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Heather Wood

LEAVE AS A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION

By Your Employee Matters

One of the more vexing issues facing both employers and employees involves leave time related to a medical condition, especially when the period of leave exceeds an employer’s permitted leave allowance or otherwise violates an established attendance policy. Although such situations might be challenging and confusing, employers must confront them directly because using leave necessitated by an employee’s disability constitutes a “reasonable accommodation” under the ADA.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Reasonable Accommodation Guidance provides examples of some of the reasons an employee with a disability might require leave:

  • Obtaining medical treatment or rehabilitation services related to the disability.
  • Recuperating from an illness or an episodic manifestation of the disability.
  • Obtaining repairs on prosthetic device or other equipment such as a wheelchair.
  • Avoiding temporary adverse conditions in the work environment (for example, an air-conditioning breakdown causing unusually warm temperatures that could seriously harm an employee with multiple sclerosis).
  • Training in the use of a service animal or assistive device.
  • Training in the use of Braille or sign language.

Here’s a discussion of some frequent and confusing leave-related issues that employers and employee have presented to JAN.

How Much Leave Is Reasonable? The ADA does not set a specific amount of time relative to the use of leave as a reasonable accommodation. As with any accommodation situation, you should consider a period of leave for an employee with a disability on a case-by-case analysis. If an employee needs a leave of absence that exceeds his or her accrued paid leave, the employer should permit the employee to exhaust the paid leave and then allow the use of unpaid leave absent undue hardship.

Although there’s no limit on the amount of leave used as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, the EEOC has held that employers need not grant indefinite leave as a reasonable accommodation (see the EEOC Guidance on Applying Performance and Conduct Standards, Question 21). However, the employee need not provide a specific, fixed date of return. A request for leave is acceptable with an approximate date of return (e.g., around the end of August) or a range of dates for a return to work (e.g., sometime between August 24 and September 23).

ADA and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). An employee’s rights under the ADA and the FMLA are separate and distinct. The EEOC has ruled that when an employee is entitled to leave under both laws, the employer should allow leave under the law providing the employee with the greater rights (see the EEOC Fact Sheet on the FMLA, ADA, and Title VII). Additionally, employers should note that the ADA might require them to grant leave beyond the 12 weeks allowed under the FMLA as a reasonable accommodation. In this case, an employer can consider the FMLA leave taken in determining whether the requested leave time poses an undue hardship.

Erratic or Unreliable Attendance. The ADA can require employers to modify attendance policies as a reasonable accommodation in the absence of undue hardship. This does not mean that employers must exempt an employee from time and attendance requirements completely or accept irregular and unreliable attendance unquestionably. Frequent occurrences of tardiness or absenteeism, particularly during an extended period and without adequate notice, could certainly impose an undue hardship in many situations. See the Commission’s Guidance on Applying Performance and Conduct Standards for a detailed discussion with examples of specific scenarios.

Alternative Accommodations. Although it makes sense for employers to give an employee’s choice of accommodation primary consideration when more than one reasonable accommodation is possible, they can ultimately choose the accommodation to be implemented, assuming that it’s equally effective. Accordingly, under the ADA an employer can offer a reasonable accommodation that requires an employee to remain on the job, as long as it’s effective and doesn’t interfere with the employee’s medical needs.

Holding the Employee’s Position. The ADA requires an employer to consider returning the employee to his or her same position in the absence of undue hardship. If undue hardship applies, the employer must consider reassignment to a vacant, equivalent position for which the employee is qualified.

Undue Hardship. As with any other reasonable accommodations, whether an employer should allow the use of leave as an accommodation will sometimes come down to an undue hardship analysis. In the case of leave, undue hardship will generally relate to a possible disruption in operations of the entity. For instance, the absence of an employee who performs highly specialized duties might create legitimate undue hardship issues, as might leave that occurs in a frequent and unpredictable manner. Generalized assessments are not adequate, because undue hardship must be determined based on individual and specific circumstances. Additionally, the EEOC has ruled that an employer cannot base an undue hardship claim on the argument that a reasonable accommodation might affect the morale of other employees negatively or that other employees might have to cover for the employee who is on leave.

What to Remember. Ultimately, much of the confusion involving leave as an accommodation occurs when there are no clear and open lines of communication. Lack of communication is usually the major obstacle to executing an effective accommodation solution. All parties need to be aware of any relevant updates or concerns, and everyone should make an effort to keep the information flowing. If you need ideas on how to encourage ongoing communication during the accommodation process, contact JAN.

Bill McCollum, MPA, Consultant

DEDUCTIONS FROM PAY: DOS AND DON’TS

By Your Employee Matters

Many employers are confused over what they may or may not deduct from pay. Here’s what the FLSA has to say:

“[T]o qualify for exemption under the FLSA generally an employee must be paid at a rate of not less than $455 per week on a salary basis. As a rule, if the exempt employee performs any work during the workweek, he or she must be paid the full salary amount. An employer may not make deductions from an exempt employee’s pay for absences caused by the employer or by the operating requirements of the business. If the exempt employee is ready, willing and able to work, an employer cannot make deductions from the exempt employee’s pay when no work is available.

“To qualify for exemption, employees generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and meet certain compensation requirements. Job titles do not determine exempt status. You should also review the other sections of this Advisor for help in determining whether the employee meets the duties tests for exemption.

“Deductions from pay are allowed:

  • When an employee is absent from work for one or more full days for personal reasons other than sickness or disability.
  • For absences of one or more full days due to sickness or disability if the deduction is made in accordance with a bona fide plan, policy or practice of providing compensation for salary lost due to illness.
  • To offset amounts employees receive as jury or witness fees, or for temporary military duty pay.
  • For penalties imposed in good faith for infractions of safety rules of major significance.
  • For unpaid disciplinary suspensions of one or more full days imposed in good faith for workplace conduct rule infractions.
  • In the employee’s initial or terminal week of employment if the employee does not work the full week.
  • For unpaid leave taken by the employee under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

“In addition, deductions may be made from the pay of an exempt employee of a public agency for absences due to a budget-required furlough, and special rules apply when such employees take partial-day (or hourly) absences not covered by accrued leave.”

Each of these allowable deductions is described elsewhere in the Compensation Requirements section:

What kinds of deductions are not allowed?

“Deductions for partial day absences generally violate the salary basis rule, except those occurring in the first or final week of an exempt employee’s employment or for unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. If an exempt employee is absent for one and one-half days for personal reasons, the employer may only deduct for the one full-day absence. The exempt employee must receive a full day’s pay for the partial day worked. Other examples of improper deductions include:

  • A deduction of a day’s pay because the employer was closed due to inclement weather.
  • A deduction of three days pay because the exempt employee was absent for jury duty.
  • A deduction for a two-day absence due to a minor illness when the employer does not have a bona fide sick leave plan, policy or practice of providing wage replacement benefits.
  • A deduction for a partial day absence to attend a parent-teacher conference.

What’s the effect of isolated or inadvertent improper deductions?

“Improper deductions that are either isolated or inadvertent will not violate the salary basis rule for any employees whose pay had been subject to the improper deductions, if the employer reimburses the employees for the improper deductions.

What if the improper deductions are not isolated or inadvertent?

“If an employer makes improper deductions from employees’ pay (as opposed to isolated or inadvertent improper deductions), the salary basis rule will not be met during the time period in which the improper deductions were made for employees in the same job classification working for the same manager(s) responsible for the actual improper deductions. Therefore, the affected employees will not have been paid on a salary basis as required for exemption during that time-period.

How do you distinguish between isolated or inadvertent improper deductions and an actual practice of making improper deductions?

“A practice of making improper deductions demonstrates that the employer did not intend to pay employees on a salary basis. The factors to consider when determining whether an employer has an actual practice of making improper deductions include, but are not limited to:

  • The number of improper deductions, particularly as compared to the number of employee infractions warranting discipline.
  • The time period during which the employer made improper deductions.
  • The number and geographic location of employees whose salary was improperly reduced.
  • The number and geographic location of managers responsible for taking the improper deductions.
  • Whether the employer has a clearly communicated policy permitting or prohibiting improper deductions.

“If an employer has a clear policy prohibiting improper pay deductions that includes a complaint mechanism, reimburses employees for any improper deductions and makes a good faith commitment to comply in the future, the salary basis of pay will not be violated unless the employer willfully violates the policy by continuing to make improper deductions after receiving employee complaints.

What if the employer does not reimburse the employee for the deductions?

“If the facts show that the employer has a practice of making improper deductions and the employer fails to reimburse employees for any improper deductions or continues to make improper deductions after receiving employee complaints, the salary basis rule is not met and the exemption is lost during the time period in which the improper deductions were made for employees in the same job classification working for the same manager(s) responsible for the actual improper deductions.”

Readers lucky enough to have to comply with California’s laws can go to http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_Deductions.htm for more information.

ACCOMMODATION IDEAS: COMMON SENSE, LOW COST

By Your Employee Matters

Here’s a list of inexpensive accommodation examples published by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN):

Situation: A production worker with mental retardation, who has limited fine motor dexterity, must use tweezers and a magnifying glass to perform the job. The worker had difficulty holding the tweezers.
Solution: Purchase giant tweezers. Cost: $5.

Situation: A teacher with bipolar disorder, who works in a home-based instruction program, experienced reduced concentration, short-term memory loss, and task sequencing problems.
Solution: At one of their weekly meetings, the employee and the supervisor jointly developed a checklist that showed activities for both the week’s work and the following. The company adapted forms so that they would be easy to complete, and developed structured steps so that paper work could be completed at the end of each teaching session. An unintended bonus to the company was the value of the weekly check-off forms in training new staff. Cost: $0.

Situation: A garage mechanic with epilepsy was unable to drive vehicles.
Solution: The employer negotiated with the employee’s union and reached an agreement that any qualified employee, regardless of job held, could drive the vehicles to the mechanic’s work station. Cost: $0.

Situation: An individual with a neck injury, who worked in a lab, had difficulty bending his neck to use the microscope.
Solution: Attach a periscope to the microscope. Cost: $2,400.

Situation: A catalog salesperson with a spinal cord injury had problems using the catalog, due to difficulty with finger dexterity.
Solution: The employer purchased a motorized catalog rack, controlled by a single switch via the mouth stick, and provided an angled computer keyboard stand for better accessibility. Cost: $1,500.

Situation: A field geologist who was deaf and worked alone in remote areas was unable to use two-way radio communication to report his findings.
Solution: The company installed text telephone technology which allowed the geologist to communicate using a cellular telephone. Cost: $400 plus monthly service fee for the phone.

Situation: A saw operator with a learning disability had difficulty measuring to the fraction of an inch.
Solution: The company gave the employee a wallet-sized card that listed the fractions on an enlarged picture of an inch. This allowed the employee to compare the card with the location on the ruler to identify the correct fraction. Cost: $5.

Situation: An accountant with HIV was experiencing sensitivity to fluorescent light, which kept her from seeing her computer screen or written materials clearly.
Solution: The employer lowered the wattage in overhead lights, provided task lighting and a computer screen glare guard. Cost: $80.

Situation: A custodian with poor vision was having difficulty seeing the carpeted area he was vacuuming.
Solution: The company mounted a fluorescent lighting system on his industrial vacuum cleaner. Cost: $240

Here’s the point: Accommodations don’t have to be expensive. Remember to engage in a true dialogue involving the employee, his or her physician, and any support you might need from the HR That Works hotline, Job Accommodation Network, or your own attorney.

 

FREQUENT ABSENCES FROM WORK DON’T NECESSARILY RENDER AN EMPLOYEE UNQUALIFIED UNDER THE ADA

By Your Employee Matters

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled recently that an employee who frequently missed time from work due to chronic fatigue syndrome had the right to present her Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claims to a jury. The Court found significant the fact that the employee had been accommodated in the past through a flexible work schedule that allowed her to work regularly.

Facts of the Case: In Valle-Arce v. Puerto Rico Ports Authority, the employee, who worked in the human resources department of the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Her symptoms included insomnia, joint and muscle pain and weakness, and headaches.

To accommodate her insomnia, her doctor had suggested changing her work start time from the employer’s standard 7:30 a.m. start time to 9:00 a.m., and she communicated this to her employer. For two years, the employee’s supervisor accommodated her request by allowing her to come in to work later, as long as she completed the requisite 37.5 hours per week or accounted for any shortfall with vacation or sick leave.

Subsequently, the employee was assigned a new supervisor who began to question her flexible schedule almost immediately and monitor her entry and exit times. In addition, the employee alleged that her new supervisor harassed her by, for example, reprimanding her for late arrivals, telling her that insomnia was not an excuse for absences and, sometimes requiring her to obtain doctors’ notes covering absences of one or two days, when the employer’s policy required such notes only for absences of three days or more. Over time, according to the employee, her new supervisor’s alleged harassment caused her CFS symptoms to worsen, to the point that she needed to take two extended medical leaves.

After she returned from her first period of leave, the employee’s supervisor recommended disciplining her for mishandling the reasonable accommodation request of a coworker. The company eventually terminated the employee because she allegedly violated confidentiality rules in handling an employee’s reasonable accommodation request and used her work computer and other work resources for a personal matter during work time. At trial, the lower court granted the employer’s motion for judgment as a matter of law, finding that the employee was not a qualified individual under the ADA because attendance was an essential function of her job. The employee then filed an appeal.

The Court’s Ruling: On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit vacated the lower court’s decision. Although acknowledging that attendance is an essential function of any job, the Court noted that the employee presented evidence that the flexible work schedule she had requested as an accommodation would have allowed her to fulfill the essential function of attendance. The employee testified that she had never been reprimanded during the time her former supervisor had allowed her to work a flexible schedule; and that the stress caused by her new supervisor’s alleged haranguing about her attendance led to her having to take extended medical leave, leading to the long absences on which the trial court based its ruling that she was unqualified.

The Court also held that a jury might have considered the employee’s testimony regarding poor treatment by her new supervisor to be evidence of disability discrimination or retaliation for her requests for a reasonable accommodation.

Finally, the Court noted, the employee presented enough evidence for a jury to question whether her termination was retaliatory, as she testified that other employees used their computers for personal matters and that she did not violate any agency policies in her handling of her co-worker’s reasonable accommodation request.

Practical Impact: The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 makes it far easier for employees to show that their health condition qualifies as a disability. In this case, the employee was accommodated under the regime of a prior supervisor, but her new supervisor was less willing to accommodate her request for flexible work hours.

Although new supervisors are generally free to enforce attendance standards that a prior supervisor did not, if the new supervisor rejects a prior accommodation that allowed the individual to meet the essential functions of their position, as was the case here, the employer could face liability under the ADA.

Article courtesy of Worklaw® Network firm Shawe Rosenthal (www.shawe.com).

What’s Killing Your Office Productivity?

By Employment Resources

The genius that happens every day in the offices of the world requires a certain amount of focus. Unfortunately, most offices are awash with both physical and mental distractions that pull our attention away from the task at hand. To help you identify common pitfalls, we’ve zeroed in on the top five productivity killers in the modern age. Better still, we gathered expert advice on ways to block out the noise and get to work.

Social media

Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media & com, admits her primary distraction is self-inflicted. “Social media can take me off task, especially Twitter. (I’m addicted.)”

It happens to the best of us. You’re at a lull in your work, and you get that nagging sensation that something amazing might be happening on Facebook. Why not take a quick peek, just to make sure the world’s not passing you by? These brief breaks may seem harmless enough, but making compulsive social media checks during the day can add up to hours a week of lost time.

Instead of checking Facebook or Twitter throughout the day, try scheduling your social media time after lunch and limit it to 15 minutes. Having a special time slot for checking out the latest hijinks of Grumpy Cat will leave the rest of your day free for more productive endeavors. And if you really can’t help trying to scratch that itch, consider blocking your most visited social websites with your browser’s security settings.

A crazy commute

If you live or work in a large city, the morning commute can be an exercise in extreme frustration. What should be a 15-minute drive can turn into an hour or more of unproductive stress during rush hour.

Fortunately, thanks to cloud computing, working remotely is easier than ever. With web-based software and collaboration tools, office workers can get everything done even when they’re miles away from home base. More and more, corporate leaders are warming up to the idea of telecommuting as remote employees report higher productivity and morale. Even if you can’t work remotely all the time, you may be able to slightly shift your work schedule so you’re not traveling at rush hour, or just handle the first hour of your workday from home before you hop in the car.

Loud-mouthed colleagues

Who can’t relate to this scenario: you’re just settling in for some hard-core focus time to bang out a monthly report when the guy in the next cubicle starts in on a high-volume recap of last night’s episode of Game of Thrones—and you haven’t seen it yet (spoiler alert!). Working in an office can be great for collaboration and easy communication, but not so great when you’re doing focused solo work. Diplomatic requests for quiet might buy you a few minutes of peace, but let’s be realistic: some people do not possess an inside voice. Treat yourself to a pair of noise-canceling headphones and crank your favorite background tunes or soothing sounds from a white-noise website like Noisli.

The unfocused workday

You may have a truckload of work, but without a clear plan of attack, you may leave the office that night wondering what you got done and why you spent time on the wrong tasks. Ramon Ray of Smart Hustle Magazine zeroes in on the root of the problem. “Lack of clear understanding and planning. When I’m clear and highly organized, things flow!”

Jeff Marcoux, CMO lead for Worldwide Enterprise Marketing at Microsoft, agrees. “Randomization is the killer of productivity.” To get his house in order, he spends the first 10 minutes of his day making an explicit to-do list, following guidelines set out in this Harvard Business Review article. If you have trouble organizing your tasks, check out a mobile productivity tool like ToDoist or LeanKit.

Email

It’s impossible to avoid in the modern workplace, but email is as much a hindrance as it is a help. Andy Karuza, owner of BrandBuddee, notes, “being ‘too connected’ can be a major productivity killer. This is because task switching wastes lots of time from having to reset your train of thought and pick up where you left off on the previous task.”

Answer emails and social media messages together at the top of the hour. Knock them all out at once and then wrap yourself up again in that Excel spreadsheet you were working on.

Your email inbox forces you to switch focus from your task at hand, wasting precious minutes of your targeted energy. Karuza suggests taking a structured approach. “Answer emails and social media messages together at the top of the hour. Knock them all out at once and then wrap yourself up again in that Excel spreadsheet you were working on.”

You may also be doing work that is better done by a machine. Try to automate some basic email tasks to help you prioritize your inbox so those sprints of replying to email are as efficient as possible.

Whether you’re working from home or at the office, there’s always something there to distract you. Identifying your own biggest distractions is the first step to eliminating them.

OLDER AMERICANS: BE AWARE OF SCHEMES AND FRAUD AIMED AT SENIORS

By Personal Protection

No one likes to believe that, in our society, there are predators who take advantage of individuals who are the least able to defend themselves. However, the sad truth is that across America every year, millions of seniors are hoodwinked by fraud, scams, and swindlers. These common scams can happen in the home or at the mall. They can be carried out in person, by mail, on the phone, or over the Internet.

In reviewing telemarketing fraud, the United States Congress has stated that telemarketing schemes have become a $40 billion per year “industry.” There are approximately 140,000 active telemarketing firms in the U.S., and Congress estimates that up to 10% of these might be fraudulent. Many of these fraudulent telemarketers prey on older Americans. The American Prosecutors Research Institute indicates that senior citizens are more susceptible to telephone fraud than others because they possess more than half of all the financial assets in this country and their assets can be converted easily into large sums of cash. Secondly, older people are more likely to be at home to receive telemarketing calls. And finally, many older Americans are too polite to hang up. Amazingly, some senior citizens are subject to fraud because they are just too nice.

But there are steps you can take to protect yourself at home, on the phone, and online. On the Internet, beware of any “free” service or product. Don’t give out personal information unless you absolutely know who the provider is. Just because your friend knows them is not good enough. Furthermore, don’t use your credit card to make purchases on the Internet. No site, not even a bank site is 100% safe.

In your home, you control access and never, ever, let anyone inside whom you don’t know. If you make the decision to purchase something from a door-to-door salesperson, which is not recommended, pay by post-dated check or ask to pay upon delivery of your item. Never pay cash. And don’t use your credit card or give your credit card number. Even better, ask the salesperson to come back tomorrow after you’ve had a chance to think about it, and then investigate to confirm they are legitimate.

On the phone, get an answering machine or caller ID to screen your calls, and only pick up the receiver if it is someone you know and trust. If a salesperson gets through, don’t accept anything they claim is free; such as sweepstakes prizes, cruises, or high-yield investment returns. If it sounds too good to be true, most likely it is too good to be true. Never give your credit card, phone card, Social Security, or bank account number to anyone over the phone. In fact, it is illegal for telemarketers to ask for these numbers to verify a gift or prize.

If you feel suspicious of any person or company, trust your instincts and hang up, close the door, or turn off your computer. Call the police or the Better Business Bureau and report the questionable activity. Or contact the National Consumers League Fraud Information Center at www.fraud.org. With vigilance and good common sense, you can help yourself as well as other potential victims avoid this insidious crime.

Be safe. Be careful, and don’t become another victim.

BUYING COMMERCIAL AUTO INSURANCE

By Business Protection Bulletin

Every business needs to insure the vehicles it uses. Because such coverage is usually more expensive than Personal Auto insurance, it makes sense to purchase a Commercial Auto policy that provides the best long-term value for your premium dollar. To make sure that you’re getting the right policy at the right price follow these guidelines:

  1. Determine which vehicles you need to insure. In addition to coverage on any vehicle your firm owns, leases, or rents, be sure to cover any personal vehicles that employees will be using on company business.
  2. Select the right type of policy. Although Personal Auto insurance will cover a vehicle used for business purpose as long as the title is in your name, if the company owns the vehicle you’ll need Commercial Auto coverage (which is more expensive).
  3. Choose the coverages you need. These should include Liability, Comprehensive, Collision, Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist and (in some states) Personal Injury Protection, which pays medical expenses for the insured driver, regardless of fault.
  4. Comparison shop. Because every Auto insurance company has its own way to calculate premiums, your cost, the amount that you will need to pay can vary widely from one carrier to another. As independent insurance agents, we’ll be happy to offer our professional advice on selecting the coverage and price that’s best suited to your needs.

Just give us a call.

WHY D&O COVERAGE IS VITAL FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM FIRMS

By Business Protection Bulletin

Directors & Officers Liability coverage is important for all medium and small firms. This form of coverage protects personal assets of directors and officers during a lawsuit stemming from mismanagement. When they’re charged with mismanaging the company, directors and officers who don’t have this type of insurance face the risk of significant losses. Directors and officers liability affords them the protection they need, and money for their legal expenses is also provided. If the company they work for must be brought into the lawsuit, this coverage may also be extended to include the company itself. There are many other beneficial provisions these policies offer.

Directors and Officers Make Mistakes. Nobody is perfect, so it’s important to be prepared for directors and officers to make mistakes. Although most mistakes that require this coverage are the result of negligence, it’s important to remember that anyone is capable of making such mistakes. Although training directors and officers to make responsible and ethical choices is necessary, don’t pay so much for training that there isn’t enough money for liability coverage. It’s better to create a healthy balance by preparing representatives and obtaining coverage to protect them.

Lawsuits Might Drive an Unprotected Firm into the Ground. Unfortunately, many firms don’t implement a Directors & Officers Liability policy. When a lawsuit is filed, the importance of this vital coverage is learned. If there is proof of the director’s or officer’s negligence, the case will be difficult to win. In a best-case scenario, a good attorney might be able to minimize the amount of damages the company or representative must pay. However, a good attorney is expensive. In addition to this, the damages that must be paid hurt the company’s finances. Some executives or companies are forced into further debt or bankruptcy to compensate for the lawsuit. There are many other smaller expenses that add to the total loss.

The Breadth of Coverage Is Generous. Many companies forgo liability coverage for their directors and officers because they think it’s too expensive. However, it’s actually very affordable, especially when the many provisions are considered. Each insurance company varies slightly in their specific inclusions. For example, companies that provide basic policies might cover only the attorney’s fees for the company, directors, and officers. Some insurance companies that have more extensive coverage might include lodging, travel expenses, and childcare reimbursement for defendants who must travel for court proceedings.

The Likelihood of a Lawsuit Is High. Whether or not a company is in a high-risk business, there is always a high risk for lawsuits against directors and officers. In a study performed in 2010, 25% of small firms said they purchased Directors & Officers Liability insurance. About 12% of the executives interviewed stated that they experienced a lawsuit. The average cost of the litigation process was more than $200,000. However, some executives reported losses as high as $5 million. This example paints a clear picture of how likely it is to experience a lawsuit. It also illustrates how expensive such legal procedures are.

It’s important to compare insurance companies before selecting a policy. As mentioned before, not all companies offer the same coverage. Comparing rates and provisions is the best way to get the most value for every dollar spent. To determine how much coverage is needed, it’s important to assess risks. Most insurance representatives are happy to provide current and useful resources for this matter. They usually ask a series of general questions. Most agents ask several industry-specific questions also. There are some policies that are better than others for specific industries. Another important aspect of searching for Directors & Officers Liability insurance is researching underwriters. The companies who underwrite insurance policies have varying policies. It’s rare to find two underwriting companies with identical rules. By performing some research on each preferred insurance company’s underwriter, it’s easier to determine which policies are the most solid. Be sure the company is rated with an A. Avoid doing business with insurance companies who use underwriters with lower ratings.

Ways To Reward Employees When You’re On A Budget

By Employment Resources

Rewarding your employees for their hard work and dedication to your company is one way to say thank you. Rewards also build morale, strengthen teamwork and improve productivity. Consider several ways your HR team can reward employees without spending a fortune.

Plan an Outing

A fun outing builds teamwork and helps your employees to relax. Try bowling, jumping at a trampoline park or seeing a movie.

See a Local Show

A ticket to a local theater show, sporting event or musical concert is a fun way to show appreciation and support the local economy. Choose a different event each month or quarter to increase employee engagement.

Pay for Gym Memberships

A commitment to health and wellness boost your employees’ mental clarity, energy, focus, and productivity. Select a gym near the office to encourage your employees to work out and exercise before and after work or during breaks.

Cater Lunch

Serve a taco, salad or baked potato bar or other favorite food as you reward employees and give them time to connect over lunch.

Buy Gift Cards

A Visa or other gift card is similar to a cash bonus. You may even get a discount on gift cards when you buy them in bulk.

Create a Company Award

Purchase a trophy or other reward for employees to win. The award for attendance, innovation, performance, or another trait can motivate employees, create friendly competition and boost morale.

Reserve a Priority Parking Spot

Allow the employee of the month to earn the right to park in an exclusive spot close to the office. This convenience rewards outstanding team members and boosts the winner’s confidence and self-worth.

Give Swag

Imprint performance hoodies, laptop skins, pens, and other swag items with your company logo. These items double as a reward and company advertisement.

Donate to a Charity

Many of your employees may feel strongly about certain charitable causes. Donate to a charity in honor of your employees, and support your employee’s personal interests.

Promote Professional or Personal Development

A professional or personal development book, workshop or seminar encourages your employees to learn new skills and develop interests. This investment shows that you care about their growth and value them as people.

Rent a Coworking Space

Give your employees the opportunity to get out of the office and into a new, creative environment. This reward may jumpstart creativity and provide a beneficial networking opportunity.

Take Time Off

Employees always appreciate an early start to the weekend or a long lunch break. Plan this reward to ensure all job obligations are covered.

Part of your job as an HR professional is to build morale. Choose from these frugal suggestions as you reward your employees.

Do Your Kids Need a Life Insurance Policy, Too?

By Life and Health, Your Employee Matters

Life insurance makes sense for you because it gives your surviving family members financial peace of mind if you were to die. However, do your kids need life insurance, too? November is National Adoption Month and a good time to consider this insurance option for your children.

Receive Lifetime Coverage

Pay the monthly premiums, and your children gain insurance for life. In many cases, they won’t even need a health exam when they’re older unless they want a death benefit increase.

Enjoy Low Rates

Most life insurance policies use age to determine premiums. You’ll pay less to insure your young children, and permanent policies lock in the premiums for the life of the policy.

Eliminate Health Exams

Most life insurance policies don’t require kids to undergo a complete medical exam. Since kids are usually healthier than adults, they typically won’t be denied coverage. This benefit is especially important if a serious medical condition like diabetes or heart disease runs in your child’s family.

Gain Cash Value

The premiums you pay for permanent life insurance cover the policy and build cash value. That cash could grow at a variable or fixed interest rate. By the time your kids turn 18, they could have a healthy accumulation of cash to pay for college, buy a house or save until they retire.

Cover Final Expenses

Parents don’t expect their children to die young, but accidents happen. Life insurance covers final expenses and protects your family’s finances.

Evaluate Your Budget

Despite the benefits; your budget may not stretch enough to include life insurance for your kids. After you ensure you’re adequately insured, weigh the benefits of life insurance for your children and discuss your needs with your insurance agent. He or she can work with you to find a policy that’s right for you.

Consider Alternative Saving Tools

Roth IRAs and 529 Plans assist parents in saving money for their children’s futures. Investigate these saving options as you choose the best way to provide for your children.

Whether or not you plan to adopt a child during National Adoption Month, November’s a good time to consider life insurance. Your agent can discuss your options with you as you adequately care for your children.