Oh, shucks – OSHA 300 log

If you maintain a 300 Log for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), then it’s time to summarize and post the injuries and illnesses of the 2010 calendar year!  (Don’t pretend like you’re not excited.)


The log must be posted from February 1st, 2011 to April 30th, 2011 in a “conspicuous” place – so basically wherever you display all your other federal posters.


Things to remember about OSHA 300 logs:


  • They require “executive certification” – which means the owner, an officer, highest-ranking official, or the immediate supervisor of the highest-ranking company official working at the establishment needs to verify that the log is accurate.
  • It must include the average number of employees covered and their total hours worked.
  • The forms must be kept for five calendar years.


Click here to read a more complete summary on posting OSHA 300 logs, written by our partners at Fisher & Phillips LLP.


To learn more about OSHA and its regulations, check out the Workplace Safety and Health Compliance Manual, available on our website.


And to see how to NOT react to an OSHA inspector visiting your worksite click here.


An indecent appraisal (of performance appraisals)


We keep tabs on quite a few HR blogs, and when I checked in on one of my favorites last week, I was shocked to find a rant against performance appraisals.


Once my breathing steadied and the dizziness subsided, I followed the links included in the post to find that others also viewed performance reviews in a bad light – considering them mere intimidation techniques or complete wastes of time.


But what about the pros of performance reviews?


Well-documented performance evaluations can be an invaluable tool in a wrongful termination suit.  Conducting and documenting performance evaluations will also:


  • keep your employees posted on their progress or performance problems
  • allow a proper venue for you to let employees know where they can improve
  • provide a time to discuss performance goals
  • encourage employees to improve performance – without having to threaten discipline.


Check the “Performance Reviews” chapter in your Human Resources Manual for more tips – and look for sample forms in your Model Policies and Forms guide.


Click here to read some cons about performance appraisals ­– click to read some pros.here

Health care and you (you being a small business)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will affect all employers, both big and small.  But let’s start small.

Beginning in 2011, employers who provide health insurance, and who have 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees (FTEEs), will only be eligible for a tax cut if they:

  • pay a uniform percentage for all covered employees
  • offer the same benefits to everyone (complying with nondiscrimination requirements)
  • pay AT LEAST 50% of the premium
  • reduce their tax deductions for premiums paid by the tax credits already received. (Yeah, makes my head spin too.)

Click here to read “Health Care Reform:  Special Considerations for Small Businesses” by our partners at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt.  In it you’ll find more on the new rules, tips on how to avoid violating nondiscrimination requirements, and the math behind how to calculate your number of FTEEs.

New forms to file with the IRS

For the 2010 tax year, the IRS has issued new information reporting forms for both incentive stock options (ISOs) and employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs), and they must be made available to employees by January 31, 2011.  The stocks may be optional, but the paperwork is not.

These new forms apply to both public and private employers, so if your company offers stock options, it’s time to read up on and order the new forms.

What you need to know:

  • The information provided to your employees also needs to be filed with the IRS (2010 is the first tax year that this is the case).
  • For paper filing, downloadable forms won’t cut it; the documents MUST be scanned.  You can order these forms online or over-the-phone from the IRS.
  • If you will be filing more than 250 forms, you MUST file electronically using the IRS Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE) system – March 1st, 2011 is the last day to enroll in FIRE.
  • Deadlines to file:  March 31st, 2011 for electronic filers and February 28th, 2011 for paper filers.

Failure to file correctly or on time can result in fines, ranging from $15 to $100 per incident.

Luckily, our partners at Squire Sanders have your backs!  To ensure you won’t have to pay out, read “New Reporting Requirements for Incentive Stock Options and Employee Stock Purchase Plans” by clicking here.


Good documentation, or the importance of being earnest

Growing up, one of my favorite books was Harriet the Spy, the story of a young girl who – wanting to be a writer – begins to document everything, carefully watching others and writing her rather candid opinions about everyone in a notebook. Go figure – she loses the notebook, everyone finds out what she really thinks of them, and lessons are learned.

The opposite occurs with employers who document well. Good documentation can help an employer insulate him or herself from employment liability. So what should be documented?

Our partners at Troutman Sanders LLP have tackled this topic in “An Employer’s First Line of Defense: The Importance of Good Documentation.” According to their list, employers should document:

  • Initial employment records
  • Training documentation
  • Attendance
  • Misconduct
  • And more!

Put Harriet the Spy to shame with your recordkeeping. Get the full list of things you should be documenting as well as tips for supervisors by clicking here.


Winter Dangerland?

Snow can be beautiful, fun, and dangerous – think toboganning. Thankfully, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reminds us of the dangers snowstorms bring and provides some tips to stay safe:

  • Keep walkways clear.
  • Use caution around surfaces weighed down by large amounts of snow.
  • Assume everything is electrically charged when working outside.
  • Stay suited and booted! (If it’s cold, dress accordingly.)


To read the full OSHA news release, which includes 11 safety tips, click here.


After reading, please forward the article to Atlanta so they may print and burn it to keep warm.


DOL issues Health Care and Mental Health Parity Act guidance

Like my Aunt Bonnie, the Department of Labor (DOL) is known for giving “unconventional” gifts. Right before the holiday break, the DOL gave us a bit of unexpected holiday cheer when it issued new guidance on the health care reform and the Mental Health Parity Act.

Get all the notable details by reading “Agencies Issue Additional FAQs on Health Care Reform and the Mental Health Parity Act” by our partners at Ford & Harrision. You’ll find info on:

  • Grandfathered health plans
  • HIPAA and wellness programs
  • Dependent coverage of children to age 26
  • Mental Health Parity Act exemptions

Pick up this special gift of knowledge! Click here for the article