‘Tis the Season … Tackling End-of-Year Employment Issues in Tough Economic Times
New York, NY 10017
Presented by Epstein Becker Green attorneys:
David W. Garland
Jeffrey M. Landes
Ana S. Salper
While the economy continues to struggle, business also continues to be anything but usual. As 2011 draws to a close, employers need to be mindful of how the economic and legal realities can impact typically "routine" year-end personnel matters, such as performance reviews and compensation decisions. Similarly, holiday work schedules, and even the seemingly innocuous holiday party, present a variety of legal risks.
Topics to be covered include:
- Performance appraisals: What if an employee has done a great job over the year, but because business realities do not allow for a commensurate promotion and/or pay raise, there's a temptation to emphasize weaknesses in a performance review? Or, what if an employee has not lived up to expectations, but there's an understandable hesitancy to give him or her a highly critical performance review that could heighten angst (and possibly further weaken employee performance) in a time of already high job insecurity? In addition to presenting morale issues, such situations can be fraught with legal risks. We will provide guidance on handling the difficult performance appraisal issues created by the new economic reality.
- Ensuring legally sound compensation practices: Belt-tightening during the prolonged economic downturn may well have resulted in pay inequities among similarly-situated employees. This is the time for a comprehensive analysis of your pay practices, including the proper classification of employees, contingent worker pay, and bonus agreements, to ensure that your policies are on solid legal footing. We will address the "how-to's" of an effective compensation practices audit.
- Paid Time Off (PTO) and other leave policies: The EEOC is vigorously enforcing its new ADA Amendments Act regulations and considers extended leave a "reasonable accommodation" in certain circumstances. In addition, compliance with FMLA leave obligations continues to be an ever-growing headache for HR departments. Are your PTO and other leave policies legally compliant? Do they allow for sufficient flexibility to meet both your legal obligations and operational needs? We will address revising policies in light of the New York State wage deduction laws. We will also help you start the new year with leave policies that will meet your company's needs.
- Handbook Policies: As we move into 2012, you may want to review all of your handbook policies in light of technological advances and social media.
- Accommodating employees' religious beliefs during the holiday season and throughout the year: Claims of religious bias generally are on the rise, and requests for accommodation of religious beliefs are more prevalent during the holiday season. In addition to revved up enforcement by the EEOC, it is now more difficult for New York City employers to justify not accommodating an employee's religious beliefs on the grounds of "undue hardship." We will provide practical guidance on legal compliance with respect to this often complicated and sensitive issue.
Section 195 compliance: Are you prepared to issue the annual notices that must be provided between January and February of 2012? We will provide guidance on launching this initiative.