Monthly Archives: May 2015

You Should Be On Vacation!

You Should Be on Vacation!

Are you planning on taking a vacation this summer? You should be!

Studies show that employees who utilize their paid vacation days are happier and healthier, and more productive when they return to work.

Here is why you should take a vacation and encourage your employees to take one too!

  • Better health – Studies have shown that men who go on vacation every year reduce their overall death rate by 20%. Almost everyone reports feeling better and more energized after a vacation.
  • Better focus and concentration when you return – studies have shown a correlation between vacation and higher performance reviews. On average, ten hours of vacation results in an 8% increase.
  • For business owners, vacations can be a time to take a step back and assess the business away from the stress over every day. It can be a perfect time to look at the big picture, and make some long term plans.
  • Improved sleep –your brain needs sleep to process what it learned during the day, and help reinforce learning.
  • More energy and overall satisfaction with life. Most employees report feeling more energetic even before the vacation begins, as they get excited about planning, and working hard to get work done before they leave.

Why People Don’t Take Vacations

In short, because they have too much work! Since the recession in 2009, many companies have been doing more with fewer people, and increased workloads keep employees busy all the time. In small businesses the main reasons for not utilizing paid time (in descending order) are:

  • Too much work to do
  • Accumulating vacation time for the future
  • I enjoy my job
  • My company needs me
  • I can’t afford to travel
  • Don’t need the days
  • I can get cash for days
  • Work would pile up
  • Hard to schedule

And a few people even cite:

  • Discouraged by employer
  • It would put my job at risk

How to Get Away

In a small business, a single person can carry much more of the workload than in a large business, and if you are the business owner it can feel impossible to leave for even a few days. But you should. And here is how:

  • Delegate – if you are a business owner and don’t feel comfortable leaving your current employees alone – you may have a hiring issue! But if they are simply unproven, give them the opportunity to grow, and to shine.
  • Gatekeeper – one way to protect your time off is to enlist a coworker as a gatekeeper for your information. Anyone that wants to contact you must first go through this person, who has the ability to determine what is important enough to contact you.
  • Email bankruptcy – this may seem extreme, but it could work (and some pretty famous guys use a similar method). In your vacation message be very clear that emails received while you are away will be deleted, and whom to contact in the meantime. And when you return – delete all your emails. Seriously.
  • Set limits – OK, you aren’t really going to delete all your emails. But if you must check your messages while you are on vacation, set limits. For instance, only check once per day, and never check when you should be having family time.

Whichever method you choose, you won’t regret taking time off. And if you need any help with your employees while you’re gone, let us know, we are here to help!

Summer Interns – Are You Sure?

Summer Interns, are You in Regulatory Compliance?

Summer is quickly approaching, for some people that means summer intern season! If your company is planning on engaging an intern, or would like to but are concerned about the regulations, read further for some tips and guidelines to help keep you in compliance.

So, how can you determine whether your intern is really an intern or an actual employee? Well, the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act, which regulate wage and hour issues) has no practical definition of “employee”, what it does define is the word “employ”; including the words “suffer or permit to work”. Suffer or permit to work means that if an employer requires or allows employees to work they are employed and the time spent is probably hours worked. This standard has recently been very narrowly interpreted by the DOL (Department of Labor), and in a number of high profile cases, some large companies have ended up owing wages to interns.

Here are some tips if you want to engage interns and still stay in compliance:

  • The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar in training which would be given in an educational environment.
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff.
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion its operation may actually be impeded.
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
  • The trainee works for his or her own benefits to learn a profession or vocation with adequate supervision and instruction from the company.
  • The company should not derive the primary benefit of the work performed by the intern.
  • The trainee should not displace any paid employees.

The most important of these tips is the last three. If any of those factors are missing, the DOL will most likely classify the person as an employee.

The issue of how to classify employees – as interns and as independent contractors – has garnered a lot of attention in the last few years. These issues are going to continue to be a big source of concern for the DOL and for employers. If you really aren’t sure about whether that college student is an intern or not – your best bet is to pay them minimum wage. It is less expensive than a full-time employee and far less expensive than a lawsuit. If you have any questions, or need help assessing your employee classifications, give us a call or send an email. We are here to help!