A wearable device monitoring sweat could prevent injuries and accidents.

A wearable device monitoring sweat could prevent injuries and accidents.

I know there were probably some “ewww” responses to this headline, but there are some excellent possibilities for this technology. Think safety, productivity, and saving lives.

Diagnosing with sweat

According to Susan Scutti, in Medical Daily, a person’s sweat is a cornucopia of information about the body. Although mostly water, sweat also contains tiny amounts of ammonia, urea, salts, and sugar. From these chemicals what is occurring in the body can be determined. To utilize this information researchers are creating a device, about the size of a band-aid that collects sweat and analyzes it via a connection to a smart phone. As Scutti reports one researcher said “Sweat is a vastly untapped biofluid for human performance monitoring. This researcher, Dr. Joshua Hagen of the Air Force Research Laboratory, sees this as a great way to monitor the performance of jet pilots who are flying $30 million machines.

Possible uses in the workplace

Since this kind of monitoring works for one workplace (the cockpit of a jet) I see multiple applications in multiple workplaces. How many workers succumb to heat stroke during the summer? Being able to monitor workers in order to give them rest and water breaks at the appropriate times would great. Workers who are in situations of great duress, such as firefighters, could be monitored so that commanders would know when to withdraw them based upon their physiological condition. Obviously there would be numerous military applications.

Perhaps people might be skittish about privacy concerns. If that is the case, then don’t monitor them, rather give them the technology to monitor themselves. Have a device that sounds an alarm when someone needs a break or fluids.

Applications beyond the workplace

Annually here in the south we have high school football players who collapse from heat stroke and sometimes die. Coaches are taught to monitor for signs of heat stroke, but with many players to pay attention to some signs may get overlooked. What if each player was outfitted with a device that would signal a coach when the player was overworked and susceptible to collapse? What parent would not sign up for that, and possibly even pay for it.

There are many other possible applications for this in our personal health as well. As Scutti mentioned in her article doctors check our body fluids for signs of disease before the disease really manifests itself. Blood is checked for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Getting this same type of information just by checking our sweat rather than having a syringe stuck in a vein certainly seems to be a “win” in my book.

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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The NLRB adds another test to determining if someone is an independent contractor.

The NLRB adds another test to determining if someone is an independent contractor.

If you have been paying attention (here, here and here) the U.S. government has been cracking down on the use of independent contractors. In a big move to restrict “mis-classification” of employees as independent contractors the USDOL and the IRS have been stringent is applying the rules for determining independent contractor status. Now the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has weighed in on the fray and added an additional factor.

What are the rules?

According to the IRS the rules for determining if someone is an independent contractor is based upon three areas. These are:

  1. Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job?
  2. Financial: Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? (These include: things like how worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.)
  3. Type of Relationship: Are there written contracts or employee type benefits (i.e. pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business? (Taken from the IRS website)

Part of the determination is whether the person runs the risk of profit or loss. An additional area is whether the person can perform their services for another company at the same time they are performing the services for you. This is what the NLRB has focused on.

The new rule!

According to Todd Lebowitz, of  BakerHostetler, “The eleventh factor to be considered, …, is an overall evaluation of whether the individual is, in fact, rendering services as part of an independent business. The entrepreneurial opportunity for economic gain or loss is merely a part of that analysis, and that part of the analysis should focus narrowly on what the individuals have actually done with their entrepreneurial rights, rather than focusing on their theoretical opportunity. The Board’s position that entrepreneurial autonomy actually exercised is what matters, rather than the individual’s right to exercise that autonomy…”

Attorney Lebowitz feels this runs counter to “virtually every other articulated version of a Right to Control or Economic Realities test.” It is also counter to a decision by the D.C. Circuit Court.

Application and Implication

The NLRB used this new rule to then determine that Fed EX drivers were not independent contractors and thus could form a union. The implication of this decision is further reaching. If your independent contractors are not actually exercising their ability to work for other clients the NLRB said this was “theatrical” and not reality.

The big question is how much longer before the USDOL and the IRS adopt this standard as well?

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How do I terminate an employee with an H1-B visa?

by Michael Haberman on October 29, 2014 · 0 comments

ID-10096061 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotosnetH1-B visas are special documents that allow people with special skills to work in the United States. Only 65,000 of these visas are issued annually, thus terminating someone on an H1-B is a big deal.

Requirements to have an H1-B

According to the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, a worker on an H1-B visa must meet the following:

  • They have to be sponsored by an employer
  • They have to have a bachelor or higher degree
  • The employer requires the degree
  • The work is so specialized and complex it requires the degree
  • The visa holder must be paid the prevailing wage or higher for degree holders in that occupation

Once the worker has the H1-B they can stay in the country for a period of three years, which can be extended another three years. But what happens if they get here and you don’t like them or they don’t like you.

Terminating employment

Not every employee works out and is good enough to want to keep a complete year, let alone the three years. According to Gaebler.comIf the individual’s relationship with the employer ends, so does his eligibility to reside in the U.S. under an H1B visa.” The H1-B is not an immigration visa. Thus this termination could have a major impacts on the employee and on the company.

To terminate an employee the employer must inform the Department of Homeland Security right away, typically by sending a letter to the same service center that approved the visa in the first place. According to the law the visa terminates on the date of the letter. So the employee must leave the country as soon as possible, though generally they are allowed 30 days.

If the termination was due to lack of work, then the employer must compensate the employee for the remainder of the period of the visa. If the termination was due to poor performance or some other legitimate reason then the employer may stop paying after the letter has been sent.

The employer is responsible for paying the cost of transportation back to the employee’s country of origin. However, if the employee brought family with them the employer is not obligated to incur the cost of their transportation. You may however, wish to consider that situation in the totality of the circumstances.

What if they don’t like you?

Not everyone that is going to work for you is going to like your company or the job. What happens when they go and search for another job while employed by you on an H1-B? They are tied to you because you sponsored them. In some situations sponsorships can be transferred to the newly hiring company, but the employee cannot just up and leave you. If they do then you have the obligation to report them to Homeland Security.

Because the 65,000 per year allotment of visas goes quickly you want to make sure you make careful selections of employees on which to expend that visa. A bit of caution may save you and the employee some difficult times.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Is Your Small Business Prepared for Disaster?

by Michael Haberman on October 28, 2014 · 0 comments

It helps to have a plan to be prepared for a "rainy day."

It helps to have a plan to be prepared for a “rainy day.”

Today’s post brought to you from our friends at SocialMonsters.org

You may think your small business doesn’t have to worry about recent large-scale data breaches at big companies like Target. However, experts like Defense Intelligence Agency’s senior officer Tyler Cohen Wood warn that small businesses are at even greater risk because hackers think they have less security. He advises small businesses to consider all the ways they collect data and to be aware that the more data they have and use, the more they have to lose in the event of a disaster like fire, flood, theft and criminal hacking.

The main goal of protecting business data is to ensure IT operations can return as quickly as possible after a disruptive event and continue business operations. This can be achieved best with a diverse strategy that includes disaster recovery planning, testing and cloud services for backup and disaster recovery.

Disaster Recovery Plan

Creating a disaster recovery plan requires a risk assessment or business impact analysis, says Paul Kirvan, an IT auditor, consultant and technical writer. Small businesses must first verify the IT services that support their companies’ critical business activities and then plan their disaster recovery strategies. He says small businesses should analyze four risk scenarios: loss of access to their premises, loss of data, loss of IT function and loss of skills. It’s particularly important to know where all IT services run in the business infrastructure and to rate the level of risk from events like fire in the data center, loss of power, water leak, staff illness and flood with a SWOT analysis.

Once risk levels are established and high-value data assets are identified, companies can work with an experienced backup and recovery partner to plan for data storage and recovery services. SunGuard Availability Services advises companies to consider how quickly they would need data restored in the event of a data loss event. In addition, Zerto product marketing director Jennifer Gill says this should dictate what type of recovery services you budget and contract for because the cost ranges depending on how fast you need the recovery to be.

Testing

It’s not enough for a company to know its high-value data assets and partner with a backup and recovery partner. USAA CIO Steve Yates explains that businesses need to conduct live tests on their disaster recovery plans and not just settle with role-playing scenarios once a year. Actually testing the disaster recovery plans, such as taking a piece of actual business operations and recovering it from backup data, should be done on a regular basis to identify the actual business impact and any gaps requiring attention.

Yates developed a series of large-scale business continuity exercises to see how quickly USAA could expect to recover systems, applications and third-party vendor connections. He says the real value in testing like this is that employees gain valuable experience in handling business emergencies and everyone can see the flaws and suggest improvements.

Cloud Services

Information Services Group principal consultant Cindy LaChapelle says the rising importance of data in business operations gives new urgency to disaster recovery planning. Current trends that help with business continuity include social networks, mobile computing, cloud computing and virtualization. Disaster recovery services may incorporate cloud services, which include data backup so that data isn’t lost if the physical office is destroyed by fire, flood or earthquake.

An advantage of using cloud services as part of disaster recovery plans is the potential for faster, more flexible recovery services at a lower cost than maintaining backup equipment at a separate location. Furthermore, the access to mobile connectivity and social networking is invaluable in the event of natural disasters or emergency crises like 9/11. There is a plethora of cloud service options, so be sure to compare companies to see which works best for your business.

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Why it is important to your job to get enough sleep

by Michael Haberman October 27, 2014

Tweet As we approach the weekend where daylight savings time comes to an end I thought some facts about the importance of sleep on performance were in order. I have written some similar posts in the past, see in particular Three Work Reasons to get a Good Night’s Sleep. Facts The average American adult, while […]

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Future Friday: Training will be critical in the next decade

by Michael Haberman October 24, 2014

Tweet According to a study conducted by Oxford Economics for SAP on SuccessFactor clients the future for many companies shows them to be unprepared in a number of different areas regarding people, talent, and HR. One area in which these companies reported being behind the curve, from both the executive view and the employee view […]

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Voting laws: Are you aware of what yours are?

by Michael Haberman October 23, 2014

Tweet If you are like me you are happy to see the national election approaching on November 4th. Actually if you are like me you want to see November 5th get here. I just want the inane election ads to be over with!  In the meantime you may get some questions as to what the […]

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Is pay secrecy disappearing in the private sector?

by Michael Haberman October 22, 2014

Tweet There has been an ongoing debate about pay secrecy versus pay transparency for some time now. The old way of doing business versus the new way of doing business. The old way said that what you made was your business and no one else’s. The new way says that transparency is more egalitarian and […]

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The Power of Collaboration

by Michael Haberman October 21, 2014

Tweet I had the good fortune to be at Dreamforce14 this past week. For those of you who have not heard of Dreamforce, it is the annual conference for SalesForce.com. It is a huge conference and pretty much dominates San Francisco when it is in session. I wrote about it when I attended in 2012 […]

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How by doing good you can do right by your company

by Michael Haberman October 20, 2014

Tweet I received an email that started off “What if I told you that you could help 23 million people today?” I knew it was not junk mail because I recognized the name of the company. So it intrigued me and I looked further into this subject. This blog post is the result, because I […]

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