The HR Strategist: January 2015
In this issue:
- Employer Takeaways from the Amazon Supreme Court Decision
- What You Need to Know About OSHA's New Reporting Requirements
- Time Clocks Play More Than a Policing Role
- Go Red for Women's Day
- Did You Know?
In a recent unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a staffing agency does not have to pay workers at Amazon warehouses for the time they spend waiting to go through anti-theft security screenings at the end of their shift.
The decision, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, hinged on amendments made to the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by the Portal-to-Portal Act (1947), which generally excludes "preliminary" or "postliminary" activities (activities that take place before or after the workday proper) from compensable work time. In 1956, the Court further interpreted the Portal-to-Portal Act as requiring employers to only pay for activities that are an "integral and indispensable part of the principal activities" for which the workers were employed (Steiner v. Mitchell).
Since the principal activities of the workers in this case involved retrieving and packaging product, the Court ruled that the screenings did not qualify as an "intrinsic element of the job," and that Integrity was not required to pay employees for the time it took to go through the metal detectors.
So what should employers take away from this decision?
While the Court ruled in favor of the employer [Amazon] in this case, employers should be wary about using this decision as a basis for creating policies about activities that workers will or will not be paid for.
The fact is that there are many pieces of legislation other than the Portal-to-Portal Act that define what qualifies as "worktime," chief among these being the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In this one act alone, there are several rules and regulations that determine whether an activity is considered an "integral and indispensable" part of the activities an employee performs as part of their workday.
As of January 1, 2015, there is a new change to what covered employers are required to report to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Employers are now required to report all work-related fatalities within 8 hours; if an employee dies within 30 days of a reported incident regardless of cause; as well as all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye within 24 hours of finding 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 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. They can call their nearest area office during normal business hours, call the 24-hour OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA, or they will be able to report online at www.osha.gov/report_online.
In addition to the new reporting requirements, OSHA has also updated the list of industries that, due to relatively low occupational injury and illness rates, are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep injury and illness records. The previous list of exempt industries was based on the old Standard Industrial Classification system and the new rule uses the North American Industry Classification System to classify establishments by industry. The new list is based on updated injury and illness data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The new rule maintains the exemption for any employer with 10 or fewer employees, regardless of their industry classification, from the requirement to routinely keep records of worker injuries and illnesses.
If your company still uses a manual time tracking system, you are probably losing time and money, as well as opportunities to streamline payroll and labor management.
Much of the extra cost comes from errors and the time that managers and payroll personnel spend on labor-intensive tasks, such as:
- Monitoring early and late sign-ins and sign-outs.
- Complying with federal and state laws, as well as union contract rules.
- Forecasting and scheduling to meet normal staffing needs and high workload periods.
- Tracking tardiness, break times, vacation days and absences, as well as finding employees to fill in.
The bottom line: You may want to not only install a time clock but consider a high-tech time and attendance system that can help save time and money. These systems can ensure that your company's investment in people is paying off.
Basic systems provide routine tracking of employee log-in and log-out times, and can automatically report each employee's hours to your company's payroll processor at the end of the pay period. This increases time-tracking accuracy and boosts productivity by trimming the time spent computing work hours, chasing down missing time cards, and deciphering handwriting.
But time systems don't stop there. More advanced software can free up management and payroll time by performing several key tasks, including:
- Scheduling. Software can take historical and other data and predict staffing needs. It then creates schedules to cover shifts and high demand periods based on employee availability and skills. An analysis of forecast data and previous schedules can highlight areas that management may need to strengthen. Managers can also create and maintain schedules for their own departments, as well as set rules governing unpaid or paid break times, holidays and authorized overtime.
- Containing costs. Generally, this software categorizes time into three categories: regular time, overtime or special time, each of which is associated with pay rates and schedules. Systems can be set to alert management when an employee's work hours approach the overtime threshold and allow overtime only with approval. These systems can also lower time theft by authorizing wages only for employees' actual schedules regardless when they logged in or logged out. Managers can override restrictions to approve additional time.
- Analyzing labor expenses. Software can be set to identify individual employees assigned to a job and generate reports by project, department and employee. Management can generate reports on labor distribution, budget to actual spending, and project overtime and other information your company needs.
- Strengthening compliance. You can even use software to monitor various regulatory requirements such as state or federally mandated breaks, tip reporting, vacation time, and hours worked by minors. The systems can also track compliance with union negotiated terms such as overtime and job descriptions.
Employee time and attendance systems range in cost, depending on the number of employees and locations, as well as the degree of reporting and customization desired. But in the end, your company could achieve a positive return on investment in a relatively short period of time
It's not just a man's disease. Each year, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke. But we all can change this because 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes.
When it comes to beating heart disease and stroke, change can be the cure. To save lives and raise awareness of this serious issue, the American Heart Association launched Go Red For Women. And the red dress has become the iconic symbol of the battle against heart disease and stroke in women.
National Wear Red Day® —this year it is February 6, 2015 — is the organization's special day to bring attention to this staggering fact. Go Red For Women encourages everyone to wear red, raise their voices, know their cardiovascular risk and take action to live longer, healthier lives.
A Decade of Success
Since the first National Wear Red Day in 2003, they have made tremendous strides in the fight against heart disease and stroke in women. Through research and education to healthy lifestyle changes, they have achieved the following:
- Nearly 90% have made at least one healthy behavior change.
- More than one-third has lost weight.
- More than 50% have increased their exercise.
- 6 out of 10 have changed their diets.
- More than 40% have checked their cholesterol levels.
- One third has talked with their doctors about developing heart health plans.
- Today, nearly 300 fewer women die from heart disease and stroke each day
- Death in women has decreased by more than 30 percent over the past 10 years.
Click here for free materials about how you can raise awareness in the office and at home.
This year HRi celebrates its 25th Anniversary!
Twenty-five years ago, HRi began as a collaboration between aspiring entrepreneurs, Tim Schaffer and his business partner Jack Mayhew, who saw a void in the marketplace. Now, more than 160 clients and over 3,000 worksite employees later, HRi has grown into a highly regarded national PEO and HRO firm offering many different products and services.
HRi contributes its success to its clients and staff. Tim Schaffer, President of HRi says "It continues to be an honor and a privilege to have been selected by our clients to provide consulting services. There are not many people who wake up each morning and can honestly say, "I can't wait to get to work." Yes, we are those crazy people. 25 years later, we are as, if not more, passionate about our work and our clients, as we were on Day One."