Wednesday, April 28, 2010

20 Ways to Say No

By Ramona Creel

Feel free to use this tip sheet / checklist as you tackle your own "do-it-yourself" organizing projects.


* let people know when you have accepted other responsibilities
* no need to make excuses if you don't have any free time
* no one will fault you for having already filled your plate


* you might be uncomfortable with any of a number of issues
* the people involved, the type of work, the morale implications, etc.
* this is a very respectful way to avoid a sticky situation


* you aren't saying that you will never help out again
* just that you feel your schedule is as full as you would like now
* understanding your limits is a skill that is expected of you


* if you don't feel that you have adequate skills, that's okay
* it's better to admit your limitations up front
* the best way to avoid feeling overwhelmed down the road


* life isn't about drudgery -- if you don't enjoy it, why do it?
* don't be afraid to let someone know you just don't want to
* someone else is bound to enjoy the work you don't


* be honest if your schedule is filled
* "filled" doesn't have to mean really filled
* know when you are scheduled as much as you are willing and stop


* let people know that you want to do a good job for them
* but you can't when your focus is too divided or splintered
* you will be more effective if you focus on one project at a time


* it doesn't matter what the commitment is
* it can even simply be time to yourself or with friends or family
* you don't have to justify -- you simply aren't available


* volunteering shouldn't mean learning an entirely new set of skills
* suggest that they find someone who has experience in that area
* offer to help out with something that you already know how to do


* people often ask for help because they doubt their own abilities
* let them know that you have confidence they will succeed
* you are actually doing them a favor in the long run


* don't be ashamed of wanting to spend time with your family
* having a strong family is an important priority in and of itself
* be willing to put your personal needs first


* often, you have to focus your energies on a work-related task
* you may have to give up some civic or community duties
* if you don't do it, someone else will take on the task


* it's okay to be selfish -- in a good way!
* treat your personal time like any other appointment
* block off time in your calendar and guard it with your life


* know when you aren't going to be able to deliver a quality product
* the reason doesn't matter -- not enough time, wrong skills, etc.
* whatever the reason is enough for turning a request down


* saying no doesn't mean that you can't help at all
* if someone asks you to do something you really despise, refuse
* then offer to help with something you find more enjoyable


* if you aren't available to help out, offer another qualified resource
* helping to connect people is a valuable service to offer
* make sure the person you refer will represent you well


* sometimes it's okay to just say no!
* just say it in a way that expresses respect and courtesy
* leave the door open for good relations


* if you really want to help but don't have time, say so
* offer to help at a later time or date
* if they can't wait for you, they'll find someone else


* unexpected things happen that throw your schedule off
* accept that you may need to make a few adjustments
* it is temporary and you will have more time when life stabilizes


* it's okay to admit your limitations
* knowing what you can handle and what you can't is a skill
* your time will be more efficiently spent on something you do well

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Human Resources in 2010: What to Watch

By Elizabeth Rice

While the beginning of a New Year traditionally represents a fresh start, the arrival of 2010 has many continuing to brace themselves for the ongoing effect of The Great Recession. Though we all hope the worst is now behind us, many companies and individuals alike are still tightening their belts and looking for new ways to reduce spending, while essentially continuing to hunker down for the indefinite future.

Employers in particular are facing the New Year amidst a myriad of potentially dramatic changes not only in projected revenue and expenses, but short and long term impact of the government’s proposed healthcare reform as well as new employment legislation. And now more than ever it’s important to make sure your company is in compliance with that legislation: the United States Department of Labor (DOL) received a $35 million increase to their 2010 budget, some of which has been allocated to hiring an additional 670 field investigators. This increase in bandwidth, combined with potentially hefty fines and penalties for non-compliant employers, mean that today’s companies simply cannot afford to ignore the ever changing world of employment law.

Now more than ever, companies face the three fold challenge of adhering to new legislation, ensuring maximum cost effectiveness, and attracting and retaining great talent amidst a shifting job market. Though no one can be certain what 2010 holds for employers and HR professionals, early indicators point to a few emerging issues for the HR industry in the year to come:

Complying with New Labor Measures

2009 was an active year for employment law, a trend that shows no sign of slowing in 2010. The past year saw the enactment of a number of new federal initiatives, including:

• Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA): This initiative prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or job applicants on the basis of their genetic information. Employers looking to ensure compliance with the Act are advised to review the legal definition of genetic information and subsequently reevaluate official company policies for keeping employees’ medical information confidential, as well as make sure that any company sponsored health and wellness programs are not in violation of GINA’s restrictions.

• Amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act: While employees with disabilities have been protected from discrimination since the passing of the original Americans with Disabilities Act 20 years ago, the Amendments Act was introduced to broaden the scope of this protection. According to Monster, a significant point in the Amendment for employers to recognize is that an
employee will be considered disabled even if he or she is able to use a mitigating measure to overcome the effects of his/her impairment. This means that an employee who takes medication to control his epilepsy, for example, is still protected by the law.

• COBRA Subsidy Extension and Expansion: Included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 which was signed into law by President Obama on December 21, 2009, this measure was an extension of the COBRA Premium Assistance Act. The bill extends the COBRA subsidy from December 31, 2009, to February 28, 2010, and will expand the ARRA’s COBRA premium subsidy period to 15 months (from the current nine months).

According to, a number of additional employment initiatives are expected to emerge from Congress in 2010, including mandatory provision of paid sick leave, the Working allow non unionized employees to file grievances against employers), the Employment Non Discrimination Act (expanding Title VII protections based on sexual orientation), and the Patriot Employer Act (offering tax breaks to those companies that agree to union neutrality).

Staying on Top of Healthcare Changes

From living rooms to board rooms, this year’s hot button issue is sparking debate across the nation. For a large number of employers, the ability to offer comprehensive employee benefits,including health insurance, plays significant role in building competitive compensation packages. When it comes to proposed healthcare reform, however, there seems to be a great deal of confusion among employers regarding how it might impact their benefits packages as well as
their bottom lines.

According to recent reports from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and research by benefits provider MetLife, many employers (41 percent) aren’t sure what they will do regarding medical benefits should legislation pass, and the findings suggest they might not be fully aware that both the House and Senate bills would establish an expansive set of baseline coverage requirements along with broad based rules relating to guaranteed issue, premium rating, and prohibitions on pre-existing condition exclusions. Research results indicate that roughly 1/3 of employers surveyed expect their benefit plans to remain the same, while according to a separate study by HR consultant firm Mercer, nearly 2/3 of companies anticipate cutting health benefits to avoid paying an excise tax included in the Senate’s proposed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Regardless of your opinion on proposed healthcare reform, one thing is certain: following the new legislation developments closely will be of critical importance among employers and HR professionals of all sizes and across all industries.

I-9 and E-Verify Updates

While the immigration debate seems to have quieted down somewhat over the past year, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) did take measures to improve the security of the employment verification process. Two major updates in employer verification this year were:

• Changes to the I-9 form: The USCIS revised its I-9 form, and as of April 3, 2009, required all employers hiring a new employee to use this updated form in order to verify new hires and re-verify the employment eligibility of any employee whose work authorization has expired.

• New E-Verify requirements: E-Verify, the Department of Homeland Security’s online system for determining an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States, caught the attention of government contracting and subcontracting companies this year when, as of September 8, 2009, the government began mandating E-Verify requirements for contractors and some subcontractors working under certain types of government contracts. And while currently only 3 U.S. States (Arizona, Mississippi, and South Carolina) have immigration laws requiring all employers (both public and private) to use E-Verify, a growing number are considering legislation that would make the system mandatory for certain types of employers and/or new hires.

By staying informed and up-to-date regarding the key issues facing employers and HR departments this year, companies can prepare accordingly, hopefully saving time and money while avoiding risks and potential penalties down the road. Watch.html

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Exempt Employee Definition: Five Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the most common questions we receive cover the definition of an exempt employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The definition is important because an employer must pay overtime to employees who work more than 40 hours per week unless the employees meet that definition via certain tests regarding job duties and salary.

The FLSA provides exemptions for executive, administrative, and professional employees; outside sales personnel, certain specialized computer personnel; certain highly compensated employees; certain retail sales employees; and employees covered by the Motor Carrier Act (MCA). In order to qualify as exempt from the overtime pay requirements, an employee must pass three tests: the salary level test, salary basis test, and duties tests.

Here are some common questions about exempt employees.

Q: Our company’s business has fallen off dramatically. Can we require that each exempt employee take a one-week unpaid furlough before the end of our fiscal year?

A: Unfortunately, many employers are in the position of looking for ways to cut costs, and many are opting for furloughs as a means to cut costs without cutting jobs. The Department of Labor recently released several opinion letters addressing how furloughs affect exempt employees. The following are the main principles:

• Weeklong furlough. If an employer sets up a weeklong furlough and doesn’t pay exempt employees, there is no risk of losing the employees’ exempt status because the FLSA regulations provide that exempt employees need not be paid for any workweek in which they perform no work.

• Partial-week furlough deducting employee pay. If an employee sets up a partial-week furlough and deducts the pay of exempt employees for the furlough days, the employees are at risk of losing their exempt status and may be entitled to overtime.

• Partial-week furlough using vacation time. If an employer sets up a partial-week furlough and uses vacation time for the furlough time so that the employees receive their usual salary, there is no risk of losing the exemption. But this requires that every employee on furlough has enough vacation time to cover the furlough.

• Permanent furlough arrangement. Employers may set up a permanent change in an employee’s usual weekly schedule, such as changing the weekly work schedule from 5 days to 4 days, and altering the employee’s salary to match. As long as the exempt employees receive at least the $455 weekly salary required by the FLSA for exemption, they will remain exempt. Based on this information, you may require exempt employees to take a one-week unpaid furlough without jeopardizing their exempt status.

Q: Can a full-time exempt employee be suspended without pay?

A: Deductions from the pay of exempt employees may be made for unpaid disciplinary suspensions of one or more full days imposed in good faith for infractions of workplace conduct rules. The disciplinary deductions must involve serious misconduct (harassment, workplace violence, etc.), not performance or attendance issues. The employer must have a written policy applicable to all employees in order to make disciplinary deductions. For example, an employer may suspend an exempt employee without pay for three days for violating a generally applicable written policy prohibiting sexual harassment or workplace violence.

Q: Can we require exempt employees to clock in and out for lunch periods and at the start and end of the workday?

A: Employers may require exempt employees to clock in and out for lunch periods and at the beginning and end of their work day. There are a number of reasons why an employer might want to require exempt employees to “punch a time clock” in the same way that non-exempt employees are required to do so. One reason involves the equitable treatment of all employees regardless of level in the company. Another reason is that a time clock provides a record of exempt employees’ attendance. However, in order to continue to be classified as exempt, these employees must be paid on a salary basis meaning they must paid a fixed salary each week. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) enforces regulations that define the salary basis requirement for exempt status (29 CFR 541.118, 541.212, and 541.312). To be exempt, administrative, executive, and professional employees must generally be paid a predetermined amount each pay period that is at least the minimum weekly salary required by the regulations (currently $455 per week). The amount paid may not be reduced because of a variation in the quality or quantity of the work performed. With few exceptions, the employee must receive his or her full salary for any week in which he or she performs any work without regard to the
number of days or hours worked.

Accordingly, if an exempt employee clocks in late to work or leaves early at the end of the day, the employer may not dock his or her pay as it does for a non-exempt, hourly employee. We hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have additional questions.

Q: If an exempt employee comes into work for half of an hour and needs to leave due to personal reasons, are we required to pay the employee for the entire day or can we use available PTO time?

A: As a general rule, employers may not deduct from an exempt employee’s weekly salary because of a partial day absence from work. He or she must be paid the full weekly salary even though a partial day was missed. However, if the employer has a written policy of which the employee is aware providing for the use of accrued paid time off in partial day increments, the employer may charge a partial day absence to vacation or other accrued paid time off. The result is that the employee still receives the full salary for the week.

The U.S. Department of Labor has issued an Opinion Letter addressing this issue. The relevant paragraph is copied below: “’To respond to your specific concern about whether or not an exempt employee’s accrued PTO leave bank may be reduced for partial day absences, the answer is yes. Where an employer has a benefits plan (e.g., vacation time, sick leave), it is permissible to substitute or reduce the accrued leave in the plan for the time an employee is absent from work, whether the absence is a partial day or a full day, without affecting the salary basis of payment, if the employee nevertheless receives in payment his or her guaranteed salary. Payment of the employee’s guaranteed salary must be made, even if an employee has no accrued benefits in the leave plan and the account has a negative balance, where the employee’s absence is for less than a full day.”

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has strict rules about deductions from the pay of an exempt employee. There is a detailed discussion on that can be found here. For your convenience, the part most relevant to your question is copied below:

• Personal reasons. Deductions may be made when the employee is absent from work for a full day or more for personal reasons other than sickness or disability. Thus, if an employee is absent for a day or longer to handle personal affairs, his or her salaried status will not be affected if deductions are made from his or her salary for such absences. If an employee is absent for less than a day, he or she must be paid for the full day.

• Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. Employers may dock the pay of otherwise salaried and exempt employees for family and medical leave-related absences of less than one full day without affecting their exempt status but only in situations where the employer is required to provide leave under the FMLA.

Q: Do you have a policy for giving exempt employees compensatory time? Specifically, when employees travel for the company on weekends, the company would like to show their appreciation by giving them an additional day of PTO.

A: Instituting a formal compensatory time off policy for exempt employees is legal, but many employers avoid formal policies due to the complications such a policy can create. Employers sometimes avoid formal comp time policies because they may create the expectation that exempt employees work set hours or that certain work is “extra.” Instead, many employers opt to grant additional leave to exempt employees on an individual and discretionary basis, based on
exceptional performance.

If your organization wishes to provide comp time to exempt workers in a formal policy, it is best to set out a policy or clear expectations regarding when comp time is earned, how it will be tracked and within what time frame it must be used. For example:

• The policy should first limit and define the employees eligible for comp time to those that are exempt from overtime provisions of the FLSA. The policy should specifically state nonexempt positions are entitled to overtime pay and must be compensated for any hours worked over 40 hours in a work week and are not eligible for compensatory time off.

• State that the employer has no legal requirement or obligation to grant compensatory time off to exempt employees. A supervisor may choose to grant compensatory time off to exempt employees who are required to work in excess of 40 hours per week for special projects or during weekends or any normally scheduled time off. State how compensatory time will be granted (e.g., on an hourfor-hour or other basis).

• Require supervisory approval of work that qualifies the exempt employee for comp time. Consider requiring recordkeeping of hours worked, use of timesheets, etc., depending on the
work environment.

• Set time periods for use of comp time (i.e., within a year of date which comp time is accrued, within 60, 90 days, etc.)

• Set limits on when an employee can use comp time (i.e., allowing supervisors to deny comp time leave requests if taking such time will “unduly disrupt” the department’s operations.

• Set limits on the number of hours of comp time an employee can accrue in a set period.

Monday, April 12, 2010

10 Practical Steps to Avoid Employment Liability in 2010

By Erin M. Roark

In January the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a press release announcing that 93,277 workplace discrimination charges were filed with the federal agency nationwide during Fiscal Year 2009, the second highest level ever. Additionally, private sector job bias charges alleging discrimination based on disability, religion and/or national origin hit record highs. The number of charges alleging age-based discrimination reached the second-highest level ever. Continuing a decade-long trend, the most frequently filed charges with the EEOC in FY 2009 were charges alleging discrimination based on race(36%), retaliation (36%), and sex-based discrimination (30%). Monetary relief obtained by the EEOC for victims in FY 2009 totaled over $376 million.

In releasing the statistics, EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru stated, “The latest data tell us that, as the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, the Commission’s work is far from finished.” The EEOC opined that the near-historic level of total discrimination charge filings may be due to multiple factors, including greater accessibility of the EEOC to the public, economic conditions, increased diversity and demographic shifts in the labor force, employees’ greater awareness of their rights under the law, and changes to the agency’s intake practices that cut down on the steps needed for an individual to file a charge.

Undoubtedly, from the ADA Amendments Act to new FMLA regulations to the stimulus package, 2009 was a year of change in the employment law arena. With such sweeping changes and in light of the EEOC’s reported statistics for FY 2009, this is a good time to internally audit, update and review handbooks and policies. Here are some recommendations for avoiding liability in the New Year.

1. Review and update job descriptions.

Accurate job descriptions can be an employer’s best tool in ADA matters, interviewing, evaluations and workers’ compensation claims. However, in order for job descriptions to be a useful tool, they must be current and accurate. The New Year is a great time to review these job descriptions to ensure they are complete, accurate, and correspond to the actual duties performed.

2. Check your postings.

The new FMLA/DOL poster has been published including the new military leave. Ensure that your DOL, state and federal and workers’compensation notifications are all current and up to date. Don’t wait for the surprise audit or investigation to alert you to deficiencies.

3. Provide harassment training.

Harassment training is a great way to reiterate the employer’s commitment to a harassment free workplace. It is also a way to alert individuals to the means by which to report those concerns. This serves not only as a deterrent for harassment but may alert you to potential problems and aid in the defense of future claims.

4. Conduct ADA training.

The ADA Amendments Act went into effect in 2009. Ensure that your team, managers, and supervisors understand the new definitions and obligations to better engage and interact with your employees and applicants.

5. Update military leave policies.

With the recent passage and amendment to the FMLA military leave provisions for family members of military members, ensure that your policies accurately reflect the obligations under USERRA, FMLA, and any state laws with regard to protection extended to military
members and their families.

6. Review, update or implement performance evaluations.

Are you using the same evaluation forms you used a decade ago? Performance evaluations are only as good as the information they solicit. Review evaluation forms and update them to accurately capture the data you need. Train managers and employees to understand the process and the measurements utilized.

7. Update FMLA forms.

With the new regulations that went into effect in 2009, the Department of Labor published new FMLA certification forms and notifications that must be provided to employees. Review your forms and notices and ensure they are in compliance with the new regulations and DOL requirements.

8. Think before you layoff.

Unfortunately in these trying economic times, more and more employers are conducting layoffs or reductions in force. Before any actions are taken, ensure that you re-familiarize yourself with the WARN Act obligations and notifications required under the Older Workers Benefit Protections Act and ADEA. Severance packages and releases can be offered but there are obligations and limitations. A little extra time up front can prevent costly litigation later.

9. Conduct a thorough handbook review.

Update your handbook to ensure that all necessary policies are included, current and reflective of the 2009 laws. Has your company grown so that you are now covered by Family and Medical Leave or other provisions that you were not previously subject? When you make these updates, indicate the date that the handbook was revised, distribute the updated policies and obtain new acknowledgments from employees.

10. Update COBRA notices and policies.

Effective March 1, 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 expands COBRA continuation coverage to provide a 65% federal subsidy toward COBRA premiums for up to nine months to individuals who were involuntarily terminated from their employment between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009. Employers are obligated to notify eligible individuals of their rights. You need to update COBRA policies and materials to include these provisions and new DOL notices; identify those employees who were involuntarily terminated after September 1, 2008, and notify them of their rights and responsibilities under ARRA; and develop processes and procedures for administration of the COBRA subsidy and reimbursement of the 65% of premiums.

Monday, April 5, 2010

PrideStaff presents Industrial Insight

Flex Your Human Resources

Flex staffing is all the rage in an "uncertain" economy and CFO's love the ability to reduce payroll when orders drop off. Consequently, Production Managers love Flex for immediate access to a talent pool that can report to work "next day" without the hassle of recruiting/hiring. Managers have known this secret for a long time, as indicated from this survey by AMA.

"According to an American Management Association survey, 91% of human resource managers rate flexibility in staffing issues as important, and 95% use temporary and contract employees to achieve that flexibility."

American Management Association, "1999 AMA Survey, Contingent Workers, Summary of Findings."

So what are you waiting for? Actually, we understand the hesitancy to fully embrace a flex staffing model, and here are the two most common objections, along with our soothing rebuttal.

1. Staffing services charge too much, I can hire my own people for much less!
On the surface this looks like a slam dunk argument, but the reality is - outsourcing your recruiting/screening/hiring activity frees you up to focus on producing more of the product or service that creates revenue. Your business model is about profitability, not how to find and hire the right people. That IS our business!

And don't forget about the time saved by letting PrideStaff manage the ugly side of employment, claims from unemployment and workers comp, taxes, benefits and other "frictional" employment costs.

2. The workers they send out do no have the experience to do my jobs!
We know this happens, with our competitors!

Every new employee needs OTJ training to reach performance levels, whether they were hired by PrideStaff or by you. The first advantage we offer is matching our employee's skill level and recent experience to your job descriptions: we call this our ON TARGET order fulfillment process. This process allows PrideStaff to deliver better candidate quality on each and every assignment.

We also job shadow and benchmark critical skills at your worksite, which takes the guesswork out of hiring.

And for high volume positions (three or more associates), PrideStaff will customize an orientation that includes specific company information you want us to cover.

Sometimes our best efforts result in a mismatch because of culture or personality. That's why we offer our 110% guarantee - credit for the first day plus a 10% reduction for the first day of replacement.

At PrideStaff, we go to great lengths to ensure the temporary staff we provide have the skills and experience you need. When you're looking for highly skilled, experienced and trained support, contact your local PrideStaff office.

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Our Mission: Consistently provide client experiences focused on what they value most.

PrideStaff Las Vegas Makes Inavero’s 2010 Best of Staffing™ List

PrideStaff Las Vegas Makes Inavero’s 2010 Best of Staffing™ List

Release Date: March 10, 2010

Contact: Demont Daniel, CSP

PrideStaff Las Vegas announced today that it has been named to Inavero's inaugural Best of Staffing™ list. Best of Staffing, presented in partnership with CareerBuilder, is the nation's only client satisfaction award that recognizes exceptional client service in the staffing and recruiting industry. The 2010 Best of Staffing winners are truly set apart from the rest of the industry through their extraordinary level of client satisfaction.

"PrideStaff has strived to be a true partner to its clients as we help them navigate hiring and staffing in a difficult economic climate," PrideStaff's Business Development Manager, Demont Daniel said. "We are proud and honored to be recognized for our efforts in this way."

Staffing firms competing to make the Best of Staffing list underwent a rigorous client survey process followed by careful analysis of responses to determine satisfaction levels. PrideStaff Las Vegas received satisfaction ratings of 9 or 10 out of 10 from 90 percent of their clients, significantly higher than the industry's average of 55 percent. Best of Staffing participants secured their place on the list by exceeding the national staffing industry benchmark for client satisfaction by more than 22 percent.

"This is a time when clients of staffing firms can and should demand excellence from their recruiting partners," Eric Gregg, managing partner of Inavero said. "The $86 billion staffing and recruiting industry currently puts more than 2.5 million people to work daily and has become a fundamental component of overall U.S. employment. Inavero's Best of Staffing program presents an opportunity for firms to differentiate themselves from the rest of the industry, recognizes excellence, and also provides invaluable information about how to continue to meet and exceed client expectations."

Inavero's complete Best of Staffing list can be viewed at For more information about Inavero, visit To learn more about PrideStaff Las Vegas visit