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Arizona Prop 206: Paid Sick Time

Arizona Prop 206: Paid Sick Time featured

If we’ve learned one thing in our decades of HR experience, it’s that ignorance is not bliss. While Arizona Proposition 206 did not come as a surprise to the HR world, it has certainly taken its toll on many Arizona businesses.

Prop 206 is legislation that went into effect in July 2017 requiring AZ employers to offer their employees paid sick time. This legislation did, and continues to, cause confusion among employers surrounding its requirements and application.

However, we know that most normal people don’t spend their rare free time thinking about HR laws and how to deal with them. That’s where we come in.

For those of you only looking for the 1,000-foot overview, here’s five things you should know about AZ Prop 206.

Five Things You Should Know About Prop 206

  1. Beginning from date of hire, ALL employees (including part-time) are eligible to accrue paid sick time.
  2. Employees accrue a minimum of 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.
  3. They’ll generally be able to use this sick time as it’s accrued, but you have the option to place a 90-day waiting period on its use for new hires if you’d like.
  4. Companies with fewer than 15 employees need only offer 24 hours of sick time per year. Companies with 15 or more employees need only offer 40 hours per year.
  5. At the end of the year, unused sick time must either be paid out to employees or rolled over to the next year.

But AmeriSource, this sounds a lot like the PTO policy my company already has!

If your company PTO policy already meets or exceeds the above five criteria, you don’t need to take any further action. No work necessary. We salute you.

We’ve found, however, that many companies do have a PTO policy for full-time employees that meets the above criteria, but most don’t apply that policy to part-timers.

If your policy doesn’t meet the above requirements, then you’ve got two options:

  1. You can amend your existing PTO policy to be Prop 206-compliant.
  2. Or, you can create a separate bank for paid sick time and keep your current PTO policy.

We can help you implement and maintain compliance within either option.

That being said, let’s cover some of the questions we get most frequently from employers surrounding Prop 206 and sick time.

AZ Prop 206 and Sick Time Employer FAQ’s

What can this sick time be used for?

Sick time can (more obviously) be used by an employee when they are ill. However, some additional reasons for usage covered by the law are:

  • An employee’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
  • Caring for a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
  • Absences necessary due to or resulting from domestic violence, sexual violence, abuse, or stalking

Can I set a cap on how many hours of sick time employees can use in a year?

You can! The law states that employers with fewer than 15 employees can cap sick time usage at 24 hours per year, and employers with 15 or more employees can cap usage at 40 hours. This cap can apply regardless of the employee’s accrual balance, meaning they could have 100 unused hours built up from rollover, but they can still only use 24/40 hours in any given year.

Do I have to pay out unused sick time when an employee is terminated or leaves the company?

No, although you may choose to do so.

Do I have to allow rollover? Aren’t there any exceptions?

In general the answer is yes, you do need to allow the rollover of unused sick hours. There are only two ways around this. The first is to pay out any unused sick hours at the end of the year, as stated above. The second is to front load your sick time hours at the beginning of the year, rather than have a per pay period accrual. If you “dump” hours, you may implement a use it or lose it rule.

What if I don’t want to offer my part-time employees as much sick time as my full-time employees?

You may establish tiers as part of your time off offerings. It is at your discretion to offer more time off hours to full-time employees as long as what you offer your part-timers still meets the minimum requirements set out by the law. Your tiers must also be clear-cut and non-discriminatory.

Can I have the waiting period for sick time match the waiting period for my existing PTO policy?

You can, assuming your PTO waiting period is 90 days or less! Employees must begin accruing sick time from their date of hire, and their waiting period to begin using the accrued time off cannot be any longer than 90 days from hire.

If my company is not based in Arizona, do I still need to give paid sick time to my employees that live in Arizona?

Yes! The same would apply for employees you have in any other states or municipalities that mandate paid sick time.

Do I have to give paid sick time to temporary workers or interns?

The law defines an employee as any individual performing work for compensation, so yes, temporary employees and paid interns would be eligible for paid sick time.

What do I do if I think an employee is using sick time for reasons not covered?

You may require employees using sick time to submit a doctor’s note stating the reason for the absence. If an employee then either refuses or fails to provide one, you may take appropriate action at that time.

We hope this brief overview has given you a better idea of what Prop 206 entails. While this article honed in on Arizona sick leave, Arizona is only one of 11 states (plus Washington DC and over 30 other localities) that enforces mandated paid sick time. The trend is only spreading, and additional states/localities are already slated to implement their own paid sick leave laws in 2020. Multi-state employers, keep on the lookout!

Please reach out to the AmeriSource HR team if you believe your company needs help either implementing changes relating to paid tick time or maintaining your compliance. We’re the nerds that do think about new HR laws in our free time, so we know what we’re doing.

If you want to know even more about Prop 206 because you’re an overachiever like us, here’s a link to Arizona’s official law for Proposition 206 (scroll down to Chapter 2, Article 8.1).

The New Overtime Rule 2016

overtime rule

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published monumental changes to the overtime rule that will make approximately 4.2 million currently exempt employees eligible for overtime pay later this year.

The DOL has issued its long-awaited Final Rule that will make it harder for many workers to be qualify for the overtime exemption.

This rule goes into effect Dec. 1, 2016.

FLSA New vs Old Overtime Rule

The key provisions include:

  • Raises the salary threshold for overtime exempt status from $455 a week to $913 a week ($47,476 per year)
  • Increases the threshold to qualify for the “highly compensated employee” exemption from $100,000 to $134,004 per year
  • The salary threshold will be adjusted every 3 years, beginning January 1, 2020, based on census data
  • For the first time, employers can use non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10% of the standard salary test.  To qualify for this credit, the non-discretionary payments must be paid on a quarterly or more frequent basis and employers can make a “catch-up” payment if an employee doesn’t earn enough non-discretionary payments in a given quarter to meet the standard salary level test.

Notably, the final rule does not change any of the existing job requirements to qualify for an exemption.

What to do…

Identify current exempt employees who will lose exempt status based on the increased salary threshold (anyone earning under $47,476) and either reclassify these employees as non-exempt or raise their salary/non-discretionary compensation to meet the new salary test.

With changes coming to the Wage and Hour landscape, now is the time for employers to analyze the classification of each exempt employee and independent contractors. This will go a long way in avoiding huge headaches and penalties. Employers need to start preparing now by reviewing employee classifications and job descriptions, and consider how their pay systems could be affected if many of their exempt employees become hourly or if independent contractors are deemed employees.

We are available to assist you navigate this new rule and ensure your organization is in compliance.

Increased Employee Engagement Equals Increased Profit

Employee Engagement

How are you leading your team? From the back? With your mind? Or with your heart?

Recent Gallup study, State of the American Workplace, revealed only 30 percent of the nations’ workers were fully engaged at their jobs. That means a whopping 70 percent are completely disengaged at work.

Traditional leadership practices have produced the enemy that is low engagement. Employee engagement predicts how well an organization will perform – all the way down to the bottom line. The difference in profitability from the top quartile to the bottom quartile is a whopping 22 percent! Let me say that again… 22 PERCENT. When you consider low employee engagement costs the U.S. economy roughly $370 billion a year, it’s important to get the focus right.

A comprehensive sincere commitment to a top-to-bottom assessment coupled with a comprehensive strategic initiative is a must for companies that want to not only survive, but THRIVE.

Today’s business leaders and executives must step up. You need to hire and nurture high-performance managers. Taking it one step further, you must transform your management team in talent magnets.

Top 5 characteristics of talent magnets are:

Motivate – they challenge themselves and others to improve.
Assertiveness – they push past obstacles and make tough decisions.
Accountable – They create processes to help deliver on team goals.
Build Relationships – personalize how they manage.
Make bold decisions and move forward…

Let us help you to boost employee morale, lower turnover and bolster your bottom line.

We would love to hear from you. Contact us now to schedule a free evaluation.

Change starts now! Let AmeriSource HR help you develop a winning people strategy to maximize engagement and profits.

AmeriSource HR… Developing YOUR People Strategy.

Why You Need to Offer This Important Employee Benefit

Over the past few years, the concept of employee benefits has changed. In the old days, a company could provide its workers with a package of paid time off, decent health insurance and a 401(k) plan, and be in the running for “Employer of the Year”. These days, companies need to do more to attract and retain the best employees, offering benefits that address their real-world needs. In these increasingly uncertain economic times, another perk has been added to the list of items companies are offering employees: financial wellness benefits. These include comprehensive programs that educate, encourage and assist employees to become more financially literate.

There is a real need for these benefits. According to a recent survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 64% of Americans don’t have enough money on hand to cover an unexpected expense of $1,000. Let that sink in. Only about a third of us have a rainy day fund available to pay for any one of the many curves life throws at us, such as an emergency car repair or a trip to the dentist to repair a chipped tooth. Living this close to the financial edge can be stressful, to say the least. Many people cope with that kind of stress in unhealthy ways by engaging in unhealthy behaviors, such as overeating and alcohol abuse, which all too often translate into increased expenses for their employers. Employees who are obsessed with their finances are more likely to be less productive on the job, which can have a direct impact on the bottom line.

It’s not enough anymore for employers to match contributions to a retirement plan. They need to adopt a holistic approach, empowering employees with the tools needed to set budgets, dig out of debt and set their sights on a realistic plan for retirement. A solid financial wellness program should include personalized and focused information that is unbiased, workable financial tools and available live coaching from experts. It’s important to realize the race to the financial finish line is a marathon, not a sprint.

AmeriSource Development Solutions makes it easy for you to offer your employees financial wellness benefits. We have partnered with Financially Fit, an online program that includes on-spot personal finance training videos and exercises that will teach them what they need to know to increase financial fitness and achieve financial goals. When your employees join Financially Fit, they’ll have access to the CORE Curriculum, unlimited access to a team of professionals, and the Financially Fit for Life eBook.

Watch the video to learn more about the advantages of the Financially Fit program!

If this video has inspired you to offer this vital element to your employees, contact us today. Let us help you to boost employee morale, lower turnover and bolster your bottom line.

AmeriSource… Developing YOUR People Strategy.

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!

DEADLINE: OSHA 300 Summary Posted by February 1st!

It’s That Time of Year ….. Time to get the OSHA 300 Summary Posted 

Each February-April a summary of the previous year’s injury and illness record must be posted for employee inspection.

Employers are required by OSHA to complete Form 300, the Injury and Illness Log, and must post Form 300A, the Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, by February 1, 2015.

OSHA, the Department of Labor’s Office of Safety & Health Administration, sets and enforces standards to assure safe and healthful working conditions. Under the OSHA Recordkeeping regulation (29 CFR 1904), covered employers are required to prepare and maintain records of serious occupational injuries and illnesses, using the OSHA 300 Log. Form 300A, the Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, must include the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred in 2014 and be posted in a common area in the workplace from February 1 to April 30.

Basic requirement.

If your company had ten (10) or fewer employees at all times during the last calendar year, you do not need to keep OSHA injury and illness records unless OSHA or the BLS informs you in writing that you must keep records under § 1904.41 or § 1904.42. If your company had more than ten (10) employees at any time during the last calendar year, you must keep OSHA injury and illness records unless your establishment is classified as a partially exempt industry under § 1904.2.

New injury reporting requirements go into effect January 1, 2015 

Beginning January 1, 2015, there was a change to what covered employers are required to report to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Employers will now be required to report:

  1. All work-related fatalities within 8 hours; and
  2. All in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye within 24 hours of finding out about the incident.

Previously, employers were required to report all workplace fatalities and when three or more workers were hospitalized in the same incident.

The updated reporting requirements are not simply paperwork but have a life-saving purpose: they will enable employers and workers to prevent future injuries by identifying and eliminating the most serious workplace hazards.

Employers have three options for reporting these severe incidents to OSHA:

  1. They can call OSHA during normal business hours –

Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH)
Toll-Free (855) 268-5251
(602) 542-5795

  1. They can call the 24-hour OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742), or
  2. They can report online at https://www.osha.gov/report_online/

For more information and resources, visit OSHA’s web page on the updated reporting requirements, or contact AmeriSource HR’s Risk and Safety Director, Ken Wollenberg at 602-908-0401 for specific reporting questions for your industry.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. What does that mean for employers? There are things that employers can do to help recognize and support employees who may be victims of domestic violence.

You may think that domestic violence doesn’t affect you, but when nearly 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence, chances are it is affecting someone you know. If you think it doesn’t have anything to do with your workplace, when victims of intimate partner violence lose a total of 8 million days of paid work each year, or that between 2003 and 2008, 142 women were murdered in their workplace as a result of intimate partner violence, than you see that domestic violence affects us all.

According to the Center for Disease Control, domestic violence affects millions of Americans; women and men, gay, straight, old and young. Domestic violence, or Intimate Partner Violence, as it is sometimes known, is a worldwide epidemic. Although it is a problem that is seen as largely a problem in the home, there are things as an employer that you can do to help.

The first thing you should do is create a policy. Having a policy in place can help guide you if a situation should arise.

If you suspect that an employee is the victim of domestic violence, what should you do? Here are some helpful tips:

  • Make sure you are getting facts, not rumors or gossip. Basing assumptions on unfounded rumor is not helpful to you or the possible victim.
  • Speak to the employee privately. Don’t accuse, don’t pressure and don’t assume. There is an excellent video on how to talk to an employee whom you suspect is a victim here.
  • Convey the message “You do not deserve this violence”.
  • Provide a list of community-based services.
  • Address any immediate safety concerns for your employees and the workplace. Consult the victim, your security personnel, legal counsel, and/or law enforcement if necessary.
  • Let the victim know that their issues will be considered confidential, and kept as private as possible.

It is possible to create a culture where violence is not tolerated, and all individuals have the right to live free of fear. We are all responsible for the creation and propagation of this culture, and the workplace is as good a place as any to start. If you need help with policies, or assistance in dealing with a possible victim of perpetrator of domestic violence, please contact AmeriSource HR. We are here to help.

Is Your Customer Service Scaring Away Customers?

customer service

Hiring the right people for customer service positions can be very challenging. We all have had experiences where our opinion of a business was formed, good or bad, after speaking with just one person.

In a highly publicized case, a Customer Service Representative (CSR) for Comcast fought with a customer who was attempting to cancel his service. The phone call went viral, forcing the company to issue public apologies and the President of Comcast to apologize to the customer.

This is an extreme case, however, we’ve all encountered customer service reps that influenced our feelings about a company.

Hire for Attitude, Train for Skills

Any position that interacts with the public should be staffed with care; from the VP of Sales down to the entry-level person who sits at the desk and answers the phones. For the positions that have direct contact with customers, we recommend that you hire for attitude and train for skills. Someone who has all the right training, knowledge and skills can still have the wrong attitude and not be a good fit for the position.

Great Customer Service Possess the Right Personality Traits

Great customer service is defined by a person who possess the right personality traits. Kindness, generosity, curiosity, team focus, and positivity or optimism are all traits associated with great customer service. One of the more important traits is conscientiousness, which can be described as being thorough, careful or vigilant, and striving to do a task well. People who are conscientious tend to be on time, organized and dependable.

Ask the Right Questions!

The best way to ensure you are hiring the right candidate is to ask the appropriate questions during the interview process that will elicit the response you are looking for, such as; “Tell me about a time when customer really made you upset, and what you did about it”.

Once you have found the right person, you can then provide any additional training that may be needed to perform the job well. If you concentrate on personality and train for skills, you will find yourself hiring all the right people to get the job done.

If you are in need of training on how to complete a successful interview in hiring a great customer service representative, or are looking to outsource your recruiting, AmeriSource HR has qualified staff on hand to assist you. Give us a call or send us a message today!

E-Cigarette Policies In The Workplace

e-cigarettes and vaping in the workplace

Where there’s smoke… there isn’t necessarily fire.

Does your company have a policy on e-cigarettes? It might be time to create one. E-cigarettes are a fast growing trend, and currently there are no laws regulating their use in the workplace. It is up to the employer to create and enforce a policy which is beneficial to all employees.

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, electronic vaping devises or digital vapor devices as they are sometimes known are battery-powered devices which simulate tobacco smoking. The device contains a heating element which vaporizes a liquid solution of nicotine and flavorings, or sometimes just flavorings. These devices can resemble cigarettes or cigars, or look quite different. They release a vapor that is less harmful than cigarettes but has not been thoroughly researched to know if it is completely safe.

Arguments for allowing employees to use e-cigarettes in a business environment are persuasive.

Some smokers argue that using such devices helps them quit smoking regular cigarettes. Another argument is that e-cigarettes can also reduce time spent away from productive work normally spent taking a smoke break. The vapor they release has been proven to contain drastically fewer carcinogens than regular cigarettes, which in turn, should be harmless in the form of second hand smoke.

However, convincing arguments have also been made against the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace.

With some e-cigarettes it can be very hard to tell by a casual observer, (say a client walking by), that it is a vaporizer and not a real cigarette.  The vapor itself is a concern because marijuana or THC can be consumed in the same way. The FDA has conveyed their own concerns about the safety of these devices and the second-hand smoke they emit. Some non-smokers are offended by e-cigarettes and would be prefer not to be exposed to the vapor no matter how safe it is claimed to be. Employers in manufacturing environments may have additional safety concerns for employees that need to use two hands to attend to their duties.

Currently, there are no State or Federal laws regarding the use of e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes and the issues around the topic will likely become more prominent in the near future.  It is in the best interest of employers to take action now and create a policy that works for their employees and their business. If you would like to discuss, or need assistance forming a policy, please contact AmeriSource HR Consulting Group.