What do you think of “HR idiot?”

Last year we launched the HRidiot blog. So we want to know:

What do you think about the name “HR idiot?” Love it? Hate it?

You can post you thoughts  in the comments section below. It’s just one click to post so don’t hesitate – let us know what you think!


Return-to-work toolkit

According to the US Census, there are more than 30 million Americans between the ages of 21 and 64 who have a disability. With all the legal headaches surrounding disabilities and accommodations, it’s a good day when we find a tool that makes understanding these complex topics an easy task. So be sure to check out the Department of Labor’s new Return-to-Work Toolkit for Employees and Employers, a collection of resources that will help you retain and return disabled workers in a streamlined fashion.

This online toolkit will help you understand:

  • Using accommodations to return employees to work.
  • Strategies for retaining mature workers (those over the age of 60)
  • Integrated disability and absence management.

Avoid the hiccups and headaches. Get connected with the resources that make your job easier. Click here for the toolkit.

A lawsuit that stinks – seriously

Confession: I was an obnoxious 7th grader.

Evidence: I had an English teacher who was sensitive to smells. So, as an obnoxious 7th grader, one day I let my friend douse me in perfume before class. My teacher couldn’t stand to have me in the room (it was so bad, even I was offended by the smell). And the story ends with me spending most of the English period scrubbing my neck in the girl’s bathroom, angry at my teacher for punishing me. Thankfully, I’m not in the 7th grade anymore.

Some people really are so sensitive to smells it can cause headaches and difficulty breathing. For employers who have smell-sensitive employees, you might be interested to hear that these problems can be considered disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and reasonable accommodation may be required, especially if it impairs major life activities (such as breathing). Don’t get caught like the City of Detroit, who lost a case when they failed to accommodate an employee who claimed a co-worker’s perfume was causing her breathing difficulties.

Our partners at Fisher & Phillips remind us that it’s always in your best interest to explore requests for reasonable accommodation, not to deny them outright. That doesn’t mean you have to institute a “no scents” policy, but there are steps that can be taken to make all parties happy. You can read more about what to do by reading “Making ‘Scents’ of The ADA: Accommodating Employees’ Sensitivity to Odors in the Workplace” by clicking here.


For New Jersey employers: Should an employee “waiting to be engaged” be compensated?

I used to love trips to the zoo. You’d learn so much – how fast cheetahs run, how bears hibernate, and the differences between dolphins and a porpoises. And now zoos are teaching us about overtime pay! What can’t they do?

In the recent case, a zoo employee worked three night shifts per week. Two of the shifts required the employee to be on the premises to answer the phone and direct other employees to off-site emergencies. On the third shift, the employee was free to go anywhere (but was required to carry a phone and beeper in case of emergencies).  The employer claimed the employee should not be paid for this time, but guess who felt differently? The employee. And the Court. The Court declared the employee was “engaged to be waiting” on two of the nights, and he should be awarded compensation. (However, he was not paid for the time he was free to roam with only the beeper and cell phone.)

Do you need to brush up on what counts as hours worked? Check out the wages and hours section of your Human Resources Manual today! It could save you a lot ($45,000 in back wages were paid in this case!).

For additional information on this case, read “New Jersey – Employee ‘Engaged to be Waiting’ at Job Site Entitled to Overtime Pay” by clicking here.

For New York employers: same-sex couples eligible for funeral and bereavement leave

This summer, Governor David Paterson signed a bill that amends the New York state civil rights law so that same-sex couples will have access to the same funeral and bereavement leave given to heterosexual couples. The bill defines a same-sex couple as “those who are financially and emotionally interdependent in a manner commonly presumed of spouses.” Denying homosexual employees leave could land you in the middle of a nasty discrimination suit, so be sure to update your bereavement policy.

For more information on this topic, read “New York Employees in Same-Sex Relationships Now Eligible for Same Funeral and Bereavement Leave Afforded to Heterosexual Couples” by our partners at Ogletree Deakins LLP. To read the article, click here.

W-2 reporting requirement delayed

With the Health Care Reform came lots of new changes. With so many balls in the air, it’s hard to keep it all straight. But earlier this week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced we have one less thing to keep an eye on. On Oct 12, they announced that employers do not have to report the cost of employer-sponsored health care coverage on the W-2. The new requirement is now optional for 2011.

The IRS claimed that the delay is needed to provide employers the time they need to make changes to their payroll system and procedures. If you’d like more information on this story, read “Health Care Reform: Form W-2 Reporting Requirement Delayed” by our partners at Barran Liebman by clicking here.

Want more? Check out the IRS press release, “IRS Releases Draft W-2 Form for 2011; Announces Relief for Employers,” by clicking here.

According to the IRS website, the W-2 is “for informational purposes only and to provide employers with greater transparency in overall healthcare costs.”  If you’re looking to download a draft copy of the new W-2, you can find that by clicking here.

HR advice from Denzel Washington in Training Day

Management lessons are all around us, if only we make our minds ready and willing to listen. But did you expect to get HR advice while watching the movie Training Day? It could happen.

The HR Capitalist blog has started an awesome new column, the Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros. Post #97 makes a good point, even if it is gleaned from a crooked cop:

“It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.”

Wondering what it means? Click here to read the post!