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Ooh La La! France Says No to After-Work Emails: Work-Life Balance Win?

April 10th, 2014 Comments off

France bans work emails after 6.In case you were thinking, “The French are so lucky — they have the most charming pâtisseries and outdoor cafés, not to mention world-renowned attractions like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre — be prepared to turn as green with envy as one of their green tea eclairsCompanies and workers in France just reached a deal, which is currently pending government approval, to steer clear of work-related communications and tools outside of working hours.

In case you didn’t know, that’s in addition to the 35-hour work week they’ve had in place since 1999.

C’est la vie!

Interested in putting the French you learned in college to good use? Then check out this official document.

While initial reports suggested this new deal would impact approximately 1 million workers in France — primarily in the technology and consulting industries, who are notorious for their addiction to checking their devices to stay on top of work — that number in reality will be more in the vicinity of 250,000.

Still, after I picked my jaw off the floor and did some fleeting research on how much it’d cost to buy a one-way ticket to France, I realized this might not be the ideal solution after all and, in fact, would cramp my style in terms of when and where and how I choose to work.

I wouldn’t call myself a workaholic, but it’s quite rare for me to go an entire night, even on the weekends, without checking my work email and work-related social media accounts multiple times. No one has ever asked or required me to do this, I should add. In fact, a very healthy attitude of work-life balance is encouraged where I work, as may be the case for you.

It appears I am echoing sentiments by Ksenia Zheltoukhova, a research associate at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, who says this restricted work communication after hours isn’t really the answer. She even goes a step further to say that it impedes the notion of flexible working.

Like many of you, I’d love to know how the email police would know that you’re accessing a work-related email.

In case you were wondering if other countries might follow suit, we’re keeping an eye on it. But for now, Germany does have a similar law in place that prevents employers from trying to get ahold of workers via phone or email unless it’s an emergency in an effort to keep employees from burning out.

Tell us: Do you think this is a step in the right direction … or outright ridiculous? Would it stop YOU from checking your work email after hours?

To keep your young professionals happy, productive and employed by you — try out these four fun and effective ways to encourage work-life integration.

Ageism in the Workplace: On Unemployment and Getting the Job

February 21st, 2014 Comments off

visual resumeWe’ve heard countless stories from readers on The Hiring Site about their encounters with ageism in the workplace — whether they’ve observed it happening to others or experienced it themselves. I think we can all agree on one thing: It’s getting old.

This is the first post in a multi-part ageism series on The Hiring Site. In this post, we will focus on the challenges older workers face when it comes to employment and finding a job.

While instances of hiring bias have risen since the recession began, the growing skills gap has only compounded the problem, as people of all ages continue to fight for the limited number of jobs out there.

Nearly 5 percent of the U.S. workforce is 65 and older, which means the problem isn’t going away. In fact, it seems to be getting more prevalent. Age discrimination charges now account for nearly one quarter of all complaints filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The ‘ABC’s of Ageism

Simply put, ageism means to discriminate against individuals or groups because of their age, and the discrimination is usually directed at older individuals.

The term “ageism” was coined in 1969 by Robert N. Butler, a physician and the first director of the National Institute on Aging, to describe discrimination against seniors through prejudicial attitudes, discriminatory practices, and institutional practices and policies; however, ageism has also been used to describe prejudice and discrimination against adolescents and children.

“Ageism allows the younger generations to see older people as different from themselves; thus they subtly cease to identify with their elders as human beings,” Butler wrote in his 1975 book “Why Survive? Being Old in America.” This sentiment poses a problem in a workplace setting where different generations must collaborate, compromise and learn from each other to move the business forward.

Long-term unemployment and discrimination

It may come as no surprise to you that an increasing number of older workers are part of the workforce than in the past. Interestingly, however, more than 1 in 10 older workers said they don’t think they’ll ever be able to retire, according to a 2013 CareerBuilder survey. Why? For the most part it’s a mix of financial necessity, a desire to do keep working and increased life spans.

Over the past several years the number of age discrimination claims have significantly increased; in 2012, 22,857 claims were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission compared to 16,548 in 2006. To save you from doing some mental math, that’s a difference of more than 6,000 in just a 6-year span of time.

And according to CareerBuilder’s latest survey on long-term unemployment, 1 in 3 long-term unemployed individuals are afraid their age or experience works against them. This fear is even more pronounced among individuals older than 55, with more than 90 percent pointing to their age as a contributor to their long-term unemployment.

Desperate times, desperate measures?

Ageism in the workplace can take on a variety of forms and can range from discreet to apparent. For example, when plum assignments, projects or sales leads are consistently handed over to younger employees, or if older workers find themselves left out the loop regularly, it could be a sign that something bigger is going on. More obnoxious or outwardly apparent signs of discrimination could include disparaging comments like “old lady” or “grandpa” or, worse, being told outright that their best days are behind them.

Older job seekers don’t have it any easier, as they are often forced to contend with employers’ biases. For instance, hiring managers may mistakenly view a step down — an older worker applying for a lower-level job — as an indicator of their deteriorating skill set. Or they may just assume that older generations have no desire or aptitude to learn new technology skills.

To improve their job prospects, many older applicants leave dates off their resume to hide their age, some take to dyeing their hair and some are actually willing to undergo cosmetic surgery to look younger. WHAT?! In addition, some recruiters are guilty of telling older clients to omit or “finesse” key dates on job applications. I’m sorry, but these are merely Band-Aids and don’t fix the issue long-term.

Fortunately, some older job seekers have taken it upon themselves to enhance their minds instead of their outward appearances. For instance, 4 in 10 baby boomers surveyed in a 2012 AARP study said they had recently engaged in training, educational activities or certification programs to refresh their job skills.

Tell us in the comments below: Do you know someone who has been subject to ageism as a job seeker or employee? How would you advise these individuals to combat false perceptions and move forward?

And look for the next part of this series coming up where we’ll talk about possible triggers leading to ageism in the workplace and discuss how different generations can work together and understand each other. Be sure to tell us if there are particular aspects of this topic you’d like to see covered.

Background Checks and EEOC Regulations: What Every Recruiter Needs to Know

August 7th, 2013 Comments off

Application-for-employmentThough the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has previously focused their efforts on investigations that look at processes for pay increases and promotion efforts, recent strategic plans indicate a renewed effort on hiring screen and criminal background check cases.

Ensure you have good practices and policies in place that are in line with this strategic plan with the following tips, compiled from two sessions at the at the recent Staffing Law Conference: Analyzing EEOC Guidance: Latest Background Check Parameters and Strategies and Keeping Up With the Feds: Enforcement and Regulatory Agendas of Federal Agencies.

Criminal History and Background Check Guidance:

There should be no hard line rules by you or your clients (e.g. “We don’t hire felons.”). You must look at each case on an individual basis and consider the following three aspects:

  • Nature and severity of offense
  • Time since conviction
  • Nature of the job sought

Remember: Asking about criminal history on job applications is no longer acceptable. Questions pertaining to criminal history on the application are considered a barrier to employment, because some people might never move forward to complete the application. Move the background screen as far back into the hiring process as possible.

Before You Source: Questions to Ask:

  1. Do your clients care if a candidate has a criminal background? What are their thoughts as it relates to the severity or time frame in which the crime was completed?
    • If clients say, “Don’t send me people with a criminal background,” educate them on the EEOC regulations. Put language in your contract that says both parties will act in accordance with the law.
    • Work to implement a matrix that looks at the severity of the defense, the time-frame, nature of the job sought, type of employment held since the offence, etc.
  2. Are you going to run your own background checks? If not, who is? Furthermore, what information will you get from the background check? Only request what is relevant for the job, not everything on file.

In order for staffing firms to ensure they are in accordance with EEOC guidelines, it’s important to give a “good faith” effort: always try to do the right thing and develop a program that makes the most sense for you and your clients.

Background Checks and EEOC Regulations: What Every Recruiter Needs to Know

August 7th, 2013 Comments off

Application-for-employmentThough the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has previously focused their efforts on investigations that look at processes for pay increases and promotion efforts, recent strategic plans indicate a renewed effort on hiring screen and criminal background screen cases.

Ensure you have good practices and policies in place that are in line with this strategic plan with the following tips, compiled from two sessions at the at the recent Staffing Law Conference: Analyzing EEOC Guidance: Latest Background Check Parameters and Strategies and Keeping Up With the Feds: Enforcement and Regulatory Agendas of Federal Agencies.

Criminal history and background check guidance:

There should be no hard line rules by you or your clients (e.g. “We don’t hire felons.”). You must look at each case on an individual basis and consider the following three aspects:

  • Nature and severity of offense
  • Time since conviction
  • Nature of the job sought

Remember: Asking about criminal history on job applications is no longer acceptable.  Questions pertaining to criminal history on the application are considered a barrier to employment, because some people might never move forward to complete the application. Move the background screen as far back into the hiring process as possible.

Two questions all staffing firm professional should ask themselves:

  1. Do your clients care if a candidate has a criminal background?  What are their thoughts as it relates to the severity or time frame in which the crime was completed?
    • If clients say, “Don’t send me people with a criminal background,” educate them on the EEOC regulations.  Put language in your contract that says both parties will act in accordance with the law.
    • Work to implement a matrix that looks at the severity of the defense, the time-frame, nature of the job sought, type of employment held since the offence, etc.
  2. Are you going to run your own background checks?  If not, who is? Furthermore, what information will you get from the background check?  Only request what is relevant for the job, not everything on file.

In order for staffing firms to ensure they are in accordance with EEOC guidelines, it’s important to give a “good faith” effort: always try to do the right thing and develop a program that makes the most sense for you and your clients.

Protecting Temporary Worker Welfare: Safety Tips for Staffing Firms

July 30th, 2013 Comments off

After fire hazardEveryone wants to work in a safe environment, and employers should always make sure that they provide that for their employees. The best way to do so is to prevent incidents before they arise.

Site safety was the subject at hand during the panel “Protecting Temporary Worker Welfare: Harassment and Work Site Safety Investigations” at the  recent Staffing Law Conference, as panelists from Staffmark and Elwood Staffing Company weighed in on the best ways to ensure work site safety. Below are the biggest takeaways from that session.

Good work site safety starts with training. Staffing firms must make sure they fully understand what a safe workplace is and then train their clients and temporary workers on it, as well. The expectation should be set up-front that if there is an accident, it will be investigated.

Be a resource for clients. Partner with your clients to make sure you both understand what areas of their work place could be at risk and offer value added assistance and guidance to make sure they are in compliance and your employees are in a safe environment.  Also, understand what is most important to your client as it relates to safety.  Is it reducing cost and workers comp claims?  Social responsibility? The relationship often starts with your sales team. Instruct them to ask potential new clients about their safety program before the contract is signed – if they have a good safety program, they will want to talk about it!

Set rules and guidelines from the start. In your contract with the client, you should have language that outlines the main idea that both parties agree to abide by federal, state and local laws. Stipulate any task you don’t want your temp worker to partake in because 1) it is dangerous or 2) the temp worker hasn’t been trained on or screened for to complete.  A “prohibitive task list” may also be included.  Work with your client to remove language including “general labor” or “whatever else is assigned” in your employee’s job description.  This will help your employee avoid having to partake in unknown (and potentially dangerous) tasks.

What to do when problems arise:

Safety investigations are very important, because they identify the root cause, lead to a solution being implemented, and ultimately prevent recurrence.  If an issue does occur, work with a contact in your client’s office who understands the organization’s legal obligations under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Recommendations for an investigation:

  • Look for the cause, not the problem. The corrective action must be meaningful and solve the problem.
  • Be available and present during the investigation and involve the client.  For example, the client can’t let go of the temp employee involved in the situation and “wash their hands of the issue.”  Other individuals involved in the situation (a manager employed by your client, as an example) must be dealt with as well.
  • Encourage your client to report all claims as early as possible – this will help control costs and ensure the injured party gets proper treatment as soon as possible.
  • Follow up and advise on ongoing education for your client.

For further information on the importance of work site safety, visit the Department of Labor’s page on workplace safety and health, which provides links to articles and resources for operating and managing workplace safety practices.

Are You Protected? Five Workplace Policies You Need Right Now

July 10th, 2012 Comments off

“I’m not into litigation. I’m into taking preventative measures to keep litigation from happening,” said Lynn Lieber, Esq. during her presentation at last month’s SHRM 2012 Annual Conference and Exposition.

Lieber, a subject matter expert with Austin, Texas-based Workplace Answers, Inc., led the session Five Must-Have Policies: Social Media, Retaliation, Data Protection, Wages and Confidentiality, during which she explained why every organization needs these five policies, how to draft them correctly, and how to communicate these policies to employees.

In discussing these policies, Lieber expressed sympathy for her already overburdened audience of human resources professionals and said she understands why creating and enforcing these five workplace policies might not be high on their priority list. “As HR people, you have arrows coming at you from all directions…and you’ve got to have a lot of people sign off on these policies. This isn’t an easy task,” Lieber told the audience. It is, however, a necessary one.

I recently spoke with Lieber over the phone to get further insight into the importance of these workplace policies (which you can download for free here) – and best practices for implementing them.

During your session, when asked if they had a policy in place, the vast minority of audience members raised their hands to indicate they had most of these policies. Did that surprise you? I was shocked and horrified at how few people had these policies…especially in areas of social media and retaliation, because in retaliation we’re seeing multi-million dollar verdicts, and every single lawsuit filed today that alleges harassment or illegal discrimination of any type has retaliation in it.  That should be of huge concern to the C-Levels of the organization, because that’s where you accumulate huge punitive damages. You’re also going to spend tons of money on legal fees, and your organization is going to get bad press from it.

Why do you think so few employers had these policies in place? The difficulty with these policies is, they’re not just time-keeping policies HR can set on their own. These policies involve all areas of the company. The challenge for HR is, number one, to be informed of what they need to do, but then to rally upward why these policies are important, and get buy-in from the upper levels of the company – and, as we all know, that’s like pushing a rock uphill.

What should be the first step HR takes in creating and implementing these policies? The major thing they need to do is probably write memos and emails to various individuals in the chain of command as to knowledge about these areas and what is needed, and probably to involve their legal counsel to assist them in moving up the chain as to why this is imperative from both a financial perspective and reputation perspective.

If employers could implement just one of the five policies, which one should it be? Where should they start? I’d suggest starting with social media, because that bleeds into so many areas. It bleeds into revealing your trade secrets, your confidential information, et cetera. Many employers are doing it, but they’re drafting these overly broad social media policies, which might violate the NLRA. A social media policy has to be very carefully crafted: it has to be restrictive enough so the employer is not giving employees too much license, but it also has to stay within bounds of NLRA.

In addition to overly broad wording, what other pitfalls do employers need to avoid when creating policies?  Employers tend to make definitive statements in their policies, such as, “We will do this if this happens,” but you might not want to do that, based on that specific situation. Employers need to give themselves more leeway. They can say it’s in the employer’s discretion to do something, but they might not want to say, “Your supervisor will take the following five steps if a complaint of harassment is filed,” because if the supervisor doesn’t do that, you’re going to then be liable because the supervisor didn’t follow what was basically a contractual agreement with the employee. The wording of the policy is very critical, and legal counsel has to be involved.

What’s best way to communicate these policies to employees and ensure they’re aware of and understand what’s at stake? Get employees to sign off that they understand, acknowledge and abide by these policies. Because what you want to do in any disciplinary action is reference back and specifically state the reason why the employee is being disciplined or terminated – the objective facts. The more you can prove the employee violated the policy, the less likely they’re going to come back and say they were terminated because they were discriminated against or harassed.

[Understanding and enforcing these policies] is a critical part of every supervisor’s job, and supervisors need to be trained not only in these policies, but in how to enforce and administer them, and a big part of that is how to discipline and do performance evaluations regarding these policies.

If people take just one thing away from your presentation, what should it be? I think it should be an awareness of the critical nature of – and immediate need for – policies, and for training in those policies. It really all boils down to knowledge: HR needs knowledge of what to do, the C-Level needs knowledge of these policies and their importance, and the workforce – both employees and, separately, their supervisors – need knowledge of what their rights are and what their responsibilities are.

Tell us: Do you have all of these policies in place at your organization? Why or why not?

And don’t forget to get your free copy of Five Must-Have Policies: Social Media, Retaliation, Data Protection, Wages and Confidentiality

The Most Head-Turning Workplace Stories of 2011

December 31st, 2011 Comments off

Head-Turning Workplace Stories of 2011It was the best of after-work happy hour, it was the worst of “if my co-worker gives me the side-eye again, I am quitting on the spot” — or so the ancient saying goes. A lot happened in the workplace in the last 12 months, not the least of which involved Occupy Wall Street and the death of Steve Jobs. You’ve probably seen a great deal of coverage about stories like those — but some others might have slipped past your radar. Some of our picks below may not have broken as many front page headlines, but they still made us turn our heads (or drop our jaws).

  1. Gabrielle Giffords briefly returns to the workplace: On Jan. 8, 2011, 23-year-old Jared Loughtner opened fire at an Arizona meet-and-greet. He shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head, leaving her in critical condition, and killed six others. Giffords not only survived the shooting, but briefly returned to Congress in August to vote to raise the debt ceiling. She is still deciding whether she will run for Congress again.
  2. Steve Carell leaves “The Office”: It may not be “real” workplace news, but it affected many workers and non-workers alike who have connected with the main character of NBC’s “The Office.” After seven years on the American version of the show, Steve Carell — and his character Michael Scott — made their final departure on the show many have followed for the last several years. And the James Spader addition? I still think his best performance was in “Pretty in Pink.”
  3. Wal-Mart makes a pledge to women: After being involved in a massive sex-discrimination lawsuit spanning several years — one that alleged women were getting passed over for promotions and paid less than their male counterparts — Wal-Mart, in a move the company says was unrelated to the suit, pledged to spend billions of dollars over the next five years to train female workers and support women-owned businesses. Leslie Dach, head of corporate affairs at Wal-Mart, said the initiative would help the company recruit and attract better workers.
  4. Herman Cain’s ghost of workplace past reappears: Chicago resident Sharon Bialek was the first to go public with her charges of sexually inappropriate behavior against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain (though she was the fourth to accuse him of such behavior). Bialek claimed that back when Cain was president of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, she met him for dinner to ask for help in her job search, he made unwanted advances in the car after dinner, and upon her refusal, responded, “You want a job, right?” Cain denies all the charges that have been made against him.
  5. Woman says she was fired for breast feeding: Heather Burgbacher, a teacher in Colorado, filed a discrimination suit against her employer, alleging that she was fired from her job due to conflicts over her breast pumping schedule. As Galen Sherwin, staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project who is representing Burgbacher, said in an ACLU statement,“In order to achieve full equality for women, our workplace policies must take into account that breastfeeding is a reality in the lives of many women workers. Employers should certainly have no say in a woman’s personal decision whether to breast feed her baby.” The school responded by saying Burgbacher’s termination had nothing to do with the breast pumping issue.When it comes to women breastfeeding in the workplace, there are laws in place that require workplaces to accommodate women with time and a place to pump. Currently, 24 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have laws relating to breastfeeding in the workplace, and Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (signed into law on Mar. 23, 2010) requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a place other than a bathroom for women to express milk during the workday.
  6. A homeless man with a “golden voice” gets a job: Columbus Dispatch videographer Doral Chenoweth III saw Ted Williams panhandling in Ohio back in 2010. Chenoweth recorded him talking and posted the video in the early days of 2011. It went viral: 7-million-views-in-two-days viral. Williams was getting voiceover gigs left and right, but with his drug and alcohol issues, ended up losing work and going to rehab. A hopeful update: Williams says he’s clean and on a positive path, and in November 2011, he scored a job with New England Cable News.
  7. Employer thinks a “firing contest” is somehow a great idea: William Ernst, owner of a chain of convenience stores in Bettendorf, Iowa, who offered prizes to employees (ahem, a whopping $10) for correctly guessing which cashier would be fired next. Perhaps needless to say, a judge sided with Ernst’s former employees in court when it came to receiving unemployment benefits and called Ernst’s contest “egregious and deplorable.”
  8. A study finds that working moms are happier: Though what is right for one mother may be very different than what is right for another, a Journal of Family Psychology study found that mothers who work report they’re healthier and happier than moms who stay at home with their children in their newborn-to-preschool years. What level of work do women find most satisfactory? Well, according to the findings, women who worked part-time fared the best overall when it came to health and stress. For mothers who do work, it’s not always easy to juggle everything, as being a mom is a often a full-time job in itself. Earlier this year, our own CDO Hope Gurion shared her tips for helping overworked moms thrive in and out of the workplace.
  9. A Penn State scandal explodes: “Shock” was an appropriate description of public reaction as Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State football coach, was charged with sexually abusing 10 boys during his time as the university’s coach. Many of the incidents were alleged to have taken place in the university’s locker room — and public outrage compounded when it was found out that head coach Joe Paterno and others had reportedly looked the other way when the abuse was happening. The workplace scandal continues to unfold, as Paterno has been fired and Sandusky has yet to go to trial.
  10. It’s the NBA season that almost wasn’t: For the fourth time in NBA history, the NBA experienced a lockout, effectively stopping all work — and games — from July 1, 2011 to Dec. 8, 2011. The main issues dividing the owners and players? The division of revenue and the structure of the salary cap and luxury tax. The lockout canceled all pre-season games and the first six weeks of the 2011-12 season, and some players signed contracts to play in other countries during the lapse. And how did fans react to the lockout ending? In one word, “meh.”

What workplace stories from this year stand out to you most? What did we miss?

President Obama’s Address to Congress: What Did You Think?

September 12th, 2011 Comments off
“Those of us here tonight can’t solve all our nation’s woes. Ultimately, our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our businesses, and our workers. But we can help. We can make a difference. There are steps we can take right now to improve people’s lives.”
 

The White HouseThese were some of President Obama’s words in his Presidential Address to Congress just a few days ago, as he stressed the need for Congress to pass the American Jobs Act. Many of us watched, or tweeted about it, or argued about it over dinner — and some of us, like CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson, were discussing hopes for the speech to come before it happened.

The purpose of the American Jobs Act, President Obama said, is simple — “to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working.” So what exactly did President Obama say to explain that would happen? I’ve recapped the highlights here of what Obama says the American Jobs Act will do if passed:

What President Obama says the American Jobs Act will do (in his own words):

  • Lead to new jobs for construction workers, for teachers, for veterans, for first responders, young people, and for the long-term unemployed.
  • Provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers or raise workers’ wages, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business.
  • Provide a jolt to an economy that is stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and if they hire, there will be customers for their products and their services.
  • Cut payroll taxes cut in half next year for all small business owners. (If you have 50 employees making an average salary, that’s an $80,000 tax cut).
  • Repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools.
  • Put people to work right now fixing roofs, and windows, and installing science labs and high-speed Internet in classrooms all around this country.
  • Put thousands of teachers in every state back to work.
  • Give companies extra tax credits if they hire America’s veterans. As Obama explained, “We ask these men and women to leave their careers, leave their families, risk their lives to fight for our country. The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home.”
  • Give companies a $4,000 tax credit if they hire anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job. President Obama: “We have to do more to help the long-term unemployed in their search for work.”
  • Extend unemployment insurance for another year.
  • Provide tax credits to companies that hire new workers, tax relief to small business owners, and tax cuts for the middle class.
  • Cut away the red tape that prevents start-ups from raising capital and going public

Other points of emphasis:

  • Obama stressed that we can’t grow the economy and create jobs by both keeping tax loopholes for all companies, and giving small business owners a tax credit when they hire new owners — we must choose.
  • He also acknowledged that the American Jobs Act addresses the urgent need to create jobs right away — but that we have to look more into the future and make a lasting impact in order to make America competitive “for the long haul.”
  • He wants to make sure the next generation of manufacturing takes place not in other countries, but here in the United States.
  • “The people who hired us to work for them — they don’t have the luxury of waiting 14 months (until the next election).” He mentioned, as we have before, that some people are living week to week, paycheck to paycheck, or day to day – they need our help, and they need it now.

Before he ended his speech, Obama brought up Abraham Lincoln, and talked about how, in the middle of a civil war, Lincoln was also a leader who looked to the future. He was a Republican president who was able to mobilize government, Obama pointed out — leaders of both parties followed the example he set. Obama’s message in this comparison was clear — now is not the time for politics, but for putting them aside to make changes necessary for a better economy. But how successful was he in his plea?

 

Watch President Obama’s Address to Congress in its entirety:

 

How do you think we can create more jobs and make long-term economic improvements?

The HIRE Act — What Does It Mean for Your Business?

July 27th, 2010 Comments off

Woman with "Hire Me" signLast week, I talked about the pros and cons of rehiring former employees, and mentioned that the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act is one of the major reasons employers should be looking at hiring unemployed workers (which could include former employees). But let’s explore further why the bill is so important — both for unemployed workers and the employers hiring them. After all, as a CFO, controller, business owner, vice president of human resources, hiring manager, accountant, or anyone else with a stake in your business’s bottom line, the HIRE Act could have a significant impact on your business.

What is the HIRE Act?

The $17.5 billion legislation, signed into law by President Obama on March 18, 2010, gives a potential tax exemption and credit to businesses that hire unemployed workers. Specifically, the HIRE Act grants businesses that hire workers unemployed 60 days or longer an exemption from the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll taxes for each worker for the remainder of 2010. Additionally, if workers are retained for one year, participating businesses  get a tax credit of $1,000.

The maximum value of this incentive is $6,621 per qualified employee, which equals 6.2 percent of the Social Security FICA maximum wage cap of $106,800.

The goal:

The HIRE Act aims to provide hiring incentives to stimulate the economy, restore some of the jobs lost in the latest economic recession, and put Americans back to work. The average unemployed worker has been unemployed for ten months, so the Act is in effect targeting those job seekers who have been having difficulty finding work for quite some time.  The HIRE Act calls on employers like you to hire unemployed workers and work to retain them.

Keep in mind, recent graduates who are unemployed or working part-time can qualify — so if you’re seeking out new grads or are a start-up looking for fresh talent, you should also be looking into the HIRE Act.

The two major tax incentives of the HIRE Act

No. 1:

Employers who hire unemployed workers this year (after Feb. 3, 2010 and before Jan. 1, 2011) may qualify for a 6.2-percent payroll tax exemption, in effect exempting them from their share of Social Security taxes on wages paid to these workers between Mar. 19, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2010.

  • This reduced tax withholding will have no effect on the employee’s future Social Security benefits, and as an employer, you will still need to withhold the employee’s 6.2-percent share of Social Security taxes, as well as income taxes.
  • The employer and employee’s shares of Medicare taxes would also still apply to these wages.

No. 2:

For each worker retained for at least a year, businesses may claim an additional retention credit, up to $1,000 per worker, when they file their 2011 income tax returns.

Significant savings

Let’s say you hire an employee and pay them a $60,000 salary. Normally, you would have to pay 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax, or $3,720. With the HIRE Act, your business wouldn’t have to pay that $3,720, plus you have the potential of an additional $1,000 tax credit if that employee stays with your company for one year.

Finding the right employees with the HIRE Act

Not only are you helping stimulate the economy and employ people who need work, but you are also potentially saving a significant amount of money that will impact your bottom line. Instead of looking at hiring as an expense, the HIRE Act encourages employers to think of  hiring as an investment.

While the HIRE Act helps making hiring “cheaper,” the quality of your new hires is still paramount; you and I both know that cost savings plus a bad hire is actually more expensive in the long run. This is why CareerBuilder is focused on targeting the right people within that group who would be a good fit for your organization.

CareerBuilder currently attracts more than 9 million unique visitors each month who meet the qualifications as set by the HIRE Act. We go even further by helping you find the qualified workers who are the right fit for your particular culture and business needs. After all, you might need one employee or 100 — but it’s important that you find the right employees to stick around and grow with your business.

The Fine Print: Criteria needed for a business to receive benefits of the HIRE Act

  • New employee/s must be hired between Feb. 4, 2010 and December 31, 2010.
  • The payroll tax exemptions are effective for wages paid between Mar. 19, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2010.
  • The newly hired employees must have been unemployed during the 60 days prior to starting work, or worked fewer than 40 hours for someone else during that 60-day period (and the employer must get a statement from each eligible new hire certifying this fact).
  • New hires filling positions qualify, but only if the workers they are replacing left voluntarily or for cause.
  • Family members or relatives do not qualify.
  • Businesses, agricultural employers, tax-exempt organizations and public colleges and universities DO qualify to claim the payroll tax — although household businesses and federal, state and local governments l do not.

HIRE Act — How are businesses reacting?

It’s a bit of a chicken versus egg argument; it’s hard to say at this point whether the HIRE Act is causing employers to hire more, or businesses are catching on to it after they have already hired. Regardless, any businesses are taking advantage of the new legislation. And although the HIRE Act expires Jan. 1, 2011, President Obama is working to extend it. According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of the Treasury:

  • From Feb. to May 2010, an estimated 4.5 million workers who had been unemployed for eight weeks or longer were hired — meaning all of the employers who hired these workers are eligible for the HIRE Act payroll tax exemption.
  • Newly hired workers whose employers are eligible for the exemption constitute 12.2 percent of all workers who were unemployed for eight weeks or longer since the law took effect.
  • If the 4.5 million newly hired employees who are eligible for the exemption are employed for the rest of the year, their employers would be (collectively) eligible for an estimated $5.1 billion in payroll tax savings.

Find out more about the HIRE Act

While we’ve covered a lot of the basics here, you’ll still want to investigate further to find out how your business can qualify. Here are some additional resources: