impactnews: Federal contract employees given paid sick leave

President Obama, earlier this month, signed an Executive Order giving all people working on federal contracts the ability to accrue up to seven days of paid sick leave each year. The order, which begins with new contracts issued in 2017, affects roughly 300,000 workers, each of whom will earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The president’s order also allows workers on federal contracts to use their paid sick leave time to care for themselves, a family member or another loved one (and includes paid sick leave for “absences resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking,” according to a White House Fact Sheet). Learn more

Employee Handbook: Getting things in order for the new year

With a new year not too far around the corner, it’s a good idea to begin looking at reviewing and updating your current set of HR policies and procedures. To start this process, pore through your current employee handbook’s content. Or if your organization or company doesn’t have a handbook yet, it’s an even better time to begin the process of building a manual for your employees.

To be sure, providing a polished, organized employee handbook can help build and maintain good relationships with your employees. In addition, your employee handbook should be updated annually to ensure policies and procedures are current. It also needs to reflect applicable changes in law that occurred during the year. Lastly, it’s important to look at and refine where necessary your handbook’s language and tone. This helps remove imprecise or confusing language in the handbook, promoting clarity and understanding among your employees.

All told, here is a quick snapshot of helpful tips when reviewing or building your employee handbook:

  • Are there any policy updates that need to be made?
  • Have any procedures changed that need updating?
  • Is there clear, concise language?
  • Is the employee handbook orderly and well organized?
  • Does the handbook reflect your company culture?

This year, a significant number of issues have been in play in the HR policy landscape, such as paid leave, overtime pay, family and medical leave, anti-discrimination protections, health care regulations under the ACA and evolving practices around social media and IT security. With this in mind, a poorly written and disorganized employee handbook can have negative effects on your organization. Miscommunication can occur due to confusing language surrounding policies and procedures. When policies and procedures are not implemented consistently due to poorly developed handbooks, it can open the organization up to potential liability.

To learn more about updating or building an employee handbook, contact a Senior HR Consultant at impactHR today for help at 410-312-7882 or

Bipartisan “Ban the Box” Bill for Federal Contractors Unveiled in Congress

Bipartisan legislation has just been introduced in the US House and Senate that would require federal contractors and federal agencies not to ask job applicants about any criminal history information until the final stages of the hiring process. The measure includes exceptions for national security, law enforcement and positions for which criminal history information is required by law. The bill, called the Fair Chance Act, is based on the “ban the box” issue that aims to give those with criminal records a second chance to gain employment and, in turn, reduce criminal recidivism. Currently, 18 states and roughly 100 cities and counties (including Maryland, Virginia, Washington, DC and Baltimore city) have some form of “ban the box” measures in place. Learn more

New MD Law Permits Expungement of Criminal Record for Certain Violations

In related news, a new Maryland law takes effect October 1 that allows a number of minor criminal violations to be expunged from the public record. The measure, signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan (R) last May, repeals the prohibition on expungement of a police, court, or other record if the petition for expungement is based on a dismissal of charges; a postponement of proceedings during required drug or alcohol treatment; a conviction for one of a list of specified crimes; a finding of not criminally responsible; or the grant of a pardon by the Governor. Learn more

EEOC: Demographic Survey EEO-1 Report Deadline Extended to October 30, 2015

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s annual demographic survey is due by October 30 (in previous years this deadline has been September 30). This survey, called the EEO-1, requires certain companies (based on size) to submit a report categorizing their employees by race/ethnicity, gender and job category.

Companies that meet the following criteria are required to file the report:

Have 100 or more employees;

Have fewer than 100 employees if the company is owned by or affiliated        with another company and the entire enterprise employs a total of 100 or more employees;

Is a Federal government prime contractor or first-tier subcontractor with 50 or more employees and a contract or subcontract amounting to $50,000 or more;
Serves as a depository of Government funds in any amount;

or is a financial institution which is an issuing and paying agent for U.S. Savings Bonds and Notes.

If you’re required to file the report, here are some things to help you do so:

The EEOC prefers that you file online;

If you are a single-establishment company, you are required to submit only one EEO-1 data report. If you are a multi-establishment company, then you’re required to submit a separate report for each location of your company;

Identify the ethnicity of employees based on the way they identify themselves. If they refuse to self-identify, then use employment records or visual observation;

Pull employment data from one pay period in July, August, or September        and include both full-time and part-time employees;
Include employees who telework in the survey for the location to which they report (not where they live);

Be sure to click the “certify report” button online when you’re ready to file to ensure the EEOC receives your report. Learn more