Articles Posted in Resources

Earlier this month, the President proclaimed October 2012 National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The observance is intended to raise awareness about disability employment issues and to celebrate the contributions of our country’s workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?”

In conjunction with NDEAM, he U.S. Department of Labor has launched an online Workplace Flexibility Toolkit to “provide employees, job seekers, employers, policymakers and researchers with information, resources and a unique approach to workplace flexibility.”

According to the U.S. DOL, the toolkit “points visitors to case studies, fact and tip sheets, issue briefs, reports, articles, websites with additional information, other related toolkits and a list of frequently asked questions. It is searchable by type of resource, target audience and types of workplace flexibility, including place, time and task.”

People manage email in different ways. Some of us use our Inbox as a task list, filing everything that does not need attention.  Others use their Inbox as a storage site for any email that they may ever want to refer to again. You can imagine which group is better liked by IT departments across the globe.

We also have different standards for what is and is not acceptable from a usage or style perspective.  Emails that disregard sentence capitalization, for example, opting to use only lower-case letters, may drive some readers bonkers. Others may be more troubled by email senders who elect to use an atrocious and distracting “stationery,” which translates roughly to a pale beige background with fuzzy gray dots arranged in a grid pattern on which it is impossible to read any text smaller than 24 pts in bold font.

But what about the content of our emails?  There are tricky aspects of that, too, as many of us are all too well aware. Why is it that readers so often misinterpret messages as having a far more sinister or simply unfriendly intent?

Human-resource professionals often ask me about good online resources for their employment-law questions. You can add another to the list. Now available as a free download are the current drafts of the Restatement of Employment Law.

The Restatements, for those who may not know, are an incredible legal resource covering just about every possible aspect of a particular area of law. Restatements are published by the American Law Institute and are drafted by a group of amazing legal minds from across the country. For the employment-law Restatements, this means in-depth coverage of everything from contract formation to privacy to state common-law torts.

So, if you’re interested in taking your knowledge of the employment laws to a deeper level or if you fancy yourself as having such knowledge already, check out the latest draft of the Restatement.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) continues in its initiative to provide employers and employees with online resources and tools designed, according to the DOL, “to help employers understand their responsibilities to report and record work-related injuries and illnesses” in accordance with OSHA regulations.  DOL 2 

From the DOL’s press release announcing the new web tool:

The OSHA Recordkeeping Advisor helps employers and others responsible for organizational safety and health quickly determine whether an injury or illness is work-related; whether a work-related injury or illness needs to be recorded; and which provisions of the regulations apply when recording a work-related injury or illness.  To help employers in making these determinations, the OSHA Recordkeeping Advisor relies on their responses to a series of pre-set questions. 

The Wage-and-Hour Division of the Department of Labor (DOL) has released an app called “DOL-Timesheet.”  The app works on the iPad and iPhone but may later be released for Android and Blackberry. As described by the DOL:DOL Timesheet app

This is a timesheet to record the hours that you work and calculate the amount you may be owed by your employer.  It also includes overtime pay calculations at a rate of one and one-half times (1.5) the regular rate of pay for all hours you work over 40 in a workweek.

The app does not handle tips, commissions, bonuses, deduction, holiday pay, shift differentials or other non-standard methods of pay.

Employers may want to take advantage of a new online toolkit to facilitate the return-to-work process for employees following a disability-related leave of absence.  The toolkit is intended to provide guidance to both employees and employers with the goal of getting employees back to work as soon as possible. The employer toolkit includes tips for possible accommodations, such as changes to work duties or schedules.  The site also includes suggestions for ways to reduce workers’ compensation costs and improve workplace safety. 

If you need specific information on how to accommodate an employee with a disability, be sure to check out the Job Accommodation Network (JAN)JAN is a free service with an unmatched library of informative resources.

Any human-resource professional who conducts internal investigations of employee complaints (i.e., discrimination, harassment, bullying) would be well advised to read the new book, The Invisible Gorilla.  The book is written by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, the two minds who collaborated on a famous psychological experiment for which they were awarded the Ig Nobel Prize in Psychology. 

If you haven’t heard of the “gorilla experiment” (also known as a “selective-attention test”), you can (and should) check it out on the authors’ website.  You can watch the video to take the test-but be warned that you may be very, very surprised by the results!  According to the authors:

This experiment reveals two things: that we are missing a lot of what goes on around us, and that we have no idea that we are missing so much.

Employers are affected by the health-care legislation, also known as the Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act, in numerous ways. One of the lesser-known parts of the Act is Section 4207, which amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Section 4207, also called Reasonable Breaks for Nursing Mothers, requires employers to provide nursing mothers reasonable breaks to express breast milk and a separate room where they can take the break for up to the first year after the child’s birth. (See FLSA Now Requires Breastfeeding Breaks and a Place to Take Them).  baby bottle

The law took effect in March but employers have been without any guidance on what the law requires.  Until now, that is.  The Department of Labor has issued an official fact sheet providing some guidance on the specific requirements under the law.  Fact Sheet #73 offers the following guidance:

Who Is Eligible for Breaks

Employers and human-resource professionals have been anxiously awaiting the issuance of the final rules interpreting Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). We remain hopeful the regulations will address some thorny issues, such as the implications of employers’ use of internet and social media sites, which may in turn reveal the genetic information of an employee or applicant.

Looks like we shouldn’t hold our collective breaths for the final answer. Deadline after deadline set by the EEOC for its publication of the regulations for Title II of the Act, which applies to employers, has come and gone. Most recently, the EEOC’s Spring 2010 Agency Rule List indicated that GINA regulations were in the Final Rule stage and were expected to be finalized in May. May has come and gone and still no regulations.

In the meantime in GINA news, a new website, has been created by the Genetic Alliance, the Genetics and Public Policy Center at the Johns Hopkins University, and the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics through funding by The Pew Charitable Trusts. This online resource on the GINA and its protections in health insurance and employment includes answers to common questions about GINA and hypothetical examples.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), offers a resource called eLaws Advisors, to help employers and employees understand the many federal employment laws.  The website is actually more of an interactive tool that guides users through a series of question to provide specific information relevant to their particular circumstances.  There are eLaws Advisors on wage and overtime issues, workplace poster requirements, health benefits, federal contractor compliance, and other topics. 

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