Category Archives: Management

Questions For Andrew Puzder, Trump Nominee for Labor Secretary

 

(Post by Rick Dacri, January 12, 2017)

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President-Elect Trump has nominated Andrew Puzder for Secretary of Labor. Puzder is a successful businessperson, lawyer, and CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of fast food chain’s Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.

The mission of Labor is “to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.” They are also responsible for investigating minimum wage violations, overtime infractions, and worker safety laws.

Puzder has taken positions in opposition to many of the regulations the DOL oversees, including the federal minimum wage, worker eligibility for overtime, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and sick leave polices.

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to begin confirmation hearings on Puzder in February.

I have put together 18 questions that I believe the Senate should ask the nominee:

  1. What qualifies you to be the next Secretary of Labor?
  2. You have opposed the raising of the federal minimum wage. Why? What do you believe is an adequate minimum wage?
  3. You indicated a proposed $15 minimum wage would force businesses to automate their operations and thereby eliminate jobs. Do you believe that a minimum wage increase drives the need for automation or is automation a tool for productivity? If wages collapsed, would businesses stop automating?
  4. According to the Economic Policy Institute, CEO pay has grown 90 times faster than the typical worker pay since 1978. Due to this unequal growth, average top CEOs now make over 300 times what typical workers earn. Do believe wage disparity is a problem in this country and what, if anything, should Labor or the Trump administration do about this?
  5. The Department of Labor oversees the federal wage and hour division, which ensures that workers are paid for all the hours they work. Yet in California, your franchise restaurants have been fined over $20 million for wage and hour violations. Can you address this issue and what steps did you take to remedy this problem in franchises you control. Secondly, what steps will the DOL take, under your reign, to enforce wage and hour laws?
  6. A Roc United survey given to your franchise store employees in California, found that a third of those employees were not given meal breaks after working at least 5 hours, in violation of the state’s worker break laws. 79% said they also served or prepared food while they were sick. Can you address these issues and what steps did you take to remedy these problems in franchises you control. Secondly, what steps will the DOL take, under your reign, to enforce break laws?
  7. You are also on record opposing sick leave policies, yet many workers in your franchise restaurants are preparing and serving food while sick. Are you concerned about endangering both your customers and employees? Should sick leave laws be mandated?
  8. Bloomberg did an investigation of your company’s franchises. They found that in 60% of the DOL investigations in your restaurants, there were minimum wage and overtime violations. Again, can you address this issue and what steps did you take to remedy this problem? Secondly, what steps will the DOL take, under your reign, to enforce wage and hour laws?
  9. President-Elect Trump has indicated he supports 6 weeks of paid maternity leave. You have stated that mandatory leave creates undue burdens on business. How directly do leaves create a burden, and as Labor Secretary, will you support or ignore the President-Elect’s initiative?
  10. According to a review of inspection records with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 2000, the year your took over as chief executive of CKE, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. locations have incurred at least 98 safety violations, 36 of them listed as serious. OSHA defines a “serious” violation as one that could result in death or grave physical harm that the employer should have been aware of. Can you address this issue and what steps did you take to remedy this problem in franchises you control? Secondly, since OSHA and worker safety fall under DOL’s responsibility, what steps will the DOL take to enforce these laws?
  11. Your company has introduced commercials that include women wearing skimpy bikinis and lingerie while eating burgers. In response, you stated in a 2015 Entrepreneur interview, “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American. I used to hear, brands take on the personality of the CEO. And I rarely thought that was true, but I think this one, in this case, it kind of did take on my personality.” My questions, is this your personality, as you stated? Do you believe these ads objectify women? What kind of tone does this set in your workplaces?
  12. 2/3 of female workers in restaurants operated by you, claim that they have been sexually harassed by your customers. Many employees indicated that these customers mentioned those ads. Were you aware of this and what is your plan to address this?
  13. Do you believe that sexual harassment in the workplace is a legitimate issue and what steps should employers take to eradicate it?
  14. Are there any federal labor laws that you would eliminate and if so, which ones and why?
  15. Do you believe there are any new labor laws that should be initiated? What are they and why are they needed?
  16. President-Elect Trump stated that he would like to eliminate unemployment compensation fraud. How big a problem is it and how could you eliminate it? Please be specific.
  17. You have opposed the Affordable Care Act. What specifically is the problem with the Act? Are their components of it that you would like to keep? What would you replace the Act with, what would it cover and not cover, and will it be cheaper than the current ACA?
  18. You have stated that we should cut government benefit programs because workers turn down promotions to keep such benefits, such as food stamps. Please explain this and tell us how wide-spread a problem this is?

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Filed under Compliance, Department of Labor, DOL, Management

Minimum Wage Hikes Force Businesses to Automate. Bull!

self-serve(Post by Rick Dacri, January 10, 2017)

Minimum wage increases force businesses to automate, killing jobs. Nonsense. McDonald’s and Wendy’s announce self-serve kiosks to replace low paying workers in response to threatened legislative wage hikes. Designated Labor Secretary Puzder criticizes minimum wage hikes saying they threaten the restaurant industry. It all makes good headlines, but the reality is businesses primarily automate to improve productivity and efficiency. It is smart business and while jobs may be lost, it is a natural evolutionary process and not a direct response to increased minimum wages.

Back in the 1970’s, when I first began my professional career (yes, I am that old), I watched how a three person manufacturing process was automated using robots and conveyors, eliminating all 3 of those jobs. While that may seem devastating to these workers, no one lost their job as the CEO realized he needed those people. We retrained those displaced workers (that was my job) to do higher skilled, better paying jobs. That was a better, more cost-effective way to operate the business. And it paid long-term dividends.

Automation is not new and not a direct response to minimum wage hikes. Do you think employers simply respond to that? Think back to the advent of self-serve gas pumps (can you even remember when that began?), ATMs, self-serve grocery checkouts and airline ticketing, automated phone sales and telephone operators, travel agents, data entry operators and clerk typists, to name just a few. These respective industries eliminated jobs, not in response to minimum wage hikes, but to upgrade operations. This is the reality of the modern economy.

Good companies continuously seek ways to reduce costs, while improving operations. Labor costs is a favorites and easy target and when wages go up, sometimes layoffs happen. But in a tight labor market, frankly any market, it isn’t always the best route.

Business should focus on their bottom line and wages do impact that. But a well trained, adequately paid, and engaged workforce yields better results, at less cost.

Other Posts You May Want To Read:

Drugs, Talent, and the Law: Confusion Reigns in2017

When Competitive Pay Is Not Enough

 

 

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Drugs, Talent, and the Law: Confusion Reigns in 2017

(A post by Rick Dacri, January 5, 2017)

img_3347Some days it feels like you just can’t win. Our 4 year old (puppy?) golden retriever, Bailey, woke us up with his usual pre-5 AM whimper, reminding us that his stomach and other urges needed to be met. Our cat, Maggie, also decided to join the choir. It was raining, so we passed on the walk and let Bailey out into his pen. Mistake! You see, rain makes mud, which means Bailey’s earlier $60 spa treatment was now for naught. Spending your early, pre-coffee morning, cleaning up a muddy dog, and house, was not in the plan. Finally, semi-cleaned, it was time to sit and enjoy a nice cup of coffee—that is until Bailey decided to join me on my lap and the coffee was now airborne. And the day had not yet even begun.

Many employers are feeling the same way. Finding and keeping talent, post election uncertainties, opioids in the workplace are all flying at you, preventing you from running your business. And it isn’t likely to get any easier.

Here are just 4 huge issues you will be facing in 2017.

  1. Opioids epidemic: Drugs on the streets means drugs in the workplace. More employees are coming to work addicted. And many are using hard drugs. Yesterday’s street junkies are today’s nurses and executives. While this may shock you, our society is openly welcoming the legalization of medical marijuana and now recreational marijuana. Society’s drug problem is only going to get worse and now it is your problem to solve.
  2. Losing good people: Poaching is now an acceptable sport. Good people are leaving and heading to your competition. And it is just not the rank and file. Managers and executives are going just as fast. Why? 3%-4% merit just doesn’t it cut it anymore. Limited opportunities, I’m out of here; bad boss, well, you can “take this job and shove it.” When all employers are scrambling for help, employees look for greener pastures. Loyalty is dead.
  3. Hiring is impossible: Finding good talent is becoming harder and harder. And with experienced workers retiring out, shortages are growing. The numbers are just not working. It is going to get bad…very bad.
  4. Employment law chaos: You heard it (by me and others), the Fair Labor Standards Act updates are going to radically change how you need to pay your people, so get your systems updated before the implementation date. Ready? Never mind, it’s now on hold and may be permanently delayed. What? How in the world do you get that Jeanie back in the bottle? Finally figured out Obamacare? Hold! The new Congress and Administration are going to scrap it and start all over again—at least that’s what they claim. Your state has legalized medical marijuana or maybe even recreational use of marijuana. How do you handle that? Wait, the feds still say its illegal. Your state has just passed an increase in minimum wage, but you’re a multi-state employer and each state has a different rate…and the feds have a totally different one. Yikes! What can you do? Best bet, become an employment attorney, as you’ll have plenty of work. In the mean time, you’ll need to do some juggling to figure these out.

It is going to be a challenging 2017 and frankly, I could have addressed several other issues. While it seems to be going from bad to worse, as an employer, you need to address these issues and find solutions…and fast.

Let’s take a deep breath first. I’ve got to give Bailey a bath, but I need another coffee first. Maybe you should join me.

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New White Collar Federal Regulations Blocked

(Post by Rick Dacri, November 28, 2016)

Time to take a deep breadth.no-sign

By now you know that a federal judge in Texas has put on hold the implementation of the changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act. The law, with a scheduled December 1 effective date, would have increased the salary level to qualify for overtime, virtually doubling the existing rate to $913 per week.

The overtime rate (“means test”) needed adjusting, but the Department of Labor’s proposal was excessive, so a hold is a good thing, albeit a bit last-minute. If Labor had asked me (they didn’t) I would have suggested a modest adjustment, along with a closer look at modifying the “duties test,” which many employers do not fully understand. It was the biggest area of misunderstanding from employers who called into my HR HelpLine.

Now that the law is on hold, what should employers do? Unfortunately, since the enforcement was enjoined at the last minute, most employers have either put the changes in place or at least announced the changes. And, Labor is likely to appeal the ruling, so an implementation of the law may still happen. So, here is what I suggest:

  1. If in the course of your review you found positions that did not meet the duties test, implement those changes.
  2. If you have not put in place compensation changes based on the new means test (raised salaries to meet the threshold and/or reclassified positions), you may want to put these on hold until we get clarity on Labor’s next move. Keep in mind, if you announced the changes, you will need to address the employee’s potential expectations.
  3. If you implemented salary changes and reclassified employees, it would be hard to pull these back. Besides it being an employee relations nightmare to do so and because you could still be in violation of some state laws, if the law is finally implemented, it could requires restoring them again.
  4. Communicate your plans to your employees. They may not know that the law is on hold and clearly do not know your plans. Be open and frank.

Employers have been put into a box with these actions. Consider what I have suggested above and put together your new plan. You may also want to seek professional legal guidance before you take any action.

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Filed under Department of Labor, FLSA, Management

Workers’ Comp: What’s My “Mod”?

images(Post by Rick Dacri, April 14, 2016)

When discussing your workers’ compensation premiums, you’ll often hear about the importance of reducing your “mod.” But what is a mod? Your “mod” is your Experience Modification Rating. It is the number used by your insurance company to gauge both the past cost of injuries and the future chance of your risk of additional injuries. The lower the mod, the lower your workers’ comp premiums.

Here is a quick way of looking at it. Ask your insurance carrier what your mod is. If your experience mod is 1.00, you’re doing OK. If it is less than 1.00, that’s great and obviously desirable You’re saving money and running a safe operation. If it is greater than 1.00, you’ve got work to do, as this is costing you.

As an example, if your mod is .90, than you are 10% below your industry standard. If you are at 1.10, you are 10% above the industry standard. In the former case, your premiums will begin to drop. In the latter, you will find you are in a “penalty phase” in you rates will go up.

If you don’t know what your current experience modification rating is, contact your insurance carrier to find out.  If you need help reducing it, call me.

Other Posts you might want to read:

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How To Quickly Cut Your Workers’ Comp Costs & Get Injured Employees Back to Work

Dacri-FB-WebWorkersComp

This program has been postponed

Wednesday, April 20
2PM ET
60 minute webinar
Register Today via email at rick@dacri.com or call

207-229-5954

This webinar is ideal for:

  • CEOs & Finance Managers who want to reduce costs
  • HR & Benefit Managers who want to understand how workers’ comp works
  • Managers & Supervisors who want to reduce accidents & get injured workers back to work

Here’s what you’ll learn in this webinar:

  • How to control workers’ comp costs
  • How to get your experience modification below 1
  • How to spot & prevent fraud
  • How to get injured employees back to work quickly
  • How to manage a light duty program effectively
  • How to manage claims
  • How to analyze an accident
  • How to develop a positive working relationship with your medical provider & insurer
  • How to easily understand the intricacies of workers’ comp

This webinar will provide you with the information and advice you need to develop a pre and post injury response program so you can have a safe workplace and low workers’ comp costs.

Once again, to enroll, email me at rick@dacri.com or call 207-229-5954

Cost? $125.00. Not a bad investment for learning how to save a bundle while creating a safer workplace. And Dacri & Associates’ clients receive an automatic 10% discount.

Sign up now.

I hope to see you there,

Rick Dacri
Dacri & Associates, LLC
http://www.dacri.com
rick@dacri.com

P.S. We will be recording the entire program (audio and visual). Your admission gives you access to the recording for easy reviewing after the fact.

Register Now via email at rick@dacri.com or call 207-229-5954.

Feedback from Previous Webinar Attendees:
It was excellent, clear, easy to understand and follow; applicable in many areas and overall very interesting. Thank you
EXCELLENT as Rick Dacri always is!
This was incredibly informative and I would love to attend more!
The program is great because it triggers you to look into areas of the organization that need improvement.
Thank you, Rick. Well paced and informative.
Nice work Rick! Enjoyed the presentations.
Great information to have for managing a business. You are a great resource for questions.
Great tips and information.
As always, a wonderful Rick Dacri presentation – just the right amount of information and appropriate stories to illustrate the point.
For an hours time the information covered was very valuable.
The content was incredibly helpful. Found the content on hiring right, training managers to interview well and addressing problematic performance important and useful.
It is good to have a better understanding of the HR side of the business and how to avoid potential problems

Register Now via email at rick@dacri.com or call 207-229-5954

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Workplace Drug Abuse Warning Signs

cocaine(Post written by Rick Dacri, April 4, 2016)

Recently I received a call from one of my utility clients who was positive that his operator was high on cocaine. Seems the employee had been missing work and today he came to work appearing a bit agitated and quite talkative and his pupils were dilated. My client had heard he did drugs and with his recent absences and rumors that he was a druggie, he called me asking if it was ok to fire him.

While the employee might have been on drugs, clinical diagnosis of a drug problem is not the job of the manager. The manager’s job is to assess performance. If the employee was performing erratically, posing a potential danger to himself or others, then the manager has a responsibility to step in; but never to diagnose. Managers are not qualified to do this and acting on rumor or evaluating behavior based on what you may have read on the Internet is asking for trouble. Stick to performance. A key part of every manager’s job is to remain alert to changes in an employee’s performance and to work with the employee who is having problems so that performance improves.

Substance abuse in the workplace is very costly. It’s been estimated that substance abuse costs employers more than $50 billion annually and alcohol and drug abusers are far less productive, use three times as many sick days, and are more than three times as likely to have an accident on the job and five times as likely to file workers’ compensation claims.

While one should never diagnose, managers should be mindful of the warning signs that an employee may be getting into trouble. Watch for these:

  1. Inconsistent work quality
  2. Poor concentration
  3. Lowered productivity
  4. Increased absenteeism
  5. Unexplained disappearances from the jobsite
  6. Carelessness, mistakes
  7. Errors in judgment
  8. Needless risk-taking
  9. Disregard for safety
  10. Extended lunch periods and early departures
  11. Complaints about problems at home
  12. Deterioration in personal appearance
  13. Complaints and excuses of vaguely-defined illnesses
  14. Frequent financial problems
  15. Avoidance of friends and colleagues
  16. Blaming others for own problems and shortcomings

When an employee begins to exhibit these, it is time for the manager to take immediate action. In my upcoming webinar series (How to Deal with Substance Abuse in the Workplace) I will be addressing, in detail, the warning signs, how to handle an impaired employee, the law around medical marijuana, DOT requirements, signs that an employee is under the influence and more.

For more info, click How to Deal with Substance Abuse in the Workplace or email me at rick@dacri.com.

Other Posts You May Want To Read:

  1. Booze At Work: Options to Combat
  2. Medical Marijuana Law
  3. New Maine Pot Law Clouds Rules on Drug Use

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