How Will the 2016 Elections Impact Labor and Employment Policy?

UWe’re all still recalibrating after last Tuesday’s election results. While the citizenry ponders what this means for the country and the issues dear to us, the impact on labor and employment policy is a top consideration for business-focused organizations like ours.

Harold P. Coxson of the law firm Ogletree Deakins articulated some thoughts in a blog post just after election night:

What do last night’s election results mean for labor and employment policy? In the first place, it means that Republicans will control the White House and both the House and Senate.

For another, it means that President-elect Trump will select the candidate for the current vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as seats on the 12 federal circuit courts, only four of which remain under the control of judges appointed by Republican presidents.

It also means that President-elect Trump will fill the two vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board with two Republicans, thus switching majority control of the agency on his first days in office. The NLRB’s record of historic reversals of long-established labor law precedent in areas such as joint-employment, independent contractors, waivers of class and collective actions in arbitration agreements, “ambush” union elections and micro bargaining units will, over time, be reversed.

It means the appointment of other key policy positions throughout the federal labor agencies, including the Secretary of Labor, Solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, and Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. They, in turn, will be expected to roll back or recall many of the controversial labor and employment regulations, such as the recently issued Part 541 overtime regulation, the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces (government contractor “blacklisting”) executive order and implementing regulations, and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act’s revised “persuader activity” regulations.

The election results also represent an opportunity for Congress to promulgate regulations and pass legislation that would represent responsible immigration policy on a path to earned legalization of undocumented workers and that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

As a result of last night’s elections, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will likely remain with Sen. Alexander (R-TN) rather than Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The House Education and the Workforce Committee will be chaired by Rep. Virginia Fox (R- NC) with Rep. Bobby Scott (D- VA) likely to remain as Ranking Democrat.

Whether the election results will bring about greater bipartisanship and less political acrimony and gridlock remains to be seen. However, with Republicans controlling the White House and Congress, those angry voters who complained that “nothing ever gets done in Washington” will expect better.

Beyond the Bicentennial: Chamber Outlines Policy Recommendations for 2016 Candidates

Indiana has many advantages as a leading location to operate a business, raise a family or enjoy a high quality of life. But still more needs to be done to improve that climate and to keep pace with other cities and states, says the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

The organization unveiled today its six-week Beyond the Bicentennial campaign (going beyond the state’s first 200 years). It focuses on the “most potentially impactful public policies” and is directed foremost at the major party gubernatorial candidates, John Gregg and Eric Holcomb.

The Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan, first introduced in 2012, serves as the campaign blueprint. “The Indiana Vision 2025 economic drivers present a great opportunity to highlight initiatives that will benefit Indiana now and in the years ahead,” offers Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

The first of the four letters, also released today, emphasizes the Outstanding Talent driver. Recommendations focus on critical improvements at the K-12, postsecondary and workforce levels. In an annual survey earlier this year, 45% of responding employers indicated they had left jobs unfilled in the past year due to under-qualified applicants.

“Outstanding Talent is both the greatest challenge for our state and the area of most importance,” Brinegar states. “While businesses are rightfully concerned about their current and future workforces, for individuals we’re talking about the difference between happy, productive lives and what can amount to an economic death sentence if proper education and training are not received.”

The education/workforce needs range from greatly expanding the state’s pre-K pilot program to more students from low-income families, to assisting the more than 700,000 Hoosiers with some college but no credential or degree to gain the skills needed for a rapidly-evolving economy.

Concludes Brinegar, “We hope the recommendations and guidance in these letters will help the gubernatorial candidates and all lawmakers focus on what public policies could be the most impactful for Hoosiers.”

Additional Beyond the Bicentennial letters and accompanying videos will be made available on September 13 (Attractive Business Climate), September 27 (Superior Infrastructure) and October 11 (Dynamic & Creative Culture).

The Outstanding Talent releases are available now at www.indianachamber.com/letters.

barber

WGU Indiana Chancellor Allison Barber spoke at our press event this morning: “We want to encourage employers to set the standard that talent matters.”

About Indiana Vision 2025
In 2012, the Indiana Chamber published Indiana Vision 2025, a comprehensive, multi-year initiative to provide leadership and a long-range economic development action plan for Indiana. The mission statement: “Indiana will be a global leader in innovation and economic opportunity where enterprises and citizens prosper.”

A 24-person statewide task force of business and organization leaders developed the original plan. Many from that group, with some additions, worked for four months earlier this year to review progress, update goals and metrics, and identify potential new research to enhance future Report Cards (progress on each of the now 36 goals under the four drivers is assessed every other year).

The Indiana Chamber thanks Duke Energy, NIPSCO, Old National Bank, Vectren and all the investors in Indiana Vision 2025.

Learn more about Indiana Vision 2025 at www.indianachamber.com/2025.

 

U.S. Department of Labor Overtime Rule Will Hurt Businesses

7768406In 2014, President Obama directed the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to update and modernize rules regulating exemption of certain employees from minimum wage and overtime protection provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Just a few weeks ago, the U.S. DOL released regulations regarding new rules for overtime. This action drastically increases the salary threshold under which most employees would be eligible for overtime pay, from $23,660 for a full-time employee to $47,476 per year. This will affect millions of middle-wage employers across the country.

In addition to this increase in salary threshold, an automatic adjustment will occur every three years. Also, the “duties test” that determines whether or not certain employees are eligible for overtime even if they make more than the new threshold amount will continue. To be eligible for this exemption, an employee’s job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative or professional duties as outlined by DOL regulations. The change is set to go into effect on December 1 of this year. (See DOL fact sheet.)

Obviously, this has drastic implications for the employer community. According to the Washington Post, about 35% of full-time salaried employees will be eligible for time and a half when they work extra hours under the new rule. Under an already existing rule, that number was 7%. As such, employers will have less flexibility in documenting time for their workers – including flex time – or may have to cut back hours for certain employees. This can hamper employers being able to reinvest in their companies, as well as provide better benefits and growth opportunities. Small businesses will be even more impacted by this onerous rule.

The Indiana Chamber, in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber, is reaching out to the Indiana delegation in Washington, D.C. to let them know how this will impact the business community. We encourage you to participate in this call to action.

The 2016 Indiana Wage and Hour Seminar on July 28 will include a detailed discussion on the impacts on employers.

Are Your Policies and Procedures Up to Date?

ModelEmployee7The new seventh edition of our popular handbook, Model Employee Policies for Indiana Employers, is almost here! Authored by attorneys from Bose McKinney & Evans LLP, this guide is designed to help employers understand the legal implications of an organization’s written policies and procedures, the costs and benefits of placing informal practices in an employee handbook and how to communicate an organization’s values and goals. It includes a compilation of legal commentary and numerous sample policies.

Here’s a list of some of the topics being updated in the new edition:

  • Practical policies for dealing with new white-collar wage/hour regulations
  • Updated policies attempting to balance employer authority with the increasing overreach of the National Labor Relations Board
  • Revised EEO policies addressing expanding LGBT rights and protections
  • New technology-driven policies recognizing employee preferences for using their own devices for work-related purposes
  • Expanded complaint procedures focused on increasing whistleblowing protections in the workplace
  • Revised policies taking into consideration recent Supreme Court decisions on religious, disability and pregnancy discrimination and accommodations

Place your pre-order now: The book is $109 ($81.75 for Indiana Chamber members), and an ePub (online only) version will be available for $79. We expect to ship/publish the book in July.

KAR Auction Services Exec Named 2016 HR Pro of the Year

LisaPriceThe Indiana Chamber of Commerce announced today the 2016 recipient of the Ogletree Deakins Human Resources Professional of the Year award. Lisa Price, executive vice president of human resources at KAR Auction Services in Carmel, was honored during a luncheon at the 52nd Annual Human Resources Conference & Expo at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis.

The HR Professional of the Year award is a statewide recognition given annually to those that provide lasting impact through the implementation of best practices, organization design and effectiveness and accomplishment of the company’s strategic direction.

“Lisa is instrumental in furthering KAR’s overall goal of bringing our various subsidiary companies together under one unified banner and spearheading a common set of employee policies, practices and organizational structure,” praises Don Gottwald, chief operating officer at KAR Auction Services.

“The fact that Lisa is an experienced employment attorney enhances her already stellar HR skillset and makes her invaluable to furthering KAR’s ‘One Company’ vision.”

In 2013, Price switched lanes from exclusively being KAR’s in-house employment counsel to her current human resources position.

Making Diversity Work in the Workplace

fThe Successful Recipe for Disability Inclusion is a free, one-day training event for supervisors, hiring managers, HR professionals and business owners.

Guest speakers include Deb Dagit, former chief diversity officer of Merck & Co., and Marcy Hintzman, chairperson of ADA Indiana. They will provide common sense, easy-to-implement strategies for employing persons with disabilities. Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, disability etiquette, mentoring programs, hiring practices, employer resources and more are among the topics.

A working lunch and breakout sessions are included. The Palms Conference Center in Plainfield is the site for the March 24 event (8:15 a.m-4:45 p.m.). Advance registration is required. Learn more at www.makingdiversitywork.org. Contact Mary Ann Clark (mclark@hamiltoncenter.org) with questions.

Knowledge Transfer: Taking the Time to Get It Right

Anita-BuntenEDITOR’S NOTE: Anita Bunten was one of two winners of the 2015 Ogletree Deakins Human Resources Professional of the Year award. Nominations are open for the 2016 award through March 4.

What is knowledge transfer? How important is it? If you have been a part of managing talent in your company for any period of time, you have heard this term. We all talk about it and think it is important, but do we know what it is and are we effective at facilitating it in our companies?

I, like many others, have used this term for several years. I have sat with our company leaders and discussed knowledge transfer, but not until I actually began to lay out a knowledge transfer plan for my own position did I realize how overwhelming it can be to actually be a part of true knowledge transfer.

We know how important it is to document everything we do – whether it is benefit plans, recruiting activities, employee relations or employee development. But our documentation does not generally include all of the knowledge that we as talent management professionals and leaders have retained while diligently working to support our company’s goals and take care of our company’s employees.

I realized very quickly as I put an onboarding plan together for someone to succeed me that while we document, there was a significant amount of historical “head” knowledge that was not documented. Some may have been documented but then purged over time. Knowledge transfer in its purest form is the “head” knowledge that we may share from time to time, but is not written or stored where others can easily access and/or use the information.

This knowledge is vital for our organizations, the staff who continue after we leave and our successors to continue the legacies and programs we leave behind. While change will come, this knowledge will assist others in making change decisions with a complete picture of why programs, policies and benefits are designed and set up as they are today.

So you may ask: How do you transfer this “head” knowledge to someone else? You could begin by manually recording every piece of information you can pull out of your brain storage bins. Of course, this would probably take you many months to actually put all of this information in a document. More than likely, you would have multiple documents and it would be difficult for someone in the future to truly absorb all that you had written. This also is probably not the most effective way because you are only pulling information out as you try to think back over time as to what might be important.

Another option is to hire someone to transcribe all of your thoughts. You can then review and edit what has been transcribed. After you spend an inordinate amount of time talking, reading and editing, you will still just have a large number of documents that will be difficult for anyone to truly absorb.

One important factor is missing in the two options listed above. That factor is you. While you may have tried to document everything you could possibly recall, there has not been any interaction with you to fully understand your limitless “head” knowledge. While documentation is extremely important, documentation does not provide the full understanding of why programs, policies and benefits are designed as they are today. You can also not effectively share “soft knowledge” in documents. Soft knowledge addresses the people, relationships, culture, land mines and so much more that can (and maybe should) only be shared in face- to-face conversations.

Given the above, I believe there are two important steps to effectively complete knowledge transfer. First, you need to make a list of all knowledge areas that are pertinent for someone succeeding you. This should not be a short list of categories, but a detailed list of anything and everything included in your responsibilities. While some items may not seem that important, the person new to your position does not want to be caught by surprise or learn at a later date that something fell through the cracks because you did not put it on this very important list. Examples of what you might consider minor could be an annual company cookout, how you handle birthdays for staff, do have you special reports you use periodically, how your company handles weather emergencies and the list goes on.

Second, you need to spend a significant amount of time with your successor, talking through all of the items on the list. I know your first question is how to do this when the overlap time from you leaving and your successor starting is often 30 days or less. It probably is not possible if you are leaving to accept another position or you are being asked to leave the organization. However, if you are retiring or leaving the organization in a situation where it is possible, you should make sure you give enough advance notice so that you have three to four months of overlap.

The first obstacle to this overlap will be your own personal fear of loss of ownership. This is an unfounded fear. If you are choosing to leave the organization and you want your legacy and passion for the employees to continue, it is essential that you be willing to share freely all of your “head” knowledge. As you take a successor through a well-designed onboarding program of all of your responsibilities, you will find that you will have the opportunity to share all of the historical information and nuances only you can effectively give. As I have continued to work with my successor, I cannot count the number of times I have said, “Let me give you a history lesson before we go into the detail,” or “let me talk with you about how you can effectively work with this person or through this type of situation in our company.”

The second obstacle is fear of sharing too early with your management your plans to leave. I can clearly relate to this because this was my greatest fear. I did not want my colleagues to think I was coasting. I did not want to be left out of future plan discussions. The list goes on, but if you plan to be an outstanding leader until you leave your company, your sense of responsibility and passion for your legacy and company employees require you to effectively plan for your departure and to give your management the time and opportunity to find a suitable replacement in order to allow the knowledge transfer to occur.

The third obstacle to this overlap will be cost. Your company may say that the overlapping salaries are too costly. I would challenge your management by saying the cost of not having a smooth transition with sufficient knowledge transfer will be more costly over time than three or four months of overlapping salary.

In the last three years, I have seen several high-level key employees leave our company. In one situation, the individual only gave about one months’ notice. While this individual left all of their paper and electronic records, they did not spend any time with their successor before they left. Even though the successor came from within our company, the successor has struggled because of the lack of “head” knowledge transfer and that very important soft knowledge.

In my situation, I will have three-and-a-half months to transfer “head” knowledge, including soft knowledge, to my successor. This is even more critical since my successor has come from outside the company. This overlap time has been invaluable to allow the individual the luxury of shadowing me and transitioning into the role while I am still here to provide the soft knowledge regarding people, relationships, culture, land mines and so much more that can only be shared in face-to-face conversations.

This type of knowledge transfer may not be as important if your company has a fully-developed succession plan for every position. My experience suggests to me that as hard as we try to have good succession plans, there are still transition periods and knowledge transfer periods for hand-picked successors, and there will be times when a successor is not in place at the time a transition is needed.

The effective transfer of “head” knowledge, including soft knowledge, is not just for our positions, but all positions in our companies. It is critical for continued and ongoing success of our companies. I encourage you to refine and/or implement plans within your companies to have effective knowledge transfer.

Anita R. Bunten is executive director of talent management at Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance Company (IFBI). She has spent her entire 40-year human resources career at the company. The HR Professional of the Year award is a statewide recognition given annually to those that provide lasting impact through the implementation of best practices, organization design and effectiveness and accomplishment of the company’s strategic direction. 

Survey Seeks to Assist in Veteran Hiring

sThere are still more than one million veterans looking for full-time jobs with tens of thousands of soldiers leaving the military in 2016. Many employers aren’t getting the right information and networking help they need to successfully hire veterans, Reservists and National Guard members.

Center for America (CFA), a nonprofit, is conducting a national survey among employers to identify the specific problems that employers in different industries and locations are having in recruiting military candidates. CFA is funded by foundations and Phillips 66, so it is providing its help to associations and employers at no cost.

“We realize many resources to help employers hire veterans are too general, too complicated or too costly to really help them find and hire military candidates,” said Brig. Gen. (ret) Marianne Watson, director of Outreach for Center for America. “So, CFA is developing free, industry-specific networking and web-based education resources to make it easier and faster for employers to connect with the right military candidates.

“We are asking for your help to complete a 10-minute online questionnaire – anonymously if you wish – that will identify the challenges you’re having in hiring veterans,” said General Watson. “Hundreds of employers from all over the country are participating.”

Here is the link: www.surveymonkey.com/r/36PW85F_CFA (In the first question, please input the code – G444.)

CFA has been coordinating the American Jobs for America’s Heroes national campaign for four years under a written agreement with the Army National Guard in Washington, D.C.

Contact Steve Nowlan (snowlan@CenterForAmerica.org), president of Center for America and coordinator for the American Jobs for American Heroes campaign, with any questions or for free help with your veteran recruiting. Get a head start by downloading a free copy of CFA’s Best Practices Guide for Veteran Hiring at www.CenterForAmerica.org/bpg.html.