Older workers eschewing retirement because they want to stay working.

Older workers eschewing retirement because they want to stay working.

A friend of mine announced his retirement this week. Many of my age group are doing that. I am only a few years away…. or am I? As I wrote in this post the vision of retirement has, and continues, to undergo a revision. Take a look and tell me what you think.

The vision of retirement is undergoing a major change. Many people envision that retirement is sitting at the local Starbucks chatting with friends or sitting on the front porch rocking away enjoying “the good life.” However, for many people that is not the good life and as a result the vision of what retirement will look like is undergoing a major change.


Many people are eschewing the thought of the good life retirement scenario for a number of reasons. First is the mortality reason. Studies have shown that people who retire early, in their 50’s (which used to be the gold standard for having had a successful career) suffer from an increased mortality rate. One study found that “…embarking on the Golden Years at age 55 doubled the risk for death before reaching age 65, compared with those who toiled beyond age 60…” Even a study published by the Social Security Administration in 1954 found that “A person compelled to retire, it is argued, loses his vitality and tends to die much earlier than if he is allowed to continue in gainful work.” (Excuse the sexist language, after all it was 1954)

Have to continue eating

Many older workers today are not retiring for a number of reasons. One reason often stated is that the recession of 2008-2009 destroyed retirement plans and forced older workers to continue to work just to be able to put some food on the table. Certainly that was an issue for people that had retirement plans invested in certain stocks that they needed to withdraw right at that time. That concern seems to have diminished some in 2016. Yet older workers are still not retiring.

Continuing to work

Today the vision of retirement for many is avoiding the rocking chair and working for themselves. I allude to this in my post of a couple of weeks ago, Future Friday: Will it be the older generations that drive the Gig economy, not the Millennials? A recent article written by Gemma Tetlow, Economics Correspondent in the online version of Financial Times says that the movement toward working as retirement is not only driven by financial necessity, it is also driven “by new opportunities for fulfilling, flexible work.”

In this article based on UK studies Tetlow says “…the type of work older people do — and why they do it — is often different from when they were younger, and from their younger counterparts today.” She goes on to say “Many older workers look for the opportunity to work shorter, more flexible hours. Working men in their late 60s work on average 10 fewer hours each week than those in their late 50s.”

Good for the economy?

Tetlow suggests that because older workers also have some sort of retirement fund “The ability to top up earnings with pension income means some older workers are keen to take part-time jobs that might be unattractive to younger workers looking for higher earnings.” She also says “A desire for more flexibility also partly explains the prevalence of self-employment among older workers.” As I talked about in my Future Friday post reference above many of the jobs that we thought would be taken by Millennials are being taken instead by older workers and bringing to employers skill sets and experience younger workers don’t.

Good for the person

Working a job is also good for the person. Older workers learn new skill sets and a sense of purpose. After having worked all your life, suddenly stopping is for some people more fearful than dying. For me the thought of just stopping to “retire” sounds dull.

Perhaps if I had a job that was physically taxing I might have a different notion, but I don’t. I write, I consult, I teach, and I speak. What is there to retire from? That stuff is fun. I think I am representative of many people my age and those younger that will be looking at retirement age in the next ten years. We will change the vision of retirement.

What does this mean for companies?

In the age of rampant ageism those companies that recognize the human resource that is available to them will have a competitive edge over those that continue to have “hire the young only” mentality. There will be vast amounts of knowledge, talent and hours that workers will bring to the job that other companies will be missing. It is time to wake up and take advantage of the availability of a cohort of people ready, willing and able to work.


“No Fault” Attendance Policies Must be Managed

by Michael Haberman on August 16, 2018 · 0 comments

Make sure your attendance policy is well written and covers ADA and FMLA absences.

A lot of companies like to use “no-fault” attendance policies because they are easier to administer, generally easy to understand, reduces the chances of favoritism, doesn’t require a lot of policing of reasons for absences and treats the employees as adults by making them responsible for their actions. If only it was really that easy HR’s job might be a bit easier. There are some situations that require attention and decision-making, that if missed, may cost the organization both money and unwanted governmental attention.

Not all absences are equal

I have frequently told clients and students that treating everyone exactly the same is a road to “bad HR.” Treating all absences as exactly the same actually violates federal law under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA and ADAAA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act. An employer has an obligation to pay attention to situations that may trigger a different response to an absence. It is important to remember that these triggers do not have to be the official words of “accommodation” or “FMLA request” in order to potentially be covered. As Suzanne Newcomb of SmithAmundsen LLC points out:

Anything that alerts or should have alerted the employer that an employee has a disability and may need reasonable accommodation (or that absences may qualify for FMLA protection) triggers statutory obligations. And to further complicate matters, anything a supervisory employee knows can be imputed to the employer.

Rather than a no-fault policy relieving a supervisor of the need to make decisions, it actually requires training supervisors to be attentive to triggers, either words or actions, that require more attention to an employee rather than less.

Costly mistake

Newcomb wrote about a company that made just such a mistake. The EEOC got involved and a consent decree was issued that made amends for what was termed “systemic disability discrimination.” According to Newcomb:

Pursuant to the terms of the decree, the employer will pay $1 million, reinstate affected employees, appoint an ADA coordinator, revise its policies and procedures, track accommodation requests, maintain an accommodation log, provide ADA training to all of its employees, and report its progress to the EEOC over the next two and a half years.

That is a pretty stiff penalty, not only in cash but in the burden of other work, and the amount of time the company must be monitored by the EEOC.

How to manage

Newcomb offers advice that echoes the advice I give to clients and students. This advice includes:

  1. Regularly review your ADA and FMLA policies to make sure they are clear, concise and easily understood;
  2. Clearly direct employees to contact HR if they believe they need leave or reasonable accommodation for a disability;
  3. Clarify that your attendance and leave policies (and others as appropriate) are applied within the framework of the ADA and FMLA and again invite employees who believe they may need leave or an accommodation to discuss the issue with HR;
  4. Include FMLA and ADA issues in regular supervisor training and require supervisors to elevate potential issues to HR; and

She also suggests you have a good attorney on hand to be able to navigate the hard twists and turns that may develop.

Following this advice may keep you out of harm’s way as you administer your no-fault policy.


Double wrong-doing: Another case of bad HR

by Michael Haberman on August 15, 2018 · 0 comments

Paying employees in cash to avoid records of overtime is a violation of the FLSA

I have been in HR for a long time and I have seen many errors. Every company I worked for, however, knew that nonexempt workers were owed overtime at the rate of time-and-a-half for all hours worked over 40 hours in the week. As a result, I usually chalk up incorrect payment of wages to mistakes and not purposefully cheating employees. Every once in a while, I do find a case where it looks like the employer is being underhanded.

The case in point

According to the DOL, an auto body shop in New York has agreed to pay $185,000 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 49 employees, plus $30,000 in civil penalties. They were found to not have been paying their employees overtime for hours worked over 40 hours. That could have been just a mistake, but I am suspicious because they were paying the employees straight-time for the hours worked, not in their paycheck, but in cash. They were also cited for recordkeeping violations for not recording the proper time as an attempt to hide the actual amount of time worked.

Another wrong

Additionally, the company was prohibited from trying to recoup the money the paid in overtime wages by soliciting the employees to repay those wages to the employer. Who does that? You agree that you have denied employees overtime, you hide time records, you did not pay for time worked during meals, and then you have the audacity to ask for the money back?

It makes you wonder what they did to their customers. Was cheating customers fair game, in addition to cheating your employees? Personally, I would be checking over my repair bill.


How to Help an Employee Suffering from Addiction

by Michael Haberman on August 14, 2018 · 0 comments

Addiction can harm both individuals and the companies they work for.

Today’s guest post is written by Trevor McDonald, who has been through the recovery process from addiction, thus bringing practical experience to this post.

Fifty-two percent of about 18.9 million people dealing with substance abuse issues were employed in 2011, according to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health. With these odds, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter an employee with a substance abuse problem. So, how will you handle it?

Here are a few things you should do:

Find helpful resources

Before you approach an employee, have a plan to help them through this challenging time. Assemble a list of rehab programs, inpatient treatment options, and group therapy sessions. Plan to bring this list to your meeting with the affected person, but you should also make the list available to everyone in the company. It will not be easy, but getting them back on the right track is of the utmost importance because the problem will worsen over time.

Also, find out what your employer-sponsored insurance covers. Oftentimes, the cost of treatment can be a barrier to getting help.

Talk to your lawyer

Addiction is a disease, and as such, we cannot discriminate against an addicted person. This doesn’t mean you have to condone bad behavior, such as showing up late or falling behind on work. But it does mean that you can’t fire someone for wanting to get help. There could be some exceptions, especially if your company has a clear drug policy, but your lawyer can talk you through this. A lawyer is the best person to review your organization’s policies and direct you on how to handle a current case of addiction.

Have a private conversation

Now that you’re armed with the dos and don’ts of handling addiction, it’s time to sit down with the addicted party. At this point, you’ll want to express your concerns and review your company’s policy on drug abuse and addiction. Different states have different laws, which is why you should consult a lawyer, but you may be able to tell the person that his or her job will be on the line if they don’t get help.

Trevor McDonald is a free-lance writer is proud to say “I am in recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction.” 





Why it is important to document a termination

by Michael Haberman August 13, 2018

Tweet I have a webinar that I occasionally conduct on the importance of documentation. Documentation is that bane of existence for the HR professional, as it is absolutely necessary for the defense of the company when needed, yet it is almost impossible to get supervisors and managers to do it, willingly anyway. Recently I came […]

Read the full article →

Future Friday: Do algorithms actually reduce biases?

by Michael Haberman August 10, 2018

Tweet If you read anything about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its use in the world of HR you quickly discover that there are two schools of thought. The first of these is that AI is biased and dehumanizing, the second is that it makes better decisions that humans and thus is an improvement. The negative: […]

Read the full article →

How to lose a harassment case without ever committing harassment

by Michael Haberman August 8, 2018

Tweet A New York sexual harassment case has demonstrated that an employer, and the offending manager, can lose a sexual harassment case without ever being found guilty of sexual harassment. How you wonder? Let me explain. The case The case involved a professor at Columbia University who claimed she was harassed and then denied tenure […]

Read the full article →

Ten Disruptions Ahead: HR Technology For 2018- A guest post

by Michael Haberman August 7, 2018

Tweet Today’s guest post is written by Ashley Lipman HR is a business sector that is constantly growing and maturing. There are new innovations and disruptions taking place each year, and 2018 is no different. With that in mind, this article is going to look at ten disruptions that will take place in 2018. A […]

Read the full article →

Another trip to the Hall of Fame affirms what it takes

by Michael Haberman August 6, 2018

Tweet I took a brief hiatus from writing this past week as I visited the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. For a baseball fan, it is a bucket list trip. Before leaving I posted a previous blog post from my visit four years ago. In that post, I listed the things I heard […]

Read the full article →

From the Archive: Do you have what it takes to be a Hall of Fame member?

by Michael Haberman July 30, 2018

Tweet I am away today, visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame, to see the induction of Braves’ great Chipper Jones. So I thought I would replay this post from four years ago after my first trip to visit the HoF. Being in the Baseball Hall of Fame is a pretty rare honor. In its history, […]

Read the full article →