Layoff for Small Business

Are you considering layoffs for your small business?  Layoffs are a common consideration in today’s tough economy.  Here are some things to think about before you conduct layoffs for your small business:

  • Consider Your Options – Many companies are avoiding layoffs by looking to other pay & staff reduction strategies.  Consider an across the board pay reduction for all employees, reduced staff hours or a required time off without pay schedule.  Employees are often understanding of such measures in lieu of layoffs.
  • Be Fair – Make sure you aren’t selecting lay off candidates with a disparate impact on protected class employees.  Layoff considerations should be based on company operational and financial needs.  Consider utilizing a seniority based system for determining layoff candidates.
  • After the Layoff – Laid off employees may be eligible for unemployment, so be prepared for this.  Make sure you are in compliance with COBRA or similar state programs.  Consider whether or not you are going to offer severance payments to laid off employees, and if you are going to require a release for severance payments.
  • Know Your State’s Employment Rules – Specifically, final pay rules.  Employment regulations and rule can vary wildly from state to state.  Make sure you are versed in your state’s rules.
  • Communicate – Be sure to immediately communicate to all remaining staff the reason for the lay off and express your regret for the situation.  Confirm that the decision was to keep the company in solid financial shape and stable through this tough economy.
  • Continue to be Proactive – Don’t forget to continue with goals to move your business forward.  Even in a staff reduction situation, you should continue to develop your policies, programs & staff development.

Jill Critchfield is a professional Human Resources Consultant.  Through her business, Pacific HR, she has provided HR services to over 150 small and mid-sized businesses in Portland, Oregon since 1999.

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5 HR Hot Topics

Here are 5 HR Hot Topic Items – things that are often ignored or avoided by small business owners. Make sure your business is protected and that you are being proactive in managing HR issues.

  • Employee HandbookMake sure you have an up to date and customized Employee Handbook for your business. A well written Employee Handbook will:
    • Define your policies & procedures
    • Communicate to your employees
    • Protect your business from liability

  • Classify Contractors and Employees Correctly – Make sure you have people classified correctly as either Contractors or Employees. Use the 20 Rule test to determine if you are meeting IRS classification criteria.

  • Make sure you know your state employment rules

Employment regulations and rule can vary wildly from state to state. Make sure you are versed in your state’s rules.

  • Job Descriptions – Develop accurate and up to date Job Descriptions for every position in your company. Job Descriptions should include the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities required for each position, as well as primary responsibilities for the job. Well drafted Job Descriptions are:
    • Great for defining the new and current jobs
    • Works as documentation if you need to discipline a current employee.
    • Help when hiring for a new position – use the job description to create the ad and screen candidates.

  • Document all discipline! There are two primary purposes to documented disciplinary action:
    • Clearly communicate the issue and correct behavior to employees.
    • Protect your business!

Jill Critchfield is a professional Human Resources Consultant. Through her business, Pacific HR, she has provided HR services to over 150 small and mid-sized businesses in Portland, Oregon since 1999.

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HR Resolutions for 2009

January is a great time to review your current HR procedures and make resolutions for the coming year.  Here is a list of 5 HR Resolutions for 2009:

1.  Employee Handbook Review – Don’t have an Employee Handbook yet?  Make this your top priority for the year.  If you haven’t had your handbook reviewed for a couple of years, contact an HR consultant to make sure your manual is up to date.  A well written Employee Handbook is a must for any small business.

2.  Update Job Descriptions – Job descriptions are invaluable tools for any business. Make sure your job descriptions are up to date and accurate.  Not sure where to start?  Ask your employee’s to review their own job descriptions and give you feedback on the accuracy of the document. 

3.  Annual Performance Evaluations – Many small business owners drag their feet when it comes to annual performance evaluations.  Make this the year that you conduct Performance Reviews on time for all employees!

4.  Employee Files – Make time this year to ensure you have a complete Employee File for each staff member.  Review your State’s regulations in regards to Employee Files and make sure you are in compliance.

5.  Review ADA procedures – New changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act go into effect on January 1, 2009.  Take time to review the changes and how they may affect your business.

 

 

Jill Critchfield is a professional Human Resources Consultant.  Through her business, Pacific HR, she has provided HR services to over 100 small and mid-sized businesses in Portland, Oregon since 1999.

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HR Regulations for Small Business

Concerned about which HR regulations affect your business?  Here is a list of some of the standard employment related laws by number of employees.  Be sure to check with your state to ensure you are also meeting local regulations.

1-14 Employees

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (1938)
  • Immigration Reform & Control Act (IRCA) (1986)
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act (1988)
  • Uniformed Services Employment & Re-employment Rights Act of 1994
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963
  • Consumer Credit Protection Act of 1968
  • National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) 1935
  • Labor-Management Relations Act (Taft-Hartley) 1947
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) 1974 (if Co. offers benefits)
  • Uniform Guidelines of Employee Selection Procedures (1978)
  • Federal Insurance Contribution’s Act of 1935 (FICA) (Social Security)

11-14, add

15-19, add

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1991
  • Title I, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA)

20-49, add

  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (1967) (ADEA)
  • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA)

50 or more, add

100 or more, add

  • Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification Act of 1989 (WARN)
  • EEO-1 Report filed annually w/EEOC if Organization is not a Federal Contractor

Federal Contractors, add

  • Executive Orders 11246 (1965), 11375 (1967), 11478 (1969)
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988
  • Vietnam-Era Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974
  • Davis Bacon Act of 1931
  • Copeland Act of 1934
  • Walsh-Healy Act of 1936

 

Jill Critchfield is a professional Human Resources Consultant.  Through her business, Pacific HR, she has provided HR services to over 100 small and mid-sized businesses in Portland, Oregon since 1999.

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Tips for Terminations

Conducting terminations is one of the toughest jobs for any business owner.  Before you sit down with the employee, make sure you have done everything necessary to have the meeting go as smooth as possible.

 

Before conducting a termination, ask yourself:

 

·       Was the employee clearly told that they needed to improve the behavior?  Were they given the time necessary to improve the behavior?

·       Was the employee told that failure to improve may result in termination?

·       Is there documentation on all of the activities leading up to the termination? 

·       Does your Employee Handbook outline that this action may result in termination?

·       Would any other employee be terminated for the same activities?

·       Is the termination being conducted in a timely manner, as to the final incident?

·       Will a final paycheck be ready in accordance with your State’s final pay rules?

·       Will the employee be surprised by the termination?

 

If the answer is “no” to any of the above questions, reconsider the fairness of the termination.

 

When conducting a termination meeting, be sure to:

 

·       Hold the meeting in a private area

       Be sure to avoid any public humiliation for the employee

       Be brief and to the point

       Don’t allow the discharge to turn into an argument

       Have an appropriate witness, if available

       Escort the employee off company property

       Don’t discuss the discharge with other employees

       Document with sign off if possible

 

 

Jill Critchfield is a professional Human Resources Consultant.  Through her business, Pacific HR, she has provided HR services to over 100 small and mid-sized businesses in Portland, Oregon since 1999.

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What Can I Ask in an Interview?

Worried about what questions you can ask in an interview?  As a general rule, interview questions should directly relate to qualifications for the job, and in almost all instances, the following topics should be avoided in an interview:

 

o Age – is irrelevant unless you are concerned about child labor violations under

the Fair Labor Standards Act, in which case you can ask for proof that he/she

is old enough to work.

o Arrest record – do not ask at all – you may ask about convictions, but even

then it would have to be relevant to the position in order to lead to immediate

rejection.

o Association with present employees – this information is not relevant to an

applicant’s ability to perform successfully in a particular job, and the tendency

to either encourage or prohibit the employment of friends or relatives of

existing employees may create an adverse impact on members of protected

classes.

o Bankruptcy and credit affairs – never ask about bankruptcy since it is illegal

to discriminate on this basis under the Federal Bankruptcy Law – all credit

inquiries must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

o Citizenship – unless required by law or regulation, you may not ask applicants

if they are U.S. citizens since it is considered discriminatory under the

Immigration Reform and Control Act. You may ask if candidates are

authorized to work in the United States.

o Disability – the Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal to ask

questions about an applicant’s disability or perceived disability – it is crucial to

focus on the job, not on the disability.

o Driver’s license – avoid asking about it unless the job requires one since it

could statistically screen out females, minorities and/or individuals with

disabilities.

o Education – relevant if it is directly related to successful job performance – if

not, avoid it because it could potentially screen out minorities.

o Emergency contact information – unnecessary at the application stage 

o English language skills – only ask if it is a requirement of the job (i.e. an

English teacher) – otherwise it could be construed as national origin

discrimination.

o Height and weight – can be discriminatory against females, Hispanics, and/or

Asians – it is important to focus on what the job requires, not the person’s

physical characteristics.

o Marital status/name changes/spouse/children – any questions relating to

these issues may be construed as discriminatory, especially against women – –

none are job-related. 

o Organization or club membership – this might reveal protected class

information and it is irrelevant (i.e. Knights of Columbus, NAACP or

Diabetes Association)

o Race, color, religion, sex, or national originEEOC guidelines prohibit

asking questions that may reveal this information; rejected applicants could

have grounds for a discrimination suit if any of these questions were part of

the application process.

o Union affiliation – could be considered an unfair labor practice under the

National Labor Relations Act if the applicant claims he or she was not hired

because of the union affiliation.

o Veteran status/military records – general questions about a person’s

background in the military should only be asked if based on business necessity

or job-related reasons. If requested, such information should include a

statement that general or dishonorable discharge will not be an absolute bar to

employment but that other factors will be taken into consideration.

o Weekend work/shift changesunless required for the job, the applicant

should not have to state whether or not they can work on the weekends – this

could screen out applicants who cannot work on some weekend days because

of their religious beliefs.

 

Jill Critchfield is a professional Human Resources Consultant.  Through her business, Pacific HR, she has provided HR services to over 100 small and mid-sized businesses in Portland, Oregon since 1999.  Information about Pacific HR services can be found at www.pacifichr.com.

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HR Checklist

Use this handy HR Checklist to identify your current human resources needs. Great for any new business, or for a review of your current HR procedures.  This HR Checklist can also be found at www.pacifichr.com

 

Employee Handbook   ____
Handbook is complete, current and in compliance with State & Federal regulations

 

Employee Files  ____
Complete employee files for all current employees. Terminated employee files are kept on site. Information regarding medical conditions, FMLA and workers’ compensation are kept separate from employee files.

 

I-9 Forms  ____
Federal I-9 form on file for all employees, separate from employee files, in accordance with federal guidelines.

 

State & Federal Postings  ____
Required postings up to date and are posted in an area accessible to all employees.

 

Job Descriptions  ____
Job Descriptions are completed and up to date for all key positions

 

Payroll  ____
Payroll is processed accurately and without incident. Records are retained in accordance with state law.

 

FMLA  ____
Procedures are in place to ensure compliance with FMLA regulations.

 

COBRA  ____
Procedures are in place to ensure compliance with COBRA regulations.

 

Hiring Process  ____
Hiring process is organized to ensure compliance with federal discrimination laws and record retention requirements

 

Termination Process  ____
Termination process is organized to limit wrongful discharge liabilities. Final checks are issued in accordance with state law.

 

Disciplinary Process  ____
Disciplinary Process is designed to ensure fair and equitable disciplinary action.

 

Unemployment Claims  ____
Unemployment claims are managed to minimize unemployment tax liability.

 

Performance Evaluations  ____
Performance evaluations are performed annually for all positions.

 

Jill Critchfield is a professional Human Resources Consultant.  Through her business, Pacific HR, she has provided HR services to over 100 small and mid-sized businesses in Portland, Oregon since 1999.  Information about Pacific HR services can be found at www.pacifichr.com.

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