Examining
practical HR issues business owners
and managers encounter every day

2009 Updates and Trends
January 2009

Twin Cities Opportunities

The HR Mastery Groups I lead in partnership with the Stanton Group are just about to begin. If you’re interested in meeting on a monthly basis with other HR professionals to enhance your HR skills, contact me immediately and I’ll send you an application and give you more details on this exciting personal and professional growth experience.

Job Openings:

I am also working with a successful small business in the Bloomington, MN area to grow their team. I am looking for top candidates in the following areas:

  • Business Manager: 10+ years hands-on management experience, manage day-to-day operations, set up company-wide systems, develop and implement budgets/financial reporting/accounting using QuickBooks who is also a master at employee motivation and supervision.
  • Office Administrator: 5+ years of general office administration, great computer skills and QuickBooks experience. Our ideal candidate is flexible, efficient, focused, detailed, creative, great follow through, works independently, and thrives in a fast-pace setting.
  • We’re also seeking a highly experienced Marketing Director and Sales staff.

Qualified candidates must email all three of the following to me: resume, cover letter and salary requirements at Arlene@ArleneVernon.com.

Quick Links…


If you’re not
having fun
with your
human resources,
call Arlene today
at 952-996-0975

Stirring Up the Alphabet Soup:
ADA and FMLA Changes

Happy New Year to you all! Although it’s already the end of the month, I’m amazed how long ago the New Year feels (and I’m still writing 2008 instead of 2009). Of course, here in Minnesota’s below zero temperatures, early winter is quite the reality.

Two new federal employment laws have already gone into effect. On January 1st, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)changed. The ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) significantly expanded the scope of who is protected or considered “disabled” as defined under federal law. ADA and ADAAA applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

I can’t go into all the details here, but if in the future you think “that can’t possibly be a disability under ADA,” think again. Even individuals whose impairments or disabilities are manageable by medications or other types of assistance may now be considered disabled under ADAAA.

The second law is the Family and Medical Leave Act whose changes became effective on January 16th. FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. These law changes are quite extensive. I urge affected employers to attend live and tele-seminars to get as much exposure to the changes as possible. The final rules can be found at http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/finalrule.htm .

While many procedures and definitions have changed, including the definition for serious health condition, some of the greatest changes are those related to leave for Military Families. The above link includes summaries of the changes. It also includes links to the 6 new forms that I recommend you use (or that you modify under your organization’s letterhead). While these new forms are longer, they are quite thorough and give employers the opportunity to collect more detailed information in order to determine whether a leave qualifies under FMLA.

Remember, if you are a Minnesota employer with 21 or more employees, you must comply with the Minnesota Parenting Leave statute, granting 6 weeks leave to employees with 12 consecutive months of service working an average of 20 hours per week.

Copyright (c) 2009 Arlene Vernon, HRx, Inc.

And The Good News Is…

As employers, managers and employees, we hear lots of news about layoffs and closings. So, I researched to see what studies present what’s really happening. I found a study on the SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) website conducted in December regarding employee compensation trends. While we expect some shifting in salaries during this belt-tightening period, only 35% of employers were planning to decrease their salary increases in 2009. This average decrease in increases was projected to move from 2.8% to 2.03%. Only 4.2% of companies surveys were planning to decrease some employee salaries.

I guess you could ask whether the glass is half-full or half-empty. In my own client base, I have assisted some of my clients in transitioning a handful of employees out of their organizations due to a decline in business or funding. I have had a couple of employers reduce the salaries of their highest compensated employees rather than eliminate a position. I also have clients who have received more grant money and funding than they have in the past and are expanding their staff. I also have many clients whose businesses are steady or thriving and some who are still growing their teams.

Your philosophy and approach to managing your business and your employees should be the same in 2009 as they were in years prior. Carefully evaluate your situation and determine what are the best changes (if any are needed) for the short and long run. A good reminder is written in the close of a SHRM article written by Leigh Culpepper of Culpepper and Associates Inc., “Companies that freeze or cut salaries or pay below market rates will risk losing valuable employees and will struggle to attract the best new talent. On the other hand, companies that pay too much will risk damaging their financial health and ability to hire the employees they need to thrive in difficult market conditions.”

It’s not time to over-react, but to analyze carefully. Find the best balanced strategy to carry your organization forward. And always remember that in order to retain your best employees, you still need to focus on being the best employer.

Copyright (c) 2009 Arlene Vernon, HRx, Inc

Copyright (c) 2006 Arlene Vernon, HRx, Inc.

About Arlene Vernon

Arlene Vernon, PHR, partners with small businesses as their Human Resource Xpert to create their HR systems and solve their HR problems.

If you have gaps in your HR operation, have an employee problem to solve, or want to enhance your managers’ skills, call Arlene today. Learn
how HRx can save you time and help you avoid costly HR mistakes. HRx, Inc., 574 Prairie Center Drive #135/285, Eden Prairie, MN 55344, 952-996-0975,
www.HRxcellence.com.

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