Can Emergencies Afftect How You Pay Employees?

We don’t often get hurricane damage here in Ohio, but it did happen with Hurricane Ike in 2008 when 78 mph winds whipped through the area tearing off roofs, blowing down trees and leaving millions without power. We’ve also been known to get hit by tornadoes and blizards. So how does this affect you as an employer or an employee. Check out the short article below by David Baron of the Law Firm Cozen O’Connor. Keep in mind that “exempt” employees means “salaried” while “non-exempt” means employees who are paid by the hour.


Mr David Barron
Cozen O’Connor

With the hurricane hitting the East Coast and creating havoc for businesses trying to rebuild as quickly as possible, it is important to remember that there are no emergency exceptions to wage and hour laws. When a company goes into crisis mode, it is important to maintain the normal safeguards and policies that ensure the proper calculation of work time and payment of overtime.

The following are a few tips to avoid the common mistakes and pitfalls that employers face during these difficult times:

Employers are only obliged to pay non-exempt workers for actual hours worked. If weather shuts down their place of employment, the employer is typically not required to pay any wages, absent a contractual agreement. Exempt employees, however, must be paid for their entire work week if they perform any work during the week and they are prevented from working because of no fault of their own (i.e. the business is closed because of weather).

Consider allowing or requiring employees to use vacation or other accrued time for weather related absences. Absent a contract or conflicting state laws, an employer typically has flexibility in this area as long as the policy is applied consistently.

Non-exempt employees working from home must be paid.Similarly, non-exempt employees who perform out of the ordinary tasks for the benefit of the employer (like cleanup or repairs) must be paid. An employee typically cannot volunteer to perform work for the benefit of his or her own employer.

Many states have deadlines for providing paychecks to employees. There may be exceptions for emergencies, but some are more rigid. If you have other branches which are operational, consider having checks processed or mailed from other sites to avoid delays.

Phone Power

Eight Steps to Phone Power<

Your voice paints a mental picture that clients and candidates take away with them long after they get off of the phone with you. That’s all they have to go on. They are creating a mental picture of what you look and act like and how you do business, all based on what they hear coming out of your mouth. The telephone is a powerful tool because of that. You have the freedom to create whatever image you like over the phone, and your voice is one way to help add credibility to your phone calling.

Here are eight steps to help add more credibility with your voice:

1. Stand up. You have more energy and power coming out of your mouth if you are standing up in a powerful position compared to sitting down. If you are sitting, not as much oxygen is going through your body, so stand up. It gives you energy and you can get into a power state of mind, and put more “oomph” in your voice. People respond to enthusiastic energy, and to get an extra dose of it, stand up.

2. Put your hands at your hips when you start the conversation, feet shoulder-width apart. This powerful body language will put you in a power state of mind, and helps give extra energy over the telephone. It will also add to your confidence level.

3. Wave your hands when you talk, gesticulating and accentuating your vocal expressiveness with your hands. Another way to add energy and enthusiasm to your speech. Let it loose and see how more descriptive you are.

4. Smile when you talk to the other person. Put some flirt in your voice. This helps build rapport and creates a sense of likeability between you and the other person. Put the smile in your voice only when rapport has been built. (see the articles on my site from previous weeks for steps to creating rapport).

5. Watch upward inflections. Remember the song “Valley Girl” with Moon Zappa? The inflection of her voice at the end of every sentence went in an upward direction, as if she was asking a question. This upward inflection gives you a sense of perceived weakness, so make sure that whenever you answer a question, make sure it doesn’t sound like you’re asking one.

6. Tape record your calls. How do you sound on the phone? Do you sound like someone you would want to talk to? Sure, hotshot, you probably think you sound great. I used to think I sounded great also. But then I recorded my calls and I heard how many times I sounded like a sloppy freak. I wish you could have been there when a prospective client called me to give me a search assignment. I gave my little shpeal about my business and why he should work with me, and at the end of my eighty second presentation, he said, “Scott, did you know you said the word “uh” fifty-five times just now?” He wasn’t listening to what I was saying. Instead, he was sitting there with a pen in his hand marking tick marks on a piece of paper, counting the number of times I said the word “uh”. Doh! Invest forty bucks in your future and get a voice recorder from Radio Shack. In most states as long as one person knows the call is being is recorded, it’s legal. (I am not an attorney and do not give legal advice, so seek legal counsel to verify your state and federal laws).

7. If you say the word ‘uh’ at the end of your sentences, then focus on saying the last syllable of every sentence. This just means that your brain operates faster than your mouth and that you get ahead of yourself, so the word ‘uh’ is just used as filler. By focusing on saying the last syllable of your words, you will remove this filler from your vocabulary.

8.Warm up. Drink hot water or another hot drink to loosen up your vocal chords in the morning. Don’t drink cold drinks when you are on the phone.

Does Your Career Have a Bucket List?

Bucket list? You know. Like the Jack Nickelson and Morgan Freeman movie about a couple of old guys who had a list of things they wanted to achieve before they “kicked the bucket.” It’s not a bad way to think about achievements in your career. Check out this story from CareerBuilder for a take on that approach.

By Susan Ricker – Writer for CareerBuilder

Make your first million. Get the corner office. Start your own company. Take over the family business. Publish a book. Retire by a certain age.

Career goals may vary, but they all mark the reaching of a professional achievement. While it’s up to you to decide what career accomplishments matter most, you might not know where to start. “The first step is to visualize what you want and then you create a plan to execute,” says Roy Cohen, career counselor, executive coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.”

Cohen shares his tips for developing your career bucket list, or the goals you want to reach before the end of your career:

Set stretch goals
Create objectives that contribute to larger goals, such as expanding your knowledge, raising your professional visibility, getting a promotion or finding a new job. You can do this by taking classes, getting a certification or writing an article for an industry publication. If you are receiving unemployment benefits, you may be eligible for free tuition toward classes and certificate programs through your state’s labor department. It takes time, so plan now.

Establish relationships with influencers
Influencers are people who are in the loop on industry trends, opportunities and career insights. View them as mentors or advisers to whom you reach out for direction, perspective and ideas. They usually have dynamic careers and are involved in diverse initiatives, and as a consequence, they can offer you a more informed perspective.

Repair damaged relationships
If you left a job on bad terms, or you’ve been out of touch with former colleagues, it’s time to catch up with them. Time can be a neutralizer of frayed edges and unresolved issues, so it’s worth reaching out. When it comes to achieving goals, one of the biggest barriers to moving forward is the baggage you carry from unresolved relationships and issues.

Wrap up and follow up
Since 2013 is just around the corner, now’s the time to reassess 2012. What could you have done differently? Recognize that achieving your goals is all about follow-up and gratitude. Is your follow-up correspondence showing your potential to add value and offer solutions? Is it well-written? If not, get feedback on how you can improve the way you communicate.

When creating your bucket list, ask yourself what’s important to you, what accomplishments you’ve admired in others’ careers and what goals would get you closer to reaching nonwork-related milestones. A career bucket list doesn’t have to be completely serious; balance hard work with more lighthearted plans, such as earning a bonus so you can buy yourself something special or accruing extra vacation time so you can visit a dream destination.

What Can I Ask During An Interview?

What Can I Ask During an Employment Interview?

In order to ensure a diverse workforce, not to mention comply with state and federal discrimination laws, certain interview questions must be avoided.

Questions about an applicant’s age, birthplace, appearance, marital status, child care arrangements, religion, financial status, etc., almost never have a specific bearing on the individual’s ability to perform a job. They should therefore be strictly avoided. Indirect questions are just as improper as direct ones. For example, “How many years before you plan to retire?” is no different than asking the candidate’s age. “What religious holidays do you observe?” is no better than directly asking a candidate to identify his or her religion. Both have the same legal repercussions.

Here are some examples of other inappropriate questions to avoid:

•Do you hold citizenship in a country other than the United States?
•Are you the primary wage earner for your family? Where does your spouse work? Do you have children?
•Are you a member of any social clubs, fraternities, sororities, lodges teams or religious organizations?
•Have you ever been arrested?
•Where were you born? Where were your parents born?
•What holidays do you observe?

In contrast, some questions that can be asked during an interview if carefully worded include:
•Are you eligible to work in the United States?
•Can you submit a birth certificate or other proof of age if you are hired?
•Have you ever been convicted of a crime? (Interviewers should make sure to tell the applicant that a criminal conviction does not bar employment, but can be considered in relation to job requirements.)

In order to gain information without asking specific questions, many employers use the “tell me about yourself” approach. Unfortunately, the applicant may unknowingly raise “off-limits” subjects such as the religious group meetings he enjoys, or that she just found out she’s pregnant and would like to know about the child care offered by the company. Under these circumstances, it is in the interviewer’s best interest to interrupt and explain that the company does not base its hiring practices on that particular subject area.

On that note, when dealing with a pregnancy-related question, you can state that your company has a maternity leave policy and offers child care referral services; you cannot, however, ask about her due date.

Essentially, in the case that you mistakenly get off track into personal questions, you need to shift gears and get back to the position’s requirements. Whatever information came up should stay with the interviewer and not be mentioned to others or entered anywhere on the application.

Again, although some questions may be asked innocently, they can unfortunately prevent you from having a diverse workforce and cause problems due to discrimination laws – intent is not the issue. As a recommendation, consider preparing a list of appropriate questions for the interview in order to protect yourself and your company. Be sure to also share this list with all managers or staff who may do interviews in addition to the human resources department.