In May, the Harvard Business Review looked at why Danish women’s salaries dropped off after childbirth and never recovered.  In June, the University of Chicago presented a reason: productivity.

Yana Gallen looked at Danish data and found that an eight percent productivity gap between mothers and others explained two-thirds of the pay gap. What it didn’t explain was the slight drop in pay for childless women, who had higher productivity.

Gallen hypothesized that men were actually working more hours than reported, which would mean their productivity per hour wasn’t that much greater (or greater at all) than women, but that their total work output was higher. The Wall Street Journal summed it up as follows:

When all hours are accounted for, it’s possible mothers are equally as productive per hour. But from a business’s perspective, a worker would likely be judged on output per paid hours. Essentially, a father might be more willing or able to stay late to finish an assignment, even if they receive no overtime compensation for the effort.

To keep reading, click here: Harvard: Why Do Danish Mothers Earn Less? University of Chicago: It’s the Productivity, Stupid.

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Your paid time off policy only works if people actually get to use their vacation days. It’s even better if they get to take them when they want to.

Generally, that means during the summer. But what do you do if you’re already short-staffed? It can kill morale if you say “no” to people’s vacation requests, and you could become even more short-staffed if team members call out sick or quit for greener pastures. So, here are a few things you can do to help make sure everyone gets a vacation when they need one.

Plan Ahead

Of course, you can’t plan things perfectly—unforeseen issues often arise. But a lot of tasks can be planned and prepared for in advance. To start, put all the critical deadlines on the calendar; if you’ve got a super busy period coming up, where you really can’t stand to have anyone gone, put that on the calendar as well. Then, tell your team you want them to submit their summer vacation requests by a particular date. If everyone requests different dates, you’re all set. If people want overlapping dates, you’ll have to sort it out.

To keep reading, click here: Building a Paid Time Off Policy that Ensures Everyone Gets a Vacation


Donald’s Trump driver and Lady Gaga’s personal assistant were both well paid at $75,000 per year, but they both sued for unpaid overtime. Lady Gaga’s assistant argued that she worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week without receiving overtime pay. Trump’s driver argues that he has 3,300 hours worth of overtime pay that he deserves. Lady Gaga settled out of court with private terms. But, does Trump’s driver have a case? It could come down to the weight of the car.

Employment law is weird

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees are entitled to overtime pay–time and a half–if they work more than 40 hours in a week unless they meet one of the “exemptions.” That’s why we talk about exempt and non-exempt employees.

While the qualifications for exemption can be a bit complex, as a general rule you need to manage other people, have decision making and independent working ability, be in outside sales, or be a highly educated professional. It doesn’t matter whether the employee consents to work on a salary or not–legally the employer has to pay the overtime.

To keep reading, click here: What Lady Gaga and Donald Trump Have in Common: Misapplying Labor Laws


I don’t want to send or receive GIFs at LinkedIn. Now, I can stop myself from sending them, but I can’t stop people from sending them to me, but you can.

I’m a big LinkedIn user. I post something there almost every day. I love to connect with people.

What makes me love it? Because LinkedIn has managed to stay business focused. The fact that it began as a networking site means that most people (in my experience) have their real names with their real experience in their profiles. This keeps the trolls down. After all, if you say you work for Company X and then make a comment about how fat and ugly I am, it doesn’t take that much work to figure out your boss or other company official and then tag them.

To keep reading, click here: Dear LinkedIn, Did You Forget You’re a Business Site?


It’s easy enough to make paper employment records—you just have to write something down. An electronic record, on the other hand, can be a bit more complicated. They have some serious advantages, though.

Ultimately, it’s time to make the switch from paper employment records to electronic employment records, even though there may be a cost to implementing such a system. If your company still uses paper records, here’s why it should focus on this important update.


Where are your paper records? In a filing cabinet? In a desk drawer? Well, who has the key? If it’s one person and they are out sick, is there a backup key? Who has access to that? And what if there’s an emergency—an employee falls suddenly ill, so you need to reach their emergency contact—but the person who has the key to the filing cabinet is out to lunch?

To keep reading, click here: Physical vs Electronic Employment Records: What’s the Better Choice?


Swiss Sunday: Women’s Work

by Evil HR Lady on July 8, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, my sister in law and her 2.5-year-old visited. As all 2.5-year-olds do when they are away from home, he came down with a high fever (40.3 Celsius, or 104.5 Fahrenheit). So, my kids’ pediatrician agreed to see him on short notice. We’ve been going there since we moved here, 9 years ago, and long before I spoke any German.

Because my sister-in-law doesn’t speak any German, I filled out the paperwork. It was pretty standard until I came to the part about the parents. It asked:

  • Father’s name
  • Father’s birthdate
  • Father’s occupation

and then

  • Mother’s name
  • Mother’s birthdate
  • Mother’s former occupation

Because, of course, mom couldn’t be currently working, right?

I shared this story on one of my Facebook expat groups and several other women who live in Switzerland piped up. One wasn’t allowed to be the primary renter on an apartment–her husband had to be–even though her husband was a stay at home dad and she was the one working. Another noted that their apartment rental agreement had asked for the husband’s (or male partner’s) occupation followed by wife’s (or female partner’s) occupation and added on a percent for the female. (No one says I work 20 hours a week here–if you’re not full time you talk about percent, so 20 hours a week would be 50 percent.)

Now, I for one, love that so many Swiss (and it’s mostly women) have the opportunity to work part-time. Anecdotally, I see a lot more professional part-time work available here than I ever did in the Us. (One I see often is 80 percent–which usually translates into a four day work week.) But it bugs me that that is the assumption. Which is kind of ironic because I, personally, work 50 percent. (Officially–lately it’s been creeping up to the 60-75 percent range, but I’m smashing it back down while my kids are on summer vacation.)

The other irony is that our pediatrician’s office is 100 percent female staffed. There are three pediatricians–all female, and two assistants (techs/receptionists), all female). While I haven’t had many conversations with two of the pediatricians, our main one (who I adore and think is fabulous) has multiple children and grandchildren. Incidentally, all three pediatricians work part-time, as does one of the assistants.

I’m sure one of the things that contributes to women working part-time or not at all is the school system. Children come home for lunch every day. And my son, who will be entering 5th grade in August, still only has afternoon school three days a week. Wednesdays and Thursdays he’s done at noon. While I think this is developmentally great for children, it’s a pain the behind for working parents.

Yes, you can find childcare for the two hours the kids are home for lunch.  Yes, it’s expensive. Some schools offer a “lunch table” so the kids don’t have to leave the school, but in others, you’re on your own.

I’ve wondered why Swiss women haven’t risen up in rebellion, but perhaps they like it. Women do value flexibility over money, so perhaps this system forces businesses to offer that flexibility if they want more employees. I’m not sure.

Regardless, for the record, my sister-in-law teaches English at a university in Turkey, where she lives. And she’s very good at it.

And my nephew is doing just fine. One of those random toddler fevers, undoubtedly caused by a virus.


Employees hate open office plans, but at least they help employees collaborate and work together? It saves companies money and it increases teamwork, right? Well, wrong.

Ethan Bernstein and Stephen Turban, at Harvard Business School and Harvard University, took a look at how people who switched from individual cubicles to an open office plan. What they found wasn’t more collaboration after the switch, but less. Participants in the study spent

  •  73 percent less time in face-to-face interactions
  • 67 percent more time on email
  • 75 percent more time on instant messenger

Not exactly what you want to see when you move your employees into an open office plan. Instead of looking up across the table and saying, “Hey, Jane, what do you think about this?” they are sending text messages.

As Christian Jarrett, at the British Psychological Society said, regarding this study:

To keep reading, click here: If You Want People to Collaborate, Get Rid of this Office Plan


Social Mores Have Changed; Biology Hasn’t

by Evil HR Lady on July 6, 2018

Let’s talk about three sexual harassment cases.

A female coach and physical education teacher sued the school district because another employee, also female, made crude remarks about her breasts, touched her without permission, and said, “I will think of you next time I am f—ing.”

A female employee receives sexually explicit text messages from the man responsible for training her. While the trainer doesn’t have hire/fire authority over her, he certainly can influence her career. His wife eventually finds out and sends the female employee a profane message. The employee complains to her supervisor and is fired for violating a work rule.

A boss tells his employee to “date,” and send “nudie” pictures to, a potential client in order to help convince this client to move his business. The boss offers the employee a big bonus in exchange for this, but doesn’t end up giving her one.

All three seem like cut-and-dried sexual harassment cases. If I were the human resources manager in any of these cases, the perpetrator would have been fired, or at least severely disciplined, for inappropriate workplace behavior. But, in the crazy world of sexual harassment law, inappropriate sexual workplace behavior doesn’t always equal sexual harassment, even when it seems inextricably tied to sexual behavior.

to keep reading, click here: Social Mores Have Changed; Biology Hasn’t


Coming up with new office party ideas can get tiresome. Sometimes it feels like everyone has been to more office holiday parties than they can count. Not to mention, there is often so much going on at year-end, employees may feel dragged down by yet another event they must attend.

So, why not treat your office to a summer outing instead? Not only will you have more venues to choose from, but your team is sure to bond over the new, shared experience.

Office Party Ideas for Summertime

Another benefit of hosting a company-wide function during summer, as opposed to wintertime, is the difference in price. How much does it cost to rent a ballroom at the swanky, local hotel? How much does it cost to reserve a gazebo in the nearby park? Most likely, the totals aren’t even close.

To keep reading, click here: 5 Summer Office Party Ideas that Are Better Than Holiday Parties


Workplace culture has a bigger impact on your employees’ health than you may think. Your company’s culture influences a wide range of behaviors, from seeking health care to unhealthy eating and drinking to managing stress and mental health.

If you want healthy employees who show up every day and do great work, consider these five ways your company’s culture could be affecting your employees’ health.

1. What’s a Sick Day?

Organizational attitudes toward wellness start at the top: If the boss is sick, what do they do? Do they come in anyway or stay home to take care of themselves? Do they shame or write up employees for absences, even when those absences are related to illness?

To keep reading, click here: Is Your Workplace Culture Harming Your Employees’ Health?