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December 26th, 2017 / by Mike Cooney

Are You Ready to Ride the Wave? The Wave to Oregon’s Retirement Savings Program, that is.

Oregon has become the first state to roll out an automatic, state sponsored retirement program. Other states are still in the planning phases but are sure to soon follow. Officially titled the Oregon Retirement Savings Program, but more commonly referred to as OregonSaves, the Program creates an automatic individual... more

October 13th, 2017 / by Mike Cooney

Effective Immediately – Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017

Effective immediately Employers are no longer allowed to ask candidates, or their former employers, about prior salary history. While the full protections of the Oregon Equal Pay Act don’t go into effect in January of 2019, parts of the multi-layered law are effective October 6th, 2017. Similar to the law passed in Massachusetts earlier, this law aims to quickly close pay gaps by prohibiting employers from screening applicants based on salary history. Further, employers cannot rely on salary history in determining compensation for a position based on a prospective employee’s current or past compensation. A second part of the law expands on existing prohibitions of discriminating against protected classes such as: race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, veteran status, disability or age, making it illegal to pay employees who perform comparable work differing rates of pay should they hold one of the statuses listed prior. Getting Ready The law... more

August 14th, 2017 / by Mike Cooney

Did Someone Say Audit?

With all the daily nagging pressures of running a small business, trying to find the time to asses how the HR side of things is running can be daunting. If things seem to be running smoothly, why go looking for problems? The word audit strikes fear into the hearts of almost everyone, but correcting minor HR issues now with an HR Audit or HR Assessment can protect a company against costly legal claims in the future, and can also achieve smaller immediate gains, like better employee retention and more accurate vendor payments. So have no fear, take a look at the most commonly made mistakes listed below and see if your company can benefit from some improved practices.

Recruiting and Onboarding – Consistency is key. Are all candidates put through the same clear screening process? Things such as drug testing, background checks, reference checks, and pre-employment testing should be administered... more

June 1st, 2017 / by Mike Cooney

Time and Pay Records: The Newest Addition to Employee Files

An Oregon Senate bill took effect in earlier this year that makes time and pay records part of an employee’s personnel records. This could have an impact to employers any time a current or former employee requests to see their employment file. Under the new law, the time and pay records must be produced as part of the complete employee file.

Employers will want to make sure they are following the guidelines regarding personnel records, paying careful attention to what needs to be included in the file, as well as the time-frames for responding to requests and retention. Keeping organized, easily accessible payroll records and setting a protocol for responding to requests will ensure there’s nothing to panic about when requests for records arrive. Check out BOLI’s website for more information.

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March 14th, 2017 / by Mike Cooney

What Does the Handbook Say

HR experts agree that small and medium sized businesses should create handbooks as protection from lawsuits, but handbooks can also serve to welcome and inform new employees in a positive way. The success of a handbook is determined by what policies are included and how they are worded. A good handbook is a living document that reflects the true culture of the business.

The Basic Do’s. Things to Include in Every Handbook

• With each edition, mention that this document trumps any other policy documents and is subject to change. • Include wording that states at no time does this document create or intend to create an employment contract. In Oregon, this is where to mention the ‘at will’ employment. • How the company addresses any harassment or complaints of harassment. Having a clear policy can protect against misunderstandings in the future, good protection should an employer find themselves in a legal situation. •... more

February 17th, 2017 / by Mike Cooney

BOLI’s Quiet 180 on Overtime Law

A new Portland lawsuit filed in December triggered BOLI to reexamine its overtime guidelines in relation to daily and weekly overtime calculations for manufacturing employees.

Manufacturing is defined on the BOLI site as: “any place where machinery is used for ‘manufacturing purposes,’ which includes the process of making goods or any material produced by machinery; anything made from raw materials by machinery; and the production of articles for use from raw or prepared materials by giving such materials new forms, qualities, properties or combinations, by the use of machinery.”

There are two separate overtime statutes at play for manufacturing employers. One calls for overtime to be paid on any hours worked over 10 hours in a day. The other statute is the one that calls for overtime to be paid on any hours worked over 40 hours in a week. (Of course, there are exemptions and they can be found here.)

Traditionally... more

December 22nd, 2016 / by Mike Cooney

Is Your Performance Evaluation Program Ready for Remodel or a Complete Teardown?

In our blog post last month about Performance Evaluations going the way of the Dodo Bird we discussed that major companies like SAP, Adobe, Accenture, Deloitte and Microsoft are throwing out their performance review programs.

The first reaction is what are they doing? Are they stopping performance feedback all together? Actually, a closer look reveals that these companies are doing away with their cumbersome and expensive annual performance review programs for something more nimble and timely. Companies are moving to more informal and frequent check-ins that focus on immediate performance feedback and growth/development discussions.

Most interesting is how employees are responding very favorably to more ‘on the spot coaching’ sessions rather than a formal annual performance review, which is too often used an as excuse to hold feedback until year end.

For companies considering this change, experts offer some cautions to help the process go smoothly. Don’t eliminate the process without another... more

December 1st, 2016 / by Mike Cooney

What Employers Need to Know About OSHA’s New Law in Effect Dec 1

OSHA has enacted a new law that goes into effect December 1, 2016 that they hope will further improve safety for workers.

Part one of the new law enforces anti-retaliation protections, which prohibit employers from deterring workers from reporting work place illnesses and injuries. The law goes a step further, then requiring employers to inform employees of their right to report such occurrences, including that the process for reporting must be reasonable.

The second part of the law, goes into effect January 1, 2017, will require electronic submissions of injury and illness data via an OHSA provided website. The site is expected to be live Feb 2017.

For more information on preparation and compliance, click this link



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November 29th, 2016 / by Mike Cooney

New Overtime Rule Blocked

A federal judge in Texas blocked the new overtime rules that were to go into effect Thursday, December 1, 2017. The new law, spearheaded by Obama in an effort to raise wages, would have extended mandatory overtime to 4 million employees. (Red Zone HR wrote about the changes here.) With the injunction issued late last week, any changes are on a temporary, yet indefinite, hold. It is unclear how this will proceed and what the new administration will do.

What does this mean for employers now?

There are a few options for employers at this point. The most important thing to realize is this now becomes a business decision unique to your organization, rather than a requirement for legal compliance. Businesses may choose to move forward with the changes as planned or choose to hold. Businesses who have already rolled out the changes may choose to keep them in place or... more

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