Help with the Family First Coronavirus Response Act

Good afternoon everybody. Stressful times are certainly upon us

As you may be aware, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was just recently passed.

On March 18, 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”). The FFCRA seeks to assist employees impacted by novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) and applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees. The U.S. House of Representatives originally passed the FFCRA on March 14, 2020; however, the House later made “technical corrections” to the bill, many of which were substantive—such as adding caps on the paid leave—prior to passing it to the U.S. Senate for approval. The pared down House version of the FFCRA approved by the Senate and signed by President Trump provides for, among other things, (1) one new category of paid FMLA leave related to child care disruption due to the current public health emergency and (2) paid sick time for certain reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will take effect not later than 15 days after enactment, i.e., April 2, 2020, and are scheduled to terminate December 31, 2020. The FFCRA also includes related employer tax credits.

SHRM just posted on its website today (March 25, 2020), several U.S. Dept. of Labor, Wage & Hour Division information sheets: 1 for employees, 1 for employers, and a combined Q&A sheet. This is probably the most definitive and “official” information concerning how to comply with the FFCRA. Note: if you find out about this via a SHRM e-mail, you probably won’t be able to follow its links/URLs to get to those sheets; I found it easier to go to the SHRM website directly, and even then it was a little slow loading, probably due to heavy demand/viewing.

SHRM will be having another webcast this Friday, specifically pertaining to the FFCRA. From various employment law firms’ emails, it looks like a lot of them will be offering their own webcasts/webinars on this subject, too.

If interested in the ENTIRE Bill under the Act, you can find it here:

The official US Department of Labor briefing on the Act can be found here:

Another source of information on the topic is this article that has some great information to assist employers in complying with the new legislation. In the article, there’s a link to a free webinar on the topic that gives extensive coverage.

Another source of free information is from ComplyHR:

We’re all in unchartered territory here, and unfortunately even the U.S. Dept. of Labor, SHRM, and our various employment law firm partners will not have all the answers, but from what I’ve seen they’ve taken a huge first step and I believe there will be more information/guidance to come.

If you need guidance and support with these new regulations, we are prepared to assist. Contact Randy Lumia at Paradise Workplace Solutions: 908-723-4609.

It’s Personal: An Employee In Crisis Can Build Up Or Tear Down Your Company’s Culture

I didn’t have any intention of writing this article until I woke up this morning. After seeing all the news and reminders about breast cancer month I was compelled to talk about how a health scare created an employee/employer bond that can’t be broken.

It’s time for me to own up. Not many people know that I went through breast cancer and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment two years ago. Or, maybe it’s more accurate to say that I didn’t talk much about it.

I pride myself on helping others and was surprised by my reaction to the diagnoses. I didn’t let many people help me. I was overwrought with emotions. I put a cocoon around myself and went deep within to deal with the cancers. I told only those who absolutely needed to know and I asked them not to discuss it with me or anyone else unless I brought it up. I realize, without a doubt, that was very difficult for family, friends and co-workers who love and care for me. Yet, everyone respected my wishes.

What does this have to do with company culture? How employees are treated every day is part of your company culture. An employee in crisis can magnify aspects of the culture either good or bad.

Build your culture and help an employee at the same time
I was working for a large corporation at the time and was naturally nervous about what cancer would mean for my life and career. I was worried that I wouldn’t be considered for a promotion or plumb assignment if they thought I couldn’t handle it physically or if my future was uncertain.

Fortunately, I had a manager and employer who respected my wishes and helped me through my treatment. Their handling of my diagnoses also demonstrates the culture they want for the company. They value their employees; plain and simple. Here is how my situation was handled and how helping employees when they’re “down” can help build a culture of mutual admiration.

Six actions to take to help an employee through a crisis

  1. Listen, listen, listen.  This is the single most important action any manager can take during a difficult situation.  Listen for what your employee is saying and not saying.
  2. Ask how you can help.  Find out what they would like you to do or not do.
  3. Respect the employee’s wishes.  If the employee wants support from his/her team, help them get it.  If they want to keep it on the down low, abide by their decision.
  4. Look out for ways you can alleviate their stress.  This can be in the form of easing their workload, setting up a system that will allow your employee to attend to any necessary appointments without having to ask, or providing them with additional resources.
  5. Check in.  Their needs may change from the initial discussion and you want to make sure you’re helping them throughout the process.
  6. Give them time to adjust to their new reality. Continue to view this employee as an active contributor who will come through their situation to be the same or better employee.  Other employees are watching closely to see how you’re handling the situation.

My outcome
I am healthy and free of cancer. I was loyal to my employer and co-workers before my health scare. Their approach to my situation made me double down on my commitment and demonstrated to those closest to me at work how a compassionate manager and employer can make a difference.

Since my treatment, many aspects of my life have changed. I was promoted to a position I always wanted two months after returning from a short medical leave. Six months later, I made some difficult and dramatic changes because I realized that I didn’t want to put off dreams I had for my future. My husband and I moved to Florida from New Jersey and started our own business, Paradise Workplace Solutions.

I made sure before leaving that someone was in place, up to speed on leading my group and that there was a smooth transition. I wanted the company to know that I appreciated everything they did for me and that I had no intention of leaving them in a lurch.

After my leaving the company, the manner in which I was treated remains a part of the culture they are building every day. My commitment to my former manager and employer is still strong. I cheer for my former co-workers and company from the sidelines and advocate for the work they are doing. I am a staunch supporter and make sure I refer only the very best potential employees because I want their culture to be the best it can be. That’s the least I can do for the co-workers, manager and company who helped me through the most difficult time of my life.

Click here to talk with us about people strategies.

Paradise Workplace Solutions, LLC works with business owners dealing with disappointing business results get on a path to improved productivity and profitable growth by aligning people strategies to the company’s business plan.

Grow Your Talent, Create Value For Your Company

Your employees are your number one investment. Their actions, skills and knowledge are going to help your grow your business or sink the ship. Assuming you would choose the former, now is a good time to take a look at how your people match up with the future growth of your company.

Most likely, your employees’ performance can be bucketed into three categories. Some are still not up to speed in their current role, others are comfortably meeting your expectations and some may be outperforming. It’s important to know where your employees are in their development because you and they need to come up with a plan for their growth to keep them energized and engaged in supporting your business.

Various stages of performance
The new or struggling employee
Obviously, employees not performing up to standards in their current work need to focus on the skills to do their job, enhance their knowledge or change behaviors. It’s their manager’s responsibility to identify those undeveloped skills and get them the training they need. They will need a development plan to get them on track. Make sure your expectations fit the development need. Sending someone to outside training that has a skills deficiency is like trying to row a battleship with an oar; it’s not going to happen. The real development of the skill or ability comes with combining the outside training with perfecting the skill on-the-job. Repetition, coaching and feedback are the real ways that employees enhance skills.

Your consistent, dependable employee
Employees who are meeting your expectations are golden because they are helping to sustain your business. This is a good time to find out their development goals. Do they want to stay in their current role or do they want to learn a different part of the business? Take the time to point out other positions or work they can do to contribute to growing your business. Match them up where you expect to need strong consistent team members in the near future. This group of employees can be your strong core. They can move through various positions to get a solid understanding of your business and customers. They need a plan that encourages them to grow through being successful and satisfied with their work.

The overachiever, high performer
The outperformers have likely already told you their development goals and are actively pursuing them. High performers need to be challenged to keep them engaged. Look at these employees to see if they have the skills for higher level roles in the organization either now or in the future. If you believe an employee can meet the requirements with some additional training, come up with a development plan that aligns with your business plan. High performers’ plans may include going elsewhere to achieve goals or gain experience but at least you’re aware of the person’s desires and can plan for it so your business is not disrupted.

It’s most important to have development plans for everyone, including yourself, so you know that your employees are working toward goals that will improve and increase your business growth.

People development plans
No matter which level of development is needed, a plan contains relatively the same components below.

• Identified skills, knowledge or behavior that will be the focus
• Actions the employee will take to learn
• Opportunities to apply the learning (practical application with repetition, coaching and feedback)
• Success measures

Each area for improvement should have a SMART Goal. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Many organizations make SMART goals mandatory because they clarify the goals and get everyone on the same page. Peter Drucker is known for coming up with the criteria for SMART goals and George T. Doran for formalizing it back in the early 80s and still universally used today. You can find an abundance of information by looking up “SMART goals” on the web.

Hold your employees accountable
One of the most important points of a development plan is that the employee owns the plan and their development. You can help identify areas for improvement, fund training programs and provide opportunities for development but ultimately, the employee is responsible for their growth. As the business owner, you are responsible for opening pathways for them to meet their growth goals and provide feedback along the way.

Developing your people is just one aspect of a people strategy that aligns with your business plan and goals. A people strategy will benefit your business because your people are going to propel you to meeting your business goals.

Next up: People strategy