California Bans Salary History Inquires and Adopts Ban-The-Box for Job Applicants

Effective January 1, 2018, California will expand hiring laws:

  • A.B. 1008: “Ban-the-box” will outlaw requests for criminal conviction disclosure prior to a conditional job offer.
  • A.B. 168: This law will prohibit past salary inquires during a job application process.

Currently, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia have laws in place that ban salary history requests. Additionally, 10 states operate under “Ban-The-Box.”

As a hiring manager, it is necessary to monitor laws that dictate the interview and hiring process. Therefore, it is critical to check for updates on your state’s labor law website. The US Department of Labor lists each state’s site here.


Work-Life Balance from a Millennial Standpoint

Many different aspects of business have changed since the millennial generation became the largest among active employees. One of the most prominent being the importance of work-life balance.

A majority of workers today strive for and understand the benefits of a career that places a high priority on that of their employees’ personal lives. Commonly referred to as a “lazy and entitled” generation by those older, millennials typically ask their employers for time off, remote work, and the flexibility to adjust their hours according to personal events. Why does this deem them careless if these are all features that every generation wants out of their jobs? Perhaps the generational gap is defined by the dated notion that graciousness for even having a job means you are in no position to make demands.

Completing a job successfully should not be contingent upon spending 40 hours at the office, but rather the amount of work that is done. Should that require less hours or working from home, so be it. Managers should understand that forcing employees to do their jobs in a way that management wants them done will only deter them from doing so, and possibly prevent future hires.

The entire concept of work-life balance seems to be dated. The idea of having to devote one half of your life to your career seems daunting when spelled out. Effectively blending the two, not so much as a compromise, but as a better means of production is what most employers today understand as necessary for both success, and employee retention.

Another way to look at this debate is that despite physically leaving the office to go home, many employees continue to think about their jobs, the tasks that lie ahead, and issues that may arise in the near future. There isn’t a set time in which people are able to simply forget about their day’s work and go about their lives disregarding it. Stress or worry can carry well beyond the walls of an office. Conversely, people often think about their personal lives regularly while at work, more so when they are experiencing a bigger life event.

More businesses today should rethink their approach to employees’ work-life balance if they haven’t already done so. Making the personal lives and well-being of one’s team a priority is an almost guaranteed way to promote production, and increase employee retention. With millennials at the forefront of modern business ideas, perhaps even more aspects will begin to change for the better.

Remotivating Your Employees After Summer

Now that summer has ended and vacations begin to dwindle down around the office, some employees may find it difficult to get back in the swing of things. Weeks spent in a tropical location, Fridays where the workday ends hours early, or just a general sense of relaxation throughout the past few months can certainly be debilitating once these luxuries have begun to slow down. With that said, productivity around the office can be greatly affected.

Keeping your team motivated and active is a priority that every business leader understands, but doing so after the summer season can be slightly more difficult. Consider a number of team-building activities or daily acts of inspiration to spark your employees’ drive once again.

Host fun events

One way to get your team out of this post-summer melancholy is to take their minds off work for short periods of time. For example, employees may be more inclined to eat lunch privately at their desks, but offering to host a catered lunch or pay for a meal at a nearby restaurant can quickly turn a day of gloom around.

Get creative with the breaks you offer your employees. Hosting team breaks in which each staff member takes part in a shared activity can be fun, and can also build strong relationships among your team. These can include anything like office yoga, or a walk around the building or to a nearby market. If you can accommodate for longer breaks, having your employees take part in activities like bowling, sporting events, scavenger hunts, or educational games can be extremely beneficial.

Make meetings casual

Meetings following a week of vacation can be extremely difficult for employees still trying to shake their post-break bleakness. Start these group gatherings off on a high note, and in a way that engages everyone in the room. Ask obscure questions that could spark a fun conversation, or start with a small activity, like a joint effort on a Sporcle quiz. With laughter being the first experience, meetings will then feel much more casual.

Encourage dress-down days

One of the more exhausting acts following a summer break that managers may not consider is the necessity to dress up for work. While not all offices require this, those that do should host dress-down days, or as many know them as, casual Fridays (though they can be any day of the week). So long as the outfits are work appropriate, allow employees to wear t-shirts or shorts. Encourage them to have fun with it before a weekend of sporting events, for example. Ask them to wear the jersey of their favorite team. It may seem small, but even a change of work clothes can inspire a more casual environment, and thus a less stressful one.

Navigating the Legal Nuances of Background Checks

With more and more businesses today ensuring they are making the best possible hires by conducting background checks, the details and stipulations have since become much more demanding. With more programs like ‘Ban the Box’ and ‘adverse action’ arising to offset the sometimes complex aspects of background checks, companies that conduct them must understand the legalities that come with those in order to avoid troubles down the road.

To start, adverse action is what employers must adhere by after denying an applicant employment because of the results following a background check. This is also applied to reassignments or denial of promotion. Before you make a decision, you must notify the applicant or employee that the process is underway, along with a summary of rights from the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Once five days have passed, depending on whether or not you choose to hire or reject the individual, a notice must be sent that includes reasoning and a way for the background check to be accessed by the applicant, along with the background check company’s contact information.

Though ‘ban the box’ laws are not active in every state, those that do enforce this campaign ask employers to consider applicants despite their criminal histories in order to reintroduce them to the working world. It has been regarded as somewhat controversial considering the fact that many companies refrain from hiring those who have criminal pasts, but denying them simply because of this in a state that enforces this program can result in a plethora of legal complications.

Notify a candidate prior to an interview that a background check may or may not be conducted, and whether or not your city has any specific stance on banning the box. The only careers void of this campaign are those in law (police officers) and childcare. However, these laws vary by state, so be sure to fully understand your specific state’s policies.
Always remember that the Fair Credit Reporting Act is what you should constantly refer to for any clarification. The process for adverse action is required under every circumstance, but the details may differ from state to state. Once all legal requirements are understood, be sure to provide the best possible screening process for your applicants and employees you can.

Managing Political Conversations in the Workplace

Given the current state of U.S. politics and the vast pool of opinions that come with it, it can be difficult keeping conversations regarding such a topic to a minimum. Political conversations are often those that spark arguments and tension in the workplace, which can directly harm your business, so paying attention to the rate at which these conversations are being held, and the type of responses that follow are important for you as a manager.

Though political conversations are easiest when avoided, silencing your staff’s opinions and desired topics of discussion deters their freedom of speech within the office. That being said, try and navigate this touchy subject delicately without compromising your best interest. In other words, allow these conversations to take place, but set a few limitations in place.

One of the best ways to steer clear of heated conversations is encouraging your employees to discuss the “bigger picture” rather than which party is right, and which is wrong. Having individuals talk about how certain problems affect them, and how they wish for them to be resolved is not only a way to avoid confrontational subjects, but it poses constructiveness, and allows others to see things from a different perspective.

It’s fairly easy for political conversations to escalate quickly, and with that, those engaged in these conversations are bound to make remarks before considering your business’s ethical standards. Ensure that all of your employees are reminded regularly of the respect that should be shared throughout the workplace, and to not make any comments that could be considered offensive or controversial. Instead, promote acceptance in every sense of the word. It’s important to consider others’ beliefs before discussing such a touchy subject, and accepting those beliefs when they are vastly different that one’s own.

While it is impossible to monitor every conversation going on within your office (which is also frowned upon), it is crucial to make sure that these discussions remain civil. Social cues are important to understand in order to cease conversations that are making those involved uncomfortable. Make sure your staff members are aware of these to avoid worsening the situation.

Political conversations can be difficult to navigate without something being said that offends one of the parties involved. As a manager, it’s important that you mitigate these situations, and avoid more controversial ones entirely. Though opinions should be shared among staff, there is a line that should not be crossed, with most of these topics best being left outside of work.

Defining Ethical and Legal Duties in Human Resources

Balancing workplace ethics and legal responsibilities in the world of human resources can be extremely difficult. On one hand, providing people with the care and comfort they deserve is a human trait that many possess, with many managers and HR professionals wanting to express this characteristic within the workplace. On the other hand, depending on the circumstances, doing so can result in legal and ethical complications that may not have been considered beforehand.

Those in human resource departments must define the line between professional obligations and moral ones in order to be effective in this field. However, both may arise within the workplace, and understanding one’s responsibilities as a representative of the company and as a human being is crucial in order to avoid blurred lines, though it is ideal when the two skill sets are able to come together under one circumstance.

First, be sure to establish clear boundaries as to what you can and cannot do as a Human Resources professional. Many employees can come to their HR departments with information that they wish to submit anonymously, or have held in confidence. However, those working within these departments must recognize a legal or ethical obligation to disclose this information to a manager or executive.

For example, if an employee approaches their HR department to discuss an incident in which they were asked to perform an illegal activity, whatever that may be, but remain anonymous, that department would be legally obligated to notify their next level of command to discuss possible ramifications and prevention of similar activities in the future. Make sure your employees understand what they should be reporting to human resources, and how this can benefit both them and the company as a whole.

The biggest dilemma HR professionals face is the decision-making process when they come across a legally or ethically complicated situation. There are many circumstances that can put one in between a rock and a hard place, but those in human resources should understand when it is appropriate and necessary to take action. For example, if the safety of an employee is at risk, or an individual is going against company culture or policy, a human resources professional should step in and resolve the situation.

It can be extremely difficult deciding whether or not to help in personal situations as well. Laws on reporting domestic violence and child abuse vary from state to state. Take this as an example as to how a personal situation should be approached. Do you or an employee suspect a coworker is a victim of abuse in any way, shape, or form? Aside from the laws that may demand you take action, approaching this situation delicately is important. If it is simply suspicion, accusations can result in harmful legal battles, so tread lightly if there is not concrete evidence.

Both ethical and legal situations can be difficult to navigate in the world of human resources, but professionals trained to deal with both understand the importance of addressing each with care. Often times, it comes down to a judgment call when dealing with ethics, but remaining professional and putting the interests of your employees first is required in this business.

4 Tips for Recruiting Better Tech Talent

As discussed in our previous blog, recruiting is an incredibly important aspect of business that should be treated with care. Poor hires, as employers know, can cost significant amounts of money in the long run, leaving a business one step behind its competitors. Though some may have fantastic recruitment plans in place, companies searching for tech talent understand that an entirely different approach is needed in order to find the best available.

  1. Consult a Tech Expert

The field of information technology is much different than what you would normally recruit for when dealing with open positions in office settings, which can prove troublesome for internal recruiters and hiring managers. Bring in a tech professional skilled in analyzing those within his or her field to ensure they are bringing a skillset to the table that will actually benefit your business’s needs.

  1. Cater to the Masses

Millennials are expected to make up more than 75% of the workforce by the year 2030. Keep this in mind during your recruitment process. The millennial generation is one that benefits greatly from innovation, both in the workplace, and through benefits offered. Allow for flexible schedules and work-from-home days, and try to entice this audience in a tech world that is largely populated by the giants in Silicon Valley. These are tactics that can surely attract a generation that is extremely tech savvy.

  1. Diversify

It is usually no secret to those within the tech industry that diversity is scarce. Women make up just 25% of computing jobs today. Acknowledging this statistic is a great way to cast a wider net when recruiting, encouraging more women to apply to the positions you need filled. The pool of tech talent is quickly shrinking, so fine tuning your efforts and targeting a much more specific demographic can actually lead to a higher number of candidates.

  1. Be Personable

This is a tip that can be applied to nearly every aspect of business, but when it comes to hiring IT professionals, it can mean much more. What is your vision of an IT department? Most may see a group of employees huddled around corners in a room tucked far away from the main office. Sadly, this is the case for many IT departments throughout the country. But, with a huge increase in demand for tech jobs and the high turnover rate that comes with it, a shift in this culture can do wonders for a business. Treat tech professionals that you hire as valued members of your team as you would any other employee.

How to Improve Applicant Experience When Screening

Every employer must give a notice to each job applicant when they are planning on conducting background checks. It should never come as a surprise to those applying that their professional history will be accessed for vetting, and the employer should do everything in their power to make the process smooth, and simple.

The first step in providing candidates with a much more enjoyable screening process is ensuring them that their information is private, and will be treated as such. Reassure them that while you as a company may be accessing this information, it will never displayed publicly, and will remain secure. The internet is never a place to post any of this information, as almost every medium is accessible by the public somehow. Express to applicants how important confidentiality is within your business, and how their personal information will never be seen outside of the company.

What can be disconcerting to many people is the notion that should something questionable arise in their background checks, they will immediately barred from employment. This brings your company’s policy into question. One thing that can directly harm your hiring potential is a no-tolerance approach to background checks. Obviously, serious crimes can immediately discredit an applicant, but smaller marks in their work, education, or criminal history should be followed up with a requested explanation. Allow these candidates to provide you with insight as to why this occurrence appeared on their background check, and potentially explain why it does not reflect who they are as professionals.

Keep applicants informed throughout the entire process. From the beginning, let them know how long conducting the background check will take, and when they can expect to hear back. Screening an employee is almost never a quick process. Companies should consider many different pieces of information, confirming them all before deciding to hire an applicant. Explain how this can take anywhere from a few business days, and possibly a full week or so.

Stay in contact with every candidate throughout the screening process as well. While this may be a routine part of your job, it isn’t for every applicant. Keeping them in the dark is almost a guaranteed way to cause concern, and can negatively reflect on your company. Communicate as frequently as you can.

Background checks can be fairly intimidating for those applying for jobs, so be sure to make their experience as smooth as possible. Communicate regularly, work alongside the applicants, and assure them that their personal information will remain confidential within your company.

Previous Salary Requests: What Can Employers ask Candidates?

Businesswoman interviewing man in office

Salary is a sensitive subject on both sides of the new hire table.  However, a candidate’s past compensation is no longer just an elephant in the room. The simple question: “What was your previous salary?” is becoming illegal in cities and states across the country.

Where is it illegal to ask a candidate about past salary?

Currently, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia have laws in place that ban salary history requests.

New York City and Massachusetts recently passed legislation to take effect later this year and in 2018, respectively.

Similar proposals are presently under review in a number of states: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington.

California law currently states employers cannot use prior salary alone to determine compensation. The state is also undergoing consideration to expand this law.

What does this change mean for hiring managers?

As a hiring manager, it is vital to monitor laws that dictate the interview process. Laws banning previous salary requests have the potential to govern over a fourth of the United States. Therefore, it is critical to check for updates on your state’s labor law website. The US Department of Labor lists each state’s site here.


How to Handle Parental Leave

Simply congratulating employees on their pregnancy or that of their spouses, though thoughtful, is not all that is necessary when handling such situations. Employers should have legally sound, consistent policies set in place to allow employees an adequate amount of time when choosing parental leave.

While offering your staff paid maternity leave is not mandatory, as no federal laws require you to do so, most companies comply with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act in order to avoid any complications when dealing with pregnancies in the workplace. A woman cannot be denied a job or promotion purely due to the fact that she is pregnant, nor can she be forced to go on leave, assuming she is still physically able to perform her job responsibilities. In summary, pregnant employees are to be treated no differently than their coworkers.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act has a number of other provisions for employees who are expecting such as allowing single women who are pregnant the same maternity benefits as those who are married, allowing those on maternity leave to use their vacation days, and disallowing employers to force pregnant employees to purchase family insurance policies.

Employers must all consider the fact that pregnant employees can take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows them 12 weeks of unpaid leave for birth, adoption, or foster care. This includes caring for a child, an ill spouse or parent, or themselves should they be experiencing a serious health condition. Both mothers and fathers are eligible for FMLA leave any time within the first 12 months of a child’s arrival. If both parents of the child work for the same company however, they are entitled to a combined total of 12 weeks leave.

Complications during pregnancy or prenatal care allow those expecting to take FMLA leave. This could be an injury sustained, illness, or physical or mental impairment that requires continued treatment by the healthcare provider. For example, increased dizziness, nausea, or physical pain exacerbated by pregnancy merits that employee for taking time off. Employers should approach this topic delicately, and approve time off if an employee is experiencing any problems due to her pregnancy.

It is up to an employer when deciding how many days of parental leave a new parent is eligible for. When deciding, make sure your policies are in line with federal and state regulations, which may vary. Going over the proposed benefits with an attorney is also highly recommended.

Though not all companies offer paid leave, it’s important to consider the offer. More and more businesses are offering paid maternity leave, as well as paternity leave to their employees; something that should be noted for companies looking to remain competitive in the world of employee retention.