Consider an employee in a hospital. While at work, an anonymous phone threat comes in with a message that bombs have been placed throughout the medical facility.
In another case, after an employee reports on a co-worker for repeated errors in his work, this co-worker threatens physical harm to the employee. Next, a newly terminated, disgruntled employee threatens a hospital HR staff member for ruining her life.
These vignettes are real-life examples of workplace-based violent threats that, thankfully, didn’t come to fruition.
With recent incidents of mass violence in communities across the US, general societal violence is an issue the public and policymakers continue to grapple with. But what about violence in the workplace? The good news is that incidents of workplace homicide have declined by 64 percent since 1994, according to recent data.
Defined as violence or the threat of violence directed at someone on duty or at work, workplace violence remains generally rare. Yet it is still considered an important “subset of crime” by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime.
As it stands, nearly 21,000 workers in the private sector experienced trauma from nonfatal workplace violence in 2019 (according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics). These incidents required days away from work. The BLS also reports 453 U.S. workers were workplace homicide victims in 2018.
With this in mind, what are some practical steps organizations of all sizes can take to prevent workplace violence? To start, employers should provide training that encourages employees to come forward and report violent or threatening behavior by coworkers (many incidents are believed to go unreported).
In addition, employers should train employees to be aware of warning signs and risk factors in a co-worker’s behavior that can help prevent an incident.
Consider deploying a suite of “de-escalation techniques” including: be empathetic to a person who’s acting dangerously; be respectful of the person’s personal space (stay more than three feet away); maintain a relaxed demeanor before this person, remaining calm, rational and professional; and ignore any challenging or provocative questions by the person.
In addition, employers can help prevent workplace violence by taking steps that include:
- Putting in place job-site security measures such as employee identification badges and locked entrances
- Reducing employee stress by managing performance with ongoing evaluations, providing fair and consistent policies for terminations and acknowledging employees’ contributions to the organization
- Reviewing hiring practices to ensure background checks are conducted when needed and avoiding negligent hiring practices
- To be sure, employers have an obligation to provide workplaces that are safe and secure while employees have an obligation to comply with their organizations’ standards regarding behavior and safety.
Employers and their employees, all told, should be prepared and properly trained to reduce incidences of and prevent workplace violence.
impactAction: If you have questions about working to prevent workplace violence, contact us at email@example.com or 443-741-3900.
IRS Announces New Standard Mileage Rate Effective July 1
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced its optional standard mileage rate will increase to 62.5 cents per mile driven for business purposes (up 4 cents from the rate effective at the start of the this year). This new increase took effect July 1, 2022.
The IRS reminds employers the use of this rate is optional, though it is widely used by employers as a standard rate for calculating mileage reimbursement for employees who use their personal vehicles for business purposes.
The IRS has made this special adjustment for the final months of 2022 due to recent gas price increases.
If your organization uses the IRS rate to calculate mileage reimbursement, make sure to update your systems to account for this change. Read more.
Virginia Returns to FLSA Overtime Requirements (July 1)
Virginia employers: Under a new Virginia law in effect this past July 1, overtime for salaried non-exempt employees must be paid at 1.5 times their regular rate of pay, regardless of how many hours they have agreed to work for their base salary.
In addition, the law states non-exempt employees’ regular rate is determined by dividing their weekly total compensation by 40 rather than by the total number of hours worked as allowed by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Last April, Virginia enacted legislation (HB 1173) revoking the state’s Overtime Wage Act, enacted July 1, 2021, returning Virginia to follow FLSA overtime requirements. Read more.
impactAction: If you’re a Virginia employer and need assistance complying with these overtime changes, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-741-3900.
DC Council Approves Bill Prohibiting Employers from Firing Workers for Marijuana Use
The DC Council earlier this month approved a measure that would prohibit employers, including the District of Columbia government, from taking adverse actions against job applicants or employees based on individual use of cannabis.
The measure’s prohibition on adverse action also includes an employee’s status as a medical cannabis program patient or a failure to pass an employer-required or requested cannabis drug test.
Exempted from these prohibitions are safety-sensitive positions and employers bound by federal statute, regulations, contracts or funding agreements to provide a drug-free work environment.
In addition, if employers violate the provisions of the law, employees would be empowered to file a complaint with the DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) or pursue a private right of action.
The measure must still receive the DC Mayor’s approval, as well as Congressional approval, before it becomes law. Read more.
impactAction: If you have questions about planning for compliance with this issue, contact us at email@example.com or 443-741-3900.
In case you missed these impactNews articles . . .
Mid-Year Check-In: Conduct an Audit of Your HR Function
Enabling Managers to Help Employees Optimize Their Performance