HR Quick Scoops

Insights and updates from our members, for our members

Meet our team member: Jill Langhals

Once a month, HR Quick Scoops will spotlight one of our ERA team members. Today, meet Jill Langhals. She joined ERA in May as a Compensation Consultant.

  1. What do you do for ERA?  I serve as the compensation consultant for ERA, assisting members with market and internal equity reviews, building and updating salary structures, creating bonus plans, and various other issues related to total rewards.
  2. Where did you go to school?  I went to college at the University of Findlay, a small private school in Northwest Ohio, around where I grew up.
  3. What do you like to do in your free time?  In my free time, I like to cook, experiment with new cocktail recipes, karaoke, and travel.
  4. What is your favorite book/movie?  My favorite movie is Dirty Dancing. I could watch it over and over again, and I have.

Regulatory heads up – possible changes to the overtime salary threshold

The DOL is on the move again! Right now they are discussing increasing the salary threshold for exempt status under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

As a quick refresher, employees are presumed to be non-exempt and entitled to the minimum hourly wage and overtime pay for all hours over 40 per workweek, unless the employer can prove that the employee is exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act. To be exempt, three factors must be satisfied. First, the employee must perform duties of an exempt position (e.g., manage at least 2 people, etc.). Second, the employee must be paid on a salary basis. Third, the salary must be equal or greater to a specific annual amount.

Right now, the salary threshold is $35,568. It is hard to predict what the new threshold will be, but some Senators are calling for a number around $80,000. (See this article from HR Dive for more information about who is requesting that figure and how they reached it.)

Compensation Competitiveness

One of the most discussed topics in our roundtable meetings lately has been the inability for members to attract candidates for their open roles. In response to this challenge, most roundtables participants have reported raising their starting rates to try to compete with larger and national employers.

This strategy brings along some additional challenges when it comes to your more experienced and seasoned staff. In addition to increasing their starting rate, employers will also need to examine the compensation for their current employees to ensure that their experience and tenure with the company does not go unrewarded. An employer may experience morale issues or even increased turnover if employees with 1-3 years of experience are being pay the same as new employees.

OSHA Updated Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing Spread of COVID

On June 10, 2021, OSHA updated its employer guidance regarding workplace COVID-19 exposures as well as an emergency temporary standard (ETS) for healthcare and healthcare support services employers.

For employers not covered by ETS, OSHA recommends:

  • Granting paid time off for employees to get vaccinated, for which businesses with fewer than 500 employees may be eligible for tax credits under the American Rescue Plan Act;
  • Instructing infected workers, unvaccinated workers who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and all and all workers with COVID-19 symptoms to stay home from work;
  • Implementing physical distancing of at least 6 feet for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers in communal work areas and using transparent shields or other solid barriers, such as fire-resistant plastic sheeting or flexible strip curtains, where distancing is impractical;
  • Maintaining ventilation systems as suggested in the CDC’s Ventilation in Buildings recommendations based on the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE) Guidance for Building Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic;
  • Performing routine cleaning and disinfection and following the CDC’s cleaning and disinfection recommendations if someone who has been in the facility within 24 hours is suspected of having or confirmed to have COVID-19;
  • Suggesting that unvaccinated customers, guests, and visitors wear face coverings; and
  • Providing unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers with face coverings or surgical masks, unless their work task requires a respirator or other personal protective equipment (PPE).

OSHA recommendations for higher-risk workplaces with mixed vaccination status workforces include:

  • Staggering break times or providing temporary break areas and restrooms to avoid groups of unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers congregating during breaks and ensuring that unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others at all times, including on breaks;
  • Staggering workers’ arrival and departure times to avoid congregations of unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers in parking areas and locker rooms and near time clocks; and
  • Providing visual cues, such as floor markings and signs, as reminders to maintain physical distancing.

Hotline calls

On high-volume days, you may notice that the phone rings a few more times than you’ve experienced in the past. We have rolled out a two-agent system on certain days, where the call will ring to a second person if the scheduled hotline team member is already on a call. This is one of our process improvements we’ve implemented over the past 6 months. And of course we always welcome emails to!

Hiring teenagers

Hotline had a lot of contacts today asking about minor labor laws. This seems natural given that school is out for the summer in most places and there are teenagers looking to make some money over the next couple of months.

But this raises the question – given the current challenges many companies are experiencing in their recruiting efforts, are they looking to utilize more workers who are under 18 years old? Comment below if you have any thoughts on this.

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