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Employment Resources

Low Cost Accommodations

By Employment Resources

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

How to Hire the Best Employees

By Employment Resources

Hiring the best employees means your business succeeds. Good hiring practices can also save you up to $50,000, the cost of finding, interviewing, training and equipping an employee. It can be challenging to choose the most qualified candidates, though.  Consider tips that show you how to hire the best employees.

    1. Capability

      In addition to easy jobs, the best employees tackle hard tasks that require effort, creativity and perseverance. Evaluate a potential hire’s willingness to learn, grow and take on additional responsibility as needed.

    1. Character

      In addition to skills, your employees must have a good character. They should be honest, truthful, selfless, a team player and respectful.

    1. Commitment

      Employees do occasionally move on to other jobs and careers, but you don’t want to hire a chronic quitter. Examine a candidate’s resume, job history and references for a pattern of commitment.

    1. Compatibility

      Your business culture is an important part of your success since employees work harder and smarter when they get along with each other. Be sure a potential employee is compatible with your existing employees, supervisors and clients before you hire them.

    1. Compensation

      When an employee receives the compensation they deserve, they feel appreciated and motivated to perform to the best of their ability. It’s always a good idea to double check that an employee candidate is comfortable with the compensation before you send an official job offer.

    1. Competency

      The best employees have the skills needed to do the job they’re assigned. Check education and experiences, too, as you ensure your new hire is competent for the position and duties.

How to Evaluate Potential Employees

During the interview process, an employee can create a persona that gets your attention. You have to comb through their application carefully to ensure you know exactly what kind of employee you’re getting.

First, read the cover letter. It gives you a good idea of the candidate’s passion, past performance and future potential.

Next, get creative during the interview. Applicants can easily rehearse traditional questions and hide their true potential, leaving you without a real look at their capabilities. Creative questions like, “How did your first job prepare you for this position?” can help you see a candidate truthfully and discern how they will act when faced with an unexpected challenge.

Finally, talk to former associates including supervisors, co-workers and subordinates. Discover the truth about how the candidate performed their job, treated others and stepped up to the plate.

To build a better company, you must know how to hire the best employees. Use these tips during your next hiring event to reveal the employees who will best help your company succeed.

Effectively Communicate with Your Employees

By Employment Resources

Effective human resource or other executives must be able to communicate to an executive group, a prospective employee, or business partner. To make sure that you’re communicating effectively, follow these guidelines:

Tell a story. People love stories. Stories have a beginning, middle, and end.

Don’t engage in death by PowerPoint. Too many presenters overwhelm their audience with far too much information in their PowerPoint. It’s called PowerPoint, not PowerParagraph. Don’t have more than three bullet points on any slide. Don’t use entire sentences, just a snapshot of the point to be made. Even better, see how just one picture can express many words. An excellent book to consider is Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds.

Begin logically and end emotionally. Move from the left side of the brain to the right side. Give people powerful information and the emotional “why” for applying it.

Less is more. Sometimes it’s better to communicate from a single page of bullet points than from an extensive handout. You can always make more information available later on.

Ask powerful questions. What can you ask that would be thought provoking? What questions keep your audience up at night? What questions will develop a rapport with your audience immediately?

Get feedback regularly. Be sure that your audience understands your point. Do they agree with you? For example, after making a point, superstar presenter Tony Robbins will ask the audience to say “Ay” in unison to help reinforce the point just made.

Wrap it up with action items. Identify the actions that you and your audience should take next. Give them a form or checklist to apply the information shared in your presentation.

Follow these presentation essentials and you too will do a great job of communication.

What is Key Person Insurance?

By Employment Resources

Key person insurance is one tool companies use to protect their business in case an important person in the company dies suddenly. Whether or not you’re a key person at your workplace, understand this valuable coverage since it potentially affects your job security.

What is Key Person Insurance?

When a company’s owner, president, manager or other key employee dies, it loses valuable leadership, experience and skill. Operations could suffer or the company could be forced to shut down, and you as an employee could lose your job.

Key person insurance protects companies. It’s a life insurance policy written in the key person’s name. That person receives no immediate benefit, though. Instead, the company pays the policy’s premiums and is the policy’s beneficiary. It receives the policy’s payout after the insured key executive suddenly dies. That cash allows the company to continue operating as normal until they can find another executive or adjust operations and successfully navigate the loss.

Why a Company Should Have Key Person Insurance

A company should purchase key person insurance for several reasons.

Continue operations.

The loss of a key person can cause a company to lose customers and face financial hardship. With key person insurance, the company receives valuable cash that allows it to pay financial obligations, maintain daily operations, repay debts, offer severance to employees and pay investors. It keeps a company afloat until someone else takes over the leadership or another strategic plan is put in place.

Affirm key personnel.

A company’s key employees keep the business operating as they manage day-to-day operations, attract new customers, hire quality employees and manage conflicts. Key person insurance affirms the value a company places on their key people and can be an effective tool that attracts and retains quality leadership.

Build trust.

When employees know that their company will continue operating as normal even if a key person dies, they have more confidence and trust in their company. They will work harder because of this trust.

How Much Key Person Insurance Should You Buy?

Determining how much key person insurance to buy depends on your business. Start by calculating how much money your company needs to continue operations successfully after your key employee dies. Factor in payroll, debt repayment and normal operating expenses. Then consider your budget. You’re now ready to get key person insurance quotes.

Key person insurance gives a company confidence to face the future after an irreplaceable employee dies. It gives you valuable peace of mind because it can ensure you keep your job even if a key person at your company dies. Make sure it’s part of your company’s financial portfolio.

Disability Leave Accommodations

By Employment Resources

An employee’s serious medical condition often extends beyond the 12 weeks granted under the FMLA. Under the ADA, they’re able to take off additional time for their medical condition unless it causes an undue hardship. For example, in a case decided by the First Circuit, an employee took 15 months of medical leave and then requested an additional two months of unpaid leave.

However, he could not provide absolute assurances that he would return to work on that date. The court ruled that unless the employer could show that his continued absence poses an undue hardship (temporary placement is inadequate or too costly) an additional two months may be a reasonable accommodation.

The ADA does not require an employer to grant an extended leave of absence when it’s unlikely that the leave will enable the disabled employee to perform the essential functions of the job. The courts have found leaves to be unreasonable where the employee works only five out of 28 months, the employee is out for a year and a half and asks for a 90-day extension, and the leave was so erratic that the employer does not know from one day to the next that the employee will be returning to work or not or when they might arrive.

An employee with a disability might need leave for a number of reasons related to the disability, including, but not limited to:

  • Obtaining medical treatment (e.g., surgery, psychotherapy, substance abuse treatment, or dialysis); rehabilitation services; or physical or occupational therapy.
  • Recuperating from an illness or an episodic manifestation of the disability.
  • Obtaining repairs on a wheelchair, accessible van, or prosthetic device.
  • 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 a service animal (e.g., a guide dog).
  • Receiving training in the use of braille or to learn sign language.

When considering whether or not to grant extended leave as an accommodation, consider these factors:

  • When the employee expects to return to work.
  • Whether the absences will be planned or erratic.
  • Whether they will be able to perform their full duties when they return.
  • Whether the employee was hired to perform a certain task.
  • Whether additional leave and temporary employees are more costly than hiring a new employee.
  • Whether the leave creates an undue hardship under the circumstances.

Click here to learn more.

Reporting Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

By Employment Resources

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious offense. It affects productivity, motivation and morale, and it’s illegal. Learn how to report sexual harassment as you protect your coworkers and workplace.

What is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission considers sexual harassment to include several actions.

  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Verbal or physical actions that are sexual in nature
  • Offensive remarks about a person’s gender

It can happen frequently or only once. The perpetrator can be either gender and hold any job title. Even customers can be sexual harassment victims or perpetrators.

Why Report Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

All sexual harassment in the workplace is unlawful whether it occurs during a job interview, is perpetrated by the company president or a customer, or happens one time. It’s a serious offense, and it’s your responsibility to report it.

How to Report Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

If you’re the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace or see it happen, you may feel embarrassed to file a report or worried about repercussions. However, you have the right and responsibility to report any illegal actions using these steps.

Review your employee handbook. It includes the specific protocols on how to report sexual harassment in your workplace.

Report to the right person. Usually, you should report sexual harassment to your supervisor or Human Resources manager, but that person could be the sexual harassment victim or perpetrator. In this case, find a neutral person, ideally a manager or supervisor, in your company and report the harassment in person.

Share details. It’s not enough to say that your coworker sexually harassed you. You need to share specific details that allow your employer to investigate the incident and create appropriate consequences. Those details include:

  • Dates of the harassment
  • Exactly what happened during the incident/s
  • Documents that support your story
  • Witnesses to the incidents

Put your report in writing. Even if you meet with a manager in person, you should still write your report and send it to your employer via email. Ask Human Resources to file a copy in your personnel file, and keep a copy for your personal records, too

Follow up. Your employer must investigate your sexual harassment complaint, and they may include you in the investigation. Be sure to follow up, though. Share any additional details you may have forgotten to include in the original report, and document those additions.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal. Take it seriously when you use these tips to report sexual harassment in the workplace. Your actions protect yourself, your coworkers and your workplace culture.

HSA is for Everyone: Enrollment Over 20 MILLION

By Employment Resources

As of January 2016, more than 20 million people were covered by health savings accounts (HSAs), according to a survey conducted by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a national association representing companies that offer health insurance (and other types of) coverage to individuals, employers, and public purchasers. This represents a 3.4% increase in HSA enrollment since last year.

HSAs, which were created in late 2003 by the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act, offer individuals who are covered by a qualified high-deductible health plan (HDHP) a tax-favored way to save for and pay for medical expenses.

Of the total HSA enrollment, about 10% were in the individual market; 10% were in the small group market (defined as businesses with 50 or fewer employees); and the remaining 80% were in the large group market (businesses with more than 50 employees).

Though HSAs sometimes are criticized as being appropriate only for young, healthy individuals, 55% of the people covered by HSA-eligible insurance in the AHIP census were over age 40.

The states with the largest HSA/HDHP enrollments were: California, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, Washington, Illinois,

The AHIP census was conducted by the organization’s Center for Policy and Research. More information on the census can be found through AHIP’s Web site,

Understanding Dependent Care Reimbursement Accounts

By Employment Resources

Dependent Care Reimbursement Accounts assist you in paying for qualified dependent care. With it, you can focus on your job instead of worrying about your kids or elderly dependent parents. Consider taking advantage of this employee benefit.

What are Dependent Care Reimbursement Accounts?

Dependent care reimbursement accounts pay for dependent care while you’re at work. Dependents are typically defined as children under the age of 12, a disabled spouse or dependent parents.

Depending on your tax filing status, you can contribute up to $6,000 annually to a dependent care reimbursement account. The money deposited into your dependent care reimbursement account is not refundable and does not carry over to the next year, so you’ll lose any funds you do not use.

What Do Dependent Care Reimbursement Accounts Cover?

You may only use funds in your dependent care reimbursement account for daycare expenses. The money cannot be used for any other expense even if it is related to your dependent’s care. Eligible expenses include:

  • Childcare before and after school for kids 13 and younger
  • In-home care as long as the provider is not your dependent
  • Home or daycare for disabled dependents who live with you at least eight hours a day
  • Licensed child and adult daycare providers
  • Registration fees associated with qualified dependent care
  • Summer day camp for kids 13 and younger

Dependent care reimbursement accounts do not pay for these expenses.
Care not related to work

  • Educational Fees/Tuition
  • Food, clothing
  • Overnight camps
  • Payments to a qualified individual’s parent or spouse
  • Transportation expenses you incur

Keep all receipts to prove that you used the funds for eligible expenses.

Why enroll in a Dependent Care Reimbursement Account?

    1. Perform better at work.

      Caring for your child or dependent is your first priority, and it’s difficult to concentrate at work when your child is sick or your elderly parent is home alone. A dependent care reimbursement account ensures your dependents are taken care of as you work. The account can actually improve your work performance since it decreases tardiness, absenteeism and distraction while increasing morale and productivity.

    1. Reduce your tax burden.

      You fund your dependent care reimbursement account with pre-tax paycheck deductions, which means you pay fewer taxes.

    1. Balance your budget.

      Paying for childcare or elder care can be expensive and could strain your budget. Make regular contributions to your dependent care reimbursement account and keep your budget balanced.

    1. Dependent care reimbursement accounts offer numerous benefits. They’re an important asset for your family, so consider opening an account. Your Human Resources manager or insurance agent will provide additional information.

Volunary Benefits Advantages

By Employment Resources

The voluntary benefits market is growing, and with good reason. Voluntary benefits-offered through the workplace but paid for fully by employees-enable an employer to make a wide array of supplemental benefits available to employees, at little or no cost to the company. Voluntary benefits products are so attractive that, according to one study, more than six in ten employers now offer at least one type of voluntary benefit.

The advantages of voluntary benefits are well known. Because a voluntary benefit product is marketed and sold in a group setting, employees can purchase the benefits at a group rate, pay for them through payroll deduction, and save the time of shopping for them on their own.

For eight consecutive years, Metlife has conducted research on employees and employers regarding the U.S. benefits industry, and compiled the results in its annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends. The 2010 study reveals the apparent resilience of workplace benefits even during a tough economy.

It also shows that although employers and employees continue to deal with the effects of the economic downturn, they are focused on the long term, and value voluntary benefits. However, there is a slight disconnect on how much worth employers/employees place on voluntary benefits.

According to the 2010 study, 57% of employees agree that voluntary benefits provide access to options that better fit their needs. Furthermore, 60% of employees surveyed believe that voluntary benefits are valuable to provide them with extra coverage that supplements employer-sponsored benefits.

From the employer’s perspective, the study found that many employers underestimate the value employees place on voluntary benefits. Just as employees expressed greater interest in voluntary benefits, the importance of these benefits has declined among employers. As a result, there may be a missed opportunity for employers to improve satisfaction with benefits program.

The most in-demand voluntary benefits continue to be those that supplement core medical, life, or disability coverages. These include dental, critical illness, specific illness, hospital supplemental, medical supplemental, disability buy-up, and supplemental life coverages.

However, demographic trends are contributing to growing interest in long-term care and financial planning products. As more people become faced with their parents’ eldercare needs, they begin to appreciate the cost of extended care and anticipate what their own needs may be in a few short years. And, many workers, beginning in mid-career, face the double crunch of saving for retirement at the same time they are attempting to finance their children’s college education.

Other products in the voluntary benefits market include vision insurance, legal services plans, auto/homeowners’/renters’ insurance, and pet care insurance.

In deciding on a particular voluntary benefit product or vendor, an employer should keep several things in mind:

  • Is the type of product one for which employees have expressed an interest (as demonstrated by requests made or surveys done of the workforce) or one that you are comfortably sure employees will want?
  • If administrative processes by the company’s human resources/benefits staff will be required, are they easy to understand and economical in terms of the amount of time they will require?
  • After examining detailed information on the product, does it seem to provide what its name implies?
  • Is the carrier/vendor financially stable and reputable?

If chosen properly, voluntary benefits can be a welcome, win-win supplement to an employer’s benefits package.

Health Care Reimbursement Accounts

By Employment Resources

Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) supplement your health insurance policy. Employer funded, they reimburse you for a variety of qualified medical expenses. Understand HRAs as you maximize your health insurance coverage.

What are HRAs?

Also known as Section 105 Medical Reimbursement Plans or Health Reimbursement Arrangements, Health Reimbursement Accounts essentially work as business expense accounts. You pay for your medical care but can then receive reimbursement for qualified expenses.

An HRA is funded from your paycheck deductions. Because you pay taxes on your gross income before HRA deductions are taken, you won’t pay taxes on the HRA reimbursements you receive.

Your employer sets the HRA dollar amount. Unlike a Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA), an HRA has no contribution limit so your employer can deposit as much or as little money into the account as they wish.

If you don’t use all the funds in your HRA, the money rolls into the next year unless your employer has designed the HRA to limit rollover. You may also be eligible for distributions after you retire if your employer’s plan allows it.

What Expenses Qualify?

A variety of health care expenses may be reimbursed with an HRA as long as the expense is not reimbursed from another source and is not itemized on your tax return. Typically, eligible expenses include:

  • Surgery
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Co-pays and deductibles
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Prescriptions
  • First aid supplies
  • Medical equipment
  • Dental expenses
  • Vision expenses

Who’s Covered by an HRA?

Your personal medical expenses are covered by an HRA. Also, it may pay for the unreimbursed medical expenses incurred by your spouse, qualifying child who is under the age of 26 or dependent parent. Check your specific HRA for additional details on who is covered.

Why Use an HRA?

If your employer offers an HRA, consider taking advantage of it for several reasons.

  • Supplement a high-deductible health insurance policy. Increasingly, health insurance policies include high deductibles of up to $10,000 and may not cover dental or vision expenses. Use your HRA to cover the gaps.


  • Improve your health. Instead of putting off medical treatment like diagnostic testing or surgery or not taking expensive medication, use your HRA to cover those costs. The funds help you get and stay healthy.


  • Save money. Think of your HRA as a savings account. When you need the funds for authorized medical expenses, they’re available, and you won’t pay taxes on the distributions. Health reimbursement accounts are valuable assets that supplement your health insurance policy and stretch your budget. Ask your employer about opening an HRA today.