Builder were 6:00 a.m. to 3:00p.m.

When Regan began working for the company she lived with her husband in Oxford, 24 miles from the facility. Around January 2008, Regan’s husband took a new job and the two of them moved to the town of Perry, 79 miles from the Troy facility. According to Regan, her new commute took between two and four hours. Regan has been diagnosed with narcolepsy and there was no question as to the legitimacy of disability.

In 2008, the company's Director of Engineering Shared Services determined that the work schedule in Regan’s department was not productive because the materials needed for their work did not arrive from other departments until after its 6:00 a.m. start. It made the early morning schedule inefficient. Stuart changed the department’s standard work hours to 7:00 a.m.to 4:00 p.m. for productivity purposes, effective September 29, 2008.

Regan informed her supervisor that her narcolepsy would make it difficult for her to work the new hours because she would be commuting in heavier traffic. In her deposition, Regan explained that she gets tired more quickly driving in heavier traffic. Because she expects the commute to take longer due to heavier traffic, she would need to pull over and rest during the drive. She requested that she be able to continue working from 6:00 a.m.to 3:00 p.m., or to work from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. without taking a lunch break. The company denied the request.

Regan’s supervisor told her she could apply to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act or quit. Regan also told the HR manager about her difficulty with the new hours. The HR manager also told Regan to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act or quit.

Regan quit and sued, alleging that the company's refusal to let her work an altered schedule violated the federal and state disabilities acts and civil rights acts. But the district court granted summary judgment for the company on all claims.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed the district court’s ruling.  This was a case of first impression for the 6th Circuit. Citing other circuits, the court found that although an employer is required to make reasonable accommodations to eliminate barriers for a disabled employee in the workplace, the employer is not required to eliminate barriers outside the workplace that make it more difficult for the employee to get to and from work. 

The 6th Circuit specifically ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act does not require the company to accommodate Regan’s request for a commute during more convenient hours. Also, a proposal of a modified work schedule for purposes of commuting during hours with allegedly lighter traffic is not a reasonable accommodation.

Employer note: Employers have the right to set work hours and policies.  According to the 6th Circuit, the employer does not have to deal with issues external to the workplace. That it is the employee’s responsibility.  In this case, the request for a more convenient commute is not the issue for the employer, but for the employee who took a job with the company. The employee is responsible to be at work.  In this case, it probably did not help that Regan voluntarily moved 55 miles farther away from the plant.

Have a question for SBAM's HR Expert Partner, ASE?  Read more
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