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Ageism: Are Your Employees Affected?

It turns out 60 percent of older employees feel discriminated against due to their age, according to a report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
However, only 3 percent of those employees say they submitted a formal complaint about age discrimination. The EEOC report says this indicates underreporting of the issue.

What is Ageism?
Ageism is stereotyping and discrimination based on age, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Much like racism or sexism, ageism takes many forms. In the workplace, this kind of discrimination could mean overlooking older employees for promotions or favoring younger employees’ help on projects.

Impact in the Workplace
In addition to negatively impacting individuals’ careers, the WHO says ageism can affect employee health directly.
Conditions like high blood pressure and anxiety can be caused by age discrimination in the workplace, according to the WHO.

How to Combat It
The first step to countering ageism is examining company culture, according to the EEOC. The EEOC says company culture determines whether employees feel valued.
Another method is simply recognizing ageism and rejecting its stereotypes. For instance, if you find yourself routinely tapping younger workers, consider including older employees in tasks.

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut way to dissolve ageist attitudes, but awareness is a good first step. If you notice these trends among employees or managers, speak up before the issue persists.

Filed under: HR — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 3:56 pm August 1, 2018


5 Things You Should Know About STRESS

Everyone feels stressed from time to time. But what is stress? How does it affect your health? And what can you do about it?

Stress is how the brain and body respond to any demand. Every type of demand or stressor—such as exercise, work, school, major life changes, or traumatic events—can be stressful. Stress can affect your health. It is important to pay attention to how you deal with minor and major stress events so that you know when to seek help.

Here are five things you should know about stress:

1. Stress affects everyone.
Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Some people may cope with stress more effectively or recover from stressful events more quickly than others. There are different types of stress—all of which carry physical and mental health risks.A stressor may be
a one time or short term occurrence, or it can be an occurrence that keeps happening over a long period of time.

Examples of stress include:
◉ Routine stress related to the pressures of work, school, family, and other daily responsibilities
◉ Stress brought about by a sudden negative change, such as losing a job, divorce, or illness
◉ Traumatic stress experienced in an event like a major accident, war, assault, or a natural disaster where people may be in danger of being seriously hurt or killed. People who experience traumatic stress often experience temporary symptoms of mental illness, but most recover naturally soon after.

2. Not all stress is bad.
Stress can motivate people to prepare or perform, like when they need to take a test or interview for a new job. Stress can even be life-saving in some situations. In response to danger, your body prepares to face a threat or flee to safety. In these situations, your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense, your brain uses more oxygen and increases activity—all functions aimed at survival.

3. Long-term stress can harm your health.
Health problems can occur if the stress response goes on for too long or becomes chronic, such as when the source of stress is constant, or if the response continues after the danger has subsided. With chronic stress, those same life-saving responses
in your body can suppress immune, digestive, sleep, and reproductive systems, which may cause them to stop working normally.

Different people may feel stress in different ways. For example, some people experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger or irritability. People under chronic stress are prone to more frequent and
severe viral infections, such as the flu or common cold.

Routine stress may be the hardest type of stress to notice at first. Because the source of stress tends to be more constant than in cases of acute or traumatic stress, the body gets no clear signal to return to normal functioning. Over time, continued strain on your body from routine stress may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, as well as mental disorders like depression or anxiety.

4. There are ways to manage stress.
The effects of stress tend to build up over time.Taking practical steps to manage your stress can reduce or prevent these effects.The following are some tips that may help you to cope with stress:
Recognize the Signs of your body’s response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy.
Talk to Your Doctor or Health Care Provider. Get proper health care for existing or new health problems.
Get Regular Exercise. Just 30 minutes per day of walking can help boost your mood and reduce stress.
Try a Relaxing Activity. Explore stress coping programs, which may incorporate meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other gentle exercises. For some stress-related conditions, these approaches are used in addition to other forms of treatment.
Schedule regular times for these and other healthy and relaxing activities. Learn more about these techniques on the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) website at (www.nccih.nih.gov/health/stress).
Set Goals and Priorities. Decide what must get done and what can wait, and learn to say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload. Note what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
Stay Connected with people who can provide emotional and other support.To reduce stress, ask for help from friends, family, and community or religious organizations.
Consider a Clinical Trial. Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), NCCIH, and other research facilities across the country are studying the causes and effects of psychological stress, and stress management techniques.You can learn more about studies that are recruiting by visiting www.nimh.nih.gov/joinastudy or www.clinicaltrials.gov (keyword: stress).

5. If you’re overwhelmed by stress, ask for help from a health professional.
You should seek help right away if you have suicidal thoughts, are overwhelmed, feel you cannot cope, or are using drugs or alcohol to cope.Your doctor may be able to provide a recommendation.You can find resources to help you find a mental health provider
by visiting www.nimh.nih.gov/findhelp.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Anyone experiencing severe or long-term, unrelenting stress can become overwhelmed. If you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/) at 1-800-273-TALK
(8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The service is available to anyone.All calls are confidential.

For More Information
For more information on conditions that affect mental health, resources, and research, visit www.mentalhealth.gov, or the NIMH website at www.nimh.nih.gov. In addition, the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus service has information on a wide variety of health topics, including conditions that affect mental health.

National Institute of Mental Health
Office of Science Policy, Planning and Communications Science Writing, Press, and Dissemination Branch
6001 Executive Boulevard
Room 6200, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892-9663
Phone: 301–443–4513 or
Toll-free: 1–866–615–NIMH (6464)
TTY: 301–443–8431 or TTY Toll-free: 1–866–415–8051
Fax: 301–443–4279
E-mail: nimhinfo@nih.gov
Website: www.nimh.nih.gov

Filed under: Health & Wellness,HR — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 9:28 pm July 9, 2018


California Minimum Wage Laws

Federal minimum wage law is governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The current federal minimum wage rate is $7.25 per hour for nonexempt employees. California law complements federal law and, in some cases, prescribes more stringent or additional requirements that employers must follow. Whenever employers are subject to both state and federal laws, the law most favorable to the employee will apply.

The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), part of the California Department of Industrial Relations, enforces and investigates minimum wage violation claims.

MINIMUM WAGE RATE
Effective Jan. 1, 2018, the minimum wage rate in California is $11 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $10.50 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees.
“Employee wages” are the entire amount of compensation an employee receives for his or her labor or services. Wages can be fixed or based on time, task, piece, commission or other method.

Minimum wage rate increases will take place every year until the minimum wage rate reaches $15 per hour by 2022. After the rates described below are implemented, the state will adjust the minimum wage rate annually to reflect the rising cost of inflation.

California law allows the governor to temporarily suspend the minimum wage rate increase schedule if the state’s economic condition does not support an increase. Under a temporary suspension, the implementation schedule would be delayed by one year. However, the governor may not implement a temporary suspension more than twice.

MEALS AND LODGING CREDITS
If the employee voluntarily agrees in writing, employers may generally include in employee wages part of the cost of meals and lodging they provide.
The adjacent table provides the maximum amount employers may credit for meals and lodging. Special rules exist for sheepherders and employees of organized camps.
• Sheepherder wages cannot be offset by meal and lodging credits; and
• Organized camps may deduct the entire value of meals and lodging from the salary of a student-employee, camp counselor or program counselor.
Refer to the California wage orders for more information on industry-specific meal and lodging credits.

TIPPED EMPLOYEES
In California, employers must pay tipped employees a wage rate equal to or greater than the state’s minimum wage rate. Employers may not deduct a tip credit from their employees’ wages. Tip payments include any tip, gratuity, money or other gift a patron gives an employee over and above the actual amount of the goods, food, drink, items or services the patron received from that business.

Employers cannot enter into contracts with their employers to override tipped employee regulations.

SUBMINIMUM WAGE RATES

California law allows disabled workers, apprentices, learners, student-employees, camp counselors and program counselors to receive wage rates below the minimum state rate. In certain cases, a license may be required for a subminimum wage rate to apply. When a license is required, the DLSE may set the terms and conditions of employment. Licenses may be revoked if the employer violates any term or condition of employment set by the license.

DISABLED WORKERS

Employers that obtain a special license issued by the DLSE may pay disabled workers a wage rate below the state’s minimum wage rate. Employers must generally obtain a separate license for each disabled employee. These licenses are valid for up to one year, and must be renewed on a yearly basis.

Nonprofit employers, including sheltered workshops and rehabilitation facilities, may receive a general license to employ disabled employees at subminimum wage rates, instead of individual licenses for each employee. Employers may be required to renew these licenses every year or on a more frequent basis.

APPRENTICES AND LEARNERS

The DLSE may also issue special licenses authorizing employers to pay subminimum wage rates as low as 85 percent of the state’s minimum wage rate to employees during their first 160 hours of employment in occupations in which they have no previous similar or related experience.

ORGANIZED CAMPS

Employers operating an organized camp can pay their student-employees, camp counselors and program counselors a minimum wage rate equal to 85 percent of the state minimum wage rate. These employers can also deduct the entire value of meals and lodging they provide to these employees.

MINIMUM WAGE RATE EXEMPTIONS

California’s minimum wage rate requirements do not apply to certain occupations and industries. Separate specific minimum wage rate and payment requirements, described in a series of minimum wage orders, apply for these employees.

Other exceptions to California’s minimum wage rate requirements include individuals who are closely related to their employer (parent, spouse or child) and outside sales personnel.

NOTICE AND POSTINGS

Employers are required to post and maintain updated information on the state’s minimum wage rate. The Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) has provided a model poster that employers can use.

Employers covered by one of California’s industry-specific wage orders must also display a copy of the applicable wage order. These wage orders are available on the IWC’s website.

Business necessity

Business necessity is an overriding legitimate business purpose. Business necessity does not exist when the employee can demonstrate that the employer could have implemented or used an existing alternative practice that would avoid a wage differential while serving the same business purpose.

PROHIBITED WAGE DISCRIMINATION

In general, the California Equal Pay Law prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of sex in the payment of wages.

Subject to some limited exceptions, female and male employees are entitled to equal pay for substantially similar work. Substantially similar work is determined by evaluating the level of skill, effort, responsibility and performance under similar working conditions.

California’s Equal Pay Law allows employers to pay different wages for employees of opposite sex when the wages are based on:
• A seniority system;
• A merit system;
• A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or
• A differential based on any bona fide factor other than sex.

PENALTIES

Criminal, civil and administrative penalties may apply for violations of California’s minimum wage laws.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES

Employers that violate California’s minimum wage laws commit a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of at least $100, imprisonment for at least 30 days or both a fine and imprisonment. Employers that violate tipped employee regulations also commit a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to 60 days or both.

CIVIL PENALTIES

Employers that pay wages below the state minimum wage rate or that violate California’s equal pay laws are subject to civil lawsuits, and could be ordered to pay:
• The difference between what an employee’s wages should have been and what they actually were (plus interest);
• Liquidated damages (in an amount equal to the wage difference plus interest); and
• Court costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Employers may avoid paying liquidated damages if they can prove that their actions were in good faith.

Employee lawsuits must be filed within two years of when the violation takes place (or within three years, for willful violations). In the case of any wilful violation, the DLSE can request and obtain injunctions against any further violations.

The identity of any employee that files a complaint for wage discrimination with the DLSE will remain confidential during an investigation and will not be disclosed until the validity of the claim is established.

ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTIES

In addition to the civil penalties described above, the DLSE may issue citations for any employer that violates the state’s minimum wage laws. Cited employers may be subject to fines as follows:
$100 per underpaid employee for each pay period in which the employee is underpaid, for a first offense; and
$250 per underpaid employee for each pay period in which the employee is underpaid, for a second or subsequent violation.

Employers can appeal these fines by requesting a hearing within 15 days of receiving the citation.

MORE INFORMATION
Contact Warren G. Bender Co. for more information on wage payment and work hour laws in California.

Filed under: HR,Property & Casualty — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 11:21 pm April 10, 2018


3 Questions to Ask When Addressing Sexual Harassment at Your Business

It’s always been important to protect your business and employees from sexual harassment, but recent high-profile cases show the importance of re-examining this topic at your business. Social movements such as the “Me Too” campaign have drawn attention to sexual harassment in the workplace, resulting in a growing number of misconduct allegations. These allegations can result in a wide variety of claims and lead to serious financial and reputational damage.

Insurance carriers, courts and regulatory agencies will begin to examine businesses closely to ensure that they take sexual harassment seriously and act to protect their employees and customers. Here are some questions you need to consider when addressing sexual harassment at your business:

1. How do you encourage employees to report inappropriate conduct? The best way to address sexual harassment allegations is to respond quickly. Employees should be regularly reminded that there won’t be any retaliation for reporting inappropriate behavior. You should also ensure that there are multiple ways for employees to make anonymous reports to management.

2. Does your employee harassment training address your workplace’s unique traits? A standard workplace policy is a good starting point for addressing sexual harassment, but you should also think about how your employees interact with co-workers and customers.

3. Do your insurance policies include exclusions for sexual harassment? Many commercial general liability policies exclude claims for sexual harassment. Although employment practices liability insurance can provide you with coverage, you also need to ensure that policy periods offer coverage throughout the statute of limitations in your area.

Contact us at (916) 380-5300 for help addressing sexual harassment in the workplace.

Filed under: HR — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 9:12 pm April 2, 2018


FBI Warns of Direct Deposit Phishing Attacks

The FBI warns that cyber criminals are posing as HR employees and using a phishing scam to get employees to provide the scammer with access to the company’s self-service payroll platform.

When employees click on the link within the scammer’s email and provide the requested information, they unknowingly provide the scammer with their W-2 and pay stub information. The scammer can then change direct deposit instructions, passwords, credentials and email addresses linked to the account to avoid detection. In the majority of cases, employers were not aware of anything until workers reported they weren’t receiving their wages.

To learn how you can prevent this from happening at your organization, please view the FBI’s suggestions or request employee cyber security training materials from Warren G. Bender Co. today.

Filed under: Cyber Liability,HR — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 9:07 pm