Thursday, October 27, 2005

New Study Reveals the Best and Worst States for Employees

Press Release

The first study that evaluates employee climate rather than business climate was released recently by Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts. All 50 states were rated based on average pay, employment opportunties, employee benefits, percentage of low-income workers, fair treatment between genders and ability for employees to unionize.

Delaware, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont, and Iowa, made it to the top of the list, while Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Utah, and South Carolina are ranked the lowest. Rankings were based on a scale of 1 – 100 in three categories – Job Opportunities, Job Quality and Workplace Fairness – which were then averaged out to determine the state's total score. First place Delaware received a total score of 89 while and Louisiana, in last place, received a total of 31.

To see how your state ranked, click here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Are You Wearing a Costume to the Office This Halloween?

Thirty-One Percent of Workers May Show Up to Work in a Halloween Costume This Year, Survey Reveals

Thirty-one percent of workers are planning on dressing up for the office this October 31st, according to the recent survey, "Halloween at the Office 2005," by

CareerBuilder also gave some tips on last minute office-themed costumes. Here are a few:

1. A Day Off - Using black lettering, write October 30, 2005 or November 1, 2005 on an orange shirt. When people ask what you are, say, "A day off!"
2. Running Late - Show up to the office with messy hair and disheveled clothes with your pajamas showing underneath.
3. Vending Machine - Dress in black and fasten snacks to yourself with the cost of each item displayed. To be really evil, place an "out of order" sign on the real vending machine and charge your coworkers for your snacks. When they pay, make sure you throw their snacks on the ground as the vending machine does.
4. Office Gossip - Make up fun stories about your coworkers. Fasten the stories to yourself and put the name of your favorite grocery store tabloid on a hat. Hang around the water cooler and invite people to read the latest news.

Be sure to click here to read the full list of costume ideas!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Panel Considers Taxing Health Benefits - Information for HR and Benefit Directors and other Employee Benefit Plan Sponsors and Advisers

Will employees soon be taxed on the value of their employer-sponsored health coverage? The President's Advisory Panel, a bi-partisan group made up of academics, executives, former members of Congress and government officials, is considering doing just that as a way to finance a reduction in the alternative minimum tax. reports...

"It is hard to see how the advisory panel would make the American taxpayer better off by lowering their alternative minimum tax burden only to turn around and increase their tax burden for the health coverage they choose for themselves and their family," says American Benefits Council President James Klein.

To learn more and to share your thoughts about the proposed health benefits tax, visit the official website of the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform. They have to submit their report to the Treasury Department by November 1st, so be sure to get your comments in soon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Reader Feedback re: "Understanding Diversity" Astronology Article

Yesterday's Astronology Article, "Understanding Diversity - It's More than What You See on the Surface" stirred up some debate among readers. Richard L. Virgilio, SPHR, of First Principles Coaching & Intrepid HR Consulting, Batavia, IL, shared his view on the subject...

I think that it is wrong to "try to mirror the population of a community," as put forth by the BostonWorks article. That metric ("mirror") smacks of quotas, and inevitably is wrong. As an employer, I must--MUST--hire the best qualified people who want to work for me. To do anything else is to betray my stakeholders and be absolutely open to the criticism, "Why didn't you hire the best qualified?" Or worse, "Why did you pass over these people who expressed interest in the position, were well qualified, and instead went out and beat the bushes to find this person who wasn't particularly interested--how long will he last?" The true, underlying philosophy of diversity is both to (a) be sure you are not excluding any particular group from your candidate pool and (b) be sure to not take such immutable characteristics as any factor whatsoever as part of the hiring decision. Diversity for it's own sake is a wrong-headed goal, and when we try to "mirror the community" we are disregarding specific talent and experience.

As always we welcome reader feedback. Keep your comments coming!

Ruling Defines "Internet Job Applicant" for Contractors

Definition of 'Internet job applicant' clarified for contractors#P-11_0

Realizing that an increasing number of job applications come through the Internet rather than traditional methods, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has issued a regulation that states that resumes received electronically or by "snail mail" be treated equally when it comes to determining equal employment opportunity.

The final rules, which go into effect in February 2006, require that covered federal contractors obtain data on gender, race, and ethnicity on applicants and supply to the OFCCP. The OFCCP in turn uses this data to determine which organizations may be practicing possible employment discrimination. SHRM Online reports...

“This new rule provides clear guidance to allow us to better enforce the law,” said Charles E. James, Jr., deputy assistant secretary for OFCCP, in a press release. “This final rule will enable OFCCP to effectively evaluate whether federal contractors are recruiting a diverse pool of qualified applicants and hiring new employees on a non-discriminatory basis. It also helps contractors by clarifying an ambiguity that, until now, left contractors guessing at what information they needed to collect from Internet applicants.”

Will this new ruling effect your organization? Check out the full article here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Top 10 OSHA Violations

OSHA's Top 10 Violations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently released the 10 most-violated OSHA standards of 2005. There have been 40,463 violations in 2005 thus far, which is currently 4,200 less than in 2004.

Scaffolding continues to be the most-violated standard (8,130 violations), followed by Hazard Communication (6,641 violations) and Fall Protection -- General Requirements 5,504 violations). To view the entire top ten, click here.

How Flexible is Your Disaster Plan?

The Best-laid Disaster Plans Are Merely Works in Progress |

Prior to the Gulf Coast hurricanes, many employers had disaster plans in place. However, due to unpredictibility of nature, disaster plans, in most cases, are merely works in progress. Communication problems, administraive hurdles and housing issues, all created additional challenges to organizations effected by Katrina and Rita. Workforce Management takes a look at how three companies... Sodexho USA, McDonald's and Entergy... weathered the storm. It's an interesting read that may make you rethink your own disaster plan. Check it out here.

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