Author Archives: Rick Dacri

About Rick Dacri

Rick Dacri is one of those rare individuals who can take difficult employee issues, sort through their complexities, and find solutions for employers that make sense. Dacri brings more than 25 years of experience in senior management, organizational development, and human resources, all in one package. He has consulted to a wide variety of industries, large and small, always brings to the table a practical approach, sound advice, and a sense of humor. Dacri is the president and founder of Dacri & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in helping business owners and managers improve the performance and productivity of their organization and workforce. Much of Rick’s success can be attributed to his ability to work with managers to get to the heart of their problems and provide them practical solutions with simple, straightforward steps for implementation. Rick is a recognized national speaker, speaking at conferences on leadership, organizational change and human resources. He is a prolific writer, authoring the book Uncomplicating Management and over 100 articles for a number of business publications. He is also a regular contributor to several industry associations’ journals and newsletters. He has been an adjunct professor at Clark University, Assumption College and Fitchburg State College, where he has taught courses in management, organizational behavior, and human resource management. Rick serves on a number of boards and has served as President of the Human Resource Association of Southern Maine, as the Massachusetts State Director for the Society for Human Resource Management as well as the President of the Human Resource Association of Central Massachusetts. Rick holds a MBA from Clark University and a Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude from Assumption College. He lives on the coast of Maine where the sites, sounds and smells of the ocean give him inspiration and strength.

Massachusetts: Final Earned Sick Time Regulations

2000px-Flag_of_Massachusetts(Post written by attorneys from Fisher & Phillips, June 23, 2015)

On June 19, 2015, the Massachusetts Attorney General published the final regulations concerning the new Earned Sick Time (“EST”) law that will go into effect on July 1, 2015. These final regulations differ somewhat from the draft regulations submitted in April and provide clarification and additional detail to aid with implementation.

The Basics
Under the EST law, all employees in Massachusetts must be allowed to accrue and use up to 40 hours of EST in a calendar year, subject to certain conditions set forth in the law and the regulations. Under the previously announced “safe harbor” provision, companies that utilized a policy under which certain employees received at least 30 hours of paid time off as of May 1, 2015 will be deemed compliant relative to those employees and any other employees to whom the policy is extended on a proportional basis. Additionally, starting July 1, all use of time, whether under the law itself or under the safe harbor provision, must be job protected and is subject to the law’s anti-interference and anti-retaliation provisions. A summary of the law can be found here.

Key Changes And Distinctions Between The Draft And Final Regulations
EST May Run Concurrently With FMLA
The final regulations state that EST may run concurrently with leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and other state leave laws. The draft regulations had stated that EST must be “in addition to” FMLA and other state leaves.

Additional “Travel Time” EST Use Added
The law provides four purposes for which sick time may be used: care for a physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition; caring for a close family member with such a condition; attending medical appointments; and addressing the effects of domestic violence. The final regulations add a fifth category: EST may be used for “travel to and from an appointment, a pharmacy, or other location related to the purpose for which time was taken.”

“Same Hourly Rate” Defined
The law states that EST must be paid at “the same hourly rate” as the employee would earn for their work. Given the numerous ways employees can be compensated outside of an “hourly rate,” the final regulations set out more specifically how this “same hourly rate” should be calculated:

  • hourly employees are paid their regular hourly rate; those who earn two or more rates are paid an average “blended rate” based on their previous pay period;
    salaried employees are paid a rate based on the total compensation divided by hours worked in the previous pay period. For exempt salaried employees working 40 hours or more per week, the employer can assume 40 hours rather than using actual hours worked. However, employers cannot make that assumption for exempt salaried employees regularly working less than 40 hours per week or salaried non-exempt employees;
    employees paid on a piece-work or fee-for-service basis must be paid “a reasonable calculation of the wages or fees the employee would have received” for the work if the employee had worked;
    commissioned employees, whether commission-only or base rate plus commission, must be paid the greater of their base wage or the minimum wage; and
    tipped employees must be paid the minimum wage.

Alternative Accrual Schedule
The final regulations provide Continue reading

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DOL Publishes New FMLA Forms

(This post was written by attorney Kai McGintee, Bernstein Shur on 6/10/15)McGintee

With summer right around the corner, the federal Department of Labor hasn’t taken off on vacation quite yet. Rather, the DOL has been hard at work issuing new Family and Medical Leave Act notices and medical certification forms for employers to use. The new DOL forms are good through May 31, 2018:WH-380-E Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition. (Click for Forms)

WH-380-F Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition
WH-381 Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities
WH-382 Designation Notice
WH-384 Certification of Qualifying Exigency For Military Family Leave
WH-385 Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of Current Servicemember — for Military Family Leave
WH-385-V Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of a Veteran for Military Caregiver Leave

The forms are substantially similar to the DOL’s prior versions. The only notable change is that the DOL added a reference to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act in its instructions to health care providers on the certification form for an employee’s serious health condition (WH-380-E). Specifically, the DOL added the following: “Do not provide information about genetic tests, as defined in 29 C.F.R. § 1635.3(f), genetic services, as defined in 29 C.F.R. § 1635.3(e), or the manifestation of disease or disorder in the employee’s family members, 29 C.F.R. § 1635.3(b).” Employers who use their own medical certification forms rather than the DOL version should be sure to add this instruction for GINA compliance purposes.
Although the DOL had at one time created a form for employees to use to request FMLA leave, that form is a thing of the past. Because no magic words, let alone a form, are needed to request FMLA leave, the DOL did away with its model request for leave form. Employers should remember that for foreseeable leave, an employee only needs to provide “verbal notice sufficient to make the employer aware that the employee needs FMLA-qualifying leave, and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave.” For unforeseeable leave, an employee only needs to provide “sufficient information for an employer to reasonably determine whether the FMLA may apply to the leave request.”
Once an employee requests leave, the employer’s responsibilities under the FMLA are triggered if it has “knowledge that an employee’s leave may be for an FMLA-qualifying reason.” As a result, when any doubt exists over whether an employee is seeking time off for a reason that could qualify under the FMLA, employers should err on the side of caution. If an employee mentions illness or injury as the reason for an absence, then the absence “may” be FMLA-qualifying and the Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities should be provided to the employee. Although Maine has its own version of FMLA, the state has not developed its own forms. Accordingly, Maine employers who wish to utilize the federal forms for Maine FMLA purposes should specifically advise the employee that the federal form is being used for that purpose, and that mere usage does not confer federal FMLA rights. New Hampshire does not have a separate state family medical leave law and therefore follows the federal FMLA.
The DOL FMLA forms are simple, fairly straightforward, and legally compliant. As long as employers use them consistently and correctly, administration of FMLA will be a warm summer breeze!

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The Critical Relationship Between the Town Manager and the Board of Selectmen

UnknownPost was written by Rick Dacri and was published in the New Hampshire Town and City, May/June, 2015

The job of the town manager or an elected official is not easy. But, when things are operating well, people are working cohesively, residents are happy, and results are being achieved, then it’s good to be in local government.

Results begin when three elements are in place: a positive working relationship between the board and the manager, a shared mission about what the town wants to accomplish, and a commitment to move forward together. The relationship ensures that a collegial rapport occurs based on trust and shared values. The mission guides the town’s allocation of limited resources: money, talent and time. And commitment pulls everything together. Absent any of those components, everything collapses like a two-legged stool.

That collapse often occurs when priorities become unclear, the manager becomes unsure where the board is headed, or individuals are moving in different directions. Therefore, a comprehensive or strategic plan is necessary to provide focus to both the board and manager. The key is to get the manager and the board members on the same page.

So how do you forge an effective relationship while meeting the town’s mission?

Set clear expectations and accountability standards: After all, if you want the manager to drive the organization where you want, develop a map. Be clear, specific and direct.
Understand your manager’s needs and expectations: Boards need to take time to get to know what makes their manager tick. Know the individual’s personal and professional goals, objectives and stressors and what can you do to help alleviate them.
Provide a timely performance review and know the market for executive compensation: Late reviews and salaries that fall below their peers are two areas that cause the greatest resentment, resulting in breakdowns in the relations and turnover. In a market with a shortage of good municipal management talent, this can be a catastrophe.
Set realistic performance goals: the strategic direction of the town will only be achieved when this is done well. The genesis of all goals should be the town’s strategic plan.
Provide ongoing feedback on performance: It’s lonely at the top. The manager needs input from the board. An ongoing dialogue is essential.
Support the manager’s development: Grow your manager. The world is constantly changing and your manager must be able to keep up. A stagnant manager with last year’s ideas is not going to move your organization forward.

There is a fundamental, almost systemic tension between the roles of the board of selectmen and the town manager. Who is in charge? Absent clear guidelines and a process to address roles, responsibilities, and strategic direction, conflict arises. Struggles for power and control emerge. As with any conflict, the solution is to get people talking and listening. Regardless, embracing the collective belief in the mission of your town is a powerful magnet to draw people together, allowing them to rise above ideology and personal agendas for the collective good of the town. A strong commitment to this belief and a passion to make it work allows most to make the relationship piece work. It happens everyday in well run communities.

Other posts you might like:

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Municipalities: Top 10 Tips To Ensure the Board & Manager Maintain a Strong & Effective Working Relationship

UnknownPost by Rick Dacri. Originally published in the City & Town Magazine of the New Hampshire Municipal Association, May/June 2015

  1. Establish a clear, mutually agreed upon mission for the town and define values from which to operate. Take the time to discuss vision, strategy and policy. If your focus is simply surviving today, you’ll likely stagnate. Effective boards understand the importance of strategic planning as a means to steer the organization.
  2. Identify clear, annual goals and needs along with a time frame to complete. Develop a vision for your community. Dream big and move forward, one step at a time.
  3. Establishment a clear division of responsibilities and accountabilities for the board and manager. Be specific about boundaries and control. Governance must be clearly delineated and understood. You can only have one town manager at a time.
  4. Establish a forum for ongoing open communications and planning. Build open discussions into your calendar. Set up formal times to meet, both formally and informally with the manager to maintain focus and to nurture the relationship.
  5. Establish methods to resolve conflict in a respectful, open and honest manner. Conflict will occur. Set up a process to address it, and, if that doesn’t work, bring in outside professional help.
  6. Establish priorities with the understanding that they must be reviewed on an ongoing basis since the town’s challenges are ever changing. We live in a rapidly evolving environment. The board and manager must be nimble. The strategic planning process helps to anticipate the expected challenges, threats and opportunities before they emerge, but external and internal changes can occur that will change the picture.
  7. Develop methods to establish trust and support, where everyone adheres to the plan and each of you “has each other’s back.” Trust is a critical element in any healthy relationship. Without it, things fail. Work to continuously build trust and get help when repair is required.
  8. Develop and implement an effective annual performance evaluation system that is an ongoing process. There should be no surprises in annual evaluation if communication has been healthy, ongoing and honest. No business relationship can occur without clear accountability standards. A performance evaluation can be an excellent tool for this. Establish a formal process. Provide each board member an opportunity to contribute. Focus on the future and avoid creating a “report card” system. And encourage informal feedback throughout the year.
  9. Develop a process to bring newly elected board members up-to-date on what has been established and agreed upon amongst the current board and manager. Board orientations bring new members up to speed quickly, allowing them to make an immediate contribution.
  10. Create a board of selectmen self-assessment. This is a tool designed to help clarify roles and responsibilities, assess board performance, seek ways to improve and plan for the future. Outside professionals are often engaged to help boards develop such a mechanism.

Other Posts You Might Like:

  1. How to do Quality Manager Evaluations
  2. Recruitment: Landing Your Next Manager
  3. Succession Planning in Municipalities Assure Steady Flow of Talent

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New Massachusetts Minimum Wage Regulations Contain Significant Changes

hammer1(This post was written by attorney Diane M. Saunders of the firm Ogletree Deakins, on April 28, 2015)

While the January 2015 increases in the Massachusetts minimum wage for regular and tipped employees have received considerable attention and publicity, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS) also issued new minimum wage regulations to little fanfare. The new regulations have been somewhat of a “sleeper,” even though they are a marked departure from existing law in some areas. They include substantial changes to the prior regulations in the areas of employer notice and recordkeeping requirements, employee uniforms, and deductions for lodging and meals. They also include new language on the topics of working time, on-call time, travel time, and indirect deductions.

In brief, the key changes in the new regulations include: Continue reading

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Massachusetts Attorney General Issues Proposed Regulations on Implementation of New Earned Sick Time Law

2000px-Flag_of_Massachusetts(This post was written by David P. Mason, ESQ of the firm Ogletree Deakins on April 28, 2015)

As we detailed in November 2014, Massachusetts voters last fall approved a new law mandating that employers provide earned sick time to their employees. Under the new law, employers with 11 or more employees must provide paid sick leave for workers and smaller employers must provide unpaid sick time. The law is set to take effect on July 1, 2015, and employers have raised many questions about how the law will be implemented. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) recently issued proposed regulations that provide detailed guidance concerning implementation of the new law. The AGO has scheduled six public hearings to gather public feedback on the regulations and has invited any interested parties to submit written comments on the regulations.

The proposed regulations provide definitions and guidance on many issues that were unclear based on the statutory text. However, they raise some additional compliance challenges for employers as well. Of particular note, the proposed regulations:

  • Broadly define “employer” to include entities that have very small Massachusetts operations. All employees will be counted toward the 11-employee threshold that requires an employer to provide paid sick leave, regardless of whether those employees work in Massachusetts or are eligible to accrue and use earned sick time.
  • Broadly define the types of employees entitled to sick leave. Employees may accrue and use earned sick time on all hours worked regardless of whether those hours are worked in Massachusetts, so long as the employee’s “primary place of work”—the location they spend the most time working—is Massachusetts. Also, all full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal employees are entitled to earned sick time under the law.
  • Outline how employers should take steps to comply in 2015 in light of the statute’s mid-year effective date (July 1).
  • Permit employers to define their own “calendar year” for purposes of accrual and use of earned sick time, provided the employer gives written notice to employees as described in the regulations. This will assist employers in coordinating use of earned sick time with their existing paid time off and leave policies.
  • Define the rate that must be paid to employees who use earned sick time (including a requirement that salaried employees be paid at an “hourly rate” determined by dividing their total earnings by hours worked from the previous pay period), and when those payments must be made.
  • Allow employers to require employees to use a full shift of earned sick time if their absence required the employer to hire a replacement for the shift, even though the statute generally requires that employers allow employees to take earned sick time in hourly increments or the smallest increment the employer’s payroll system allows.
  • Modify the statute’s mandate that employers must allow employees to carry-over 40 hours of earned sick time from year to year. Employers can, but are not required to, establish policies that provide for the payout of up to 40 hours of earned paid sick time at the end of each calendar year so long as the employee would maintain at least 16 hours of previously-accrued time.
  • Allow employers to create notice policies mandating that (1) employees give advanced notice of up to seven days for pre-scheduled or foreseeable absences, and (2) require daily notification if an employee anticipates a foreseeable multi-day absence.
  • Allow employers to require “written verification” from employees that they have used earned sick time for purposes permitted by the statute for any amount of earned sick time used. However, an employer may not require medical documentation unless the employee is absent for more than 24 consecutive work hours.
  • Permit employers to discipline employees for misuse of sick leave if the employee is “committing fraud or abuse by engaging in an activity that is not consistent with allowable purposes for leave (e.g., being sick, caring for an ill family member) or by exhibiting a clear pattern of taking leave on days when the employee is scheduled to perform duties perceived as undesirable.”
  • Permit employers to maintain “good attendance” rewards policies if those policies do not subject employees that use earned sick time under the statute to any adverse action. The inability of employees to qualify for such rewards because they used earned sick time does not constitute a statutorily-prohibited adverse action or interference with employees’ rights.
  • Require employers to maintain records of accrual and use of earned sick time for three years, with those records being subject to inspection by the AGO and the employee.

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Online Accelerated Supervisory Development Program–May 13

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Last year I introduced the Accelerated Supervisory Development Program. I conducted two programs and 24 individuals signed up and successfully completed it. Since then I have been asked when I was going to offer the program again. Well, mark your calendars. A new program is scheduled to begin on May 13, 2015.

This training program is specifically designed for small companies with only a few managers or companies that want to quickly provide training for a single manager or two. I call it

 Rick Dacri’s Uncomplicating Management

Accelerated Supervisory Development Program.

Here’s what some of the “graduates” said about recent programs:

Great class. Rick cleared up issues on employee problems.”

Chris Davidson, Supervisor, Paras Electric

 

“Rick Dacri provided me a template with which I can elevate the performance of my crew, reward top performers, and address the needs of those not yet reaching their potential.”

Kevin Snow, Supervisor, Groveland Municipal Light Department

 

“Just the chapter/lesson on legal issues of hiring and terminations and drug testing do’s and don’ts are worth its weight to the average employer who doesn’t deal with this on a regular basis. Lots of info packed into a very painless time frame.”

Mark Dufoe, Operations Manager, Kennebunk Light & Power District

In five short weeks, you or your supervisors will:

  • Enhance their skills as a manager
  • Increase their ability to motivate and engage their people to deliver outstanding results
  • Know how to attract, hire and retain exceptional talent
  • Delegate and make better decisions
  • Inspire, coach and mentor their people, creating enthusiasm, clarity and increased effectiveness
  • Listen and communicate better, resulting in open and honest dialogue
  • Confront problem employees, resolve tough issues, including attitude, performance and behavior
  • Provide honest feedback, praise and recognition
  • Understand and operate within the law, without fear of lawsuits

The program includes 5 regularly scheduled training sessions, one-on-one coaching with me, training materials, my book, and more.

 Interested? Follow this link and read all about it and register. With a starting date of May 13, this program is the perfect way to develop the skills and effectiveness of your management team!

To learn more or to enroll, click Accelerated Supervisory Development Program or call me, Rick Dacri at 207-229-5954 or email me ar rick@dacri.com.

Enrollment is limited, so sign up now.

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