HR Minute

Showing 7 posts by Joseph M. English.

State Powers to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccination and Employee Vaccination Considerations for Employers

Posted In Coronavirus


In 1955, Canada used an 18-month polio vaccine trial period to set up a compulsory vaccination program. Facing the same health crisis and given the same time period, the U.S. Federal government chose a limited role in engaging State governments to prepare for and distribute the vaccine. Many claimed the U.S. Federal government’s failure to work with the States to prepare and lead in the 1950s led to distribution problems of the polio vaccine, with many poor communities being overlooked for more than a decade.

Continue reading State Powers to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccination and Employee Vaccination Considerations for Employers ›

Can Democrats Provide Some Runway for Employers on Overtime Rules?

DOL New Overtime Exemptions

We have all heard the hue and cry from many employers regarding the
impending change to the “white collar” exemptions to the FLSA’s overtime rules. As a reminder, the current minimum salary threshold is $455/week, or $23,660/year. The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) final regulation imposes a new threshold that nearly doubles the minimum salary to $913/week (or $47,476/year) on December 1, 2016. The rule also includes automatic escalators every three years thereafter. Most would concede that the time had come for some upward adjustment to the minimum salary threshold. However, many employers, particularly non-profits and employers in retail, hospitality, and higher education, have complained that the December 1 salary threshold jump is too drastic and will cause hardships—often with unintended negative consequences for some overtime-eligible employees.

Employers have found a sympathetic ear from an unexpected quarter…House Democrats. In July, a group of four House Democrats, led by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon), introduced the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act (OREA). The OREA legislation proposes an initial salary threshold increase to $692/week (or $35,984/year) on December 1, 2016, with the remainder phased in the increase over a three year period such that the $913/week threshold is effective on December 1, 2019. OREA would also eliminate the automatic escalators, on the novel (for Capital Hill) theory that everyone ought to see how the new overtime rule is actually working in the real world before the DOL simply raises the salary threshold “on autopilot.”

Dozens of organizations have spoken out in support of OREA, including the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the National Restaurant Association, and the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Rep. Schrader’s office maintains a list of supporting organizations on its website,

It remains to be seen whether OREA can gain any traction in Congress. We are in an election cycle (in case you hadn’t noticed). How many other Democrats will be prepared to face the catcall that they are the enemy of hardworking families, in that they oppose overtime pay? Will reason and common sense prevail over rhetoric? Hey, in 2016…ANYTHING is possible!

In the meantime, the clock is ticking toward December 1. Employers should continue to prepare for the DOL regulation to go into effect as proposed. 

DOL Pumps the Brakes on Proposed Changes to Overtime Rules

One of the hot-button issues that worries today’s employer is the impending changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) overtime rules. Within the proposed changes, the questions I hear most concern the proposed increase in the minimum weekly salary necessary for employees to be classified as exempt from the FLSA’s overtime provisions. The current threshold is $455/week, or $23,660/year. Earlier this year, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) proposed a new threshold that would nearly double the minimum salary to $970/week (or $50,440/year). Such a change would dramatically increase the number of employees eligible for overtime compensation. As such, employers have been holding their collective breath trying to divine when the DOL might make any such change effective.

Continue reading DOL Pumps the Brakes on Proposed Changes to Overtime Rules ›

Digital Immigrants Need Not Apply?

I have a confession to make: today I learned that in some circles I am what is known as a "Digital Immigrant." This means that I did not grow up in the digital age, rather that I came into the digital age as an adult. My voyage has been long and arduous, and I am sure that I lost sight of the New World many times. I do not speak the language fluently. Yet here I am in 2015, blogging!

Continue reading Digital Immigrants Need Not Apply? ›

Georgia’s Proposed “Religious Liberty” Bill: Mostly Dead…Or Slightly Alive

dreamstime,bigstockRemember the old adage about not discussing religion or politics in polite company?  Georgia legislators seem to have forgotten this, creating havoc at the Capital and among Georgians. If the bill were to pass, it may impact the way some Georgia employers interact with employees and customers. Georgia employers are watching closely.

What is the Fuss About?

At issue is the fate of SB 129, titled the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA). As drafted, the bill would bar the state (as well as county and local governments) from substantially burdening religious exercise unless necessary to further a compelling state interest. Many states have similar laws, including the much recently publicized Indiana bill. Supporters of the law claim that the proposed legislation will protect religious freedom and make it harder for the government to interfere with people’s religious practices.

Continue reading Georgia’s Proposed “Religious Liberty” Bill: Mostly Dead…Or Slightly Alive ›

New Year’s Resolutions for Human Resources Professionals

What's in for year 2015Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions, but too few of us carry through with them long-term even though we know that keeping the resolutions will have a positive impact. Here are some New Year’s Resolutions for Human Resources professionals designed to promote good health for your company in 2015 and beyond. The challenge is to stick with the resolutions!

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Fill in the Blanks: Analyzing Employment Applications

HR Minute_2-Resume-vs.-ApplicationMost organizations require job candidates to complete an employment application as part of the hiring process. (If your company simply relies on resumes instead, watch this HR Minute on the pitfalls.)  Are you using a generic application, pulled from parts unknown on the internet, or is your application tailored to your company's needs and compliant with federal and state law?  Your company can get itself into legal hot water if the application seeks unnecessary and perhaps prohibited information.

Here are a few tips to consider in analyzing a completed employment application:

  • Is the application truly complete?  Be on the lookout for blanks or skipped is possible that the applicant left something out and hoped you wouldn't notice!  There may be a good reason that the person didn't write down a reason for leaving prior jobs.
  • Beware of vague or evasive answers (e.g. Dates of employment answered in years... "2013-2014" wouldn't reveal that the person only worked from late December 2013 until January 2014).
  • Did the person sign and date the application? The applicant's signature is often his/her consent for background checks and other screening.
  • Is there evidence of stable employment history, or has the person bounced around? You may still take a chance on the person, understanding that the common denominator in all his dysfunctional employment relationships is him!
  • Drill down on references.  Ideally she will list former employers, rather than grandma and the neighborhood barista.

Scouring an employment application can save your organization trouble down the road, or help you find that diamond in the rough. Happy hunting!

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