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JANUARY 2017

 

In This Issue:

BOLI Withdraws Proposed Sick Leave Rule Changes

By Ryan Orr, JD, HR and Compliance Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
rorr@cascadeemployers.com

On August 23, 2016, BOLI published proposed changes to the Oregon Sick Leave rules. To read a summary on the proposals, check out our previous article summarizing the changes.

In late November, BOLI decided to withdraw the proposed rule changes, reasoning that the existing rules provide sufficient guidance for the agency to enforce the Oregon Sick Leave law. We’ve been telling members that the final rules may have necessitated changes to existing sick and PTO policies. Now, without any changes to the rules, it appears that any policies that have already been reviewed for compliance with the sick leave law will not need substantial changes.

With that said, we have learned more about how BOLI intends to enforce the sick leave law. The most notable enforcement policy is that if an employer offers a PTO policy that provides more than 40 hours of PTO per year, an employer may not consider only the first 40 hours of time protected if it's used for reasons other than those that qualify under Oregon Sick Leave law. For instance, if an employee used his first 40 hours on vacation and had 40 hours of PTO remaining, the employer must consider the remaining 40 hours as protected if the employee uses them for sick leave purposes. To ensure compliance with this interpretation, it will be important for employers to track the reasons why an employee uses PTO.

Furthermore, if your policy contains a statement like the following:

For purposes of Oregon Sick Leave, only the first 40 hours of your PTO will be considered protected.

It should be changed to the following:

For purposes of Oregon Sick Leave, each year only 40 hours of your PTO used for a qualifying reason under the Oregon Sick Leave law will be protected. While you may take additional time for reasons that are covered under Oregon’s Sick Leave law, anything beyond 40 hours will not be protected under this law.

If you have any questions about Oregon Sick Leave, give us a call.

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Five Things You May Not Know About Darex –
Featured Member

By Gayle Klampe, President
Cascade Employers Association
gklampe@cascadeemployers.com

From industrial bit sharpeners to DIY drill bit and knife sharpeners, this Ashland, Oregon member exists to surprise and delight the customers who buy and use their products. Did you know...

Darex Logo
  1. Darex began in 1973 in Beecher, Illinois. The D, A and R of Darex are the initials of three generations of the Bernard family: David, Arthur and Richard Bernard.
  2. In 1978, Darex relocated to Ashland and in 2012, Matthew Bernard became the fourth generation family owner of the company.
  3. Under the brands of Darex, Drill Doctor and Work Sharp, this company is proud to manufacture all of their tools in the USA, and source as many components from North American manufacturers as they can. They insist that any over-seas suppliers meet stringent quality control metrics and share in the practices of creating a great place to work.
  4. All designing, engineering and assembling of their sharpening machines is done under one roof. That same roof is shared by their in-house customer service, sales and admin teams.
  5. Southern Oregon is a beautiful place to live and work, and as such Darex strives to do their part in the community to reduce as much waste as possible, including the recycling of: corrugated, glass, aluminum, steel, other metals, and plastics. In addition they have a roof-top 110kW solar power system providing over half of their yearly electricity needs.

Cascade is proud to feature Darex, repeatedly voted one of the top businesses in Southern Oregon to work for. And as they say, “have fun and stay sharp!”

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Hot Compliance Question: Family Leave and Office Closures

By Ryan Orr, JD, HR and Compliance Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
rorr@cascadeemployers.com

Question: If we do have a weather-related office closure, how should I track my employees’ time who are on family leave? Does the day count or not?

Answer: Maybe.

If the employee planned on taking the entire week off for family leave, you would still count the entire week – including the closure day – against their leave entitlement. If the employee is using leave in increments of less than one week, however, you would not count the closure day unless the employee would have been required to work despite the closure (i.e., work from home, remotely, or some other location besides the office.)

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Tips for HR Ninjas: Are You Ready To Go Offsite?

By Bethany Wright, HR Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
bwright@cascadeemployers.com

Working from home is becoming more customary with each passing year. Since 2005, among those who are not self-employed, regular “work-at-home” schedules have risen more than 100% from where they used to be.1

Studies have shown that quality of life can outshine a big pay raise when it comes to job searching. In fact, many people are giving up extra money to work for a company that allows a flexible workweek and the ability to work from home.2

If you have been on the fence as to whether a “work-from-home” policy may work for your business, here is some advice when it comes to allowing employees to work from home on a regular basis:

  1. Make sure your telecommuting employees have the tools they need to get their job done while at home.

  2. Establish a telecommuting policy and rules for employees to follow regarding availability and productivity. Make sure employees understand that telecommuting is a privilege, not a right.

  3. Set up scheduled times for employees to communicate with their supervisor, or ways to communicate what they are getting done while not in the office, to ensure accountability across the board.

  4. Lastly, make sure the employee can handle the responsibility of working from home. If they are a poor performer in the office, they are likely to be a poor performer outside of the office as well.


1 http://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/telecommuting-statistics.

2 http://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/resources/costs-benefits.

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Uh-oh: Your Bias is Showing

By By Erin Mahoney, Director, Training & Organization Development
Cascade Employers Association
emahoney@cascadeemployers.com

No one likes to think of themselves as biased. Most people I work with are egalitarian-minded, treating people the same regardless of gender, race, nationality or religion. And some of the people I work with are aware of the many biases that creep into the workplace unintended. For example, in the world of performance appraisals, biases like the halo effect, the horn effect, and the similar-to-me bias are becoming more familiar and well-known culprits in the working world.

However, there is one bias that I see in workplaces every day that undermines relationships, sabotages teams, turns departments against one another, and creates toxic environments. It’s called Fundamental Attribution Error and, though you likely have never heard of it, it is alive and well in each and every one of us.

So what is Fundamental Attribution Error? One definition is “the tendency for people to place an undue emphasis on internal characteristics of the agent (character or intention), rather than external factors, in explaining another person's behavior in a given situation. This contrasts with interpreting one's own behavior, where situational factors are more easily recognized and can be taken into account.” Essentially, False Attribution Error means that I’m not willing to give others the same benefit of the doubt I’m willing to give myself when something goes wrong.

However, I think it’s easier to understand what it is through examples. When I am driving and make a last minute lane change, I know it’s because I’m not familiar with the neighborhood (an external factor). But if I see someone cut me off in traffic (doing exactly what I just did), I’m likely going to believe they did it because they are a jerk (an internal characteristic). I’m not likely to give them the benefit of the doubt and think, “maybe she’s taking her son to the hospital,” or “maybe he’s lost.” If someone does something wrong, I attribute it unfairly to his or her poor character. But if I do something wrong, it’s because I was just reacting to the situation.

False Attribution Error works the opposite way when things go right. Say I get a promotion at work. Chances are I will believe I got it because I’m smart, I work hard, and I’m committed to the job (internal characteristics). However, if I see someone else get a promotion my bias might lead me to believe that that person got it because of politics, nepotism, or luck (external factors).

When I explain False Attribution Bias in trainings or in my coaching work, a lot of people chuckle and shake their head. “How horrible,” people think, “but I don’t do that.” This is why I use the driving example so often; everyone can relate to it. It’s easier to see in an off-work situation than when it’s in play at the workplace. But if you start keeping an eye out for it, you’ll see it all the time.

Here are two common scenarios:

  • Between individuals: Melanie’s computer crashes when under a tight deadline. It takes Ted, in IT, over an hour to come help her. Melanie assumes that Ted doesn’t care how important her work is, is lazy, and has taken his sweet time showing up to help. In reality, Ted has been dealing with server issues that have ground operations to a halt, and resents Melanie’s impatience. He assumes she is high-maintenance and only cares about herself.

  • Between groups/departments: At a medical clinic, front office staff learns that providers have acquiesced to certain patients’ requests after being turned down by front office staff on the grounds it is against policy. Front office staff members feel like they have been thrown under the bus, undermined and disrespected and providers feel like the front office staff is being inflexible, rigid and inconsiderate of patients’ needs.

Maybe as you are reading, examples from your own life are coming to mind. But the point of this article isn’t to make us all feel bad and induce feelings of shame. (And trust me – no one is immune to False Attribution Error completely.) The point is that there are a couple of things we can do to overcome it and to keep it from interfering in our work relationships (and beyond).

  1. Keep an eye out for it, now that you know what it looks like. You know the saying: knowing is half the battle.

  2. Check your assumptions. Anytime you make a judgment call or a negative assumption about someone’s intentions or character, ask yourself, “What’s a reason I would have done the same thing?” or “Why would a kind, reasonable person do that?”

    Maybe your original suspicion was right and the other person really is a disrespectful, lazy grump. Or maybe they are having a truly wretched day. Giving them the benefit of the doubt can have an enormous impact on your response (in the short term) and your relationship with that person (in the long run).

  3. Spread the word. Bring False Attribution Error out of the shadows so others can be on the lookout as well. When you suspect someone is in the throes of his or her own bias, gently coach them.

    “It’s possible Erica doesn’t think your work is as important as hers when she missed the deadline you set. But let’s try to give her the benefit of the doubt. If the situation was reversed, why might you miss a deadline? ”

The point isn’t to be Pollyanna and suggest that everyone always has the greatest of intentions or that all poor performers are just misunderstood. However, in the vast majority of situations I see, False Attribution Error is often the culprit, damaging morale, zapping motivation and poisoning relationships.

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Your 2017 HR Checklist

By Jenna Reed, JD, General Counsel and Director, Compliance Services
Cascade Employers Association
jreed@cascadeemployers.com

Although there is a lot of uncertainty about what 2017 has in store for employers, there are a few things you should have on your new year’s checklist:

  • Review FLSA classifications and job descriptions and adjust accordingly. Even though the new FLSA regulations are under a temporary injunction, it’s still a good idea to prepare for these changes. Especially since the Bureau of Labor and Industries and Department of Labor are focusing more time and effort on employee misclassifications.
  • Develop or review formal compensation plans and structure. With the pending FLSA regulations, new minimum wage system and a myriad of other state and federal laws, there is a lot of incentive to review your compensation programs and structure.
  • Review and update your handbook.
    • Family Leave (OFLA) policy (for benefit continuation)
    • Attendance and call-in policies (to meet Oregon Sick Leave compliance)
    • Paid Sick Leave policy (for Oregon Sick Leave compliance)
    • Drug and Alcohol policy (for drug and alcohol testing post accident/incident)
    • Safety policy (for incident and injury reporting and anti-retaliation clauses)
  • Start using the new I-9 form by January 22, 2017. You can use the old form until January 21, 2017, but you can begin using the new form before then if you choose.
  • Evaluate complex employment relationships (independent contractors, staffing agency employees, temporary employees). The gig economy is growing and employers are getting more creative with how they’re structuring employment relationships. However, there are lots of pitfalls lurking. Be sure you don’t fall into one of them.
  • Get written authorizations from employees to receive their paystubs electronically. Oregon’s new paystub notification law took effect January 1, 2017.
  • Update employment posters. There were several changes to both the state and federal posting requirements so make sure your posters are compliant.
  • Schedule training company-wide on harassment, retaliation and discrimination. If you haven’t done this training recently, now is a great time to remind employees about your expectations for the workplace.
  • Schedule company-wide Respect in the Workplace training. 2016 brought a lot of requests for this training. It’s always a good idea to revisit the basic expectation of respect in the workplace.
  • Federal Contractors – schedule an affirmative action audit to ensure compliance. If you’re a federal contractor or subcontractor you’ve probably had trouble keeping up with all of the new rules and regulations. Make sure you haven’t missed anything that could get flagged if you’re audited by the OFCCP.

Whew! We’re happy to help you complete your checklist or answer any questions you may have. Here’s to 2017! I have a suspicion you’ll be hearing from us a lot this year.

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Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Consumer Price Indexes listed were issued December 15, 2016 for October data. 1982-84 = 100, unless otherwise noted.

  CPI-W
United
States
2015

231.721
2016

235.215
Change

1.5%
Portland/
Salem

Avg. 1st
half/year
2015

234.948
2016

237.784


1.2%
  CPI-U
United
States
2015

237.336
2016

241.353
Change

1.7%
Portland/
Salem

Avg. 1st
half/year
2015

242.976
2016

247.143


1.7%

Note: The Consumer Price Index (CPI) program produces monthly data on changes in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative basket of certain retail goods and services. CPI-W consists of urban households whose primary source of income is derived from the employment of wage earners and clerical workers. CPI-U includes wage earners and clerical workers, salaried workers, the self-employed, retirees, and the unemployed.

US Department of Labor Historical CPI Data

 


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