Benefits Planning Consulting Partners

HR News You Can Use – JUNE 2017

Good News:

……Improve Your Safety Program

Bad News:

……Sexual misconduct in the workplace?

Quizzler is Back~~

…..FMLA True or False?


Good News: Improving Your Company’s Safety Program!

Would you question in your mind an offer from the federal government, about a free program… saying it will be good for you? Well, I’m pleased to report there is one from OSHA that is really good!

I was recently at a seminar and learned from another employer their very positive experience with OSHA’s “21D Consultation Program” (see www.osha.gov/dcsp/smallbusiness/consult.html) This is a program primarily benefiting small employers, offering free and confidential occupational health and safety advice to businesses in all 50 states. There’s a contact directory on the OSHA website, but in GA, the consultants come from Georgia Tech (404-407-7431); in NC contact the NC Department of Labor (919-807-2905); and in SC contact the SC Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulations (803-896-7787). At your request, the consultant will come to your worksite and offer help in identifying potential hazards, improve your occupational injury and illness prevention programs, and even qualify for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections. They are not in a position to issue citations or impose penalties, and they don’t routinely share their findings with OSHA. You will have an Opening Conference with the consultant to define their role and the scope of the review; a Walk-Through with the consultant to examine workplace conditions; and a Closing Conference, where the consultant will review with you detailed findings (both positive and those needing attention), and discuss possible solutions and agree to abatement periods to address concerns. After they leave your site, they will issue you a comprehensive and confidential report on their findings. Your responsibility after you review the report is to fix any serious job safety and health hazards uncovered in the inspection, per the abatement schedule you and the consultant agree upon. Smaller employers who may not in-house have a great depth of safety expertise could really benefit from this program! The employer I spoke with had nothing but good things to say about the professionalism, knowledge and helpfulness of the consultants who came to her company. Here is an opportunity to be better prepared for an OSHA inspection, hopefully prevent some injuries, and save some workers comp costs. It doesn’t get better than that!


Bad News: Sexual Misconduct Continues…

None of the allegations have gone to trial yet regarding sexual harassment at Fox News, but a number of prominent Fox employees have stepped forward making those allegations. And, it was the basis for the termination of Fox News founder and President Roger Ailes, as well as the host of their top cable news program, Bill O’Reilly. And let us not forget the hot water favorite TV dad Bill Cosby is in right now….

Such prominent news stories should give all employers pause, and a reason to consider the culture that exists in their own workplace. This could be a great time for you in HR, to get together with your other company executives to have an honest conversation about your company’s culture and tolerance for bad behavior. As we all recognize, senior executives in your company set the tone for your company culture.  Even if the behavior of some employees, supervisors and/or more senior staff doesn’t rise to the level of being illegal harassment, if words said or actions taken make employees uncomfortable, you are ripe for a claim that could be costly to defend. If the allegations are found to be true, your company’s reputation could be damaged and your ability to retain and to hire the best people could be impacted. Here are some tips worth your consideration:

  1. Have a written harassment/discrimination policy with an effective complaint procedure that allows employees to bypass their immediate supervisor and report concerns to other members of management or to HR.
  2. Train or at least provide information to both current and new employees on your harassment policy.
  3. Train your management staff to be sensitive to any allegations of harassment, and to notify HR immediately so that a prompt and objective investigation can be conducted.
  4. Develop an expectation that any employee who is a victim or witness to harassment is required to report it to management.
  5. Treat allegations confidentially, to the extent possible.
  6. Set the expectation that retaliation for raising good faith complaints will not be tolerated.
  7. Implement appropriate disciplinary action, up to termination of employment, for any employee at any level who is found to be in violation of your company policy: whether it is your most productive sales person, the company president or your mailroom clerk.

Quizzler: Test your knowledge of FMLA!

Are the following statements ‘True’ or ‘False’? Discussion of the answers will be in next month’s newsletter.

  1. You can you ask an employee who has requested FMLA leave to postpone it until your office is less busy.
  2. An employee must have worked at least 12 consecutive months for the employer, to be eligible for FMLA leave.
  3. Which of the following are true statements regarding the 12 month period in which an eligible employee may take 12 weeks of FMLA leave?
    1. The calendar year
    2. Any fixed 12 month period such as the company’s fiscal year, or a year starting on the employee’s anniversary date.
    3. A 12 month period starting the first day that FMLA leave begins
  4. FMLA leave may run concurrently with workers compensation time off, or with any other approved leave of absence.
  5. If you have questions about whether your employee on an approved FMLA leave really needs to be out of work so long, you may contact the employee’s health care provider for an updated medical statement.


This newsletter is not intended to provide legal guidance to you. 

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