No, enrolling in Medicare does not cause COBRA to start. Under the federal rules, COBRA must be offered to persons enrolled in the employer’s health plan only if they lose coverage because of certain specific events. Termination of employment is an example of a COBRA qualifying event. Becoming eligible for Medicare, or enrolling in Medicare, is not a COBRA qualifying event.
Running a business comes with no shortage of perks: the freedom to be your own boss, invest in an idea, steer its trajectory, and, with a little luck, create wealth. It has its challenges, too. Competition may be fierce. Demand for what you offer may be low. Costs may not be sustainable. But even if everything else is going your way, there’s one challenge that’s ever-present. We’re talking, of course, about HR compliance.
A year ago, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that employers may not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment. The decision was a response to three separate cases, all of which were about employment discrimination based on “sex” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applies to all employers with 15 or more employees.
If you’re finding it difficult to hire employees, you’re not alone. Bloomberg reports that many small businesses are struggling to find people who currently want to work—in fact, 42% say they have jobs they can’t fill. The number of people quitting jobs right now is also higher than average.
Employee turnover is expensive—more so than you might think. According to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, the average cost-per-hire is $4,129. However, turnover costs can vary depending on the length of time it takes to fill the role, the importance of the position to the employer, and the employer’s industry. Some costs are easily calculable, such as those of recruiting, hiring, and onboarding. Other costs can be difficult to measure, such as the impact of a termination on employee engagement. Easily measurable or not, all these costs hurt your bottom line.
New York has passed an expansive law to legalize recreational cannabis (a.k.a. marijuana). The law, called the Marihuana Regulation and Tax Act, includes strong employment protections for off-duty use, effective immediately.
With the recent addition of Connecticut, eight states and a number of municipalities have passed laws prohibiting race-based hair discrimination, also known as natural hair discrimination. CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) acts are laws intended to create and enforce legal protections so that employees don’t have to hide their racial identity by changing their natural hair in the workplace.
Employee handbooks are a nifty communication and reference tool for the workplace, but only if they’re used and not collecting dust on some physical (or digital) shelf. A handbook is only as good as what it does. At the minimum, it should do the following:
Introduce employees to the fundamentals of your organization’s culture—the beliefs and values that members of the organization are expected to share. This introduction explains what you do and why you do it. It may also give employees a look into the history of your organization, how you got to where you are, and where you intend to go. Last but not least, it gives employees an idea of how they can contribute to the culture.
Communicate to employees what general behaviors and procedures are expected of them. These include general safety responsibilities, confidentiality expectations, timekeeping processes, reporting procedures, dress codes, and any other ways of doing things at your organization.
Educate employees about what they can expect from the organization’s leadership. Executives, managers, and HR departments have obligations to their employees—both those they’ve established themselves and those required by law. A good handbook tells employees what those obligations are and how they will be met. If your employees are entitled to leaves or accommodations, for example, your handbook should explain these.
Support consistent enforcement of company policies. Employers expose themselves to risk when they interpret, apply, or enforce policies inconsistently. Transparency about policies and how they are enforced helps keep everyone accountable and the enforcement of rules consistent across the company.
Showcase the benefits the organization offers. Does your organization offer vacations, 401(k), health insurance, paid parental leave, or other employee benefits? If so, your handbook should outline these programs and their eligibility requirements.
Let employees know where to turn for help. Employees should feel safe turning to HR or a manager to report workplace violations, get workplace-related assistance, and get answers to any other questions they may have. The alternative is for them to turn to an outside third party, like the EEOC, the DOL, or an attorney, which could trigger a costly and time-consuming investigation. When a handbook provides multiple ways for an employee to lodge a complaint (ensuring they won’t have to report the problem to the person creating the problem), they are more likely to keep their complaints in-house.