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Flashcards in Chapter 7 - Employee Relations Deck (79):

State Labor and Employee Relations Laws

- expansion of benefits beyond those provided for in federal law
- state disability insurance programs
- unemployment insurance programs
- paid sick leave
- equal employment opportunity protections for classes beyond those in federal law
- wage and hour requirements for overtime rates and rules of application


Federal Regulations

- after Congress passes a law, DOL and the National Labor Relations Board develops and publishes proposed regulations that will implement a new law
- requirement for public comment period
- review comments and make changes if necessary
- once final, the regulations will carry an implementation period
- once the date arrives, all employment organizations subject to the new law and regulations will be obligated to comply


Rights and Responsibilities

- as with any relationship, each party must meet certain rights and certain responsibilities for the relationship to continue in a healthy and productive way


Rights and Responsibilities – Employer

- responsibilities include things such as treating employees in accord with the principles of “good faith and fair dealing”
- more than an ethical requirement
- employers are expected to honor commitments made to employees when employees are convinced to act based on those employer promises
- employer rights include the expectation that employees will work for a full 8 hours each day they are scheduled for 8 hours
- the employer has the right to ensure worker behavior while on the job meets with policy requirements, and the employer has the right to inspect employee work product, work space, and communication related to work


Rights and Responsibilities – Employee

- employees have the right to expect they will be treated with good faith and fairly by their employer
- have the right to proper wage calculation and prompt payment
- right to full benefit provisions as provided by organizational policy and contract provisions
- responsibility to give a full 8 hours of effort for an 8-hour workday, compliance with all employer policies, and treatment of everyone in the workplace with civility


Employee Feedback

- necessary to assess many conditions in the workplace, including morale, job satisfaction, and ideas for innovation and improvements
- communication cycle depends on feedback to assess the quality of the communication


Employee Feedback EXAM TIP

- since employee feedback is so critical to successful business operations today, you can expect that the certification exam will contain questions about the methods of collecting employee feedback and how it can be used


Employee Surveys

- methods for assessing employee morale, work satisfaction, and communication quality and effectiveness
- a tool that can gather information directly from the employee body and can be applied in a timely way immediately following a major employment event


Employee Surveys – Attitude Surveys

- can be done by telephone, mail, or online
- usually prepared by professional consultants (psychologists) to assure that information can be gathered that will be useful
- used to improve morale, productivity, and engagement, and to reduce turnover by gathering actionable feedback on job experiences
- topics include job-related training, supervisor treatment, employment policies and their impact on individual employees, satisfaction with compensation programs, and satisfaction with benefit programs such as healthcare insurance and vacation policies


Employee Surveys – 360-/180-Degree Surveys

- ask everyone around an employee to provide feedback about that person’s competencies, behaviors, and contributions
- managers use it to get feedback (usually anonymous) from their subordinates as well as their peers and supervisors
- nonmanagement can’t be subject of 360, so 180-degree surveys are used where only their manager, coworkers, and internal customers are asked to provide input


Employee Surveys – Stay Interviews

- one-on-one meeting between a manager and a highly valued employee who may be at risk for leaving the organization
- identify factors that will entice the employee to stay with the employer rather than change jobs
- just listening to an employee can go a long way to making them feel they are valued by the employer


Processes for Obtaining Feedback – Paper Surveys

- properly prepared questions will yield a wealth of information that can be digested and then produce actionable items
- having a third party summarize the responses can create a wall against identifying individual responses
- cover a wide range of issues; responses can be offered on a scale (“more likely” to “less likely” or “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”)


Processes for Obtaining Feedback – Computer-Based Surveys

- advantages: the speed of response summaries and the ability to track which employees have responded and which have yet to log on and take the survey
- flexibility of access can increase initial participation rates substantially


Processes for Obtaining Feedback – Focus Groups

- offer an excellent opportunity to probe initial responses and go into more detail
- provide excellent information about employee beliefs


Workplace Behavior

- workplace policies usually include a description of acceptable behaviors and/or unacceptable behaviors


Attendance and Absenteeism

- actually showing up to work and being on time is viewed as a requirement by many employers
- - an employee who can’t do one or the other may not be acceptable in the eyes of the employer


Identifying Standards for Attendance and Punctuality

- each employer must establish its own standards for attendance and punctuality
- a key step in managing those 2 behaviors that have a great impact on work performance


Violation of Standards

- when the standard is not met, what happens?
- should happen: disciplinary action
- beginning with a discussion and working through the progressive discipline process until the problem is silved because the behavior has changed
- should be consistent from one situation to another when the circumstances are the same
- treating employees inconsistently can result in charges of illegal discrimination


Improvement Programs

- a formalized approach to correcting inappropriate behaviors


Sample Attendance Improvement Program

- 1: have initial meeting with employee to review attendance record
- 2: compare record to the standard expected of all employees
- 3: explain that the employee will be expected to have no absences (paid or unpaid) during the coming 30 days
- 4: any absence in the next 30 days will result in an unpaid suspension of 2 days and a job-in-jeopardy warning
- 5: after suspension, a new 30-day period will begin; any absence during that period will result in termination of employment
- 6: it is common for the supervisor to have the employee sign the improvement program, making a contract out of the expectations for improved behavior


Violation of Code of Conduct

- a Code of Conduct is a list of behavioral expectations the employer has for each employee
- violation can fall from minor to worthy of immediate dismissal
- should be identified in the employer's policy manual


Code of Conduct EXAM TIP

- even in today's work environment of greater sensitivity to employees and their needs, it is still necessary for employers to establish an maintain employee codes of conduct; you should expect that there will be questions on the exam about what a code of conduct is and how it should be administered


Employee Behavior

- when someone does or says something that is unacceptable, there should be consequences of some sort


Employee Behavior - Minor Violations

- frequent tardiness
- frequent absence (excused, unexcused, or both)
- minor insubordination
- pilferage from employer supplies
- frequent incomplete or inaccurate work product
- abuse or misuse of office equipment
- arguments with coworkers


Employee Behavior - Serious Violations

- bringing weapons to work
- threats of violence or actual violence against others in the workplace
- blatant insubordination
- embezzlement of misappropriation of company funds
- theft of equipment
- filing false reports



- unethical behavior is something most employers abhor
- given the US laws that prohibit kickbacks to government representatives or bribes to foreign institutions, ethics is a high-level expectation in the employment relationship
- it is not only compliance with the letter of the law but the intent of the law that counts


Violations of Code of Conduct

- misusing company time (not focusing on work production for the entire workday)
- bullying or other abusive behavior
- theft of any kind (from supplies to misusing a company car)
- lying to anyone in the workplace about anything
- taking credit for work done by someone else
- undermining or sabotaging someone else's work
- following your boss' instructions even though you know it to be wrong
- deliberate deception of a customer, vendor, media representative, boss, or coworker


Employee Conflicts

- it is incumbent upon all parties to work civilly with one another to resolve the problem


Employee Conflicts - Work Assignments Conflicts

- the employer's expectation should be that it will be resolved without resorting to bad behavior on the part of any participant


Employee Conflicts - Personal Conflicts

- allowing escalation of emotions is unacceptable to most employers
- escalating emotions lead quickly to escalating behavior issues


Employee Conflicts - Workplace Harassment

- both employees and job applicants are included in legal protections against harassment on ths job
- all types of harassment are illegal: sexual, racial, religious, national origin, veteran


Employee Conflicts - Sexual Harassment

- behavior of a verbal or physical nature that is unwelcome
- EEOC offers guidance
- two types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo (submission to sexual advances made a condition of employment, demands of sexual favors made in exchange for a job benefot like pay raise/good work assignment/promotion/not being fired, most often the offender is a supervisor of the victim, represents abuse of power as victim must aquiesce or pay the penalty); hostile environment (sexual advances are unwelcome by the victim, sexual advances interfere with the employee's work, sexual advances create a hostile or intimidating work environment, behavior can be verbal/physical/visual)


Employee Conflicts - Sexual Orientation Harassment

- when lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) individuals are harassed because of their sexual orientation


Employee Conflicts - Transgender Harassment

- employers should recognize their responsibility to protect these workers from such attacks


Sexual Harassment EXAM TIP

- while sexual harassment is important and must be prevented in the workplace, it is by no means the only type of harassment; expect that the certification exam will also have questions dealing with the other types of workplace harassment hazards


Employee Conflicts - Male v. Female Harassment

- in fiscal year 2015 the EEOC received 26,396 charges of sex-based discrimination in the workplace
- peripheral issues are reproductive protections on the job, compensation differences, and caregiver responsibilities


Employee Conflicts - Racial Harassment

- - 31,027 EEOC charges in 2015
- employment actions that were covered in alleged discrimination cases included the gamut from hiring and firing to work assignments, training, and promotions


Employee Conflicts - Religious Harassment

- 3,502 charges of illegal religious discrimination to the EEOC in 2015
- when an employee is harassed and can't complete their work assignments becuase they are a target of jokes and other harassing behavior due to their religion, there may be illegal discrimination going on
- slight increase since 9/11


Employee Conflicts - National Origin Harassment

- 9,437 EEOC cases in 2015
- includes behaviors that poke fun at people because of their heritage
- frequently involved poor treatment of Middle Easterners and Mexicans
- resulted from the visual appearance of individuals in most instances


Other Types of Harassment

- bullying behavior on the job can constitute harassment if it is persistent and interferes with an employer's ability to perform his or her job duties
- bullying can be described as browbeating, intimidating, antagonizing, heckling, persecuting, pestering, or tormenting
- management has a responsibility to intervene and end the bullying behavior; progressive discipline is usually recommended in such cases


Examples of Other Types of Harassment

- Disability Harassment: aimed at either mental or physical disability
- Age Harassment: a persistent pattern of jokes can constitute harassment, and employers have an obligation to stop such behavior without delay
- Veteran Status Harassment: HR professionals are responsible for training managers and employees on the prevention of such behavior in the workplace
- Harassment Based on Other Factors: the EEOC says any individual characteristic protected by one of the federal equal opportunity laws can be the basis for a complaint of workplace harassment


Complaints and Grievances

- several conditions impact how employee complaints and grievances are handled within an employer's organization
- one is whether the employer has labor unions involved in the workplace
- labor agreements/contracts (or memorandum of understanding) will usually contain a structured method for dealing with employee grievances
- complaints about issues outside of working conditions are not usually addressed within the confines of a labor union contract; these are handled by other employer policies


Investigation - Grievances and Complaints

- can be helpful in grievance handling and are essential in determining the validity of discrimination complaints
- internal HR professionals are almost always given authority in state and federal law to conduct an investigation on behalf of the employer
- if an organization wants to have an external investigator handle the fact-finding, there are some limitations imposed by certain state laws


Investigation Process

- written complaint: employee writes out a complaint that states he or she was treated differently from others in similar situations based on a legally protected category and that category should be identified
- interviews: interview the complaining employee, the supervisor/management person who is named as the offending decision-maker, and any witnesses the employee says were there at the time; if it is a peer who is the offending party, at least one interview should be scheduled; the investigtion should follow whatever leads are uncovered until the investigator is satisfied that all facts have been uncovered; each step should be documented in writing
- determination: once all facts are determined, a determination should be made about the validity of the complaint; of it is valid, a remedy should be sought based on both legal and reasonable requirements; if it is determined not to have grounds, that is the determination; decision should be documented in writing
- feedback: employee who filed the complaint should be given feedback about the investigation results and any decisions made as a result; may or may not be advisable to provide specific information about disciplinary action taken against an employee


Methods of Investigation - use an Internal Investigator (HR or legal professional)

- usually less expensive
- HR professionals should be trained by a legal expert in the process of investigation
- should not be asked to conduct investigations without proper training


Methods of Investigation - hire an Outisde Investigator (consultant, private investigator, attorney)

- using lawyers is a good idea if the investigation is legally sensitive and the lawyer used will not also be handling the case as company attorney
- using an attorney also brings the benefit the potential for attorney-client privilege (can be protected from disclosure if the attorney is dispensing legal advice in that conversation)


Grievance Processing EXAM TIP

- grievance processing within provisions of a union contract is usually highly structured; handling employee complaints in a non-union environment will also take the same type of steps, but may not be quite as structured


Grievance Processing - Typical Steps

- will always be a segment of a union agreement (MOU or CBA)
- 1: written complaint: employee describes in writing what is causing the upset or discontent
- 2: supervisor-level discussion: employee supervisor (or another group's supervisor) will discuss the complaint with the employee, reviewing facts and reasons for the decision that resulted in the complaint; if the explanation is sufficient, the grievance ends here; of the employee presents information that causes the decision to be changed, the grievance can also end here
- 3: management or HR-level discussion: if the supervisor and employee cannot agree, the next decision is with a management person and/or the HR department; if an agreement is reached, the matter is settled; if not, it can go to a final step with senior management
- 4: senior management: the final step is usually with a senior management official; if no agreement is reached at this stop, the employee will either have to drop the complaint or seek legal advice in a potential civil suit


Union Grievance Procedures

- in 1975 the US Supreme Court handed down an opinion in a case that said employees have a right to union representation at investigatory interviews ("Weingarten Rights")
- supervisor has no responsibility to advise the employee of his/her rights; the employee must claim the right to have representation


Nonunion Grievance or Complaint Procedures

- good faith and fair dealing should apply to any system an employer develops to handle nonunion complaints
- process can follow the same as union grievance handling: 1) submit written complaint; 2) conduct a supervisor-level discussion of the complaint; 3) have a discussion with HR or the supervisor's management level; 4) have a resolution reached by senior management
- if there is a provision in either the union contract or in company policy for arbitration, that should be the final step in both discussion ladders


Progressive Discipline

- an organized process that permits employers to meet the obligation for good faith and fair dealing with employees


Progressive Discipline - Identifying Steps of Discipline

- oral warning: when behavior has been unacceptable, a supervisor has an obligation to address the employee and issue an oral warning (e.g., this is a formal warning that your attendance is unacceptable and any other absences on your part will (may) result in further disciplinary treatment)
- written warning: if behavior has not improved since the oral warning; can be a simple memo, handwritten or electronically generated (e.g., this is a formal written warning that further disciplinary action will/may result if you have additional absences in the coming 60 days
- suspension: usually issued without pay; this is to deprive the employee of some income to bring home the seriousness of the problem; length will depend on how others have been treated in similar circumstances in the past and whether a union contract has influence in the situation; length should match the level of infraction and be mitigated by the employee's length of service; "job in jeopardy" warning may also be issued (e.g., this is a final written warning that your job is in jeoparty and you may be dismissed from the payroll if you do not meet the company's attendance standards during the coming 60-day period); almost always a final warning needs to be issued even if there is no suspension
- termination: final step in any disciplinary sequence; termination for cause can influence the eligibility of an employee for unemployment insurance, depending on the state and its rules for benefit employment


Documenting Progressive Discipline

- if it isn't documented, it didn't happen
- in employment terms, it only takes one party to permit recording of a conversation (one-party consent rule); federal law requires only one-party consent


Timing of Documentation

- should ideally be prepared immediately after the event
- never OK to post-date documentation
- if it wasn't prepared when the event took place, prepare it as a reflective document with the current date to provide an honest picture of when it was created


Progressive Discipline EXAM TIP

- progressive discipline is a key example of how employers meet their requirement for "good faith and fair dealing" under US law; knowing the application of progressive discipline is only part of your exam preparation; knowing why is it is important is even more critical


Content of Documentation

- needs all this to be considered satisfactory: who (what were the names of the individuals involved in the incident?); what (what happened?); when (when did this happen?); where (where and under what conditions did this event take place?); how (how did it happen? were there events that led up to the one being documented?)
- date and sign it


Documentation Retention Requirements

- EEOC regulations require that employers keep all personnel or employment records for 1 year
- if an employee is involuntarily terminated, his/her personnel records must be retained for one year from the date of termination
- under ADEA recordkeeping requirements, employers must also keep all payroll records for 3 years
- employee benefit plans (including pension and insurance plans) and any written seniority or merit system for the full period the plan or system is in effect and for at least 1 year after its termination
- FLSA recordkeeping requirements applicable to the EPA, employers must keep payroll records for at least 3 years, and for at least 2 years all records (wage rates, job evals, seniority and merit systems, collective bargaining agreements) that explain the basis for paying different wages to employees of opposite sexes in the same establishment
- federal contractors subject to affirmative action regulations must retain all employment records for at least 3 yeasr if they have fewer than 150 employees; after that is 2 years


When to Escalate Corrective Action

- when a case arrives at a deadlock in attempting to gain concensus agreement
- if there appears there may be a conflict of interest or desire to avoid a conflict of interest
- escalation can be within the employee's own chain of commant, or within HR


Standard Policies and Procedures

- standard circumstances require standard responses
- it is when things jump out of the "normal" box and into the "unusual" box that you must make adjustments



- when the company is going to initiate an involuntary termination of a person's employment, it is a good idea to require management review and approval
- termination should be taken reluctantly by any employer; it should be the final result of rehabilitation effords; can also be the immediate reaction to such serious behavior that there is no possible way the employee can be allowed to remain on the payroll


Voluntary Terminations

- death: treated as voluntary when it comes to payroll separation
- resignation: voluntary unless it constitutes constructive discharge (constructive termination occurs when the employer makes working conditions so intolerble that the employee has no alternative but to resign, more "forced involuntary termination")
- retirement


Involuntary Terminations

- layoffs: a reduction in force by an employer when revenues have dropped and payroll expenses must be cut or when work levels have shifted without an employer's ability to reclaim them
- performance terminations: when employees are unable to successfully complete a performance improvement program
- injury/illness/disability


Off-Boarding and Termination

- the process of ending someone's working relationship with an employer


Off-Boarding and Termination EXAM TIP

- you might not use contemporary terms like "off-boarding," but you should know what they mean for the exam


Payroll Processing - Final Paycheck

- state laws differ in requirements for when final paychecks must be issued


Benefit Processing (Off-Boarding/Termination)

- benefits will sometimes end when an employee separates from the payroll


Documenting Reason for Separation

- separation is a series of events that include a compliance with federal and state requirements
- for employers with 20+ workers, compliance with COBRA is required
- layoffs may trigger WARN Act compliance
- the IRS requires that notices be provided in some circumstances regarding rights to retirement benefits


Supervisor Documentation (Off-Boarding/Termination)

- if supervisors have direct involvement in terminations, they will likely be related to documenting a final performance review or delivering the supervisor's portion of the personnel file to the HR department


Exit Interviews

- some organizations make them standard procedure, some make them optional
- objective to obtain employee opinions about how they have been treated while with the company
- supervisors should not conduct them
- documenting the answers to specific questions can offer insights into unspoken issues that can be consolidated into summary reports periodically issued to senior management


Employee Relations Programs

- include communication, benefits, compensation, complaint handling, supervisor relations, etc.
- entire culture supports or detracts from a positive employee relations program



- can include service anniversary awards, employee-of-the-month awards, cost-saving suggestions, sales achievement awards, team achievement awards, or individual achievement awards


Special Events

- can include company parties, holiday celebrations, company days at the local amusement park, paid excursions at the local ski park, or a night out at the theater
- special events offer "thank you" and recognition to the entire group of employees


Measuring Diversity

- be careful about how we define the thing to be measured
- measurements give us information that allow further exploration into the reasons things are happening
- common measurements: workforce representation (the percentage population of each ethnic group in the workforce), turnover rates or longevity, the number of complaints received, and the extent to which senior management is involved in the process of improving diversity in the workforce


Workforce Reduction and Restructuring

- when in the course of organizational circumstance it becomes necessary to reduce the workforce to reduce the payroll, it must be done in a nondiscriminatory manner
- building a system in advance is the proper approach (how will individuals be identified who must be removed frmo the payrool? how will that be done without regard to age, race, sex, or another protected group?)


Workforce Reduction and Restructuring Terminology

- reduction in force (RIF): layoff
- temporary workers: project employees
- incentive programs: when RIF is necessary, the number of involuntary separations can be reduced by offering an incentive to those in the impacted work groups
- outplacement support: hiring consultants to work with separating employees in developing resumes, identifying targets for new employment, even providing office space and telephones frmo which the implement the job-hunting campaign


Temporary Workers/Gig Economy EXAM TIP

- with more employers making use of temporary workers, you might expect that the exam will inquire about the "gig economy" and how it is being implemented; study the glossary to be sure you will be ready to answer questions about contemporary HR practices



- government approval
- blending policies and culture
- duplicate workforce


Work Location Closings

- an automobile manufacturing plant moves to Mexico, and the people at the old plant will be experiencing a layoff
- when the WARN Act applies (100+ workers, not federal/state/local government entities), 60-day notice is required


Outplacement Practices

- internal progarms: career coach, free office space
- external programs: job assessment and counseling, connection to placement service centers, resume and application review, office service support
- consulting companies: outplacement services
- 40plus: created to help managers and executives older than 40 find new employment after being laid off; serves as a job clearinghouse and mutual support group
- state employment service centers: will also process unemployment claim