|List By Date|
|Health Care and Entitlements|
CCH, Knowledgepoint Provide Tools, Information To Help Employers, Hr Professionals Cope With Crisis
(RIVERWOODS, ILL. SEPTEMBER
18, 2001) - Employers around the nation affected by the recent disasters
in New York and Washington, D.C., face challenges assisting employees,
reestablishing business operations and managing day-to-day workplace
issues, according to CCH INCORPORATED (CCH), a leading provider of
human resources and employment law information. To help employers
manage in a time of crisis, CCH and KnowledgePoint, a division of
CCH, are providing professionals with a single source of crisis and
workplace management, planning, and compensation and leave information
Crisis Resources for HR.
The following outlines
key areas affected employers may need to address. Additional information,
checklists, best practices and links to other critical resources are
available to employers and HR professionals at HRTools.com.
and Response: Restarting Business
There are numerous
issues that confront employers after the immediate response to a disaster,
and their impact extends far beyond those communities most directly
affected. Across the U.S., employers shut down operations as the terrorist
threat was unfolding. Meanwhile, public safety agencies and private
employers in the health care and services sectors worked unceasingly
in rescue and aid efforts.
How will employers
address the inevitable employee compensation issues? Likely considerations
include wage payment and overtime issues, as well as maximum hours
provisions (note that many state laws provide for exceptions to maximum
hours provisions for public safety and other personnel in the event
employers who shut down operations: Unless there is a contractual
arrangement involved, there is no federal law requirement that employers
pay nonexempt employees for time not worked. Some employment agreements
provide for show-up pay when employees report to work and find available
no work or less than a minimum amount. This sort of pay is also
termed call-in or reporting pay. Absent such an agreement or a state
law so requiring, if an employee is nonexempt and is relieved of
duty, then generally this is not compensable working time under
the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers may, however, choose to
pay their employees for this time. For exempt employees, the employer
needs to continue to pay on a salary basis or risk losing exempt
status for those employees.
- State law
"reporting pay" provisions: A number of state laws
contain provisions involving what is variously termed show-up pay,
reporting time pay, on-call pay, or call-in pay. California and
New York, for example, have such provisions. Although there are
state-to-state differences, essentially the laws provide that for
each workday an employee is required to report for work and does
report, but either is not put to work or is required to work less
than half the employee's usual or scheduled day's work, the employee
must be paid for a minimum number of hours' work at the employee's
regular rate of pay.
- For employees
who are required to work overtime: For employers that provide
cleanup services, overtime costs could be substantial. Special federal
rules for figuring overtime apply to public agency law enforcement
and fire protection personnel. State laws have specific overtime
provisions as well. Make sure that you carefully follow your state's
rules for overtime and maximum hours issues.
Time Away from Work
for employers may include how to manage military and disaster service
leave and related workers' compensation issues that may arise:
service leave: Thirty-nine states have disaster service leave
provisions that generally affect public employers. As to workers'
compensation benefits, the employee is generally not considered
an employee for these purposes while on such leave. Although these
American Red Cross Services volunteer leave laws vary in particulars,
almost all say approximately the same thing. Generally, in the event
there is a disaster and the public employer has employees trained
to provide disaster assistance, if the American Red Cross requests
those services and the employing agency approves, trained employees
are entitled to take paid leave of from 10 to 30 days to provide
volunteer assistance. There are also a few volunteer services leave
laws, but they differ slightly and are not related to American Red
Cross service; volunteer firefighters, paramedics and telecommunication
specialists may be covered in states that have such laws.
- State and
federal military leave: All states (including Washington, D.C.
and Puerto Rico) have laws regulating military leave. Most of these
state laws include service in the National Guard as qualifying military
service and apply to both public and private employment. In addition,
all civilian employers are covered by the federal Uniformed Services
Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. USERRA provides
for military leaves of absence and reemployment of eligible employees
when they return from military leave. Nonfederally funded activities
of state National Guard members, such as parades or work during
natural disasters, are not covered by USERRA. However, leaves of
absence for such activities may well be protected under state law.
is available under Crisis Resources for HR at HRTools.com
including: Military Leave Q&A, an Employer's Guide to USERRA,
Military Leave Law by State, and Request for Leave of Absence form.
Emotional Support and Workplace Tolerance
Emotions in the
workplace are likely to run high in the wake of a crisis. There are
important steps employers can take to help their employees cope.
Support: Guidelines for Managing a Workplace Crisis
Planning is the
best step prior to a crisis, but if there is no plan in place, here
are basic guidelines to assist managers in handling a crisis in the
response: Within a fixed period of time schedule a group meeting
to enable employees and others affected to deal with their feelings.
Hire professional counselors and have managers facilitate.
information and resources: Disseminate information about what
has happened and what has been done and what the company will continue
responses: Encourage participants to discuss openly what occurred.
Use a question and answer period as a debriefing session.
a spokesperson: Designate one or more employees as official
company spokespersons to respond to inquiries from the media. Shield
employees who are personally affected by the tragedy from the press
and do not include media in these meetings.
contact: Consider distributing a fact sheet as necessary to
curb the spread of misinformation. Include contact and resource
information. Keep the media apprised of what the company is doing
without revealing sensitive information about individuals affected.
Assign company representatives to visit victims' families. One
representative should stay in touch with the family for the period
of time necessary to assist them in processing claims, for example,
and to pass along information.
from the crisis: Prepare a plan for the future. Assess what
was done well and what could have been done better.
Crisis Resources for HR, also offers links to key support information
and resources, including information about employee Crisis Stages
and links to a national database of certified counselors and companies
providing employee assistance and counseling services.
is another important step to ensuring a respectful and peaceful workplace.
Here are steps you can take to help:
your workplace that discrimination and harassment because of national
origin or religion is against the law. Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of
race, color, religion, national origin, sex, and retaliation for
filing a complaint. National origin discrimination is defined broadly
as the denial of equal employment opportunity because of an individual's
(or his or her ancestor's) place of origin or because an individual
has the physical, cultural or linguistic characteristics of a national
to managers/supervisors that your organization may face legal liability
for harassment. Liability for national origin or religious harassment
generally follows the same rules as for sexual harassment. An employer
is responsible for the conduct of its agents and supervisors where
ethnic slurs and other acts amount to harassment on the basis of
national origin, regardless of whether the employer knew or should
have known of the occurrence. When coworkers engage in national
origin harassment, an employer is responsible only if it knew or
should have known of the conduct but failed to take action.
actions that are to be avoided. Caution against the use of ethnic
slurs, jokes, and other conduct relating to an individual's national
origin. It is harassment when it: creates an intimidating, hostile
or offensive work environment; unreasonably interferes with an individual's
work performance; or otherwise adversely affects an individual's
the expectation of respect. Isolated incidents of harassment
may be not sufficiently severe so as to create a hostile work environment.
Nevertheless, they are clearly inappropriate for the workplace.
Employers need to stress that their workplace polices demand that
all employees are treated with respect.
dress/appearance rules. Workplace restrictions on the length
and/or style of facial hair and hairstyles themselves are generally
considered permissible. However, employers have an affirmative duty
to accommodate the religious practices and beliefs of employees
and applicants unless to do so would result in undue hardship on
the conduct of the business.
language policies. Employers may not require English language
only for all working hours, but it may be lawful to have a more
limited rule requiring that employees speak only in English at certain
times. A foreign accent that interferes with an employee's ability
to perform a task may constitute a legitimate nondiscriminatory
reason for an adverse employment decision.
offers an HR checklist on auditing your anti-harassment policy.
Planning Key to Providing Employee Assistance
should also have a written emergency plan that is tested, reviewed,
updated and coordinated internally and with outside agencies, such
as local law enforcement. HR professionals can find comprehensive
planning information and tools at HRTools.com,
Crisis Resources for HR, including: guidance on Crisis Planning,
Crisis Planning for Global Organizations, a Model Emergency Response
Plan and a Model Self-Inspection Security Checklist.
Since 1987, KnowledgePoint
(a division of CCH INCORPORATED) has been a leading developer of knowledge-based
human resource management software and Internet services for the enterprise,
small businesses and individual managers. KnowledgePoint products
include Performance Impact, Performance Now, Policies Now, Descriptions
Now and HRTools.com. For more information, visit www.knowledgepoint.com.
About CCH INCORPORATED
Riverwoods, Ill., is a leading provider of employment law information,
software and e-learning for human resource professionals. CCH is a
wholly owned subsidiary of Wolters Kluwer U.S. The CCH web site can
be accessed at www.cch.com.
The Human Resources Group web site is at http://hr.cch.com.