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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).

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.

TOUGH DAYS AHEAD FOR MANAGERS WHO DON’T WANT TO BE LEARNERS

By Your Employee Matters

Today’s ‘pandemic’ economy in which we’re trying to get more out of everybody and everything, without having to pay for it, put managers under overwhelming pressure to perform. What can you do about it?

  • Keep growing and pushing yourself to work on your “highest and best use.” Focus on those “A activities” that produce bottom-line results. Next, delegate or outsource the B level activities (administrative functions) to the extent possible. Finally, ditch the C activities, which are simply time-wasters. Be a freak about doing this if you want to survive without burning out.
  • Become a great communicator. Whether you’re passing along the leadership vision, mission, goals, and values of your organization; working on an individual employee’s performance; or trying to learn more about what motivates employees, train yourself in communication. To be great at managing conflict, change, performance, engagement, career paths, strategic planning, and so forth without studying these disciplines, you’ll need more than experience or osmosis. So turn off your TV or computer game, ditch that fantasy league or online gossip, and pick up a book or program that will help you learn in these areas. Of course if you have access to the HR That Works program, the special reports, training modules and webinars would be a good place to start.
  • Learn what employees want from you:
    • -Be clear with them
    • -Don’t play favorites
    • -Do what you say you’re going to do, when you said you’ll do it
    • -Provide feedback on a regular basis
    • -Help define their career path
    • -Keep yourself emotionally balanced

-Remember, a poor relationship with managers is one of the top three reasons for employee turnover. Managers also influence the other two reasons (hiring a misfit, or failing to provide career growth and opportunity).

Employee Benefits for Grocery Stores Employees

By Your Employee Matters

As a grocery store employee, you expect to get a regular paycheck. However, you may also be eligible for a variety of employee benefits for grocery stores employees. Here’s a partial list.

Healthcare

Access a variety of healthcare options, including:

  • Medical insurance
  • Prescription drug coverage
  • Group vision and dental plan
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Group life insurance
  • Short-term and long-term disability plan
  • Mental health and behavioral health care
  • Free flu shots

Education

Whether you work as a cashier, stocker or manager, you could be eligible for education assistance, including tuition reimbursement or scholarships. Your employer may also offer a mentorship program or leadership development courses taught by your grocery store corporate management team or other trainer.

Employee Assistance Program

If you face a personal emergency, take advantage of the employee assistance program. It can pay a personal bill or provide other assistance.

Some companies also offer assistance with child or elder care. You may also receive free or discounted legal consultations and financial planning.

Time Off

Enjoy paid vacation, sick and holiday time off. The amount of paid time off you receive depends on your employer, the number of hours you work and your specific benefits package.

Future Funding

Grocery stores like Publix give employee stock ownership. Your company may not offer a generous option like this, but do take advantage of their 401(k) retirement savings plan and matching funds.

Payday Perks

Every week or two, you’ll receive a paycheck. Opt into direct deposit in one or more checking or savings accounts, allowing you to customize your paycheck the way you want.

Other payday perks could include a free credit union membership where you can access higher than normal interest rates. Some companies also offer:

  • Quarterly bonuses
  • Annual holiday cash bonuses
  • Bereavement pay
  • Jury duty pay
  • Premium pay for overnight, weekend or holiday shifts

Miscellaneous Benefits

There are a variety of additional benefits that supplement your paycheck and offer personal and professional fulfillment. They include:

  • Service awards
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Flexible work schedule
  • Holiday exchange (get the day off of your choice when you work on a holiday)
  • Discounts on local attractions or events
  • Adoption assistance
  • Discounts on home or auto insurance
  • Cellphone discounts
  • Gym membership
  • Free food or discounted groceries
  • Product tastings
  • Free uniforms and shoe allowance
  • Free parking
  • Annual review
  • Annual survey to give feedback to your supervisor

These are a few examples of employee benefits for grocery stores employees. Check with your particular employer as you take advantage of all the benefits you’re eligible to receive.

 

How to Hire the Best Employees

By Your Employee Matters

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.

529 Plans Versus Life Insurance for College Savings

By Your Employee Matters

Many parents purchase 529 plans that allow them to save for their children’s’ college education. Life insurance is another savings vehicle for children, so compare both plans as you choose the best option for your child’s future education.

529 Plans

529 Plans are a unique way to save for your child’s college education. The money grows tax-free, and distributions are not subject to federal income tax. You can open an account with a 529 Plan manager or your financial planner. Consider these facts about 529 Plans.

Uses: Spend 529 Plan funds on tuition, books and other college expenses at a qualified school, including vocational schools, colleges and universities. If you withdraw the money for something other than education, you will owe penalties and taxes on the distributions.

Fees: Expect to pay a 529 Plan fee based on your portfolio. Additionally, you may owe a broker fee if you purchase the policy through a financial advisor.

Investment Return: When you invest in 529 Plans, you choose the portfolio in which you invest your funds. There is no limit to your return potential, but you also aren’t guaranteed a return since you invest in mutual funds, bond mutual funds or money market accounts.

Financial Aid: While 529 Plans allow you to pay for college, they do affect your child’s financial aid package. Your child could lose up to 5.64 percent of the 529 Plan’s total value in college financial aid.

Life Insurance

Cash-value or whole life insurance policies accrue cash over time. Buy a policy when your child is born, and it could pay for your child’s college education in 18 years. These policies grow tax-deferred. Understand several facts about using life insurance for college.

Uses: Life insurance is flexible since you can use the accrued money for any expense. Your child can withdraw the funds for college or buy a car or house or vacation if they get a full scholarship or decide not to attend college.

Fees: Expect to pay regular premiums for your life insurance policy. You’ll also owe the insurance agent a commission.

Investment Returns: The type of life insurance policy you buy dictates the returns you receive. On average, you could see a three to six percent return over 10 years.

Financial Aid: Borrow money from your cash-value or whole life insurance policy for school, and you don’t have to claim it as income on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid forms. Overall, it will minimally impact your child’s financial aid eligibility.

When paying for your child’s education, start saving early. If possible, invest in 529 Plans since they’re specifically designed for education.

Best Ways To Protect Your Vision When Your Work At A Computer

By Your Employee Matters

Up to ninety percent of people who use a computer at work for even as little as two hours experience eye strain or computer vision syndrome (CVS). That strain can range from minor irritations and red eyes to decreased vision. Computer use can also cause physical fatigue, work errors and decreased productivity, so take these steps and reduce eye strain.

Cut the Glare

Bright light can increase eye strain, so close curtains and dim interior lights or use low-intensity bulbs. You can also install an anti-glare lens on your monitor or eyeglasses.

Improve Your Display

Select at least a 19-inch high-resolution monitor that features a liquid crystal display rather than a cathode ray tube. This display technology reduces glare and image flicker, two factors that can cause eye strain.

Adjust the Display Settings

The settings on your monitor can affect your vision, so make several adjustments.

  • Match the brightness to your surroundings.
  • Increase the text size and contrast.
  • Use black print and a white background.
  • Reduce the color temperature to lower the blue light.

Change your Workstation

Several ergonomic adjustments at your workstation can reduce eye strain. When looking from paper to the monitor, place the paper on a raised stand so it’s even with the monitor. Then set the chair and monitor to the correct height. The computer screen should sit 10 to 15 degrees below and 20 to 24 inches or an arm’s length away from your eyes. You should also clean your screen regularly to remove fingerprints and dust that affects your view.

Take Breaks

Set your timer and look away from your computer screen every 20 minutes. Focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eyes a break.

Also, remember to blink. When using a computer, you’re one-third less likely to blink, but your eyes need the moisture.

You can step away from your workstation and stretch, too. These breaks reduce muscle fatigue and tension, and you will return to work ready to focus on your screen and work again.

Purchase Computer Glasses

Modified eyeglasses with lightly tinted or photochromic lenses reduce blue light exposure. Ask your optometrist about silicone hydrogel contact lenses, too, the most comfortable contact lenses for many computer users.

Get an Eye Exam

Use your vision insurance coverage to check your eye health. Tell your doctor how often you use the computer and get tips for reducing future eye strain. You may also need artificial tears to correct dry eye and reduce irritation.

As you work at your computer, take these steps to reduce eye strain. They protect your vision and improve your work productivity.