General

Boo-sting Employee Morale on Halloween

Many companies allow employees to dress up for Halloween, however an announcement should be sent out with a description of appropriate attire in the workplace.  If costumes do not fit in your company culture, think of another fun way to join in on the Halloween fun. Halloween is a good time to raise morale in your company.  Think of having a Halloween costume contest, allowing employees to decorate workstations, have a candy corn count contest, or provide trick or treating between departments to encourage communication.  If you have an internal social media platform, start up conversations among employees.  Discuss what your favorite fall activity is, encourage employees to post pictures of their children or pets in costume.  You can also provide ideas on what to do with all the left over candy—such as donating to troops or making desserts.  Start conversations about what their favorite holiday pastime is.  It is important to encourage a friendly setting.  Employees who have work relationships stay with companies longer.  The environment can make or break an employee’s desire to go for the long haul or decide to jump ship.  When I interview candidates, I always ask what their desired environment is.  The first comment is always, “a great place to work”. Employees look for more than a paycheck from their employer.  Company events also help advertise for new talent.  I am sure we have all seen some videos or heard of an employee boasting about an upcoming company event.  These boasts often lead to questions like, “Is your company hiring?”  Be THAT...

Inclement Weather Policies

Now that the weather is getting cooler, it would be a great time to quickly update or discuss your inclement weather policies.  Keep in mind that safety should always be your primary concern. First, think of how you will inform your office of closures or delayed openings. There are many ways to inform your staff.  Be sure to choose a method that benefits ALL employees.  For example, not all employees have access to e-mail at home.  A mass text message is a great inexpensive way to communicate especially in inclement weather.  Using a phone tree (the game of employee telephone) is not the best way.  You will almost guarantee that someone will not get the message.  Be sure to update active employee listings. Second, inform employees if closures will be paid.  Will the employees get compensated for the day?  Are you complying with law?  Employees will need to know if they will not be compensated.  Do you allow work from home?  Your handbook should state what the policy is.  Know the law on exempt employees. Third, what if you keep the office open? When an office remains open, do you have a policy that states that the employee will be docked paid time off if they do not come...

Reinforcing the Dress Code

There are two very important times of the year to reinforce your employee dress code policy. Reminding employees what is acceptable for warm weather is just as important as cold weather.  Sending out a friendly reminder during these times of the year will reduce the amount of uncomfortable conversations you will need to have with employees.  Large office buildings have issues keeping accurate temperatures—in the summers it can feel freezing and in winters it could feel scorching hot.  Thermostat issues are no excuse for unprofessional dress code. Make sure employees know the rules and, more importantly, that those rules are...

Handbook Updates

With the constant changes in employment law and mandated state benefits, it’s a full time job to keep your handbook updated. Federal, state, county, and living wage ordinances have employers running in circles to try to disseminate who is entitled to what.   With an annual handbook review you will be assured that your policies are up-to-date for you and your employees.  If you are interested in a handbook revision, please contact Audrey Villani for a free...

E-Alert: Estate Tax Update

Estate Tax Update Based on the August CPI released by the Labor Department, the projected exclusion amount for gifts and estates of decedents dying in 2018 has increased to $5,600,000 (from $5,490,000 in 2017). Same projected increase applies to the Generation skipping transfer tax exemption. The annual per person gift tax exclusion is projected to  be $15,000 (up from $14,000) The annual exclusion for gifts to noncitizen spouses is projected to be  $152,000 (up from $149,000) For more information, contact Lisa Rispoli, Partner, Trust & Estates Services of Grassi & Co., at...

Form I-9 Changes

The revisions below were made to reduce errors on the form I-9. The new form was revised on 07/17/2017.  Going forward, use the new form for all new hires. What are some best practices for form I-9? Completed I-9’s must be kept separate from all employee files White-out cannot be used on these forms.  If you cross out information, you must initial the correction Conduct an I-9 audit every year to make sure you are compliant Review the I-9 BEFORE it is filed for errors Provide training to Managers on how to properly fill out the I-9 Provide new hires with instructions on the acceptable documents and to bring them on the first day of work Have the employee fill out the I-9 on the first day of work Know your retention requirements If you save identification with the I-9 for one employee, save them for all employees Know what the acceptable forms of documentation are Use E-Verify Identify who can translate the form in your company if needed For any additional questions, contact Audrey Villani, Director of HR for Grassi & Co., at...