Why You Should Pay Employees for Temperature Checks

by Evil HR Lady on April 9, 2020

When the question first arises, do you have to pay your employees for the time it takes to take their temperature, my HR brain kicks in and screams, “you can’t take their temperature at all! It’s an illegal medical exam!”

This would normally be the answer, but these times are not normal. Generally speaking, an employer cannot perform a medical exam on an employee under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But, the pandemic status of Covid-19 means that the rules have changed. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) waived those rules for the pandemic and you can take an employee’s temperature and ask your employees about their health status. 

That leaves open a key question about whether you should pay employees for the time it takes to check their temperatures, which at some organizations involves standing in line and waiting for co-workers to get checked.

To keep reading, click here: Why You Should Pay Employees for Temperature Checks

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Sexual Harassment and Bullying During Telecommuting

by Evil HR Lady on April 8, 2020

We all know cyberbullying is a problem. Perhaps we think about it as a teenage problem with the mean girls mocking someone over Snapchat. But, it can be a problem in the adult workplace.

With tons of people working from home now–many of whom never worked from home before–you need to be aware of employee relationships. Here are some things to consider.

You can harass, bully, and discriminate remotely

Sexual harassment and bullying don’t require a physical presence. Inappropriate comments, undermining, and general bad behavior can all happen remotely. 

The virtual world may make people feel immune from normal workplace behavior. Everyone jokes about not having to wear pants–and, in fact, Walmart reports that sales of shirts are up while sales of pants are down. It’s great for a Twitter share, but it demonstrates the relaxed attitudes that people have.

It can be more challenging to monitor and investigate complaints, as there really can be no witnesses to lousy behavior other than the people directly involved. 

Adult bullying doesn’t (generally) involve stealing lunch money. It focuses on verbal bullying, passive-aggressive behavior, and cyberbullying. All of this continues in a virtual workspace. Watch out for it.

The relaxed attitude of working from home many take people off their best behavior. Remind everyone that the code of conduct exists even if everyone is at home.

Video conferencing problems and solutions

Everyone is using Zoom, and it’s getting a bad reputation for its problems. But, no video software is perfect, and problems can exist. You probably saw the viral videos of people taking their computers to the bathroom, getting up without turning off their camera and revealing their lack of pants, and the innocent one of the boss who turned herself into a potato.

These can be funny, but they can also be done on purpose. Employment attorney Jon Hyman got his zoom screen hijacked by someone who wanted to share porn during his webinar. 

To help lower risk:

  • When you’re using such tools, lock them down the best you can so that people can’t share screens without the host’s permission.
  • Remind your staff at the beginning of any video conference that their cameras are on.
  • If someone starts walking with their camera going, remind them that they are on screen.
  • Have a pants (or skirt!) dress code and enforce it. Yes, you won’t see a problem until it’s too late, but then your pantsless employee can’t excuse it as accidental.
  • Do not require people to leave their cameras on at all times to make sure they are working. 

Take complaints seriously

You should always take harassment and bullying requests seriously; working from home does not change that. The solutions may vary. Allowing someone to use audio only on a video conference may be the solution. Requiring all communication to be written can be another. It’s not easy to do that in an office, but a written record is easy to obtain when people work from home.

While everyone is stressed out, don’t excuse bad behavior. Deal with any complaints immediately–waiting until things go back to normal won’t help the situation and just empowers the bullies and harassers.

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Our CEO wants everyone to wash their hands and come into the office, but I’m trying to convince him the best thing is to let as many people as possible work from home. I’ve tried to tell him it will be fine, but he’s old-school. If most of our employees do end up working from home, what company-wide rules can we reasonably enforce? Set hours? A background noise ban? 

To read my answer, click here: What Rules for Remote Work Apply to this Unprecedented Situation?

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Asking Seasonal Workers to Stay for the Long Term

by Evil HR Lady on April 6, 2020

When you hire seasonal workers, they take the gig expecting it to end on a specific date — typically after the holidays or summer season. They know this job will not guarantee continued employment. For some of your seasonal workers, that’s a bonus, but many would love to receive a full-time offer.

So, how do you transition a standout seasonal worker into a full-time, year-round employee? If you are considering extending an offer of full-time employment, here’s what you need to know.

To keep reading, click here: Asking Seasonal Workers to Stay for the Long Term

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With jobless claims hitting record highs, you might finally need to figure how to ask for help.

A portion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocates $350 billion in government-backed loans for small businesses, under the Paycheck Protection plan. As a small business owner or sole proprietor, that means you can borrow money to help meet your payroll, pay your rent or mortgage, and cover your utilities.

The first eight weeks of the payroll loan can possibly be turned into a grant so that it can be free money for you. Even if not, the maximum interest rate is 1 percent, and can be deferred for six months to a year. You apply directly at authorized SBA lenders.

The question is, should you access this program? Here are a few scenarios when it does and doesn’t make sense to tap into the PPP.

To keep reading, click here: When You Should (and Shouldn’t) Use Payroll Protection Loans

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Evil HR Lady on Podcasts

by Evil HR Lady on April 2, 2020

First, I love being on podcasts. I love listening to podcasts. It’s super fun! So, if you have a podcast, I’m probably happy to be on it. Anyone doing a podcast about labor law violations in Tiger King? I am there.

Here’s a few places to hear and see me! Quick, before my roots grow out too much and I start to look my age.

Best Practices in HR with Brenda Neckvatal

EP54: Staying Connected & The Evil HR Lady w/ Guest Suzanne Lucas

Who wants to speak to the “evil HR lady”? I do and she’s here on THIS SHOW! Special guest Suzanne Lucas – also known as the Evil HR Lady, writer for CBS and Inc magazine – is here talking with me about staying connected. Now more than EVER, its vital that we stay connected as we shuffle through this pandemic. We’re social distancing for our physical health, but it also impact our mental health as well.

Suzanne is an awesome lady and we just had a BLAST talking. We share tips and suggestions on how to network through virtual connection, what you need to do to maintain your professional image when people can’t see you, and how to work with your employees while still doing the tough job of HR.
You can read Suzanne’s work on her website: http://www.evilhrlady.org/and follow her on Twitter at  ‎@RealEvilHRLady .
Also, you can get up-to-date information on the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), IRS guidance for FFCRA, and other helpful tips and resources on the bestpractices.work dedicated coronavirus webpage.

Now, be sure to head to our Next Gen Women in HR Facebook Group to ask your #brendathehrlady questions! I can’t wait to hear them.

Safe Distance Open Coaching Sessions with Dorothy Dalton

Creating a Safe Place to Feel Connected During These Tough Times.

At 3Plus Dorothy Dalton is hosting a new series called #SAFEDISTANCE of Power Coaching sessions. For our first session on the 26th March Dorothy Dalton will be joined by Suzanne Lucas aka @RealEvilHRLady. Between them they will offer a safe place to raise career and workplace concerns during the crisis. Suzanne is a leading HR analyst and writer and appears in leading publications such as Inc.com, CBS MoneyWatch, Business.com, The Balance, and Comstock Magazine.

Hostile Work Environment Podcast with Marc Allifanz and Kate Bischoff

Team Halfwit Rides Again

Stuck at home at the start of a long quarantine, the members of Team Halfwit — who had never spoken together in a group outside of WhatsApp — discuss their personal and professional experiences related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). It was a special time for us, and we hope, a useful dialogue for all of you. Just for fun, we top off the episode with a listener submission about an elevator that can’t go all the way down…

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Your employees are not okay.

In this COVID-19 world, this is a fact for every single one of your employees. They may act like they are okay. They may say they are okay, but they are not okay.

Most aren’t pretending. This is just hard.

Every one of them faces uncertainty. People working in health care or grocery stores have secure jobs, but tremendous stress and a high exposure to the coronavirus. Almost everyone else is experiencing employment uncertainty right now. Plus, their kids are home from school, and parents must suddenly be expert homeschoolers. If you’re in Utah, you’re also dealing with an earthquake. (Just another square on the apocalypse bingo card. Oh, and the Middle East has a plague of locusts.)

To keep reading, click here: 5 Ways to Manage a Human Resources Crisis During COVID-19

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How to Lay Off Employees When Everyone Is Remote

by Evil HR Lady on March 31, 2020

Rent the Runway laid off all of its brick and mortar staff. With stores shut and parties canceled, layoffs make complete sense. But, they reportedly did it via Zoom. Is that acceptable?

In the pre-social distancing rules, the answer to that would be a resounding no. Layoffs should be done face to face, and the employee’s direct manager should be the person to deliver the bad news. Meetings should be held one on one unless the company is laying off an entire group, as done here.

But, Rent the Runway staff had already been sent home, stores were already shuttered. It made no sense to call everyone in for a face to face meeting–and an increased chance of spreading COVID 19. Notifying people via zoom is better than sending a message via FedEx. 

How do you layoff when employees are already home? Here’s what you should do.

To keep reading, click here: How to Lay Off Employees When Everyone Is Remote

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If you’re a small business owner (defined as fewer than 500 employees) whose functions aren’t “essential” (and even some whose are) you’re probably feeling a huge financial pinch. You may have laid off employees (painfully), and you may be wondering how you’ll pay your personal bills. The $2 Trillion stimulus act has something that can help out small businesses: The Paycheck Protection Plan.

This portion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocates $350 billion in government-backed loans for small businesses. 

This allows you to borrow based on your payroll, rent, and utility needs. It’s not a time to borrow to buy equipment or order materials or expand your business. There are rules around it, some of which are a little complicated. You also apply directly at your bank, so hopefully, their expertise can help sort things out for you. But here are a few things you need to know.

Payroll costs definition.

Whenever you’re looking at a government program, getting the definitions right is helpful. The CARES act defines payroll costs as:

  • salary, wage, commission, or similar compensation;
  • payment of cash tip or equivalent;
  • payment for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave;
  • allowance for dismissal or separation;
  • payment required for the provisions of group health care benefits, including insurance premiums;
  • payment of any retirement benefit; or
  • payment of State or local tax assessed on the compensation of employees; and
  • the sum of payments of any compensation to or income of a sole proprietor or independent contractor that is a wage, commission, income, net earnings from self-employment, or similar compensation and that is in an amount that is not more than $100,000 in 1 year, as prorated for the covered period;

That last bullet point is a bit confusing, and it may include sole proprietors’ schedule C profit (up to $100,000) and something similar for partnerships, says Tax expert, Peter J. Reilly. “Your Schedule C profit would put you in a similar position (slightly better maybe) as an S corporation owner who paid himself a reasonable salary. An S corporation owner that did not pay himself salary might be worse off.”

If Reilly’s interpretation is correct (and I think it is), it opens up coverage to contractors and independent business owners. The National Law Review, agrees confidently. They have no qualms at saying the Payroll Protection Plan includes “sole-proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals.”

There are exclusions: individual salaries over $100,000, taxes, employees who reside outside the United States, and anything already covered by Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

How to get this loan

Your bank is where you start–you can go to a different bank, of course, but if you have an established relationship, that’s where you start. You just need to certify that due to the “uncertain” times you need help with payroll and/or utilities and rent–and prove that you were in business as of February 15, 2020. (So, you can’t use this to launch a new business.)

You can then use the money to keep your company running. We all hope that this shutdown period will be temporary. President Trump extended social distancing guidelines to April 30, with the hope that things will get back to normal after that. 

Loan forgiveness

One important aspect of this is the potential to have the loan forgiven for up to eight weeks of costs after the loan is given. If you lower your payroll costs during this time period (by laying off, furloughing, or cutting hours), the government will lower the amount of loan forgiveness.

There are no prepayment penalties and any forgiveness dollars will not be considered taxable income.

If you’re struggling to keep your business afloat, this might be a path you want to take. There is no collateral required, the maximum interest rate is 4 percent, and payments can be deferred for six months to one year. 

This can be a business saver for your business. Talk with your own accountant about the implications for your specific business.

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Chances are, your organization made massive changes due to Coronavirus shelter-in-place and other orders. Some of them should be temporary, but some of the changes should be permanent. Let’s look at a few things that have changed.

Destigmatized Working From Home 

Jobs that a month ago, managers said could not possibly be done remotely, are now being done from home. While exact numbers aren’t available, it is undoubtedly opening managers’ eyes to what truly can be done remotely and what needs to be done on-site. 

Companies should take note of future Americans with Disabilities Act requests for reasonable accommodations. Working from home can be a reasonable accommodation, and businesses will have a hard time arguing that working in the office is always required when it’s not required right now.

Working at home today can impact your business for years to come. Some organizations will learn that they can operate just fine with most people working remotely. Some will discover that things really do work better when they are in the office. Likewise, some employees will rejoice in their 30-second commutes, and others are counting down the days when they can get back to the office.

To keep reading, click here: 3 Ways the Coronavirus Has Changed Your Workplace for the Better

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