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Most Misunderstood COBRA Components

  As workforces evolve, it is imperative for employers to stay abreast of fluctuating healthcare mandates, and changes in employment law as they are introduced. Signed into law by President Reagan in 1985 and effective April 7, 1986, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) establishes insurance continuity for workers paying premiums under group policies. When an employee leaves the company, an employer will provide the same level of insurance for a predetermined number of days, months or years. Between the original COBRA Act, and the several additions by the Obama administration, many components of this law may be misunderstood. Read more
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USERRA & Employer Compliance Requirements

Servicemen and women are often called away from their place of employment to deploy overseas, to engage in domestic military exercises, or to attend weekend training. Under USERRA, or Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, employers are required to honor the commitments of military personnel without prejudicial treatment upon their return. All employers who employ military men and women must adhere to the following basic regulations USERRA sets forth. Note that terminating an employee in Texas who is affiliated with the United States Military without showing cause may come with hefty fines and other civil liabilities. The Read more
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ADEA, OWBPA & Age Discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law which forbids an employer (with 20 or more employees) from discriminating against employees aged 40 and over on the basis of age.  The Act covers discrimination “in any aspect of employment” including hiring, promotions, pay, benefits, training, job assignment, layoffs and firing. Employers should be aware that discrimination “in any aspect of employment” is a purposely broad statement meant to provide wide ranging protections.  Examples of areas affected by the act include: Advertisements or help wanted posters Employment applications Occupational qualifications Seniority status Bona Fide Occupational Age Qualifications It Read more
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Understanding Employment At Will

Texas employment law states that workers in the Lone Star State are employed at will.  This means that, unless prevented by statute or an express agreement (e.g. an employment contract), an employer may terminate the relationship with an employee at any time and for any reason, without having to provide justification.  Absent a few limited circumstances, an employer may also modify the terms or conditions of employment at any time, without notice and without a reason. This at will employment relationship goes both ways, meaning that an employee may leave a job at any time, without having to provide a Read more
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Creating a Workplace Mobile Phone Usage Policy

Operating a business in the digital age means accommodating personal technologies such as cell phones, which can be helpful tools in the workplace, particularly in some industries. Mobile phones, when properly used can keep employers more connected to their employees and spark innovations. They can also, however, pose as significant sources of distraction and lost productivity. The best way to take advantage of all the potential benefits of cell phones at work while minimizing the drawbacks is to create a strong workplace cell phone usage policy. State Your Policy Clearly An ambiguous, hidden, or difficult-to-find cell phone policy won’t help Read more
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Avoiding Common FMLA Mistakes

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires that covered employers give their employees up to 12 weeks per year of job-protected, unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons. The employee has access to the same group insurance while on leave that he or she would have if still at work. Due to the significance of the coverage, it is important that employers avoid these common FMLA mistakes. Late FMLA Request-Filing Once an employee has a need to take leave, their supervisor should report this to HR as soon as possible. The FMLA period does not begin until the Read more
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Handling Employee Misconduct & Discipline

Handling Workplace Misconduct and Employee Disciplinary Action From time to time, employees will engage in conduct that is unsuitable in the workplace. In order to address conduct that is inappropriate, offensive, or dangerous, companies often create a procedure to correct employee misconduct and to address employee discipline. Plans of this nature serve to not only curtail and discourage unwanted behaviors but also to protect the business from lawsuits and frivolous unemployment claims. This article gives a brief overview of this complex and detailed subject. If you need assistance creating a disciplinary action plan or dealing with serious employee misconduct issues, Read more
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Creating a Corporate Emergency & Disaster Plan

Businesses of all sizes should prepare for emergencies and disasters because developing emergency and disaster plans address a business’ safety and business needs, as well as provide protection in the event of potential legal action. The best way to accomplish this is to elect a program manager, create a formal plan, and test for effectiveness. Tips for Creating Emergency and Disaster Preparedness Plans Build a Team The first step to building a plan is to build an emergency disaster team, led by a program manager. Choose employees from cross-functional disciplines for the most comprehensive results. Gaining input from different departments Read more
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Employing Minors in Texas

Employing a person younger than the age of 18 requires adherence to a specific set of labor laws, referred to as Texas Child Labor Law. The law is not there to prohibit or impede the hiring of minors; rather, child labor laws protect the safety and rights of minors in the workplace. Learn Age- and Hour-Appropriate Hiring Rules The minimum age for employment, with a few exceptions, is 14 years old. Exceptions to the rule include working for a business owned by the child’s parents or neighborhood newspaper delivery. A child as young as 11 years old can have a Read more
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Handling Layoffs with Compassion

Proactive management is essential when a company faces the harsh reality of having to lay off members of its workforce. A transition process needs to consider the members who are separating from the team and those who are staying behind. Develop an Overall Strategy A comprehensive strategy should be developed as soon layoffs become necessary. The process should include the following components: The process of selecting which employees to lay off is a delicate matter that you must handle with great discretion. You should make these decisions behind closed doors, and managers must understand the importance of keeping the matter Read more