12.23.15

What you need to know about California’s Heat Illness Standard

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If you have employees who work outdoors, or in an indoor environment that lacks air conditioning, you need to familiarize yourself with the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board’s Heat Illness Standard.

For example, did you know that employers are required to give employees access to potable water, which has been defined as being “fresh, pure, and suitably cool”? Water must be provided free of charge and be located as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working.

It’s up to you to make sure you are following the guidelines set forth in the standard. A Heat Illness Prevention Plan must be provided in writing in both English and the language understood by the majority of the employees.


12.23.15

How to conduct a termination meeting

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A wise HR professional once said: “If you must swallow a frog, swallow it whole.” In reference to an employee termination meeting, that means keep it brief. This is not the time to re-chew and regurgitate prior performance discussions. The actual termination meeting should be standardized and brief—generally no more than 10-15 minutes.

Ask another member of management or HR to be present at the meeting to serve as a witness, and in certain situations, to ensure workplace safety. The context of the termination meeting should include the following:

  • A concise statement that employment is ending today. If you have followed a progressive discipline process, then mention the steps that led to the final employment decision.
  • Allow the employee to briefly vent any concerns, particularly if this is a single egregious act, as opposed to a progressive issue that has been fully aired previously.
  • Restate that the decision has been made.
  • Go through your termination checklist to ensure that all steps are followed in accordance with company policy and employment laws such as final paycheck and unused accrued vacation, unemployment insurance notice, COBRA notice, building keys, credit card or other company property, how references will be handled, etc.
  • Escort the employee to his/her workstation to collect personal belongings, or inform him or her that the items will be mailed to the home address on file. Make sure the employee promptly leaves the workplace.

Once the termination meeting is complete, it’s a good idea to inform staff that the employee is no longer employed with the company. If co-workers raise questions about the reasons for the employee’s departure, remember to protect the confidentiality of any personnel matter. Inform them that you would not share that information with others, just as you would protect their confidentiality in any employee relations matters.


12.23.15

Why employee feedback is important to your business

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Encouraging feedback from your employees can help strengthen your business. But unfortunately, employee feedback is not always easy to come by.

Some time ago, while leading a workshop on receiving difficult feedback, we shared how to effectively respond to criticism, particularly when it’s the kind of criticism that’s hurtful, insulting, or in-error. Learning how to respond positively to that correction, even when it’s delivered tactlessly or mean-spiritedly, can bring great professional and personal benefits.

At a pause in the presentation, a hand shot up with a question. “Uh, have you done this with our managers yet?”

This question is not unusual. In fact, someone will ask it without fail. Most of the room will then nod in agreement. If we respond with, “No, we haven’t done this with management,” someone will usually follow up with, “Well… can you?”

It’s not hard to read between the lines. Employees are essentially saying, “I have difficult feedback of my own I’d like to provide to my manager, but I’m not comfortable” (i.e. I’m not sure it would be well received). You may be thinking the same thing. Perhaps you have sincere concerns you would like to address, if only you could be confident that the reaction would be positive.

Our team is experienced in preparing and delivering employee satisfaction surveys, focus groups, coaching sessions and goal development. Contact us for more information.


12.23.15

It’s time for a yearly audit

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As a valued HR Business Partner, we encourage you to engage Sierra HR Partners to conduct a comprehensive audit of your employment policies and procedures to ensure legal compliance and best practices.

This consultation takes approximately three hours to meet with one of our certified consultants at your place of business to review and discuss the following issues:

  • Personnel files
  • Form I-9
  • Hiring
  • Performance management
  • Terminations
  • Training
  • Timekeeping and pay
  • Employee classifications
  • Paid time off
  • Leaves of absence
  • Safety
  • Required notices/posters
  • Other key policies

Following the completion of the HR audit, you will be provided with a report highlighting our findings and recommendations.

We look forward to partnering with you on this project whether it’s your first audit or it’s been a few years since your last.


12.23.15

Premium pay: On-call/standby employees

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Did you know certain types of premium pay may be due to employees when they are not working? One example of premium pay is on-call/standby pay.

When an employee is asked to be on-call and the employer places certain restrictions on his/her freedom to engage in personal business, the on-call time may be compensable. This time may be paid at a different rate than the employee would receive for working.

This type of premium pay is not considered hours worked, and does not count toward calculations for overtime or vacation accrual. Failure to provide premium payments could lead to a claim for waiting time penalties and attorney’s fees, so it is important to understand when they are triggered and how much is due.

Also, be sure to stay in compliance with Labor Code section 226 by separating actual hours worked from any premium hours on your employees’ paycheck stubs.