Filing deadline for VETS-100/100A reports extended; pending bill would require online posting

Due to technical issues, qualifying employers now have until November 30, 2011, to file VETS-100/100A reports. Normally, the reporting cycle begins on August 1 and ends September 30 but because of technical problems, this timeframe has been extended. The Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) is working through the glitches and expects the electronic filing system to go online October 1.

Under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA), federal contractors and subcontractors must complete these reports to capture the number of covered veterans in their workforces, as well as the number of covered veterans hired in the previous 12-month period. Compliance is as follows:

• Contractors with federal contracts of at least $100,000 entered into on or after December 1, 2003 -- VETS-100A report
• Contractors with federal contracts of at least $100,000 that were modified on or after December 1, 2003 -- VETS-100A report
• Contractors with federal contracts of at least $25,000 entered into before December 1, 2003 -- VETS-100 report

In related news, the House has passed a bill that would required the Secretary of Labor to develop a website  for publicly posting information submitted by federal contractors in the VETS -100/100A forms. The Veterans Employment Promotion Act would amend a portion of VEVRAA, a move legislators feels is necessary for better enforcement and oversight of contractor compliance with veterans’ employment laws.

Easily meet VETS reporting requirements with the Affirmative Action Voluntary Information Form.


Essential steps to stay up and running in a disaster

Mother Nature seems to have a nasty temper. Almost daily, we turn on the national news and witness tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, severe storms and other disasters wreaking havoc on homes, businesses and communities. (Just this week, the East Coast was rattled by a 5.8-magnitude earthquake and is now keeping a close eye on a potential Category 3 Hurricane Irene.) And while it’s disheartening to watch, the harsh reality is this: Disaster -- whether natural or manmade -- can strike any time, and almost anywhere.

For employers dealing with these types of threats, the difference between lengthy down time and a quick recovery lies with proper planning. To ensure you’re never caught off guard in a crisis, you need an emergency preparedness and response plan that includes:

• Emergency contact list. Keep an updated list of employee phone numbers (cell phones and landlines) and 24-hour emergency contact numbers in a secure, easily accessible location. Distribute the emergency contact list, in advance, to all employees via email or as a printed document.

• Employee communication procedures. How will management deliver information and instructions to employees after a catastrophic event? It’s a good idea to pre-record emergency messages on toll-free hotlines. And don’t forget email - accessible via laptops and smartphones -- as a way to connect with employees and customers post-disaster. (Subscribe to a resilient, high-speed Internet service, such as satellite broadband, to maintain communications should your terrestrial network fail.)

• A list of critical tasks. Identify critical business operations (what keeps your company producing, selling, taking orders or providing services) and discuss those functions with affected supervisors and employees. At the same time, consider limited or restricted work schedules, telecommuting arrangements and company transportation services for employees.

• An alternate meeting place. Designate an offsite location for top management and essential staff to gather in case your building is damaged or inaccessible due to roadblocks. Depending on the size of your business and your resources, this location can serve as an emergency command center and help minimize down time in a disaster.

• Customer communication strategy. Obviously, you need to keep in touch with customers, buyers and distributors. Again, a resilient, high-speed Internet service can be vital for delivering business updates and maintaining customer relations when other communications are crippled. During quieter times, you might want to draft a few sample emails explaining what customers can expect and apologizing for any inconvenience. Having this correspondence ready to go at a moment’s notice can be a huge help.

• Data recovery plans. Weather disasters can easily wipe out hard drives and destroy databases. Keep essential backup data at an offsite location safe from flooding and know how to retrieve that information if disaster strikes.

• Employee health and safety measures. Keeping your staff out of harm’s way is a top priority in any disaster. Review your emergency evacuation and response procedures, stock up on the appropriate first aid supplies and, if you experienced damage and are resuming “normal” operations, assess the safety of all work areas before allowing employees to return.


The top 5 reasons to let employees telecommute

“Having choices today can attract better employees. Those who can’t be onsite can still contribute."

“Commuting wastes time, energy and gas. Telecommuting reduces office space needed. Workers are less stressed and can manage time better.”

“It allows for a much better work/life balance. It’s also been proven that telecommuters are more productive.”

“A good employee is a good employee - no matter the location.”

These are just a few of the comments received in an online survey on that asked, “Is telecommuting a good thing?” More than 1,700 people voted, with 57.9% selecting the response, “Yes, it gives employees and employers flexibility.”

So if you’re one of those employers that is reluctant to take the plunge and give telecommuting a try, don’t be! These days, more and more jobs that don’t involve direct personal contact can be performed remotely, including positions in marketing, sales, software development, creative and clerical. What’s more, there’s plenty to gain from the arrangement – for both your business and your employees.

Telecommuting prevents interruptions in workflow. A dead car battery … a sick kid who needs bed rest … an appointment for cable hook-up – for all the reasons an employee has to come in late or miss work altogether, he or she could log in to his desktop at home and still get work done. Deadlines don’t have to be compromised just because an employee is home-bound.

Telecommuting reduces stress and boosts productivity. It’s no surprise that the workplace can be a stressful place. Frazzled, stressed-out employees are not effective – they’re present, but they’re not productive. In a more relaxed, home environment, they can focus on the task at hand without the frayed nerves.

Telecommuting trims your overhead costs and doesn’t require expensive equipment. In most cases, a telecommuting employee only needs a computer, internet access and a phone. They probably already have these items available at home, which means no additional costs for your business to get them up and running. And if your company is growing, it can do so without the need for additional workstations or office space.

Telecommuting supports a healthy life/work balance. Most employees long to spend more quality time with their families. Just by eliminating the bumper-to-bumper commute and other time-drainers in the workplace, employees can complete their work PLUS enjoy more time with their children, spouses or partners. This morale-booster alone can help you retain qualified employees who might otherwise look for work elsewhere.

Telecommuting is “green” and good for the globe. During this time of increased environmental awareness and rising oil prices, telecommuting makes more sense. Fewer people driving to and from work means fewer cars on the roads guzzling gasoline and polluting the environment.

Practical pointers to keep in mind

Obviously, telecommuting isn’t appropriate for every employee or situation. For remote arrangements to work, employees need to be disciplined, organized and self-motivated. With no one watching their every move, they may be tempted to slack off or abuse the privilege.

Encourage your telecommuters to touch base with a manager or direct report regularly (by phone or email), and feel free to restrict telecommuting with local employees to a couple of days a week.

Finally, you need a system for tracking the hours an employee spends working remotely. This is especially important with non-exempt, hourly workers, who are required to take meal and rest breaks and provide you with a record of all time worked. Bottom line: Wage and hour rules still apply, even if an employee is working from home.

SHRM encourages lawmakers to update FLSA to meet changing needs

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently came before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections with an urgent message: Update the 73-year-old Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to satisfy the demands of today’s workplaces.

According to Nobumichi Hara, an HR executive and SHRM member who testified at the Congressional hearing, “The FLSA reflects the realities of the industrial workplace in the 1930s and not the workplace of the 21st century.”

As senior vice president of human capital for Goodwill of Central Arizona in Phoenix, Hara drew on his own experience to illustrate some of the FLSA limitations he’s encountered with Goodwill employees. Specifically, he expressed concern that the FLSA doesn’t permit employers to provide flexible workplace benefits, such as flextime, telecommuting and compressed workweeks, to millions of nonexempt (or hourly) workers.

In his closing remarks, Hara shared the sentiment of many who testified – that reform of the FLSA would encourage employers to better meet the needs of their employees.

Labels :

Copyright (c) 2010. Blogger templates by Bloggermint