What does “furlough” mean anyway?

Furlough. It’s a rare term to hear in the workplace until something like a government shut down or pandemic such as Covid-19 happens. There’s a difference between a furlough and a layoff and it’s extremely important for both employers and employees to understand them fully.

A “furlough” is when the employment is maintained but hours are reduced or the employee is placed on unpaid leave. This would make sense if an employer wanted to keep the employee and thought a temporary hardship would be better than terminating them completely. With a furlough, the employee may still qualify for unemployment as well.

Exempt employees (those not eligible for overtime) have to be paid their normal weekly salary if they do any work at all so it is usually, in a situation like our current Covid-19 quarantine, employers would encourage employees to NOT work at all. Non-exempt employees can be paid for actual hours worked without any further pay implications.

Typically, the furloughed employee can keep their health insurance but will be responsible to pay their portion of the premiums throughout the furlough. Often times, companies will restore employment following a furlough and provide back the following:

• Retention of seniority
• Maintained benefits such as health insurance with no lapse in coverage
• The ability to use any PTO/vacation time/sick leave as accrued

A “layoff” is less promising as it’s usually permanent… but a temporary layoff could be an option if it’s just due to a short period of time where there is no work for that employee. A layoff does include actual termination of employment, whereas the above mentioned benefits would not apply.

In an ideal world, neither furloughs or layoffs would happen. However, as we’ve quickly learned, they can become reality and we all need to be prepared to make appropriate arrangements in the event something like this occurs.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 25, 2020 the Department of Labor (“DOL”) published a required notice under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act for employers with fewer than 500 employees. Those employers must post this notice by April 1, 2020. The notice is available here. This notice must be placed in a visible location within the premises and/or it can be emailed directly to each employee. 

The DOL has provided a few resources which are linked below:

Action Items for employers with fewer than 500 employees before April 1st, 2020:

  • Draft a handbook policy for Emergency FMLA and Emergency Paid Sick Leave (contact us for a sample)
  • Post and/or distribute DOL notice poster Update leave and FMLA policies to anticipate these new required policies

As you face the day to day questions of balancing business concerns, the law, and health and safety, we are here to help and assist in any way we can. Stay safe!

“Run Your Day The Intentional Way”

THEME. By definition, it is “the subject of a talk, a piece of writing, a person’s thoughts, or an exhibition; a topic.” In our situation, it’s what we want as our personal and professional priority for this year. It’s our compass. It’s what we want every decision to be guided by and a focus that everyone on our team keeps at the forefront of their minds at all times.

INTENTIONAL. By definition, it is “done on purpose; deliberate.” It takes thought, effort, and strategy. It means you are purposeful in every word and action. It takes engagement and belief in both the process and the end result.

We, as a company, were challenged to come up with a “theme” for 2020. We’re making some changes and shifting some things we do as an organization and wanted this theme to kick off some really exciting things for our future as a company. So, we tapped into the best resource of all… our people. We involved everyone on our team to participate and contribute ideas to get to our theme. We talked a lot about focusing on the core values our company has always lived by. We want to make them a top priority and shift our minds back to what’s truly important, rather than just getting caught up in a busy routine and going through the motions day in and day out. We discussed how if you don’t run your day, your day will run you. So… drumroll… we are proud to reveal our 2020 theme: “RUN YOUR DAY THE INTENTIONAL WAY.”

Intentionality can be accomplished in many ways. Here is how we are striving to be intentional rather than accidental:

• The way we show appreciation to our staff and foster our culture
• How we treat our clients and the guidance we provide them
• Taking a holistic approach to their individual situation and exposure
• Getting creative with solutions to problems some may not even know exist
• Who we partner and do business with

Running your day the intentional way starts with the second your eyes open in the morning (side note: it helps to have coffee) and your feet hit the floor. Your attitude and intentions can set the tone for the rest of the day, week, month, and year. We plan to give everything we’ve got to stick to our goals and support eachother throughout this year to really do things on purpose with purpose. Join us! Go choose a word, a resolution, a theme… and run your day the intentional way!

79% of people that quit their job said it was due to “lack of appreciation”?!

If you’re a business owner or HR professional that cares about your staff and employee retention, this is something you don’t want to miss. The need for good company culture and employee retention are at an all-time high for businesses operating smoothly. You may not see anything wrong with your culture or the perks you provide for employees from your perspective, but be sure you stand in their shoes when thinking about what you can offer them to make their lives easier.

Often times, companies provide perks such as office snacks in the kitchen or a gym membership. Let’s say someone is dieting and they only have time for at-home workout programs that they can do in the morning before the kids wake up. Those so-called “perks” mean nothing to them. Yes, it’s the thought that counts but it’s ineffective. There are tons of other examples of perks that can be offered but it’s merely impossible to personalize them to every individual based on their needs. Unless… drumroll, please… You let them create their own perk. Tada!
What if you gave your employees the freedom and ability to choose how they’d like to receive benefits? Maybe Susan has been wanting to take her grandkids to Disney World but can’t afford the tickets. What if Jared hasn’t been able to visit his family in Oregon in three years because flights are so expensive? And about that gym membership idea… it’s brilliant to encourage health and wellness but for Maria that can’t make it to the local gym during the day, she can get an online workout program or a Peloton to exercise at home once she picks the kids up from school. There are so many options that can be tailored to each person to be a true benefit to them and make their life easier. Here are more examples:

• Student loan payment
• Personal or professional development
• Childcare/babysitting
• Dry cleaning
• Vacation
• Cell phone bill
• Financial Advisor/wellness
• Charitable giving
• Pet insurance/care
• Technology

There’s a company called Compt that saw the need for this and provided a solution. It’s essentially a lifestyle spending account or an employee “allowance”, if you will. You decide how much you can afford to give each employee per year as well as what categories or spending they can do. Then they spend the money, submit their receipts & get reimbursed. Easy as pie! (Except pie is actually kind of hard to make… this really is easy, promise.)
The idea is genius and the execution is simple. And the end result is that you get to keep your good employees around long-term and prove to them how valued they are. According to the Employee Engagement Report of 2019, employees who don’t feel valued at work are 34% more likely to leave their companies. And 79% of people that did quit their job said it was due to “lack of appreciation”. Don’t be part of that statistic. Now go show some love!

Prevent your next HR nightmare!

Think you don’t need an Employee Handbook or that yours is sufficient as is? Think again. It is extremely important to keep a current Employee Handbook.

Some misconceptions of business owners or HR directors may be:
• No time or resources
• It’s too much work
• Afraid we’ll miss important compliance/law changes
• Not a company priority
• Don’t think a Handbook is necessary for our business
• We’ve already finished our updates this year

Your Handbook does a lot for you that shouldn’t be overlooked, such as:
• It tells your story and you have the opportunity to be a really great narrator
• It sets the tone for your company culture and clearly communicates the mutual expectations with your employees
• It explains your purpose, your why and your how
• It defines and explains the benefits you offer to your staff, adding value and morale to your operation
• Your openness and transparency will go a lot further than you might expect
• Delivers brand or information change promptly and efficiently

There could be substantial consequences of not having an accurate, up-to-date Handbook:
• Your exposure to legal action being taken against you
• Missing or inaccurate information is misleading
• Employees may not feel comfortable going to management when they should be able to refer to the Handbook to avoid feeling hesitant
• Staff will not feel confident if there’s a lack of guidance and support from their leadership
• Changes in state/federal laws that affect your policies will be overlooked
• Harassment and discrimination issues could be avoided

As always, if there are ways we can help with your Employee Handbook or implementation of it, please contact us any time at (352)371-7977 or info@mcgriffwilliams.com.