Next Week is Safe and Sound Week

by Michael Haberman on August 8, 2019 · 0 comments

Here in Georgia, many school children have gone back to school, marking the “end of summer.” Unfortunately, just because children have gone back to school it does not mark the end of the heat associated with the time of year. As I drive around and see workers outside I often feel for them because I know how miserable working in the heat can be. As an employer, if you have workers who are performing work outside, or you have a plant that is not airconditioned, you have an obligation to keep your workers protected from problems with the heat. Next week is OSHA’s Safe and Sound Week. On their website, they offer tips that every employer should be aware of in order to protect workers, either inside or outside, from heat-related problems.


OSHA has a webpage that offers a number of solutions for paying attention to possible heat-related problems. They offer tips on:

  • Engineering controls
  • Work practices
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Training

The training includes how to recognize common signs and symptoms of heat stress. This advice alone is worth knowing as this extends beyond the workplace to your personal life. It may save a family member one day. As the Benjamin Franklin axiom goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is as true today as it was when Franklin made the quote.

As someone who has had to tell a family member that their loved one has been taken to the hospital due to something that happened at work, you never want to be in that situation. Prevent it from happening!


Four Blogs from Lawyers you need to be reading

by Michael Haberman on August 7, 2019 · 0 comments

There are four blogs from four lawyers I know that are excellent resources for HR professionals. They write commonsense and not “lawyerese” thus making them very readable.

Jon Hyman

I have been reading Jon Hyman’s Ohio Employer Law Blog for years. Although I have never met him in person I feel like have known him in real life. I value his point of few and have reached out to him with a professional question or two over the years. Although the title of his blog is Ohio Employer Law Blog, his advice is pretty non-geographic in its application. In fact, his post today EEOC settlement teaches lesson on extended leaves of absence as ADA accommodation, is based on an Atlanta company’s mistake. Jon has an ongoing list of stupid things employers do. Make sure you avoid making his list.

Eric B. Meyer

Operating out of a Pennsylvania law firm, Eric B. Meyer is a wonderful resource for HR. I like him because he is snarky and puts a bit of bite into his posts on The Employer Handbook blog. Don’t let the title fool you, it is not just about handbooks. Today’s post, for example, is a resource that the EEOC provides that all HR departments need to utilize. Eric is a great resource for good stuff and for a good laugh. I have the good fortune of serving on the SHRM blog squad with Eric.

Jeff Nowak

Jeff is also a long-time acquaintance that I had the good fortune to meet in person at an Illinois conference where we were both speaking. Jeff is a specialist in the FMLA and in HR we all need one of those. Jeff writes FMLA Insights, a blog that has gotten him in the ABA Journal’s Blogger Hall of Fame. well written and practical the blog relates cringe-worthy stories of how employers and employees make major mistakes in dealing with leave issues. Given some of the issues my clients have had to deal with I make sure I read it all the time.

Robin Shea

Although I have not met Robin, or have ever talked to her, I have the utmost respect for what she writes and the guidance she provides. She has been fodder for a number of blog posts I have written, including one just the other day. Robin has been an attorney for 30 years and has a list of accolades a mile long. She is admired and respected by other attornies and I find her post eminently readable. She is good at distilling the message. She can be found at the Employment and Labor Insider published by Constangy, Brooks, Smith, and Prophete.


What exactly does “exempt” mean?

by Michael Haberman on August 5, 2019 · 1 comment

Being exempt means you can be required to work whatever hours your employer requires.

Being exempt means you can be required to work whatever hours your employer requires.

This is a fairly consistent question from employers today so I decided to rerun this post. There is an update at the end, however.

The Fair Labor Standards Act tells us we have two types of employees, non-exempt and exempt. Unfortunately these terms are not very explanatory and people often get them confused. Let me see if I can explain.

Exempt from what?

Basically according to the FLSA the term “exempt” me “you don’t have to pay’ and what you don’t have to pay is overtime. Overtime is a payment of wages that compensate people for working more than 40 hours in a workweek. When you say someone is “non-exempt” that means you MUST pay them overtime whenever they work more than that 40 hours. In some states overtime has to be paid for work of more than 8 hours in a day. So non-exempt means “not exempt from being paid overtime.”

Conversely “exempt” means that particular employee is exempt from being paid overtime, in other words you do NOT have to pay them anymore even when they work more than 40 hours in a week. But of course it is not that simple. To be considered an exempt employee they also have to meet the following requirements:

  • They have to be paid a minimum salary of $455 per week (though this is about to change)
  • They must be paid that salary for ANY hours worked in that week and this is regardless of the quantity and quality of the work performed
  • They cannot have any deductions taken out with exceptions (See The Seven Reasons You Can Dock an Exempt Employee)
  • They have to meet certain requirements in the job as required for each category of exemption. (See FLSA Exemptions are about DUTIES not Titles)

Basically the trade-off for employees and employers is that as an employee you are getting a guaranteed amount of pay on a regular basis and as an employer I can require an employee to work any amount of time I need to have worked.

That trade-off often raises questions from both sides of the equation. Employees generally ask “Can they make me work more than 40 hours without paying me for it?” The answer is yes, regardless of how your workweek is defined. The employer is guaranteeing your salary will not drop below a minimum and that is the trade-off.

Can we pay exempt employees overtime?

A frequent question I get from employers is “We have been working people hard and we want to pay them extra. Can we or does that ruin their exemption?” The answer to that is “yes you can” and “no it doesn’t!” You not only can pay exempt employees more you probably should. You can do it by paying a bonus, commission or even overtime, be it straight time or even time and half. As the law says:

the exemption is not lost if an exempt employee who is guaranteed at least $455 each week paid on a salary basis also receives additional compensation based on hours worked for work beyond the normal workweek. Such additional compensation may be paid on any basis (e.g., flat sum, bonus payment, straight-time hourly amount, time and one-half or any other basis), and may include paid time off.” 29 CFR 541.604

What makes an exempt employee non-exempt from a pay standpoint is reducing the salary amount below $455 through improper deductions thus removing the guarantee.

Coming changes

This is the way the FLSA exists today as of March 11, 2015. The USDOL is working on a revision of the law that will alter salary levels and the duties requirements, so stay tuned to be informed of those changes. You can read more at  The USDOL is getting ready to disrupt your workplace!

Update as of August 2019:

The USDOL is still in the process of updating the definition of what it means to be exempt by raising the salary level to $679 per week (equivalent to $35,308 per year). Above this salary level, eligibility for overtime varies based on job duties. This proposed level is due to take effect in January 2020.

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5 HR Trends Impacting the Industry

by Michael Haberman on August 2, 2019 · 1 comment

Today’s post is a guest post written by Megan R. Nichols who is a technical writer and science blogger.

Are you aware of these five trends that are impacting HR?

The human resources industry is one that’s been around for nearly as long as there have been employees, but the world is changing, and HR needs to change with it. What are some of the most prominent trends impacting the HR industry, and what will human resources professionals need to do to cope with these changes?

1. HR Becoming Part of Company Brand

Until recently, businesses considered the human resources industry separate from most of their daily operations. HR is and has always been integral to running a company, but it wasn’t necessarily vital to building the brand — until now.

Today, brand recognition is about more than whether consumers recognize your product or could pick your logo out of a lineup. Modern consumers want to know how you treat your employees, which plays an essential role in where they’re willing to spend their money.

Including HR as part of your company brand can also help make it easier to attract talented new employees who are less likely to leave. Studies show higher employee engagement improves productivity and reduces both absenteeism and employee turnover.

2. Emphasis on Work/Life Balance

The age of the 9-to-5 workday and the five-day workweek is coming to an end. Millennials and members of Generation Z care more about their physical and mental health and finding a healthy work/life balance than they do about building a career. Industry experts have found more than one-quarter of employees are planning to leave their job within the next two years if their employer doesn’t support a healthy work/life balance.

HR professionals need to reconsider their stance on flexible hours and work/life balances, especially as younger employees begin to dominate the workforce.

3. The Largest Working Generation

The millennial generation, born between 1983 and 1996, became the majority generation in the U.S. labor force in 2016. Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2030, leaving the HR industry a little more than a decade to change their ways. The oldest members of Gen Z are in their early 20s and are slowly making their way into the workforce as well. The needs and wants of baby boomers, many of whom will be reaching retirement age in the next decade, are vastly different than millennials and zennials.

The millennial generation, more than any other, has spent their time mastering creativity and self-expression. Though many of them are better-read than the generations that came before them, they may not have the degrees some companies are looking for during their hiring process. The oldest of this generation were in their late 20s when the recession hit in 2008, making it difficult for them to seek out education or lasting careers.

4. The Rise of AI in HR

As much as media headlines have demonized artificial intelligence, or AI, as a threat to the average working person, it is here to stay, and beginning to change the human resources industry for the better. Instead of stealing jobs, these programs are helping HR professionals shift their attitude toward recruitment. More than half of HR professionals say the hardest part of their job is finding viable candidates within a large pool of applicants. AI is beginning to give them the tools to automate part of their workflow, automatically screening candidates based on pre-programmed criteria.

The technology is still in its infancy, but it is quickly becoming one of the most useful assets in an HR professional’s arsenal.

5. Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity isn’t just an industry buzzword — it’s beginning to play an enormous role in the human resources industry as a whole. More than a third of industry experts believe changes in demographics and improved diversity across the workplace will have one of the most significant impacts on the industry between now and 2025, but only 34% of employees think their managers are ready to lead them into a more diverse future.

Diversity will be a hurdle HR managers must learn to navigate in the coming years. In addition to having to manage race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity, HR professionals will have the challenge of having five distinctly different generations in the workplace.

Preparing for the Future

The HR industry has always changed with the times, but the next five years will be the most interesting in recent history. Artificial intelligence will start making more appearances in recruiting, and managers will need to learn to be more flexible if they want to retain a skilled workforce of millennial and zennial employees. Millennials already make up the largest percentage of the workforce, and their numbers will continue to grow through 2025, but with more people delaying retirement to work through their golden years, recruiters will need to manage five separate generations in the same office.

The future of the HR industry is exciting, and current HR professionals have a limited amount of time to adapt before the industry starts to change without them.

Megan R. Nichols is a technical writer and science blogger. She’s been published in HR and business publications such as Training Magazine, Boss Magazine and Interesting Engineering. She also publishes articles on her personal blog, Schooled By Science. Keep up with Megan by following her on Twitter.

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#SHRM19 Keynote speaker Brené Brown

by Michael Haberman July 31, 2019

Tweet I have to admit that I did not know who the keynote speaker Brené Brown. I could tell from the buzz in the audience that she was well known and well thought of, so I paid attention. I am glad I did. I have also looked at some of her stuff online since #SHRM19. […]

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EVERYONE needs training on the Fair Labor Standards Act!

by Michael Haberman July 30, 2019

Tweet The Fair Labor Standards Act, also known as the wage and hour law, has been in the news a great deal lately. In at least five cases in the past week errors costing tens-of-thousands of dollars have been in the news. Employers are making mistakes on overtime payments, especially in calculating the “regular rate […]

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Three great reads to start your week with

by Michael Haberman July 29, 2019

Tweet There are three blog posts that I thought were important enough to point out to you this week. The first of these was written by attorney Robin Shea. Many of you may have heard that Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta has resigned and President Trump has nominated Eugene Scalia to replace him. As is […]

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Observations on #SHRM19- Continuing the Buzz

by Michael Haberman July 26, 2019

Tweet The most recent SHRM conference, #SHRM19, which was held in Las Vegas in June, was my eighth in a row. As an official member of the Blogger Squad, I was obligated to write about the conference. Unfortunately, I took some vacation and then the 4th of July holiday, and as a result, it has […]

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5 Industries AI Will Rule In 2019

by Michael Haberman July 25, 2019

Tweet Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a hot topic in the tech world for a couple of years now. The Verge claims that industries need to start looking into AI solutions for their businesses if they want to stay relevant. This is why more fields are using the innovative technology in their operations, making processes […]

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4 Motivation Hacks that will Engage and Inspire your Employees

by Michael Haberman July 22, 2019

Tweet Today’s post was written by Keith Coppersmith who is a business and marketing expert who has experienced both the rise and fall of many businesses. He enjoys writing and providing insight of the marketing industry based on both practice and theory. Although we all come in for the salary, and we do our best […]

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