Can You and Should You Keep Employee’s Salaries Secret?

September 26, 2017
employee salary

Making salary information public shows transparency which in turn can boost employee morale; while on the other hand, keeping this information private can cause employees to feel “cheated” if they learn that someone in the same position is receiving higher pay.

Although transparency is valuable, there are some downsides to making salary information public. For one, this might cause some employees to feel that they are being paid too little in comparison to others, which may lead to a hostile or jealous work environment. This also limits the employer’s ability when it comes to negotiating salaries.

Although some companies choose to keep salaries confidential, they should be weary of discouraging employees from sharing their wage information as this may be illegal. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits employers from preventing employees from discussing pay with each other.

Furthermore, President Obama signed an Executive Order in 2014 which prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against employees who disclose their wage information. Should the Paycheck Fairness Act pass, this protection will apply to all employees.

There are positive and negative aspects to both options when it comes to disclosing salary information, but regardless of how each company chooses to handle this, it is important that they stay in compliance with the NLRA.

-HR Daily Advisor





Qualities to Look for When Hiring

September 14, 2017


A bad hire is more costly than leaving a position open for a few extra weeks or even a couple extra months. When hiring, below are some key traits to look for in candidates, regardless of the position.

1. Responsibility. Someone who possesses this trait will show desire for taking ownership of assignments and projects from start to finish.

2. Resourcefulness. Things don’t always go as planned, so it is good to have someone who is resourceful, can think on his/her feet and can get the job done regardless of any “surprises.”

3. Positive Attitude. Someone who has a positive outlook is likely to take on challenges in a proactive manner and handle them more effectively and efficiently.

4. Good Listening Skills. A good listener will learn from the information they take in from training, discussions and from being aware of what is going on around them.

5. Relationship Builders. Most of the time it takes more than one person to get the job done which is why it is important to hire people who are able to work well with others.

In addition to the traits listed above, it is important to keep in mind your company’s culture and the nature of the job when searching for the candidate who will be the best fit!


-Compensation & Benefits Daily Advisor  

Employee Morale Crushers

September 7, 2017

Employee Morale Crusher

Employee morale is one of the most important but difficult things to manage. It is important to maintain high morale in order to retain employees. Below are some one the most common reasons as to why employees are dissatisfied.

1. Managers that treat employees poorly. Often times moral issues are a result of poor management. An example of this is when a manager causes an employee to feel that his/work is not valued or respected and that the employee is “lucky” to have the job.

2. Unclear expectations. If employees do not have a clear goal that they are working toward, they are likely to become discouraged and frustrated. Managers should provide employees with frequent feedback so that employees understand what is expected of them.

3. Lack of communication. Communication is extremely important, especially in times of change. Employees should be able to communicate up the chain of command and feel that they are being heard and that their opinions matter.

4. Not feeling recognized for hard work. Most employees desire to have their efforts recognized in some way. Recognition gives employees confirmation that they are meeting expectations and encourages them to take pride in their work.

5. Lack of trust to complete the work. Another word for this is micromanagement. Most employees would prefer to do their job to their best of their abilities without having a manager constantly question their actions. However, it is important for employees to feel that they are able to ask questions without having to face a negative reaction.

6. An unreasonable workload. Although most employees understand that workloads may fluctuate, demanding an employee to keep up with an unreasonable amount of work for a long period of time will cause him/her to be burnt-out and resentful.

7. High turnover rates. High turnover rates puts stress on the entire company and extra pressure on the remaining employees when they have to take on the extra work. If the turnover rates are a result of employees being terminated, existing employees may lose confidence in their job security.

-HR Daily Advisor

What Not to Ask on a Job Application

August 31, 2017

There are certain questions that may appear discriminatory based on specific topics that are covered by State Laws or regulations. Below are some examples of what not to ask on the job application form.


  • Marital status. Asking a question that targets gender or a person’s familial status appear discriminatory as it is not relevant to the individual’s ability to perform the necessary job duties. Avoid asking for titles such as Ms. or Mrs. or for maiden names.
  • Arrest records. Asking for arrest records can seem discriminatory as it may indirectly impact a protected class. Conviction information should only be included on an application if it is related to the job.
  • Sexual orientation. Asking about an individual’s sexual orientation should be avoided as this is considered a protected class in some states.
  • Height and weight. Unless it is directly related to the person’s ability to do  the job, questions regarding height and weight should not be asked, especially if the results have an unequal impact on a specific gender or nationality group.
  • Credit history. Financial questions as well as questions regarding wage garnishments, bankruptcy and home ownership, that are not directly related to the job should not be asked.
  • Questions that directly or indirectly expose the applicant’s age. The only reason that an employer should ask a question related to age is to find out if the candidate is old enough to work. The best way to ask this is “Are you over the age of 18?” (or the minimum age requirement for that position).
  • Questions that expose medical or disability information. Only ask the applicant if they are able to perform the essential duties of the job.
  • Questions that relate to an applicant’s protected activities (Former FMLA Leave, Workers’ Compensation etc.). Asking these questions may seem discriminatory against a person who has used their protected rights.
  • Avoid asking questions about race, national origin, citizenship, creed etc.


It is best to avoid these questions mainly in order to protect the rights and privacy of employees as well as their sensitive information. For more information or guidance on whether or not your job applications are compliant, contact HR Advisors.

-HR Daily Advisor

Top 4 Characteristics of 21st Century Leadership

April 26, 2017

Faster communication, shifts in demographics, globalization and numerous other changes in today’s business world means that leadership styles must also be altered to keep up with the current environment.

Although certain characteristics of leadership such as vision, intelligence, good judgment, ambition and integrity are still valuable, the “hierarchical, inward-focused” method of leadership will not fit well with the 21st century business needs.

Below are the four key characteristics that distinguish the leaders who are successful in today’s ever-changing business environment:

  1. Capacity to Navigate – This skill of scanning the fast-changing business landscape allows leaders to see signals and patterns that might impact the company’s growth.
  2. Capacity to Empathize – This allows leaders to reach and connect with people who are different from them.
  3. Capacity to Self-Correct – Companies need leaders who are able to evaluate their own long-standing ideas and assumptions about leadership and adjust them if necessary for the benefit and success of the organization.
  4. Capacity to Set Up Win-Win Propositions for Stakeholders – With the current rapid flow of information, leaders must embrace transparency and competition. Effective leaders strive to create appealing propositions for all of the various stakeholders.

These four key characteristics are a guide for successful leadership in today’s fast-changing business world.


     – HR Daily Advisor




January 30, 2013


The government has been cracking down over I-9 forms and Immigration Procedures – Here is a checklist to help:

  • Ask each jobseeker whether he/she is authorized to work in the United States. DO NOT ASK ABOUT PLACE OF BIRTH OR NATIONAL ORIGIN.
  • Have each new hire fill out a Form I-9 within three days of starting work.
  • Be sure the documents that confirm identity and authorization to work are included in the lists on the back of the I-9 Form and that they appear genuine. ACCEPT ORIGINALS ONLY.
  • If corrections are needed, attach the corrected I-9 to the previous I-9. Never alter an existing I-9.
  • Store I-9s for current employees in alphabetical order in one place (not in the employee file) and terminated employees in chronological order in a separate place.
  • Keep I-9s on file at least three years for current employees and for at least one year after an employee has left, whichever is longer.
  • If the Social Security Administration issues a “no match” letter, take no action against the employee without first going through the error checking procedures the agency recommends.
  • Train certain staff to handle the I-9 process and let no one else do it.
Conduct an annual I-9 audit. Have this done by a third-party firm or someone not involved in the day-to-day I-9 process.



– California Employer Daily Newsletter


January 23, 2013


Let’s say that you are being sued by a former employee and now you have to go to court. You aren’t worried, though because you feel that you have documented why you fired the employee and you are sure that once the judge sees your documentation, he or she will agree with you!

Shock of all shocks! Your documentation is not considered good enough and you have to pay the $20,000 judgment against you!

What went wrong? Here are 9 common problems that can torpedo your HR Documentation efforts:

  1. Unsigned or undated documentation. THIS IS THE NUMBER ONE FAILURE IN DOCUMENTATION! My philosophy is – if it isn’t signed, it didn’t happen! Sign and date everything and have the employee dot the same.
  2. Illegibility. In court, neatness counts!
  3. Inaccuracy. The document looks perfect, but the facts are wrong. Even one error makes the entire document suspect.
  4. Unsupported conclusions. Don’t write “the employee was drunk” without documenting the reasons you believe that to be true – for example
    “liquor on breath, slurred speech.” Statements by objective witnesses will shore up your conclusions even more.
  5. Waffling. If the employee isn’t making 200 widgets per hour, do not just write, “Mike’s performance must improve.” The judge will ask, “Improve from what to what?” Be specific
  6. Do not make excuses. Statements such as “You failed – but I know we’ve all been pushing hard lately” may win you a nice guy award, but it won’t win your case.
  7. Don’t lie … even to be nice! Saying someone was let go due to a layoff rather than for cause, if there was cause, can backfire big time in a wrongful termination suit.
  8. Be consistent. If you have written one employee up for an infraction, you must write up every employee who did the same thing. Otherwise, you are open to a charge of discrimination.
  9. Don’t over-or under-focus. Writing up every tiny infraction makes you seem petty. But writing only the job-ending incident makes you appear emotion-driven.
Of course, all of the 9 tips above should be practices not just by you but by everyone in your  organization! That is especially critical if you are in a one-person or very small HR Department since you cannot be watching everyone at once.


– California Employer Daily Newsletter



January 16, 2013


Wage and Hour litigation and DOL enforcement remain two of HR’s biggest challenges. Last year alone, the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division received 40,000 complaints, a 15% increase over the previous year.  

The California rules on paying non-exempt employees for travel time can get pretty convoluted! Here are some basics to keep in mind.

Ordinary Travel Time

Ordinary travel time includes any travel the employee does during the workday, from when the employee initially reports to the employer’s premises or the first worksite until the employee finishes work for the day.

If a nonexempt employee normally reports to a main office but is asked on a particular occasion to report to another location, the employee does not need to be paid travel time unless this other location is notably farther from the employee’s home than the employee’s normal commute.

A good rule of thumb is that if there is more than a 20-mile difference in the distances, the employees should be paid for the additional travel time to and from the alternate location.

Extended/Overnight Travel Time

Employers must also pay for non-exempt employees’ extended travel time.

In stark contrast to federal law, California requires that ALL travel time (other than the employee’s normal commute) be paid – regardless of whether the employee performs work during the time spent traveling.

– California Employer Daily Newsletter


January 9, 2013


Well-developed written job descriptions are essential to the hiring process for two reasons:

  1. They assist you in clarifying the skills or traits you expect an applicant to meet
  2. They help you defend yourself in court should you be sued over your hiring decision

In preparing a job description, the first step is to ask yourself why you need someone in that position and how the employee in that position would fit into your company structure or help you reach your goals. The next step is to determine what duties you will need that person to perform.

In making the determination about the job duties, it is important to distinguish between job requirements that are absolutely necessary (known as essential functions) and those job requirements that you would prefer in an ideal world, but that you can do without or could have someone else perform.

Essential job functions must be listed separately, because when considering accommodations under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), they are the functions that the applicant must be able to perform with or without reasonable accommodation.

A common mistake employers make when preparing job descriptions is assuming that the day-to-day responsibilities of the job are adequately addressed by the job title alone. Although the job title may give you a general idea of what tasks an employee in the job might be expected to perform, the title alone does not answer questions about the details of an employee’s job responsibilities within your organization.

For example, in one organization, the HR Manager may do a little bit of everything, while in another organization, the responsibilities may be quite narrow.

Your job descriptions should provide someone who has no personal knowledge of a job with enough information to weed out unsuitable applicants and send only the best-qualified people on for further consideration.

To prepare a good job description, determine the major responsibilities and the percentage of time the employee will spend on each, and the qualifications the applicant must have to be able to perform the essential functions of the job. The job qualification standards must be:

  • Job Related
  • Consistent with business necessity

Qualifications should include: the required education, work experience, physical abilities, mental capacity, skills, licenses or certifications and other requirements such as judgment, ability to work under pressure, or interpersonal skills.


– HR Daily Advisor



January 3, 2013


New supervisors have a tough transition to make – but if they achieve mastery in five key areas they can be successful.

Contacos-Sawyer and Wright suggest five key factors that determine success or failure for new supervisors: Alignment, planning/problem solving, communication, motivation and compliance.

1)  Alignment – A big mistake new supervisors make is to continue to perform in their old roles. There are two elements to alignment – aligning themselves to their new roles and aligning their department to the organization. The new supervisor must learn to transition from “buddy” to supervisor and must understand the department and the organization’s goals.

2)  Planning/Problem Solving – Supervisors must learn to plan – the work, the schedule and the resources

Planning the Work: What results do you intent to achieve, and what must you do to get those results?

Planning the Schedule: How much time is required for each task and subtask? What needs to happen before something else can happen?

Planning the Resources: How many people, which materials, how much and when?

Problem-Solving Skills: 

  1. Gather information and data to help you understand the problem
  2. Do a Cause-and-Effect
  3. Write a problem statement
  4. Brainstorm Solutions
  5. Select and implement the best solution
  6. Review. Is the problem resolved?
  7. Revise/Rework as necessary

3)  Communication – Communicating down is the most troublesome aspect – new supervisors need to concentrate on:

  • Performance expectations
  • Performance feedback
  • Departmental and organizational goals and objectives
  • Change  

4)  Motivate – The more positive your attitude, the more effective a supervisor you can be.  Use thank you, please, etc.  Hearing praise about a job well done will help to motivate your employees.

5)  Compliance – All supervisors must be trained on discrimination, harassment, and compensation.

    • Supervisors actions and inactions contribute to the level of liability an organization faces
    • Supervisors face potential individuals liability
    • New supervisors often make big mistakes in wage and hour issues
Not documenting performance issues on an ongoing basis is also a big issue for new supervisors.
Remember: New Supervisors must be fully trained and ready to deal with employment issues. They must know how to handle things like compensation and appraisals. You can’t expect them to act appropriately right out of the box but you can and should train them to do it!


– California Employer Daily Newsletter