Tag Archives: u s department of labor

Veterans - Job Training

$255K Grant Provides Job Training For Veterans

Arizona Women’s Education & Employment (AWEE) has been awarded a $255,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to continue funding job training and support services for homeless and formerly incarcerated veterans in Arizona.

The grant is one of 90 totaling more than $20 million awarded through the Department of Labor’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP).  AWEE is one of three Arizona nonprofit organizations receiving grants along with U.S. Vets Initiative of Phoenix ($250,000) and The Primavera Foundation, Inc. of Tucson ($200,000).

“Americans who have served their country should not find themselves without a home,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “The grants will help these heroes find good jobs and take us one step closer to the goal of ending veteran homelessness altogether.”

HVRP grants provide occupational, classroom and on-the-job training, as well as job search and placement assistance, including follow-up services. Grantees are expected to maximize available assistance and find good jobs for veterans by coordinating efforts and resources with the U.S. departments of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services, as well as other national, state and local agencies in accordance with the VA’s five-year plan to end homelessness for veterans and their families.

“Assisting veterans to find and keep jobs, particularly those who may face significant barriers for employment, is among our most-important services,” said AWEE President and CEO Marie Sullivan.  “This grant will enable AWEE to expand our reach and our program outcomes for this historically underserved but vital population of women and men.”

More information on the Department of Labor’s unemployment and re-employment programs for veterans can be found at www.dol.gov/vets.  For additional information about AWEE, visit www.awee.org or follow AWEE on Facebook and Twitter.

Disaster preparedness for your business

Disaster Preparedness: Is Your Business Ready?

Cindy Bates, vice president of Microsoft’s US SMB Organization, gives tips on how to achieve disaster preparedness for your business.

For many businesses, disaster preparedness plans entail conducting semi-regular fire drills and making sure employees know where emergency exits are located. Unfortunately, these measures alone don’t do nearly enough to help businesses withstand the range of disasters, both physical and virtual, that they could face.

It’s easy to set aside the task of developing a disaster preparedness plan in favor of attending to more immediate business demands, especially given that Arizona isn’t a hotbed for major natural disasters. Yet, most disasters are entirely unexpected, can be localized to just one company or a handful of businesses and can be difficult if not impossible to recover from. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates more than 40 percent of businesses never reopen following a disaster and, of the remaining companies, at least 25 percent will close in two years.

Acheiving Disaster Preparedness For Your Business

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) may have the hardest time recovering from disaster, since they lack many resources that keep larger companies afloat during disasters, such as a robust technology infrastructure, satellite offices and larger workforces. Fortunately, there still are many cost-effective ways SMBs can aid in disaster preparedness. The following measures are fairly simple to implement and make it a great deal easier for SMBs to endure or even prevent the unexpected:

Maintain updated technology – By simply responding promptly to technology update notices, businesses can prevent a host of virtual disasters from ever occurring in the first place. Running updated technology safeguards businesses against many of the latest security hazards and is essential to the overall health of the IT infrastructure.

Back-up data – Many disasters, whether physical or virtual, wipe out critical information stored on  business computers, so it’s important to keep all essential data backed up in some way. Replicating hard drives is one option, though this approach requires remembering to do so weekly and also removing the disk drive from the premises each night. Businesses also can opt for online backup solutions that safeguard data and make it easily accessible from remote locations. If workers rely heavily on mobile devices, look for online backup solutions for data storage on those devices as well.

Invest in cloud-based software – Cloud-based software solutions have become increasingly popular among SMBs, largely because they offer enterprise-grade capabilities at an affordable price, as well as enable employees to securely access data and programs from nearly any location and device, a capability that becomes particularly useful during disaster. Having cloud-based software in place supports business continuity when disaster strikes, providing more flexibility in terms of when and where business gets conducted.

Develop a communications plan – Planning ahead for how communications related to a disaster will be managed helps businesses act swiftly and appropriately should a disaster occur. Determine who will communicate pertinent information to employees and to such external audiences as clients, customers and partners. Also, decide which methods of communication will be used, taking into account such properties as company websites, blogs and social media platforms.

To better assess how prepared your business is for disaster, click here to access a free quiz that will help you find out just how prepared you are, or aren’t, for possible disaster. The quiz is part of Microsoft’s free, downloadable e-guide on disaster preparedness, available here.

Nonexempt Vs. Exempt Employees

Exempt Employees Versus Nonexempt Employees

Classifying employees as exempt or nonexempt might seem easy at first glance.  Either they are salaried or they are hourly.  Accordingly, they either are eligible to earn overtime for hours worked or they are not.

But it’s not that simple. Nor are the penalties a business can face. Complaints can be made against a business up to two years after an alleged misclassification and resulting lost wages.

Compliance is Key

Such allegations can prove costly, especially if tension in the workplace escalates between the accuser and the business to the level of what could be considered discrimination or harassment. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor Website’s compliance section states:

“It is a violation to fire or in any other manner discriminate against an employee for filing a complaint or for participating in a legal proceeding under the FLSA.

“Willful violations may be prosecuted criminally and the violator fined up to $10,000. A second conviction may result in imprisonment.”

In addition, any employer found to have willfully violated employee rights, whether exempt or nonexempt from the guidelines outlined in the FLSA, “may be prosecuted criminally and fined up to $10,000,” DOL documents state. “A second conviction may result in imprisonment. Employers who willfully or repeatedly violate the minimum wage or overtime pay requirements are subject to civil money penalties of up to $1,100 per violation.”

When Wage and Hour investigators uncover violations, the DOL will often work with that employers to help them become compliant. In addition, they will be required to pay any back wages that may be due to employees.

Two-Part Test

So what is the standard by which an exempt and nonexempt employee can be measured, and what rules apply to each classification? To be considered exempt, a salaried employee must meet specific salary and duty requirements.

An employee, who is salaried who earns less than $455 per week would be nonexempt and therefore eligible for overtime and other protections under the FLSA.  An exempt employee would not be eligible for overtime, but with limited exceptions, must receive their full salary for any week during which they work, Compensation Management News reports. For more information, visit Compensation.BLR.com.

The second portion of the test relates to the duties an employee performs, their job category such as administrative, computer specialists, outside sales and more. For specific exemptions, see the accompanying chart or visit the DOL Website. In some cases, as with computer specialists, otherwise exempt employees may be paid hourly instead as long as they earn $27.63 or more per hour.

Managing Expectations

In Arizona, there is no legal definition for exempt and nonexempt employees. Everybody is entitled to a minimum wage. However, Arizona does have its own unique minimum wage law. Arizona’s minimum wage is $7.35 per hour and federal minimum wage is $7.25.

While exempt employees are generally not eligible for overtime, they reap other benefits.

“If a person works part of a day and then leaves, you cannot dock them if they are exempt,” explained John Balitis, an employment and labor attorney with Fennemore Craig. “The caveat is that you can dock a salaried, exempt employee’s leave days, so long as it does not result in a loss of compensation during the pay period in which the docking occurs. So, the docking rule for partial day absences is different, depending on whether you are talking about pay or leave.”

Paul W. Barada, a salary and negotiation expert for Monster, agrees. “Exempt employees are generally expected to devote the number of hours necessary to complete their respective tasks, regardless of whether that requires 35 hours per week or 55 hours per week. Their compensation doesn’t change based on actual hours expended. Exempt employees aren’t paid extra for putting in more than 40 hours per week; they’re paid for getting the job done,” Barada wrote in a career advice article published on Monster.com.

If not hours, what then, constitutes an exempt employee’s fulfillment of having completed a day’s work?

“This is an interesting issue that judges and lawyers are talking about, but there is no clear answer,” Balitis said. “Given the proliferation of smart phones and employees checking their email, voice mail and texts while they are at home or in the car on the way to work, there is case law that says that becomes compensable time—so the day has started and exempt/salaried employees have to be paid.”

Balitis said employers, regardless of size, would be well-advised to to purchase a multi-law comprehensive poster for the workplace. If purchased as a subscription from a service, he said, companies generally send updated posters when any of the requirements change.

Commonly Used Exemptions

Commissioned sales employees of retail or service establishments are exempt from overtime if more than half of the employee’s earnings come from commissions and the employee averages at least one and one-half times the minimum wage for each hour worked. You may also wish to review the applicable regulation.

Computer professionals: Section 13(a)(17) of the FLSA provides that certain computer professionals paid at least $27.63 per hour are exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA.

Drivers, driver’s helpers, loaders and mechanics are exempt from the overtime pay provisions of the FLSA if employed by a motor carrier, and if the employee’s duties affect the safety of operation of the vehicles in transportation of passengers or property in interstate or foreign commerce. You may also wish to review the applicable regulation.

Farmworkers employed on small farms are exempt from both the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions of the FLSA. You may also wish to review the specific regulation.

Young workers employed on small farms, with parental consent, are also exempt from the child labor provisions of the FLSA. For more information on exemptions from the child labor provisions of the FLSA in agriculture, click the underlined text. Other farmworkers are exempt from the FLSA’s overtime provisions. You may also wish to review the specific regulation.

Salesmen, partsmen and mechanics employed by automobile dealerships are exempt from the overtime pay provisions of the FLSA. You may also wish to review the applicable regulation.

Seasonal and recreational establishments: Employees employed by certain seasonal and recreational establishments are exempt from both the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions of the FLSA. You may also wish to review the applicable regulation.

Executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees: (as defined in Department of Labor regulations) and who are paid on a salary basis are exempt from both the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA.

For more information about commonly used exemptions, visit www.dol.gov.

Source: US Department of Labor elaws – Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor

[stextbox id=”grey”]Learn more about nonexempt vs. exempt employees at Compensation.BLR.com.[/stextbox]

 

Advance And Retain Women’s Role In The Financial Field - AZ Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Two Valley Groups Are Working To Advance And Retain Women’s Role In The Financial Field

It wasn’t so long ago that a typical business meeting at a banking or financial institution was dominated by the good ol’ boys network. Well, not anymore. Today, you are likely to see more women among the dark suits at the table.

“I have watched women evolve,” says Deborah Bateman, executive vice president of specialty banking and marketing at National Bank of Arizona, and a founder of the Women’s Financial Group. Bateman boasts a professional background spanning more than 40 years in the banking industry.

“Early in my career, I think we tried to mirror men,” she says. “Over time, women have recognized the skill sets they can bring to business, such as collaboration, connecting, coaching (and) creating value inside Corporate America.”

Women’s roles in the banking and finance sectors are widening, and the proof is in the numbers. In 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 54 percent of American women were employed in fields related to financial activities. This includes finance and insurance, banking and related activities, securities, commodities, funds, trusts and other financial investments. In Arizona, the percentage of women working in the finance and insurance industry also is significant. U.S. Census data shows there are actually more women than men working in these industries.

Although women have come a long way from their beginnings in these formerly male-dominated sectors, it is an ongoing struggle. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the disparity in salaries for men and women is significant.

In the Phoenix Metro area, during the third quarter of 2009, women made up 14.4 percent of the 35-44 age work force in finance and insurance (private sector) versus 10.4 percent for men. However, women in these fields average a monthly salary of $4,350, compared to men’s $6,643. For women aged 45 to 54, the salary gap grows even wider. In this age group, men on average earn 64 percent more.

“Women need to be more assertive about asking for money and tooting their own horn,” says Donna Davis, CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA) and a member of the Women’s Financial Group. “It’s OK to promote your organization, it’s OK to ask for money and to ask for more.”

However, Emily Amparan, vice president of development at Factors Southwest, says she thinks the numbers don’t reflect the real gains women are making.

“I always hold those figures suspect, as I rarely encounter hindrances to make money and achieve success in the financial field,” she says. “I think if you believe it to be so, it probably is … however, the most successful women in the finance industry don’t pay any mind to talk of obstacles, as they forge ahead to make their own path.”

Helping women make their own paths in the financial sector is the mission of a number of organizations emerging all over the Valley. For example, Bateman founded an internal mentorship program at National Bank of Arizona in 2009, that quickly expanded to outside industries and individuals. Later renamed the Women’s Financial Group, the organization’s focus is to bring together women of all professional backgrounds to promote financial planning, mentoring, business services and networking.

Bateman says she hopes the Women’s Financial Group can serve as a catalyst for women to succeed and attain higher positions in banking and finance without compromising their identities.

“For years and years, we would dress in tailored blue suits and wear ties,” Bateman recalls. “Women can be women in the business world. It brings enormous value to business, to their organizations and to the community.”

In addition, Davis says the group can help “women become more savvy financial business people.”

At a recent Women’s Financial Group event, women of diverse backgrounds, both personal and professional, filled the room. Some women were just beginning their careers and some were veterans with decades of experience. But all were there with a mission: to pave the way for future success in their respective financial careers.

Another group aimed at women in the financial sector is Women in Banking, the local chapter of the national Risk Management Association. Founded in 2006, its first meeting took place at a Chevy’s restaurant with 14 business women in attendance. Today, the group includes 50 to 80 bankers, consultants, marketers and business owners from around the Valley. And despite its name, the committee encourages men to join and attend its events.

“There is definitely a need for a professional organization that brings business and banking together for positive networking,” says Amparan, who is a member of the organization’s leadership team.

Along with helping women plot their careers in financing, Women in Banking is a strong supporter of Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women in areas such as career change, personal growth, family relationships and more. The group collects clothes for donation and works to raise money to sponsor Fresh Start’s annual golf tournament and fashion show.

That type of commitment to all women in the community is just one example of the impact women professionals in finance are making.

“Women in business are tremendous bridge builders and relationship makers,” Amparan says. “Banking and finance has become more of a warm, open environment to the credit of professional women across the state and country. People are starting to take notice of the successful way women are starting to do business and build relationships.”

Arizona Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Green Job Opportunities for Women

Green Job Opportunities For Women

Recently, I attended the “Women & the Green Job Movement” panel hosted by the Chandler Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and Zion & Zion.

Our very own Tina Robinson, exhibit director for the Southwest Build-it-Green Expo & Conference, was asked to be part of the panel and speak on various aspects of women employment in the sustainability field. The roundtable was comprised of individuals from various organizations, cities and schools with a vested interest in women and their future in green jobs.

Jenny L. Erwin, regional administrator for the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, opened the roundtable discussion. Some of the main points covered were:

  • Ensuring green jobs are “good jobs” with benefits and livable wages and career paths.
  • Definitions of green jobs and other common terms that are understandable to a broad range of working women.
  • Information on how women in community-based organizations focusing on women, women business owners, labor unions and others can access funds for green jobs.
  • Best practices related to women.
  • Green jobs that are in demand, new career paths and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The roundtable began with the reason we were all gathered at the event — where do women fit in the green industry? Though the number of green jobs is on the rise, there is indeed a disparity in the quality and quantity of jobs available to men and women. This spurred discussion on why this paradox exists.

One of the main issues women must face as we try to alter this uneven landscape is changing the perception that women can’t hold jobs in male-dominated industries. The math and science-related fields are typically over-represented by men, and changing this will be the first step in encouraging women to enter the green industry.

I left the roundtable discussion with a bright outlook. Green industry jobs vary; some are more technical than others; and there is always room for those who need to market the technology and spread the message to others. Bottom line — there is a huge opportunity for women to capitalize on the amazing benefits the green movement offers. So let’s get to it ladies!

www.chandlerchamber.com
www.builditgreenexpo.com
www.dol.gov/wb/