Legal/Regulatory Updates and Reminders:
- Occupational Employment Statistics Report in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor— if your company is located in NC or SC and you receive this request for information, you best complete it. Providing this information is voluntary under federal law, but mandatory under state law in those two states. However, you are encouraged to voluntarily complete it even if you are in another state.
- Predetermination Notice (PDN): The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has issued a new directive to their investigators, requiring them to issue a PDN to contractors in Affirmative Action Program audits where there are preliminary findings of discrimination. The contractor will then have the opportunity to respond to the allegations before the OFCCP issues a Notice of Violation. In the past, the issuance of PDNs was discretionary.
- 2018 Veteran Hiring Benchmark Change: On March 30, the OFCCP issued its 2018 Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) Benchmark. The new benchmark is 6.4%, down slightly from 6.7% in 2017. The VEVRAA Benchmark is the figure which federal contractors must use to assess the effectiveness of their outreach programs for the hiring of veterans, unless they have established their own benchmark using applicable statistics and other metrics set forth in the OFCCP’s regulations.
April is National Volunteer Month
If you look online every day, every week and every month is “National something!” Over the years as I had broad HR responsibilities, I encouraged celebration of National Watermelon Seed Spitting Day, National Chocolate Éclair Day, National Take Your Child to Work Day, and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, among others. National Volunteer Month is one that I missed in those days, but it is an important one that I think is worth highlighting. Over the years, surveys have shown that employees have very positive feelings about their employer, when they know they participate in meaningful community activities, and encourage their employees to do the same.
Companies I have worked for allowed employees to participate in a variety of volunteer activities during work time, including delivering Meals on Wheels, in-school tutoring, and Habitat for Humanity home builds. In addition, as encouragement and recognition for employee’s volunteer activities on personal time such as coaching Little League, serving on non-profit Boards, and helping out at homeless shelters on weekends, the company would provide the organization with a financial donation based on the number of hours the employee volunteered. One company called their program “Dollars for Doers.”
Most companies have a charitable donation budget….and maybe it can grow, with the recent reduction in corporate tax. Properly internally and externally marketing your company’s philanthropic activities can pay big dividends in employee retention, and in community goodwill. Even with our strong U.S. economy, there are many, many organizations doing great work, and in desperate need of volunteers and financial donations. This month would be a great time to encourage your employees to take on a new volunteer project, or help an individual or organization in need!
PAID: Food for Thought
The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is piloting a program nationwide that could be a benefit to your company, when finalized. It is called the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) program. It is an attempt to assist employers who realize that they have violated federal law on minimum wage or overtime payments, and would like to timely correct the problem without a DOL audit or potential litigation.
Full details are not out yet, but in a nutshell this is how it is proposed to work:
- The employer conducts an audit and identifies potential claims it would like to proactively resolve;
- The employer calculates the amount of back wages it believes it owes each impacted employee;
- The employer contacts WHD to submit the calculations and supporting documentation;
- WHD evaluates the information and confirms back wages;
- WHD issues a summary of unpaid wages and the settlement terms each employee may sign to receive the payment;
- The employer issues prompt payment to those who sign.
A big benefit of the PAID program is that employers who self-report and cooperate with WHD to remedy the violations will not be required to pay liquidated damages or civil penalties, and they avoid the cost of litigation from employees who accept the payment and sign a release. Of course, there are potential downsides for the employer, as well…. Employees do not have to accept payment, so they could file their own lawsuit for back wages; the employer could still be in violation of state law, even if the employee signs the release; at the moment, there is no protection for the data and documents submitted to WHD from a Freedom of Information Act request, meaning that the information could be available to employees (or their attorneys) who do not sign the release and want to pursue litigation. More to come on this, as the pilot program progresses.
Did You Know……
- a recent study showed that 3 cups of coffee each day provides a big health benefit? Coffee can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, dementia and certain cancers
- dog owners are 11% less likely to develop heart disease? We always knew that dogs help us reduce stress and encourage us to exercise with them, but it’s nice to know that a study confirms it!
- it takes 450 years for a plastic water bottle to break down? Drink up, but don’t throw that bottle away!
This newsletter is not intended to provide legal guidance to you. We welcome your input on topics you would like to learn more about. We encourage you to contact the author of this newsletter, Caryl Kuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP at 803.729.8398 or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions on any information presented.