Mark your compliance calendar: New NLRA poster to be posted by April 30, 2012

Good news for all you professional procrastinators. Just when you were all geared up to order the new mandatory NLRA posting, the National Labor Relations Board has pushed back the effective date. Rather than January 31, 2012, the deadline for posting the employee rights notice is now April 30, 2012.

The NLRB postponed the date at the request of the federal court in Washington, D.C., which is involved in a legal challenge regarding the rule. The court expects to resolve the legal issue in the months leading to this modified deadline.   

EEOC to get more involved with small businesses

Thanks to a new internal task force, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will focus on expanding and refining outreach and technical assistance to small businesses. As stated in a mid-December announcement, the Small Business Task Force will “work to find ways in which the agency could better collaborate with the small business community to ensure compliance with federal antidiscrimination laws.”

On its to-do list:

=> Determine how to utilize new technology to broaden outreach
=> Develop technical assistance and training initiatives
=> Identify specialized approaches to aid small businesses owned by women and minorities
=> Pinpoint specialized approaches for micro businesses (those with 50 or fewer employees)
=> Enhance small business information and training on the EEOC’s website

As far as the types of businesses that will be on the EEOC's radar, the agency said the task force will focus on newly established small businesses, as well as those that can't afford lawyers or human resource personnel.

“The Task Force demonstrates our commitment to strengthening the lines of communication with small business owners and educating them about their responsibilities, including the benefits of preventing and resolving discrimination claims,” EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien said.

At the same time, the EEOC considers the task force to be particularly timely, citing that the nation's economic recovery depends on the ability of the small business community to survive and thrive. If there are new opportunities for the EEOC to better serve small businesses, it wants to identify and act on them.

Making smarter dietary choices while at work

Today's post comes from G.Neil's HR Library.

The workplace can be a dietary disaster. You’re stressed; you’re short on time and your stomach is rumbling like a freight train. So what do you do? You scurry to the nearest breakroom or vending machine and grab a honey bun or salty chips to fill the void. In mere moments, you’ve consumed hundreds of calories, while depriving your body of the nutrients it needs most. Do this enough times and your health and waistline are going to suffer.

Time to take control! With a little planning and smarter substitutions, you can satisfy your food cravings without compromising your health. As we ring in the new year and brush off those oh-so-familiar, diet-related resolutions, let’s watch what we eat and adopt these healthier habits in the workplace:

Instead of starting your day with a donut, cookie or muffin at the morning meeting …

Do this: Eat a quick breakfast at home before your morning commute or first-thing when you arrive at the office. A banana, low-fat yogurt, oatmeal, whole-wheat toast with peanut butter or a hard-boiled egg will start your day on a healthier foot (and keep you feeling full longer) than a sugar-laden pastry.

Instead of going out to eat at lunchtime or ordering takeout with the crew, where you may be tempted by cheeseburgers, pizza, French fries and other fast-food fare …

Do this: Pack your own lunch. Invest in a small cooler or insulated lunch sack to keep your food cold, and bring a salad loaded with veggies, a turkey sandwich (with cranberry sauce or pesto, instead of mayo) or hearty soup. Or take advantage of the leftovers from last night’s dinner, like chicken stir fry, multi-grain spaghetti or beans & rice.

Instead of giving in to a chocolate-caramel candy bar, bag of BBQ potato chips or some other packaged, processed item at the vending machine …

Do this: Keep a few healthy snacks at your desk (or in the office refrigerator) to dip into when the afternoon munchies kick in. A handful of nuts, some carrot sticks with hummus, a single serving of microwave popcorn, string cheese or an apple will hold you over until dinner, without sending your calorie count into orbit.

Instead of drinking a cup of coffee loaded with cream and sugar or a caffeinated, carbonated soda every time you need a pick me up …

Do this: Swap out your java or cola for lightly caffeinated white or green tea, caffeine-free herbal tea like peppermint or ginger, or even water infused with lemon or lime (if you don’t like it plain).  You’ll still enjoy a flavorful beverage, but you won’t get the sluggishness, jitters and mood swings that come with caffeine addiction.

Instead of eating a heaping piece of triple-chocolate birthday cake to celebrate your coworker’s special day …

Do this: Split your serving with a friend or, if you’re feeling especially disciplined, head back to your desk and munch on one of the healthier snacks you keep close at hand for situations like this!

Instead of focusing only on how to restrict the calories you consume in a workday …

Do this: Find ways to burn more calories, too, by being more active. Go for a walk during breaks or at lunch, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk or ride your bike to work (if possible), park further away from the office if you drive, and start a walking club with your coworkers.

Breathing new life into your employee of the month program

Does your company have an employee of the month program that is falling short of your expectations? Or worse yet, it appears to be a complete failure? Don’t give up on it! It may just need a few tweaks to get it back on track in 2012.

First, think about what’s not working and why you’re struggling with running an employee of the month program.  Here are some suggestions on how to address some of the more common shortfalls:

Not enough nominations each month -- Your program may be lacking the awareness, and constant reinforcement, it needs.  Display fun, promotional posters in lunch and break rooms, send out reminder emails to submit your nominations, talk up the program and why it exists at regular department meetings, and give each winner his or her moment in the spotlight through coverage in newsletters, on the intranet and in announcements at company-wide meetings.

Perception that program is a popularity contest or unfair -- Certainly, some employees are “negative Nellies” and will find fault in anything you do to improve employee morale and motivation. But what about the well-meaning employees who dismiss your program because they think it’s based on favoritism? The best way to prevent (or counteract) this perception is to clearly state the award criteria to your staff, and make sure everyone has a chance to nominate an individual -- not just coworkers or a narrow group of middle managers.

Employee morale remains low -- Understanding employee morale isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula. What puts a spring in one employee’s step may leave another employee cold. That’s why your employee of the month program needs to be part of a company culture that treats employees with respect, encourages positive interaction between coworkers, and values regular, constructive feedback between employees and their bosses. Without this foundation, employees probably won’t rally around your program and may consider it a weak attempt to enhance workplace motivation when their other needs are not being met.

Lack of enthusiasm about the actual award -- What are the employee of the month awards you give out? Perhaps that’s what is falling flat, and not the program itself. It may be time to introduce a new award -- whether it’s a more modern plaque or award, a colorful candy jar or a snazzy, engraved pen. And don’t forget to attach the award with a special workplace perk, like a reserved parking space or extra time off. You may want to provide a few options, as well. Some companies offer a choice of, say, three retail gift cards with the recognition award so winning employees can pick what shopping excursion they’ll enjoy most.

Compliance reminder: NLRA posting deadline is January 31, 2012

In less than two months, nearly all private-sector employers will be required to post a notice informing employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Reduce risk and ensure compliance with Poster Guard® Compliance Protection! Membership includes the updated federal poster and all mandatory state postings that are required for your business's compliance. You will also receive the convenience of automatic replacement shipments every time a mandatory change occurs affecting your business, for one full year!

FAQs with the new NRLA poster

Q: What if my business is non-unionized? Do I still have to comply?
A: Yes, this new poster is mandatory regardless of your company’s union status. It applies to union and non-union workplaces alike.

Q: It says “nearly” all employers have to post the new notice. What are the exceptions?
A: At this time, the requirement does not apply to agricultural, railroad or airline employers -- or the U.S. Postal Service.

Q: Will this be a separate posting?
A: No, it will be added to the current Federal Poster. Consequently, the poster will be larger – increasing from 24” x 26 ¾” to 24” x 32.75”.

Q: Are there any other posting requirements?
A: Yes, the notice must be posted in other languages if 20 percent or more of your workforce is not proficient in English. In addition to providing a Spanish version on the Spanish Federal Poster, we will create versions in other languages if there’s a demand.

Q: What are the penalties for non-compliance?
A: There is no specific fine connected with this posting. However, noncompliance can be treated as an “unfair labor practice” and can be used as damaging evidence in a lawsuit.

EEOC reports record number of discrimination filings for FY 2011

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released fiscal year 2011 statistics, compiled in its annual Performance and Accountability Report (PAR). The EEOC handled a record 99,947 discrimination charges in fiscal year 2011 (ending September 30) -- the highest number in the agency's 46-year history. The EEOC also recovered more than $364.6 million in monetary benefits for victims of workplace discrimination -- again, the highest level in the agency's history. The fiscal year ended with 78,136 pending charges, a 10 percent decrease from FY 2010 (and the first such reduction since 2002).

Race charges were the most common claims filed in 2011 (36%), followed by sex (29%), disability (25%) and then age (23%). National origin, religion and Equal Pay Act claims all registered less than 5% of all charges filed.

“I am proud of the work of our employees and believe this demonstrates what can be achieved when we are given resources to enforce the nation’s laws prohibiting employment discrimination,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.

The major takeaway in all this? Be especially diligent about training your employees and managers on proper, non-discriminatory behavior and document, document, document. The bad economy may be driving the bump in discriminatory charges. And unless the economy picks up in 2012, this trend may continue.

Do you appreciate your employees? 10 ways to show it!

Today's post comes from G.Neil's HR Library. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sitting down to a delicious Thanksgiving dinner wouldn’t be complete without giving thanks for all the good fortune and happiness of the past year. High on the list are the friends and family who bring us joy and enrich our lives.

Are you extending this same attitude of gratitude to the workplace? It’s been said that “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” This is as true in the workplace as it is in our personal lives. Unless you’re focusing on the things your employees are doing right and rewarding them in immediate, tangible ways, your gratitude is as effective as a frozen turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

Here are 10 easy ways to express your appreciation and show employees that you value what they bring to the workplace:

1) Recognize birthdays and anniversaries. Most employees would be pleasantly surprised to receive a greeting card on their birthday or work anniversary. Especially if it’s signed by senior management and includes a personal message, it’s a small gesture with big impact.

2) Say thank you. “Thank you” – two small words with tremendous power. Whether you express it in a handwritten note, pull someone aside in the hallway or call out an accomplishment in a packed meeting, managers and supervisors should look for every possible opportunity to say thank you.

3) Point out performance. No achievement is too small, especially when it propels a bigger project or contributes to the overall success of your business. Give a pair of movie tickets to someone who reached her sales goal or a restaurant gift certificate to an employee who spearheaded a new initiative.

4) Establish an employee recognition program. If you haven’t done so already, kick off an employee-of-the-month program or wall of fame in 2012. These programs are ideal for demonstrating your appreciation on a consistent basis, while acting as an incentive for other staff members to step up their game.

5) Offer free food. It’s amazing what bagels in the morning or a sandwich platter at lunchtime can do to boost employee morale. In addition to enhancing everyday work routines with tasty fare, look for bigger ways to reward through food, like a luncheon for the department with the highest quarterly revenue.
6) Show respect. While this seems obvious, your demeanor with your employees makes a world of difference. No matter how stressed you are, you shouldn’t swear, lose your temper or ignore your employees. The little courtesies add up, so say please and thank you, keep your office door open, watch your body language and give your full, undivided attention when employees come to you with issues.

7) Touch base with employees. Hold meetings with individual employees or groups of employees several times throughout the year to address any lingering questions or concerns. Be open to their feedback and reactions to new company policies or developments, and update them on the steps you’ve taken to solve problems discussed in former meetings.

8) Let them park it. Reserve your best parking spots for employees who’ve gone above and beyond for the company. A prime parking space could be one of the rewards for the winner of your employee-of-the-month program.

9) Flex their hours. Flex time is a perk that most employees appreciate above all others. Explore ways to let employees telecommute, work a compressed workweek or leave early one day a week (assuming they’re meeting their obligations otherwise). Loosening the reins on a rigid work structure is a fantastic way to reward employees who have already earned your trust.

10) Conduct an employee satisfaction survey. Perhaps you don’t know what’s making your workers unhappy – or what they really want. An employee survey is a great way to capture their opinions in a safe, non-threatening manner. Break the survey into sections (such as “working conditions” and “company culture”), set up the survey in a format you can easily administer and discuss the results (and takeaways) among company management.

Holiday cards and employee morale: Don't underestimate the connection!

Carol and Megan are both hard-working, dedicated employees. And like many employees working for companies weathering the economic downturn, they’ve endured their fair share of challenges this past year: fewer resources, longer hours, added responsibilities, more stress.

Fast forward to the holiday season. One afternoon in early December, Carol picks up her mail and notices a special mailing from her company. She tears open the crisp, white envelope and pulls out a beautifully illustrated holiday card with a short, handwritten note inside. “How nice,” she thinks to herself and smiles, “that the company cared enough to do this.”

Megan works for a company that didn’t send holiday cards this year. “Times are tough,” the company’s president concluded, "and employees should be thankful they even have jobs. If things turn around next year, we’ll do more to motivate our staff.”

Who do you think feels better about her company right now? Who sees that her extra efforts matter – and that it’s worth enduring a few challenges when your company values its employees?

Don’t let this golden opportunity to reach out and recognize your employees pass you by. Sending company holiday cards and calendars makes sound business sense because they:

=> Demonstrate you value your employees, no matter how tough the conditions. During these economically challenging times, most businesses are running on leaner budgets and watching their every expenditure. For a healthy return on investment, however, holiday cards can’t be beat. A holiday greeting costs just pennies per employee, but yields significant returns through good will, enhanced morale and greater loyalty. It’s the perfect way to show you care about your employees – employees who, incidentally, kept your business thriving in spite of the economic downturn.

=> Stand out in a way that other forms of communication cannot. As a customer, how special do you feel receiving a mass e-mail from a company during the holidays? Or worse, no acknowledgment at all? It’s no different with your employees. A paper card shows a level of effort and attention on your part. More importantly, it gets noticed in the hustle and bustle of our fast-paced lives. You went out of your way to select the appropriate card, address it properly and even share a handwritten note. That single card is personal, it’s tactile and it rises above the electronic and digital noise of today.

=> Boost morale and lead to greater employee satisfaction down the road. Your employees are working harder than ever, but they will quickly burn out if you don’t take the time to recognize their efforts and thank them. It’s a proven fact that employees are more productive and effective when they feel appreciated, needed and noticed. Don’t make the mistake of hoping your employees know how much you depend on them. Take advantage of this time of gratitude and give a holiday card that sends the message, loud and clear, that your employees matter.

Ready to make a positive impression with your most valuable resource, your employees? Order your holiday cards now (at terrific "early bird” specials), then plan on reaping the rewards that come with wishing your workforce happy holidays and letting them know how important they are.

A great way to honor our vets? Help them get jobs!

Today is Veterans Day, one day a year set aside to honor our military veterans, past and present. With more than 40,000 U.S. troops returning from Iraq by year's end, the day takes on even more significance. We're no doubt grateful to our military men and women and all they sacrifice to preserve our nation's freedom.

And how do we express that gratitude? After the parades, the standing ovations and even the free meals at certain restaurants (including Applebee's, Chili's, Outback Steakhouse and Subway), what can we do to thank our veterans for their courageous service?

If you're an employer, the answer may be to provide as many job opportunities to our veterans as you do our civilians. I know this is tricky because the economy is lousy and many businesses have frozen their hiring, but this isn't the case across the board.

In fact, a new CareerBuilder survey found that one in five (20 percent) employers are actively recruiting U.S. veterans over the next 12 months, while 14 percent are recruiting members of the National Guard.

Keep in mind this is different from employers who are legally obligated to reemploy soldiers returning from military leave. As we've discussed in this blog, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal law that provides certain rights to members of the uniformed services, such as reinstating employees upon completion of service.

When it comes to new hiring this year and into 2012, the areas where employers from the CareerBuilder survey plan to focus their attention are: 

    Information Technology -- 36 percent
    Customer Service -- 28 percent
    Engineering -- 25 percent
    Sales -- 22 percent

“The survey shows that employers recognize the unique value military experience can bring ..." said Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America.

Not to say that veterans won't face the same challenges securing a job as everyone else. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among vets who served in the Middle East since 9/11 was 12.1 percent this October, compared to 9 percent for the overall workforce.

“I don’t think it’s overt discrimination," says Chad Storlie, author of “Combat Leader to Corporate Leader: 20 Lessons to Advance Your Civilian Career, "but HR departments and hiring managers are being very picky today. He adds: "They want the best person that makes them feel comfortable; that’s why vets have to show everything in their background and how that will help them be successful.”

In addition to figuring out how to translate their military experiences into compelling skills for today's job market, veterans might consider where they live. A study commissioned by financial firm USAA and identified the “Best Places for Military Retirement: Second Careers.” The best town for vets went to Oklahoma City, Okla. After that, it was:

    Norfolk, Va.
    Richmond, Va.
    Austin, Texas
    San Antonio, Texas
    Madison, Wis.
    Philadelphia, Pa.
    Raleigh, N.C.
    Omaha, Neb.
    Manchester, N.H.

Short of packing their bags and moving to a a new town, however, HR experts recommend that vets focus on who they are and what they want to do, aggressively network (especially with ex-military personnel) and when possible, start reaching out to potential employers before they leave the military.

The economy stinks but retailers still need seasonal help

In fact, nearly three in 10 retailers (29 percent) are looking to bump up their seasonal help for the upcoming holidays, according to a nationwide CareerBuilder survey.

On par with seasonal hiring in 2010, companies in other industries expect to hire a similar number of temporary workers. The key areas to be targeted include sales, customer service, shipping and administrative support.

While companies are hiring the same amount of people as last year, they're doling out more pay. More than half of employers (53 percent) indicated they will pay $10 or more per hour for seasonal staff. Approximately 14 percent will pay $16 or more.

If you're one of those companies seeking seasonal help this year, check out this previous post for tips on getting the most out of your temp relationships.

DOL and Facebook -- A partnership job seekers are sure to "like"

According to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, there are approximately 3 million job openings in the U.S., and nearly 14 million unemployed people.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced a partnership with Facebook to help those 14 million job seekers find employment. A new Facebook book, the Social Jobs Partnership, can help connect job seekers with companies that are hiring -- thanks to more than 3,000 one-stop career centers that are represented, as well as online tools such as the DOL's My Skills My future website (which highlights alternative careers for certain skill sets).

With social networks playing such a big role in the job market these days, a partnership like this holds real promise. (A Jobvite survey of 800 HR and recruitment professionals revealed that 64% of employers hired through social networks this year.) As of today, more than 14,800 people have "liked" the new Facebook page.

Secretary Solis shares:

"Linking American job seekers with the resources they need to get back to work is a top priority of the Obama administration and my department.  By leveraging the power of the social Web, this initiative will provide immediate, meaningful and ready-to-use information for job seekers and employers, and a modern platform to better connect them."

Beyond the Social Jobs Partnership page, the DOL also plans to expand the program to Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking sites.

Train managers on union-related dos and don'ts

As employers anticipate the new National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) poster they must display as of January 31, 2012, many are wondering how they can counter the pro-union message of this mandatory notification with their own union-free philosophy.

While there are many things you can do to achieve a balance, you'd be wise to start with your company's management.

Your supervisors and managers play a critical role in your business, contributing as much to a cohesive, satisfied workforce as they do to one that’s broken and disgruntled. Qualified, well-trained and supported supervisors go a long way toward keeping your company union-free. But you need to invest in their success.

Now, more than ever, you need to meet regularly with your supervisors to discuss any issues that may be brewing, as well as conduct periodic training workshops that address the latest trends in union organizing, red flags in the workplace and how to lawfully remain union-free. After all, “Union prevention is simply good management in action.”

An important part of any training program is outlining the dos and don’ts of unionizing efforts. Your managers and supervisors must be aware of protected and unprotected employee activity. According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) website, they may not:

•    Prohibit employees from discussing a union during non-work time, or from distributing union literature during non-work time in non-work areas, such as parking lots or break rooms
•    Question employees about their union support or activities in a manner that discourages them from engaging in that activity
•    Fire, demote, transfer, reduce hours or take other adverse action against employees who join or support a union or act with co-workers for mutual aid and protection, or who refuse to engage in such activity
•    Threaten to close their workplace if employees form or join a union
•    Promise or grant promotions, pay raises, or other benefits to discourage or encourage union support
•    Prohibit employees from wearing union hats, buttons, t-shirts, and pins in the workplace except under special circumstances
•    Spy on or videotape peaceful union activities and gatherings

Ideally, your company will never become vulnerable to this level of union interest and activity in the first place. But ensuring that management knows the rules of the game can protect you from additional, costly consequences.

Returning soldiers shouldn't have to fight for their USERRA rights

This past summer, President Obama announced that he will pull 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. And now, he is declaring that virtually all U.S. troops (approximately 39,000) will be returning from Irag by year's end, too.

“After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over,” Obama said. “The coming months will be a season of homecomings. Our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays.”

Home for the holidays ... and re-entering the workforce. With thousands of veterans stepping back into the work world, employers need to ready themselves for the impact this activity will have on their business.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) is the primary federal law that provides employment and reemployment rights for members of the uniformed services, including veterans and members of the Reserve and National Guard. You can read more about USERRA here, but the main points to remember are:

=> USERRA requires employers to reinstate employees upon completion of service

=> USERRA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees in regard to hiring, firing, promotion, training or any other terms of employment based on past, present or future military service.

=> When a service member returns from active duty of five years or less, that individual is entitled to any increases in seniority, promotions, pay and benefits that would have been received had he or she never left -- a legal concept known as the “escalator principle”


Happy Halloween at work -- It's not "witchful" thinking!

As kids, we couldn't wait to dress up as our favorite action hero or fairytale princess, parade through the neighborhood and collect scads of candy. And although we’re adults now, we’re still kids at heart, looking to capture a bit of that Halloween magic. Perhaps that’s why Halloween is the third-most-celebrated holiday after Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

What about your workplace? Will you be opening your doors to ghosts, goblins and good times this week? A Halloween “happening” may be just what your company needs to ease some tension and reconnect.

The benefits are sweet

“Why should we even bother with Halloween?” you may ask. In a word, because it’s fun. Now, more than ever, employees are feeling stressed and need permission to let their hair down and blow off some steam. Celebrating Halloween (and other holidays) at work is a perfect opportunity for promoting teamwork, improving morale and incorporating a little levity into the workday. These types of celebrations also foster a more positive company culture where employees enjoy coming to work.

Here are some ways to get creative and have some fun at the office this Halloween: 

 => Dress the part -- Hold a contest for the best decorated workspace, best group costume and best individual costume. Encourage each department to meet once or twice before the big day to brainstorm themes and determine the ideal costumes to complement the theme.

=> Carve a pumpkin -- Don’t stop at costumes and decorations. Hold a competition for the best carved pumpkin, too. Distribute a pumpkin (and carving set) to each department prior to your workplace event, then see what funny, frightening or downright unusual designs they come up with. Display the pumpkins in a common area for everyone to enjoy.
=> Bring out the treats -- During lunchtime, set up a "Goodies Table" in the main lunchroom with Halloween-themed treats. In addition to the cookies and candy your company provides, request that interested employees volunteer their favorite sweets. Be sure to balance the sweet treats with some fresh apples, nuts and other healthier alternatives.
=> Award prizes -- Plan on having the management team judge all contests and at the end of the day, award prizes to the lucky winners. Store gift cards, a free lunch or a whimsical desktop award are all potential prizes. The more awards you can give out (1st through 3rd prize in each category, for example), the better.

A few words of caution …

On the one hand, Halloween is not connected with any particular religion so a diverse group of employees can enjoy the holiday. On the other hand, some religious groups take offense with the holiday’s pagan roots and reject it on that basis.

For this reason, you may want to call your workplace celebration a “Fall Festival” and make wearing costumes optional. More important, you’ll want to let employees know that revealing, offensive or off-color costumes are strictly prohibited. As an added precaution, specify these two additional costume rules: no masks and no toy weapons.

On the general safety front, discourage tricks, pranks and decorations that could scare others or pose a safety hazard.

Finally, it’s a good idea for HR to send out a memo or email outlining the guidelines for your Halloween celebration and stating that you expect all employees to be respectful and exercise good judgment.

Victims of domestic violence could take FMLA leave under proposed bill

Today's post comes from G.Neil's HR News Weekly:

Coinciding with National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, a California Congresswoman is reintroducing legislation that would assist victims of domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Leave Act would allow employees to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to address incidents of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking -- whether directed at themselves, a spouse (including domestic partner and same-sex spouse), parent or child.

FMLA leave could be used for a variety of reasons:

... Seek medical attention for injuries
... Obtain legal assistance
... Participate in a legal proceeding
... Attend support groups or therapy
... Participate in safety planning

The affected employee could substitute paid leave for the leave available under this bill. And while an employer would be entitled to obtain certification that the employee is taking the FMLA leave for legitimate reasons, the employer would be held to strict confidentiality standards.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey pointed out that domestic violence is a widespread problem in our country, emphasizing that her bill "ensures that those who have suffered abuse have the time to recover, physically and emotionally, without losing their job or forfeiting the income that supports them and their family."

For fast, easily searchable answers to all your FMLA compliance questions, check out SolveIt Now™ -- available for immediate download or on CD-ROM.

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