Hiring, salary freezes to melt within the next year

A majority of U.S. employers plan to reverse some of the changes they’ve made to pay benefits and other HR programs, according to the latest survey results from Watson Wyatt.

The survey discovered that 62% of companies that made hiring freezes and 69% of companies that froze salaries plan to eliminate them within the next 12 months. Almost half (48%) of companies that reduced their employer 401(k)/403(b) matches also plan on reversing their decision within the next year.

Unfortunately, not all of the affected employer benefits will experience the same changes. One in five employers plan to keep salary reductions in place and 46% of employers do not plan on reversing the increases in the percentage that employees now pay for health care premiums.

"While more employers now feel the worst of the current downturn may be behind them, most are not expecting to go back to 'business as usual'," said Laura Sejen, global director of strategic rewards consulting at Watson Wyatt. "The challenge for companies will be to determine which cost-cutting changes can be reversed and which will become ingrained into the permanent business environment." (Yahoo! News)

In the next three to five years, companies expect staffing issues including difficulties in attracting and retaining skilled employees to extend long-term. They also expect staff sizes to be significantly smaller than pre-economic levels.

Compared with pre-economic crisis levels, the companies surveyed expect the following changes within the next three to five years:

  • 45% foresee difficulty retaining critical-skill employees
  • 41% expect increased difficulty attracting critical-skill employees
  • 50% expect no increase to current salary levels
  • 52% expect to see a decrease in staff sixes
  • 76% expect no change in employer contributions to defined contribution plans (e.g., 401(k))

The survey also found that nearly one quarter (24%) of the companies surveyed believed their results have “bottomed out,” double the number of survey participants that said the same in April.

"Laying off workers and cutting back on pay and benefits are never easy decisions to make. Now, companies are now looking to the new economic landscape that lies ahead," said Laurie Bienstock, U.S. strategic rewards leader at Watson Wyatt. "The challenge for employers is to reassess short-term cost cuts and ensure they have the right workforce and resources in place to meet the organization's long-term financial goals." (Yahoo! News)


Form I-9 expiration date extended past 6/30/09

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that the current Form I-9 will continue to be valid for use beyond June 30, 2009.

USCIS has requested that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approve the continued use of the current version of the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9. While the request is pending, the existing I-9 form will not expire.

The extension will allow employers to use either the Form I-9 with the updated revision date or the Form I-9 with the 02/02/09 revision date at the bottom of the form.

USCIS expects to approve a new version of the Form I-9 before the June 30, 2009, expiration date. Read the full USCIS article here.

It is mandatory for all U.S. employers to verify the employment eligibility of new and existing employees by completing a Form I-9 for each individual.

The G.Neil legal team will continue to watch for news from the USCIS once the extension is approved. Check back here for the most current information available.

Seen the HR Bobbleheads yet?

What would your company look like if it were staffed entirely of bobbleheads? One small tech company in suburban Pennsylvania decided to try it out and put the whole thing on video.

The latest HR Bobbleheads episode examines the differences between the interviewing norms 50 years ago and interviews today. Take a break for a few minutes today and check out some of the previous episodes. They’re funny enough that even the evilest of HR ladies will be cracking a smile.

HR Bobbleheads - Episode 5: Interviews Then & Now from HR Bobbleheads on Vimeo.


Employees putting your data security at risk?

Odds are good that they are, according to the latest research.

More employees are ignoring data security policies and engaging in online activities that could put their employer at risk, according to a survey released by Ponemon Institute. Even more worrisome is knowing that they’re doing it even if they understand it’s wrong.

The top data security offenses include copying secure data to USB drives or disabling security settings on mobile devices like laptops. Some employees admit to losing USB sticks that stored confidential corporate data, but failed to report it to the company immediately, the report said.

Almost 31% of employees surveyed said they also engaged in social-networking activities from work computers. More than half (53%) said they downloaded personal software on company computers, heightening the risk of infecting the corporate network with malicious software.

Mobile technologies that let employees do more while on the road are contributing to the issue, said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of Ponemon Institute, in a blog entry. As the use of mobile devices grows, the inability to enforce data security policies could increase the possibility of data breaches. "I'm seeing a confluence of conditions that appear to be contributing to this challenge to data integrity," he said. (PC World)

Negligent online activity puts not only data security at risk, but could also be putting the company’s reputation in a vulnerable position. Remember the Domino’s incident?

About 60% of corporate executives feel they have the right to know how employees portray themselves and their organizations in online social networks, according to the Deloitte LLP Ethics & Workplace survey. However, most employees (53%) say their activity on social networks should be none of their employers’ business.

Whether it’s your data security or corporate reputation you’re looking to protect, having a sound social media policy is your first line of defense. We’re all adults here, but once in a while we all need a friendly reminder of what it means to be responsible online.

Social media policies will differ from company to company, but they all share a few key points: understanding what unacceptable online behavior is, being mindful of the business’ image, using good judgement and knowing that employees represent of the company.

For more help on developing a social media policy, read these past posts:

Bosses concerned over employees’ online behavior, employees say “butt out”

Domino’s employees fired, charged after “gross” video goes viral

The impact of social media on corporate culture

Dangers of using social networking sites to screen applicants

Supreme Court limits worker age-bias suits

The Supreme Court handed down a verdict late last week that would give businesses more strength in employee lawsuits alleging age discrimination.

Employees now bear the burden of proving that age was a dominant factor in his or her firing or demotion in order to win a case. Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), employees have the burden of proving that age was the “but-for” cause of an employer’s adverse decision.

With age-discrimination lawsuits growing at an alarming rate, the 5-4 ruling (Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc.) is considered a win for businesses that face age-bias lawsuits. Before last week, workers had to show only that age was a factor in the decision.

"The burden of persuasion does not shift to the employer to show that it would have taken the action regardless of age," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority. He added this legal rule applies "even when a plaintiff has produced some evidence that age was one motivating factor."

Karen Harned, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said the opinion would help companies defend against age-bias claims. "Requiring claimants to show direct evidence that age played a substantial role in the challenged employment decision is the appropriate and fair standard," Ms. Harned said. (Wall Street Journal)

Since the U.S. economy began to slide downward, age discrimination claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have increased by 29%, a jump from 19,100 in 2007 to more than 24,500 in 2008. (Washington Times)

This case involved a lawsuit brought against FBL Financial Group by Jack Gross, under the ADEA. Gross claimed that FBL violated the ADEA when he was demoted and some of his prior responsibilities were given to a younger worker.

Employers brace for 2010 healthcare cost hike

It’s estimated that U.S. employers will see a 9 percent jump in healthcare costs in 2010 and workers will be footing more of the bill, according to an annual trend report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The annual medical costs trends report also revealed that workers are more likely to utilize their health insurance coverage out of fear that they will loose their jobs. More uninsured and underinsured people are expected to turn to Medicaid for health coverage.

The rise in healthcare costs may be offset partially by cost declines associated with U.S. health care reforms and the potential for high deductible health plans and wellness programs, according to PwC.

Of the 500 employers surveyed by PwC: 

  • 42% plan to increase their workers’ share of healthcare costs in 2010, and
  • 41% said they would change the design of health care plans to increase medical cost sharing.

The study comes at a time when new health-reform legislation is heating up congressional hearings. President Obama has pledged to push his plans to revamp health-care regulation through Congress and Senate hearings this summer. Before anything is approved, it will be up to employers to manage rising costs.

"Employers are squeezing dollars out of their programs to save money," Mike Thompson, principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers global human resource solutions group, said in a statement.

"As the economy recovers, employers will refocus on more sustainable longer term approaches to medical cost containment based on an increasingly shared interest between employers and their workers." (Reuters)

What is your company doing to offset the rise in healthcare costs? Please leave a comment and let us know.


Same-sex harassment complaints growing

Dillard’s, Inc. will pay $110,000 and provide significant remedial relief for a same-sex harassment suit in Florida, according to an announcement from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) last week.

The EEOC claimed that Dillard’s violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by permitting a sexually hostile work environment for men at its Fashion Square Mall store in Orlando, Fla. The EEOC charged that a male sales associate and a young dockworker were verbally and sexually harassed by a male supervisor.

The workers accused their supervisor of exposing himself in front of them, making sexual propositions, and making sexually explicit and derogatory comments. According to the EEOC, Dillard’s store managers ignored complaints made by the workers about the harasser.

Dillard’s argued that the store wasn’t liable because the supervisor had been fired and had an anti-harassment policy in place. The court rejected that argument and “found that Dillard's anti-harassment policy could not absolve it of liability if the policy hadn’t been effectively implemented.” (Business Management Daily)

“The EEOC will hold corporate America accountable for failing to prevent and correct employment discrimination,” said Commission Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “Sexual harassment charge filings by men have trended upward over the past decade. Employers must be more vigilant in ensuring that men are not subjected to sexually hostile workplaces.”

In addition to paying $110,000 to the two male victims, the Dillard’s Fashion Square Mall store must:
  • distribute policies to the workforce on preventing sexual harassment and retaliation;
  • conduct sexual harassment and anti-discrimination training for all employees;
  • train employees who are responsible for investigating sexual harassment complaints;
  • submit to monitoring throughout the decree’s three-year duration;
  • and post a notice about the resolution of the case.

“Employers must diligently enforce policies to prevent sexual harassment and ensure that managers take same-sex harassment complaints seriously. It is vital to protect both men and women from workplace harassment,” said EEOC Miami Regional Attorney Nora Curtin.

The number of sexual harassment charges filed with the EEOC are up 11% from last year and at the highest rate since 2002. Sexual harassment charges filed by men make up 16% of total charges, a figure that once stood at 12% in the late 1990s.

Sexual harassment is sexual harassment no matter if it’s male-on-female, male-on-male or female-on-female. Even if the harassment doesn’t look exactly like what was taught in the training video, it should still be handled with the same sensitivity and diligence that would be given in any “normal” situation.

According to Mindy Chapman, Esq., of Mindy Chapman & Associates, in a recent Business Management Daily article, companies can learn three major lessons from this case:

  1. Train “it.” Anyone designated in your anti-harassment policy’s reporting procedures needs to know they could be tagged “it” with a complaint. Train them so they know “it.”

  2. Script “it.” The store manager should have responded by saying, “Thank you for letting me know. You are important to us at Dillard’s. I will help you immediately.” Then he should have, in the next breath, contacted the district manager.

  3. Stop “it.” The manager had an obligation that if he saw “it,” heard “it,” or heard about “it,” he should have stopped “it,” but never ignored “it."


Would you work for free to keep your job?

While getting ready for work this morning this story on Good Morning America caught my attention:

About 40,000 people work for British Airways, which means they show up, do their jobs and get paid. But now, the airline is asking workers to do their jobs for up to a month without the "getting paid" part.

British Airways asks its employees to work without pay for up to one month.

In a letter to employees this week, British Airways said, "The airline fights for survival ... people will be able to opt for one-week blocks of unpaid leave or unpaid work."

It's a twist on sacrifices being made by employees around the world. In Connecticut, for instance, Courtney Bosch was given a one-week furlough from Kodak.

"In these times, I was comfortable with it, you know I can honestly say I was happy to still be employed," Bosch said.”

Watch the story here.

Furloughs are one thing, but asking employees to work for free for up to one month is quite another.

With nearly one in 10 U.S. workers without a job, some people are so afraid of joining the ranks of the unemployed that working for free sounds like the only choice they have.

Employers should still use caution when considering such a plan. ABC News workplace commentator Tory Johnson went on to say that expecting people to work for free is “absolutely a slippery slope” for employers.

More than a thousand employees have signed up for British Airway’s “no-pay plan.” The airlines also said there is no sense of intimidation or peer pressure among employees regarding the plan.

Is asking workers to go without pay simply a sign of the times or is there a better way for companies to save money? Would you work for free to keep your job?

Are you prepared to handle flu-related HR issues?

As the World Health Organization (WHO) raises the alert level of the H1N1 flu virus (aka. swine flu), employers’ concern over how an outbreak could affect their businesses has seemingly tapered off.

The WHO officially declared the H1N1 flu virus a pandemic on Thursday by raising the threat level of the virus to Phase 6. The pandemic status of the virus doesn’t mean that it is more dangerous, but that it has infected people in more countries. The Phase 6 threat level means community-level outbreaks have hit more than one continent.

News coverage surrounding swine flu has calmed down and so seems employers’ concern regarding any danger the illness may pose to their organizations. Approximately two in five employers (41%) do not have a human resources policy in place for health-related emergencies, although they have employees working in areas with confirmed swine flu (or Influenza A) cases, according to a survey by Mercer.

“With the continued increase of reported cases of Influenza A [swine flu], it is important for employers to develop a plan for dealing with the myriad HR issues that can arise in the event of a pandemic or other health care emergency,” said Danielle Dorling, a consultant in Mercer’s HR effectiveness consulting business. “In particular, organizations with a global workforce and decentralized HR units need to have a coherent procedure in place for employee care in the event of a health emergency.” (Mercer press release)

Among the key survey findings:
  • 53% of the employers surveyed were considering whether to create back-up and contingency plans in response to the outbreak
  • 43% said they planned to restrict or cancel business travel
  • 41% said they planned to allow employees to work at home
  • 27% opted for voluntary quarantine for employees exposed to risk
  • 24% enforced quarantine on employees judged at risk
  • 24% indicated they were taking no special actions.

Employers also said they would cancel meetings, screen staff members returning from travel, require medical check-ups and review health or insurance plans as a result of the recent swine flu outbreak.

“Business continuity plans should be standardized and employers must be able to communicate in a streamlined, swift and decisive fashion,” Dorling said. “Ad-hoc reaction can lead to confusion, unnecessary panic and expensive global inconsistencies that can expose the organization to significant financial risk.”

In April, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano asked private employers to do their part in helping the federal government protect workers from the illness, saying that employers should be thinking ahead about what they would do if affected by swine flu or other contagious diseases.

Before you create policies and procedures regarding the spread of viral infections in your workplace, there are a few legal and ethical issues to consider. Employers should know the rights of exposed employees, if they can order employees to go home and how the Americans with Disabilities Act could come into play, among a list of other important questions.

G.Neil’s free “Flu in the Workplace” white paper explains the answers to those questions along with information on how to protect your employees and business from serious contagious diseases.

Time-sheet cheating creates unnecessary costs

About one in five hourly employees admits to cheating on their time sheets to receive extra pay from their employers, according to a new survey conducted by Harriss Interactive and commissioned by The Workforce Institute.

While it’s hardly a new problem for employers, the rate at which time-sheet cheating is happening should be raising a few red flags that the problem is growing.

Of those who said they admitted to cheating on their time sheets:
  • 69% admit to punching in earlier or punching out later than scheduled
  • 22% admit to adding additional time to their time sheet
  • 14% say that they don’t punch out for unpaid lunches or breaks
  • 5% admit to having someone else punch them in or out

About 35% of survey respondents said their employers use paper time sheets to keep track of employees’ time, a practice that could be putting companies at risk for significant payroll inflation.

Organizations that use manual time and attendance tracking systems generally run up unnecessary payroll costs of roughly 1.2% of their total payroll costs because of inaccurate application of payroll rules and human errors, according to a Nucleus Research report.

Remember, the survey only discovered how many employees “admit” to cheating on their time sheets at work, suggesting that the actual number of time-sheet cheats is much higher.

Fortunately, businesses can do something to fight unnecessary payroll costs by moving away from outdated or mechanical employee time-tracking systems. Automated time-tracking tools can prove to be significantly more efficient than any paper-based payroll system.

With the vast number of options out there, it’s possible for businesses of any size to find an automated time-tracking tool that fits their needs. From basic software systems that electronically track who’s on the clock or not, to more advanced solutions that turn any PC into a time clock station, automated employee time tracking can lower costs and reduce payroll errors.

Ensure hourly employees are being paid for the time they work and limit the risk of costly payroll mistakes by taking control with an updated timekeeping system.

What does happiness in work look like?

Is there a formula for finding happiness in our work?

Many have tried to explain it, but few have been able to create a clear picture of the road to happiness.

Among those creative few stands Bud Caddell, author of the blog What Consumes Me. Earlier this month, he put his idea of what happiness in business looks like in a Venn diagram:

As someone who has been working at start-ups and small businesses since he was 14 years old, Caddell was able to put what he learned over the years into a beautifully crafted diagram.

Caddell’s idea of happiness in work is based on three overlapping factors: what we do well, what we want to do and what we can be paid to do.

Find all three and ‘Hooray!’ you’ve got happiness.

Or is it that simple?

Take a look at Caddell’s full blog post and read his tips for finding your way to the ‘Hooray!’ point. Then come back and let us know what you think of Caddell’s happiness formula.

How do you find happiness in work?

IRS answers more pressing COBRA questions

If you’re an employer struggling with COBRA questions, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has published added guidance on the federal premium subsidy to help answer some of the most common issues.

The new COBRA regulations, which were part of President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, contain specific changes to COBRA health benefit requirements that affect former employees, their employers and COBRA coverage providers.

Under the subsidy, involuntarily terminated employees must pay 35 percent of the COBRA premium and employers must front the money for the remaining 65 percent. After paying insurers directly, employers can then claim the payment as an offset against payroll tax liabilities using the updated Form 941.

The IRS published information earlier this year to answer major questions from the public regarding eligibility for the COBRA subsidy. Information has been added to the question-and-answer style document as new questions develop.

Last week, the IRS updated the online document with additional information including guidance on whether an employee who is a reservist would be eligible for the subsidy if called to active duty.

Q. Does an involuntary termination of employment occur if a member of a military Reserve unit or the National Guard who is employed by a civilian employer is called to active duty?

A. Yes. This is the case regardless of whether the civilian employer otherwise treats the employee’s absence as a termination of employment or a leave of absence.

The IRS also added information in response to questions regarding elected officials and employees hired for a limited period of time.

Q. In the case of an employee who is hired only for a limited period, such as a seasonal worker, or a teacher hired only for one school year, can the end of employment at the end of the period be considered an involuntary termination?

A. Yes. Under Notice 2009-27, Q&A-1, an involuntary termination may include the employer’s failure to renew a contract at the time the contract expires, if the employee was willing and able to execute a new contract providing terms and conditions similar to those in the expiring contract and to continue providing the services. Thus, if an employee hired for a limited period works to the end of the period, is willing and able to continue employment, and terminates employment because of the failure of the employer to offer additional work, an involuntary termination occurs for purposes of the premium subsidy.

For more answers to questions on COBRA continuation health coverage read the IRS FAQs for employers.

What workers want most this summer: Time

Flexible schedules and leaving work early on Fridays are the the benefits employees want most this summer, a new survey by OfficeTeam suggests.

More than 450 office workers were asked, “Which of the following summer benefits would you most like to have?” They answered:
  • Flexible schedules 38%

  • Leave early on Fridays 32%

  • Activities (e.g. company picnic, potluck) 6%

  • More relaxed dress code 5%

“Employees appreciate flexibility in their jobs because it gives them greater control and enables them to handle other commitments without sacrificing their work performance,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam.

Flexible scheduling can be an inexpensive way to motivate employees during the summer months, adds Hosking. For businesses worried that customer service will suffer, he suggests staggering workers’ schedules to maximize the total number of hours employees are able to assist customers.

“Companies should pilot flexible schedule programs before rolling them out permanently,” Hosking recommended. “This gives businesses time to evaluate the impact on workflow and productivity.”

If flex time isn’t an option, allowing employees to occasionally leave early on Fridays can boost morale. Many workers plan activities and weekend trips during the summer months and would appreciate the extra time to get started, says Hosking.

How employees aim to impress during tough times

As eight out of ten companies continue to cut labor costs by such means as reducing salaries, worker hours and job perks, many employees are taking extra steps to ensure their jobs aren’t part of those cuts.

A recent Randstad survey revealed exactly how employees aim to impress their bosses and improve their job security during times of economic unrest. While some employees are willing to put in the extra work to make a good impression, most won’t take it much farther than working some overtime.

Some key findings of the survey include:

  • Only 47 percent are willing to work overtime to impress their boss in order to create more job security for themselves

  • Only 37 percent reported a willingness to come in early or stay late to impress their bosses

  • Less than half of employees (43 percent) think their boss is open to new ideas

  • A mere 19 percent view their boss as their biggest advocate

  • Despite all that these employees are willing to do to impress their boss, taking a pay cut is not one of them (4 percent)

  • More women are willing to take on more work and responsibilities than men (11 percentage points more), 63 and 52 percent respectively

Mass layoffs and downsizing can have a severe impact on the morale of employees in surviving positions. The stress of watching their coworkers leave and working in an office with a growing number of empty cubicles may have some workers wondering if they’ll be the next to go.

Even companies that are economizing by eliminating low-cost perks like coffee cups and plastic utensils can be seriously damaging employee morale. While finding ways to save money, companies may be unintentionally pushing employees out the door.

“Employees’ professional development and morale should always be a priority for employers, and especially in an economic slowdown when employees may feel additional burdens,” said Eric Buntin, managing director, marketing and operations for Randstad USA.

“A healthy employee-employer relationship greatly contributes to an overall positive workplace attitude. Employers who connect with their employees create an environment where workers are more engaged in their jobs. Ultimately, this increases retention and productivity, both of which tie directly to a company’s financial success.”

As an employee, have you been doing anything differently to impress your boss since the recession began? As an employer, do you notice your employees putting in any extra effort to create better job security for themselves?

Please leave a comment and tell us all about it.

If you can't go paperless...

At least now you can turn your paper waste into something useful, and save some money on all that Charmin you buy for the office.

Nakabayashi, a Tokyo-based company that offers products from child car seats to office supplies, just announced the release of its new in-office machine that turns used office paper waste into toilet paper right there on site, according to CrunchGear.

(Image via CrunchGear)

At 1323 pounds, with a price tag of $95,000, it may be asking a little too much your average office looking to get a little greener.

Chatty employees more productive than quiet coworkers

Though email and other communication technologies have made office communication more convenient, they may be doing little to improve workers’ productivity. A new study suggests that giving employees more time to chat around the water cooler could actually help them get more done back at their desks.

People who interact with each other in person are more productive than people who rely on electronic forms of communication, according to a recent report by researchers at MIT and New York University.

By outfitting workers in a Rhode Island call center with wearable sensor packs, or “sociometers,” researchers recorded details of individuals’ social interactions throughout the day. What they found was that employees who had more in-person conversations with coworkers tended to be more productive than those who did not.

The same team of researchers conducted a similar study last December that backs these recent findings. The December study examined a tight-knit team at an IT company, finding that face-to-face communication improved worker productivity by about 30 percent.

"The big idea is that what you do on your coffee break and over lunch really matters for productivity," says Sandy Pentland, a professor at MIT's Media Lab, who led the study. "Face-to-face networks matter, and the implications are huge."

Researchers cite two main reasons for the connection between in-person communication and productivity:
  1. Face-to-face conversations help employees maintain strong relationships with coworkers, those relationships help workers solve complex problems and complete calls more efficiently.
  2. Support networks among coworkers increases overall morale and job satisfaction - two major factors of productivity.

Researchers suggest that giving employees time to interact with each other will “likely bolster information transfer across individuals and departments,” a vital ingredient in organizational success.

"The underlying theme here is that humans are social beings," says Pentland. "Technology pushes us toward the abstract, and away from richer face-to-face communication."

The moral of the story: Encourage employees to interact and work with each other in-person. Improved face-to-face communication could be the key to your business’ success.

HR survey shows more slashing salaries, less layoffs

Eight out of ten companies continue to cut labor costs, most by reducing salaries, worker hours, perks, and using furlough or forced vacations, according to a survey released yesterday by Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

According to the report, more than half (52%) of human resources executives surveyed in May said their companies had decided to slash or freeze pay, more than double the 27% of companies using the same cost-cutting techniques in January.

Executives listed as many as 13 different measures they’re currently using to cut expenses, but they’re not necessarily using these techniques in place of layoffs. Survey results revealed that the companies which had gone through layoffs were more likely to use cost-cutting methods than companies that had not.

Slashing benefits, pay, and perks allows companies to lower their labor costs without cutting workers. Layoffs can create a major challenge when the economy begins to recover and employers are short on trained workers. "It is a lot easier to restore compensation and benefits that it is to rehire and retrain workers when the economy improves," says John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray and Christmas. (U.S. News & World Report)

The percentage of employers making permanent cuts fell since the beginning of the year, from 56% in January to 43% in May, according to the survey. Altogether, 86% of executives said their companies were implementing cost-cutting measures, which is slightly better than in January when 92% of organizations were slashing costs.

Has your company been able to avoid layoffs by implementing other cost-cutting measures, such as salary reductions or freezes? Leave a comment and let us know what worked for your organization.

E-Verify regulations on hold again

The federal government has extended the effective date of the E-Verify requirement for federal government contractors to September 8, 2009. The requirement was previously set to take effect on June 30, 2009.

The rule would require most government contractors to verify the immigration status of current and new workers using the federal government’s E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system.

Implementation of the requirement has been delayed “to allow President Barack Obama's administration more time to complete its review of the rule,” Jennifer Kerber, vice president for federal and homeland security policy for TechAmerica, wrote in an e-mail message to members today. (via Washington Technology)

An official announcement is expected to be published in the Federal Register later this week.

This will be the fourth delay in the effective date of the E-Verify regulations, which were originally scheduled to take effect in January.

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