When is break time?

Why do you offer breaks to your employees? Is it good for morale? Does it help ensure better quality? Well, for 21 states, if you’re a company operating in the private sector – it may be because it’s required.

Private sector employers in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia have minimum requirements for meal and/or break periods. While a company may choose to go above and beyond the minimum, the following is important for all employers to make note of, regardless of state requirements:

Track time worked by hourly employees
The actual time “worked” by an employee is a very valuable piece of information as it is used for a variety of calculations and reports. Internally, this figure can be used to determine productivity and efficiency, employee benefit eligibility, leave entitlement, and calculating overtime for payroll purposes. More broadly, this figure is reported in annual OSHA 300(A) logs, and may even be what makes or breaks a company’s worker’s comp rates (as rates take into account payroll dollars). Should the company for any reason be subjected to an audit, employers can most certainly expect to be questioned about “time worked” – given the impact this figure has on a company, and its employees. So, aside from being able to track and comply with break period requirements, an accurate “time worked” figure for hourly employees will be beneficial, legally and financially.

Consider breaks as part of an accommodation
What if an employee is taking more frequent or longer breaks than permitted? Is this a behavioral issue? Should you warn the employee or perhaps dismiss them altogether? Before moving too quickly to judgement, discuss (and of course document) a conversation with the employee. What is his/her reason for deviating from break policies? If it’s due to a medical condition or medical needs of the employee, be prepared for an accommodation discussion. A request for accommodation is not always an obvious or formal interaction. As with most expectation conversations – it’s best to first have a discussion with the employee to understand the reasons behind issues around behavior or performance. A simple accommodation such as an additional or extended break may be a worthwhile step in retaining an exceptional employee as well as avoiding unnecessary, public, legal issues.

Don’t overlook employee morale
What does your policy around breaks say about your company? Does it suggest a company that is concerned about its employees and their well-being? Or, does it suggest a company that offers only what it must? Company culture is not something that is created in a mission statement or on a company website, but collectively by policies, practices, priorities – put together and/or upheld by the company’s leadership. Let your policies reflect the priorities of the company while taking into consideration minimum requirements. Then consider, “is the minimum enough for us”?

Requirements for the 21 states listed above may be found on the US Department of Labor Wage & Hour website. Be sure your policies and practices around breaks and rest period are compliant today.

https://www.dol.gov/whd/state/meal.htm

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LOOKING FOR A NEW CAREER OPPORTUNITY? WHICH SOUNDS IDEAL TO YOU?

Option 1:

  • Amazing travel benefits for you and your family (although you may want to hold off on booking that trip to China for a while)
  • Great work-life balance
  • As an employee, your travel is PRIORITY – more important than even purchased customer travel
  • Opportunity to serve as an authority on fashion when it comes to boarding flights (your ability to pass judgment is not limited to adults – teenager attire may also be subject to your personal views)
  • Running late for your next shift OR you need to catch a return-flight home? Don’t worry!  The company will aggressively and proudly drag even an elderly, paying customer from a seat so that you can fly comfortably without delay.  A policy supported by the CEO (for a while at least).

Option 2:

  • Contribute to technology that may change modern society’s manner of daily travel
  • Work alongside some of the greatest minds in tech
  • Receive unwanted sexual advances by your manager…on your first day (Don’t worry though….HR only tolerates it because he is a great performer. If he was a bad performer…he’d be out.
  • Advance self-driving technology without stress or accountability since it’s technology claimed to have been stolen by Google anyway

Good news – both companies are hiring and will probably be looking for PR and HR professionals for quite some time.  For employees working with well-known brands – not all press is good press.  Look to leverage your company’s brand with employees in positive times and address challenging public blunders as you would with customers.  When it comes to the product of “employment”, employees are perhaps the most valuable of consumers.  What are you doing to market to your employees?

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Paid Sick Time Required for AZ Employers….the silent but potentially deadly hidden dangers of Prop 206

Late yesterday, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled to uphold the previously challenged Prop 206, a law passed by Arizona voters in November 2016 that raises state minimum wage to $10 in 2017 and incrementally to $12 by 2020, as well as requires mandatory sick time to be paid by Arizona employers.

While the minimum wage aspect of Prop 206 has received a majority of the attention in debates, has the significance of the paid sick time burden which impacts small and large Arizona employers (yes, even those with less than 15 employees) been overshadowed? The paid sick time component comes with not only a financial impact to businesses (as historically Arizona has been silent regarding paid time off), but also implied protections to employees utilizing their new leave benefits, posting requirements, and a hefty administrative burden for smaller employers especially who may be unprepared or even in-the-dark on the change. With yesterday’s ruling however it is clear, whether a small or large Arizona employer – now is the time to start reviewing your time off policies to ensure your business will not learn the hard way.

REQUEST HELP WITH PROP 206 COMPLIANCE

Are you discussing these 2 things with your employees? No worries if you’re not – they’re probably leaving you anyway.

Gallup’s recently released State of the American Workplace report shows that more than 51% of employees are searching for a new job. Assuming most companies are not excited about turning over 51% of its workforce – it’s important to consider what employees value in a job and company. Gallup’s same report asked employees to rate the importance of various company/job attributes.

60% of surveyed employees say doing what they do best is “very important” to them. Not too surprising when you given some of us spend more time working than we are with our own family and friends. Who then wants to spend the majority of his/her life feeling insignificant? Tip: Find ways to leverage your employee’s strengths in the workplace.

53% of employees state a healthy work-life balance is “very important”. Do you encourage your employees to use their time off benefits? Do you expect them to be available 24/7? Tip: Start recognizing those working effectively versus round-the-clock?

While incorporating these topics likely requires changing up traditional coaching conversations the question becomes – will you start discussing this with your current employees – or the 51% of new employees who you hire to replace them?

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