Posted in employment
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics news release, non-farm employment improved by 321,000 new jobs in November, up almost 100,000 from the previous average of 224,000 new jobs per month across all industries. The unemployment rate held steady last month, unchanged at 9.1 million people unemployed, about 5.8 percent.
New jobs were available across many fields, as the U.S. saw job growth in all non-farming industries. Those industries included in the release are: professional and business services, retail trade, healthcare, manufacturing, financial activities, transportation, food services, and construction.
The largest growth came in the form of business services jobs, which saw 86,000 new jobs added in November, up from its previous monthly average of 57,000. Those new positions are primarily in temporary help, bookkeeping services, and other technical, computer and engineering services.
Retailers also saw a spike in new jobs as 50,000 new jobs were created last month, up from its previous monthly average of 22,000. The bulk of those jobs are for car and parts dealerships and clothing stores.
The healthcare, manufacturing and food services industries saw job gains of nearly 30,000 each. Most of the manufacturing jobs added in November — and over the past 12 months — have been in durable goods.
The construction and financial sectors each added 20,000 jobs in November. Interestingly, of the finance industry’s 114,000 new jobs in the past year, 70,000 of them have been insurance-related positions.
In addition to all these new jobs, the average hourly salary for non-farm employees rose 9 cents last month, making the new average $24.66. The average hourly wage has increased by 2.1 percent over the previous year.
Posted in Mind Your Business, MYB, small business
Hendersonville, N.C., December 17, 2014 — Mind Your Business CEO Karen Caruso has graduated from the “10,000 Small Businesses” course, an exclusive business-management program hosted by the Goldman Sachs Foundation. She was accepted into the program this fall, and completed the curriculum at Babson College, MA.
During her time in the program, Caruso attended 100 classroom hours of educational sessions, and was able to consult with professionals and mentors to assist in the growth of Mind Your Business. She also had the opportunity to attend networking events and business clinics, and will continue to receive ongoing networking support from the program.
“This was such a fantastic opportunity and an amazing program. I cannot wait to put this knowledge I’ve gained to use,” Caruso said.
The program is intended to foster job creation and growth among small businesses. Of the businesses whose owners complete the program, almost two-thirds of them report an increase in business revenue within six months. Participants receive business support and practical education that helps them to set goals for and expand upon their small businesses.
About MYB: MYB is a leading provider of background investigations, EEO investigations and drug screening services. MYB places a wealth of innovative technology, people, and services at your fingertips, increasing the level of information, profitability, and security for clients. MYB recently received 8(a) certification from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), joining only 158 other businesses in the state of North Carolina as part of this exclusive program. MYB is also a GSA Schedule holder.
To learn more about Mind Your Business, Inc. visit mybinc.com.
Posted in Federal law, small business
Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) has much to celebrate this month. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2014 was passed by Congress at the beginning of December, and with it came updates that were sorely needed.
The NDAA is the piece of legislation that determines how money can be appropriated each year for the U.S. Department of Defense’s activities. The law was originally written in 2000, and is updated each year, but it contained limitations on the way that woman-owned small businesses could participate. The law prevented woman-owned small businesses from proposing contracts that were comprehensively over $5 million (among multiple businesses), and also limited the way that contracts could be set aside for women-owned businesses; in order to qualify, more than one woman-owned business needed to input an offer, or the Department of Defense wouldn’t have to provide the opportunity at all.
However, non-WOSB procurement programs were allowed to bid on contracts up to $4 million each, regardless of what other companies were proposing, and there were not limits as to how many of a certain type of business could apply.
For years, the WIPP fought the Small Business Administration to remove the cap on project bidding, and three years ago, they succeeded in removing the limits.
Finally, after 14 years of WIPP’s fight, the 2014 NDAA is the first act that allows for sole source authority for WOSB, so women can compete for contracts without having to compete directly with another WOSB.
“Through WIPP’s persistence for 14 years, we finally have a program that is sustainable,” wrote Ann Sullivan, WIPP Government Relations. “Now, for the first time in history, let’s make sure the federal government meets its goal of 5 percent with women-owned firms.”
The Small Business Association still needs to implement the NDAA and its new language for the next fiscal year, and the changes need to be approved by the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, but the WIPP is ecstatic about the win for women-owned businesses.
Posted in ban the box, criminal record, employment background screening, pre-employment background check
In 2014, several states and metro areas instated laws that prohibit public employers from immediately disqualifying candidates that carry a criminal record. An employee criminal history disclosure is no longer required on initial job applications in Washington D.C., New Jersey, and Delaware, all of which passed ban-the-box laws this year, as did cities in New York, Maryland and Missouri, just to name a few.
While businesses prepare to wrap up the year, it’s a good time for human resource departments to take a look at their hiring policies and documents to make sure they’re in compliance with existing ban-the-box laws.
Thirteen states currently have state-wide laws requiring public companies to remove the “have you previously been convicted of a crime” question from job applications. Another 17 states are piecing together ban-the-box laws city by city.
Not only should your HR employees ensure that your business is complying with current laws, they should also keep abreast of what new ordinances and laws may be going into effect at the beginning of the year. They also need to keep track of the laws that are being considered in their cities or states, as they may need to adjust hiring policies if those pieces of legislation pass muster.
HR departments can stay on top of all this by reviewing the public records after city council meetings, and regularly checking out the docket of cases to be heard by the state legislature. They can also review existing application processes, including when background checks are conducted and what the application document requires for those with previous convictions.
If ban-the-box laws are already in place in your area, but your business has not enacted policies for ensuring those with employee criminal history records aren’t discriminated against, failing to do so could cause the business to be fined for lack of compliance, as some Minnesota businesses found over the past year.
To learn more about how to hire the best talent and conduct employee criminal history background checks without breaking your state’s ban-the-box laws, contact Mind Your Business today.
Photo credit: The National Employment Law Project
Posted in drug testing, drug testing policy, pre-employment screening
In 2012, Centura Health system — one of the largest healthcare providers in Colorado — created a policy banning smoking and tobacco products on any of its properties. Now, two years later, Centura Health has announced that it will no longer hire smokers to work at any of its facilities in Colorado and Kansas.
“As the region’s leading health care system, committed to improving the health of those we serve, it is important that we first serve as a role model for our communities by promoting the benefits of health and wellness,” said Centura Health Vice President of Communications Wendi Dammann.
The new policy does not affect the 17,000 employees currently working for Centura Health, but new hires will be tested for tobacco usage after a job offer has been extended. Any nicotine found in the body — including that from anti-smoking aids such as patches or gum — will disqualify an applicant from consideration. This policy will go into effect on January 1.
Tobacco users are not currently protected against employment discrimination per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, though some consider this type of screening to be discrimination all the same. The EEOC only protects against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, disability, pregnancy and genetic information.
However, Colorado has passed laws in the past protecting smokers from discrimination, and 28 other states have similar laws on the books. (Colorado’s law states that an employee cannot be terminated due to smoker status; it does not specify whether an employer can refuse to hire smokers.)
The American Civil Liberties Union has indicated it does not agree with employers refusing to hire someone based on a trait that does not affect job performance, asking if it’s a gateway toward regulating other “unhealthy” characteristics, such as employee body mass index, eating habits, or cholesterol levels.
Photo credit: Vjeran2001
Posted in background checks, criminal background checks, employer references, Mind Your Business
Just because seasonal workers will only be around for a few months is no reason to skimp on screening. Due to demand for temporary employees during the holiday season, workers are less likely to undergo thorough screening, and are also more likely to steal from their employers. To protect your business this Christmas, make sure you hire quality workers.
Contact previous employers.
When the applicant fills out his or her job application, request a list of previous jobs as well as the names and contact information of any direct supervisors, and also a list of personal or professional references. Then, actually contact those references. Ask about the applicant’s work ethic, reliability and trustworthiness, and any questions that may be relevant to the specific position for which he or she is being considered.
Conduct criminal background checks, but make sure they’re relevant.
You’ll need to be aware of ban-the-box laws, but when it comes to seasonal employees, don’t skip the criminal background checks. While some previous convictions may not be relevant to the job, you’ll want to watch out for instances such as sexual offenses if the job requires interacting with children, or theft convictions if the job allows for access to the cash register or safe.
Comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act on all background checks.
Regardless of whether you conduct credit checks, you’ll need to inform potential hires ahead of time — in writing, on the job application — that background checks will be conducted and that the candidate has the right to dispute any information that comes up in the consumer report. This gives the candidate the opportunity to correct any information that is incorrect, and also opens the door to conversations about the candidate’s past.
Use a background checking company.
Avoid using instant-background-check sites; you’ll want a more thorough record of the candidate’s past than what can be provided in two minutes. Working with a background-checking company such as Mind Your Business for your screening will provide information about other counties or states in which the candidate might have a criminal record, and also turns up more accurate information, especially if the applicant has a common name.
You’ll have a happy holiday season when you hire quality employees that will do their best for your business.
Posted in background checks, pre-employment background checks, social media background checks
When employers are looking to hire, there are many things they must be aware of: avoiding discrimination, following the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and not breaking ban-the-box laws, to name a few. Throw a few Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts into the mix, and suddenly making hiring decisions becomes a lot more treacherous.
Be smart about who handles your hiring and create company-wide social media policies, and you should not have problems when using social sites to pre-screen job candidates.
Here are some tips to avoid violating any state or federal laws when employers and social media background screening get involved.
Blunder #1: Blindly searching Facebook.
Better: Be choosy about what social sites you check.
Just from a Facebook profile, you can easily tell the applicant’s race and gender, and often times you can also gather information about the applicant’s family status, sexual orientation or religious affiliation. This information is protected against discrimination under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the less deeply personal information you know about the candidate, the better.
LinkedIn is a fairly safe bet of all the social networking sites, as most people do not use it for personal posts; if you’re fairly far along in the hiring process, and have done in-person interviews already, checking Facebook is a little bit safer.
Blunder #2: Requesting or requiring that applicants share their passwords.
Better: Send a friend request.
It’s illegal in several states for employers to request social media passwords. Even if the practice is still legal in your state, you run the risk of finding out information that could be used to discriminate against a candidate. It’s safer to submit a friend or follower request; the candidate may not allow you full profile access, but it allows the candidate to protect his or her personal information.
Blunder #3: Making hiring decisions based on aggregate profiles or online reference lists.
Better: Ask the applicant for the information you want.
You can run into problems with the Fair Credit Reporting Act if you try to work around a candidate when trying to check references via social media, or problems with the EEOC if you use aggregate profile data (such as the kind provided by Spokeo) in your hiring, particularly if you receive information that can be used to discriminate. If you want a list of references, ask for it. If you want the candidate’s contact information, ask for it.
Blunder #4: Not having a plan for employers and social media.
Better: Create company policies and make sure your employees know what they are.
Without any guidance, hiring managers may not know what is legal or illegal to request when background-checking applicants. Having a social media policy in your company handbook not only ensures that current employees know what’s expected of them when it comes to social media, but in some instances, it also protects the company when issues of confidentiality come up. Make sure it states in your policy whether or not employees are ever allowed to comment on social media about clients or patients, or if they should refrain from referencing work on their profiles altogether.
photo credit: Jason A. Howie via photopin cc
Posted in background checks, criminal background checks, school background checks, teacher checks
It’s not just teachers that spend time around students, so it is important for student safety that all faculty and staff at schools — whether K-12 or institutes of higher learning — should undergo the same background checks, including criminal record checks and fingerprint checks. Those checks should be done regardless of whether the staff member is a teacher, or a staff member with limited time actually on the campus.
A Florida bus driver was arrested recently after sending a female student inappropriate text messages, and asking her to send him nude photos. Driver Paul King had allegedly been sexting the 16-year-old high school student for a month, and the local sheriff’s office suspects that King was sending texts to other female students as well.
“He did state he thought he did try to get another female to also send him photos or explicit text to her,” said Pasco Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kevin Doll. King refused to turn his phone over to police, so they have issued a search warrant.
King had been a bus driver for Pasco County School District since 2005, and drove elementary and high school students to and from school. During that time had been suspended several times for speeding, swearing and reckless driving, but there was no record of inappropriate behavior with a student. Florida requires background checks to be updated, along with fingerprint scans, every five years. According to school district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe, King passed “level 2 background checks, FBI background checks” when he was first hired.
Administrators have a responsibility to not only protect students at elementary, middle and high schools, but to protect those seeking higher education via universities or community colleges as well.
A level-two sex offender — a person at “moderate risk” for future offenses — was hired as an English teacher at two Massachusetts colleges in 2006 and 2009, despite still being on probation for a 2005 conviction of possessing child pornography and assault and battery on a 16-year-old girl.
Administrators allegedly knew about the conviction when they hired Sean M. Janson at Massasoit Community College and Bridgewater State University, though that information was not made available to the public until October of this year.
Massasoit apparently has never had a policy prohibiting the college from hiring convicted sex offenders. Both schools will be reexamining their hiring policies and background checking policies in December.
Posted in background checks, ban the box, criminal background checks, pre-employment background checks
According to the National Employment Law Project, most ban-the-box laws allow federal or public employers to conduct background checks on job applicants after initial interviews are conducted, but prevent employers from asking on job applications if a candidate has been convicted of a crime. It is not very common for cities or states to push back the timeline of when companies may pursue background checks, but two cities have made that move.
Columbia, Mo., introduced an ordinance that requires public companies to forego background checks until a conditional offer of employment has been made, in an attempt to further prevent discrimination against rehabilitated convicts. The only other city to put off background checks so late is Newark, N.J., which has the same law, though it also applies to private businesses, not just public businesses.
The Columbia Chamber of Commerce voted in November to table the law for the time being, as several members had concerns about the wording of the ordinance. The Mayor’s Task Force on Community Violence recommended the ban-the-box law, and Task Force co-chairwoman and city councilwoman Laura Nauser said she supports the law in its current iteration.
However, the main criticism toward the ordinance is that waiting so long to conduct background checks wastes employers’ time and money, if a criminal history would prevent a candidate from doing the job for which he or she is applying.
Another city with late-coming background checks include San Francisco, whose law states that background checks may be conducted on candidates that are finalists for a position, before the offer is made. San Francisco also has restrictions on how far back employers may look for a criminal record, except for crimes such as homicide and sex offenses. That city-county underwent a year of negotiations in order to compromise on its current ban-the-box law.
Thirteen states currently have statewide ban-the-box laws, and many more cities have their own laws.
Posted in drug screening, drug testing, drugs in the workplace, NFL drug testing
Under Minnesota’s Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act (DATWA), having an employee confess to using drugs prior to completing a drug test does not have the same employment consequences as that same person actually having a urine drug test turn up positive.
This was recently brought up in court after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson told a drug-testing company employee that he “smoked a little weed” prior to completing a drug test, which was required as part of his bond after he was arrested in Texas.
According to the National Law Review, people who are required to take drug tests — either randomly for a job or as a condition for some prior arrest — often confess to doing drugs before they even complete testing. Minnesota employers are allowed to respond differently to an admission of drug usage than to a positive drug test.
DATWA makes no exceptions for confessions on company property; the employer may immediately terminate an employee that admits to using illegal substances, if that is consistent with company policy. In that situation, the employer is not responsible for ensuring the employee gets any treatment for a drug addiction.
However, if a Minnesota employee’s drug test comes back positive for the first time, the employer may not fire its employee, and instead must allow the employee to go through a rehab or treatment program. (After that program is completed, any positive drug tests may be grounds for termination.)
Employers should be aware of state laws when it comes to drug testing employees and what they are legally bound to do if drug tests come back positive. Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont have similar laws to Minnesota’s DATWA, in that the first positive drug test is not grounds for termination; Iowa employers have a responsibility to the employee after the first positive alcohol test, but not after a positive drug test.
The National Law Review encourages employers to proceed with drug testing as usual regardless of whether an employee has confessed to drug usage prior to testing.
Next Page »