Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year - and New Laws!

As you're taking down the holiday decorations around your office, take a few moments to think about your successes over the past year. Relish the moment. Take it all in. Then brace yourself.

2009 is primed to be an active year for HR professionals. You may be saying, "Isn't every year active for me?" Yes, it most certainly is. So just think about what potentially awaits you if we're sending up the flare now. Consider it job security in these uncertain economic times!

It can be overwhelming to think about the changes that occurred in 2008 which are poised to take effect in 2009--FMLA, ADAAA, GINA. So let's not get overwhelmed. Instead, we'll focus on each of these one week at a time. Remember--you're not the only HR professional out there trying to get a handle on these new laws and their impact on your company. Take a deep breath, open your mind, and store your attorney's number in your speed dial for those questions that will surely arise as everyone wades through our new work environment.

This go-around, we'll focus on the ADAAA. Keep in mind--attorneys are best-guessing just like you on how this law will be implemented, interpretations of the language, and developing your best practices. Consider this entry, as well as your approach to implementation, to be a living document. Change is as much good as it is necessary under the ADAAA.

One of your biggest hurdles in embracing the new Act will be changing a mindset that has developed over the last 15 years under the ADA. No longer will the focus be on whether someone is an individual with a disability. Rather, you will now be expected to show that as the employer, you lived up to your end of the bargain by engaging in the interactive process with the employee who requests a reasonable accommodation, examining the reasonableness of the accommodation request (or developing an accommodation, depending on the case), and the effort put forth in adapting the work environment for the employee.

How do you change this ingrained philosophy? Train your managers, revisit your reasonable accommodation policy, and prop your door open for employees are some of the ways to change your ship's course.

Get in touch with your HR counsel to talk about what best practices specifically fit your organization. Use this as a dry-run for engaging in the interactive process, as you may be hesitant to follow some of the recommendations offered for a number of reasons.

And you thought taking down the decorations was exhausting work!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

New FMLA Poster and Forms

The Department of Labor released the new FMLA poster (capturing the amendments from the NDAA) and the new forms. These will become effective January 16, 2009.


The warm fuzzies of the holiday season

Usually, our practice slows down a bit during the November/December holiday season. People are generally in a good mood, holiday bonuses (regardless of size) bring smiles to employee faces, and the overall feeling of good will toward men abounds. Employees and employers swallow their differences and cooperate in a spirit that many would like to see replicated throughout the year.


You may note that it's been a while since this poster has appeared on the blog. It's not because I don't have anything to say (no comment from my co-workers, please). It's because I've been busy. Quite busy. Unusually busy.

Employers who normally look to the holiday season for a respite from employee strife are not experiencing such a breather this year. It's a sure sign, if you needed another one, that our economy is not in the best of health.

While it may be difficult to dole out discipline during the holidays, it will serve you well in the long run if you continue your habit of uniformly enforcing policies and procedures. And hopefully addressing one or two troublesome issues will help to keep those others off your plate, at least until the turn of the year.

Best to you for the holiday season. Check back at the first of the year for more on the HS&D L&E Blog (yes, we still need a name)!