Paying Wages Into Debit Cards

The California DLSE (Department of Labor Standards Enforcement) has approved the payment of wages into a debit card or money check.

This should be a convenience for employees who previously have not had access to direct deposit of their wages. And in any case, it’s definitely easier for employers not to have to cut a check (or sign all of them, either).

If you use a payroll company such as ADP or Paychex, contact your representative to get this started.

If you run payroll in-house, we strongly suggest you contact your HR Consultant or employment attorney before you enact this new system.

As usual, California is ahead of the rest of the nation in issues like this – if you’d like to implement this program – call your payroll provider or employment attorney to make sure your state accepts this form of payment.

Courtesy Barker Olmsted & Barnier.

Independent Investigations Can Reduce Your Liability

An employee has accused her supervisor of sexual harassment, and just informed you about it.

Now what do you do?

First, call your employment attorney, who will likely recommend an independent workplace investigator to interview all the relevant witnesses and work with that attorney to develop recommendations as to what, if any, steps should be taken.

Conducting your own investigation is fraught with peril. First, you don’t have the experience or knowledge to do so, and secondly – you can avoid liability by having that investigation conducted by a neutral third party.

Of course, the first order of business is to make sure you have non-harassment and non-retaliation policies in writing immediately.

Men Fighting Back in the Workplace

It used to be that sexual harassment claims were made almost exclusively by women. But times have changed. According to the EEOC, men accounted for a record 16 percent of all sexual harassment complaints in 2007, nearly double the 9 percent figure in the early 1990s.

And men are also filing more FMLA Claims as well.

Attorneys believe this trend is caused by the so-called Father’s Rights Movement.

Regardless of the cause, the monetary impact to employers is significant. One man successfully sued his employer for $11.65 million – he charged he was retaliated against for taking time off under the FMLA to care for his aging parents. Schultz v. Advocate Health, No. 01C-0702 (N.D. Ill. June 5, 2002). The case settled for an undisclosed amount in 2003.

Make sure to establish gender-free retaliation and harassment policies in your workplace. It’s not just women who are suing anymore.


Workplace Respect

Here are the most common workplace ‘pet peeves’, as identified in a Fast Company 2006 survey:

  1. Being condescended to, 44 percent
  2. Being reprimanded publicly, 37 percent
  3. Micromanaging, 34 percent
  4. Loud talkers, 32 percent
  5. Cell phones ringing, 30 percent

We’ve talked at length this week about issues that increase employee turnover. Note that the first three items on this list directly relate to poor management.

Employees want to enjoy their work; and if there is disrepect from the boss, there’s going to be problems in the workplace.

Bosses: make sure you show your employees respect (remember the golden rule); and if you see disrespect in your workplace, do not allow it to continue.

Courtesy Maureen Moriarty in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.


Humor in the Workplace

Times are tough. And when economic uncertainties prevail in the workplace, one of the first casualties is a sense of humor, which I consider a critical component of a successful work team.

That’s bad news for productivity, creativity and the general well-being of workers, say HR and humor experts.“It’s a natural tendency for some folks to tighten up during tough times, but we need to lighten up,” warns Joel Goodman, founder of The Humor Project Inc.

There’s a need to toe the line for political correctness, of course; but humor – and having fun at work – increases productivity and morale, thus reducing turnover and gloom.

As an employer, it’s critical to always remember that a workplace that’s fun is a good workplace. And if you’re working for a company and it’s not fun: why would you spend at least a third of your life not having fun?

Thanks to Eve Tahmincioglu’s article in

Flex Time’s New Popularity

The increased cost of gas is one of the reasons for the increased use of ‘flex time’. Employers are starting to squeeze the 40 hour/5 day week into a 40 hour/4 day work week – with the approval of both employees and employers.

Bosses say that flex time increases productivity.

The 2008 National Study of Employers shows that there is an increase in the use of flextime (79% of employers now allow it, as opposed to 68% in 1998).

Besides the cost savings of gasoline, employees perceive flex time or a reduced work week as a benefit – and the advantage for employers is reduced turnover.

Courtesy Christian Science Monitor & the Miami Herald.