Scary Statistics – Violence in the Workplace

According to the United States Department of Labor,

  • More than 23,000 injuries from assault at work were reported in 2013
  • 70% of these assaults were in Social Services or Healthcarestabby stabby
  • In 2012, there were 463 workplace homicides (the most common being shootings)
  • 21% of these workplace homicides were committed by co-workers
  • Women are more likely to be murdered while on the job compared to men
  • About 40% of female homicides in the workplace are committed by relatives
  • Nearly half of all work related deaths in the sales (and related) occupation fields were homicides

“Workplace violence is defined as violence or the threat of violence against workers. It can occur at or outside of the workplace and can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide.” – O.S.H.A.

The immediate impact of the violent incident on a workplace environment cannot be measured quantitatively, but the after effects can be costly. The impact may be felt in a wide range and can include:

  • Employee absence
  • Productivity barriers
  • Damage, theft, or sabotage occurring on the property
  • Deviation of normal processes and procedures by management
  • An increase of Workers’ Compensation costs/claims
  • An increase in personnel costs

It may not be possible to completely avoid workplace violence, but prevention is key.

Create and implement a “violence in the workplace” program to be followed by employees, customers, guests, and anyone entering the business property. Pre-screen all potential employees appropriately. Utilize security measures such as ID badges, security guards, and limit access to the property and facilities to only those individuals that need to be there.

In a world where we are unable to control every aspect of our environment, having a detailed program in place may mean the difference between life and death.

For information on creating and implementing a workplace violence program:

http://www.dol.gov/oasam/hrc/policies/dol-workplace-violence-program.htm

Watch Out for Weekenders

traveling

Time to think about adding one more task to your checklist before renting your property. If you didn’t already have enough to do, you can now add reviewing and addressing your subletting policy to your agenda.

Being specific in your lease agreement and explaining to the tenant about your subletting policy has now become a bigger issue than ever before. Companies like Airbnb now allow people to rent/sublet their rooms to travelers for a day, or even months. This is a great convenience for travelers, but sometimes not so great for the landlords that own the property.

Recently in New York, a tenant turned a 3-bedroom apartment into a 10-bedroom apartment to sublet on Airbnb. Once the landlord of the property found out about the unapproved renovations from the neighbors, he sent his own work crew in to tear down the renovations and change the locks. He attempted to evict his tenants and their Airbnb guests, but the tenants filled a court order and were allowed back into the apartment. The landlord is working towards properly evicting the tenants who are, in the meantime, still renting out their now-cloth-divided rooms to guests.

Some tenants are violating the law by subletting their entire property to guests while they are not there.

As a landlord, you are responsible for who is residing within your property. Protect yourself and others by reviewing your lease and the clauses for alterations and subletting.

To protect yourself, and protect your right to evict your tenants, make simple changes to your lease language. Prohibit your tenants from making unapproved alterations to the property. Specify the length of time guests are allowed to reside in the property before being required to be added to the lease. If you are completely against allowing your tenants to rent a room to guests, include that language in the lease.

Thoroughly go over the lease with your tenants, explaining policies about subletting if needed. If you are still worried about your tenants hosting guests, physically check on your property. Also be sure to check the online rental websites for your property address.

Though tenants subletting your property can be a very troubling experience, there are benefits too. If you allow your tenant to sublet with written consent (which makes it legal), the tenant then becomes responsible for the property if damaged by guests. The extra income from the guests can help ensure that your rental payments will be received in full and on time. You are still responsible for who is on your property. If you allow your tenants to sublet, require them to perform a background check on the guest and share the information with you.

As always, remain mindful of the situations that you are inadvertently allowing yourself to be responsible for. Protect yourself accordingly.

https://www.hrbackground.com

FRAUD

stolen

Lions, tigers, and lost Social Security cards, oh my! Yes, it’s a very scary thought. Information that you have likely worked hard throughout your life to protect is now missing. It could be in the hands of someone that has mischievous ideas or more likely, it could be in the trash. The thought of your name and matching social security number being used to secure credit (that you obviously didn’t authorize) is horrifying and devastating.

If this happens, steps may be taken to lessen the blow to your credit (and psyche).

If you believe that you might be a victim of identity fraud, follow these steps.

  1. Place a fraud alert on your credit report by contacting one of the three major credit bureaus (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax). Once placed, the other two bureaus will be notified. The initial fraud alert will last for at least ninety days.
  2. Review your credit report for fraudulently open accounts.
  3. If accounts are found; contact the creditor and question the account.
  4. File a fraud report with your local police department and the Federal Trade Commission.
  5. Report to your bank and other creditors about identity fraud.
  6. Place an extended fraud alert on your credit. The extended alert will last for 7 years.

For some it is necessary to continue with one more step. They may elect to place a security freeze on their credit report. The security freeze prevents anyone (lender’s and creditor’s) from accessing your credit report. There is no time limit on the security freeze, and will remain on your credit until you say otherwise.

The fraud alert and the security freeze are consumer (you) initiated and ended. A credit reporting agency must follow certain guidelines pertaining to identity theft. As a consumer, you have rights, and those rights are there to protect and help you in the event of a situation such as identity fraud.

There are other reasons that one may elect to place a fraud alert or security freeze on their credit, but it may cost the consumer an out of pocket initial fee to establish.

 

How comprehensive is your screening process?

Whether it’s for employment or tenant purposes, you want to have the satisfaction of knowing you chose the best candidate. A background screen on an applicant will indicate credit worthiness as well as their criminal history (if they have one).

It is vitally important to consult your background screening provider regarding the most comprehensive criminal reports you can obtain. Your screening provider will know the ins and outs of criminal reporting and be able to direct you to obtain the most comprehensive search available. Generally speaking, a statewide criminal report is sufficient to provide the criminal history you are looking to obtain. However, the most thorough criminal report is the county criminal.

the best

Although it may be slightly costlier to run a few county criminal reports as opposed to the statewide criminal, a single question must be asked.

Would you sacrifice your business and safety to save a few dollars?

Any criminal report can give you some level of peace of mind, but there are certain factors which have to be taken into consideration when deciding on a type and scope of report. The purpose of the screening can help determine the steps that will need to be followed if a criminal record is found. As always your background screening provider should be able to give you general guidance pertaining to adverse action. Each state has their own laws that govern adverse action, so it is always best to consult an attorney for legal direction.

https://www.hrbackground.com

PAY YOUR TAXES or DOOM YOUR CREDIT

death & taxes

The time of year that everyone despises has come around yet again. It’s a certainty of life. You are born, you pay taxes, and you die. Many people get overwhelmed with the process of filing their taxes, or the thought of having to pay out any sum of money. Let’s be real. The majority of Americans do not save money throughout the year to pay at tax time. We all know we should, but there are so many other things that we can use that money on. So the question is, what happens if you don’t pay your taxes?

A tax lien. That’s what happens. If you don’t pay your taxes, it will not immediately show up on your credit report. However, the IRS will file a tax lien.
Tax Lien:          “A tax lien is the federal or state government’s legal claim on your property.”

                        Applies to real estate, vehicles and financial assets.

A tax lien will drop your credit score easily by 100 points, show on your credit and will negatively affect your ability to get a credit card, loan, or mortgage.

The IRS will file a tax lien if you owe a minimum of $10,000. State and local jurisdictions vary, but the state can and will file a tax lien with an unknown minimum of amount owed.

If you didn’t pay your taxes in the past, and you already have a tax lien affecting your credit, you can follow these steps:

  1. Pay your current taxes on time or work out a payment arrangement
  2. Get the tax lien released
  3. Pay back the owed debt in full – the lien will be released within 30 days
  4. Offer in Compromise – Settling your debt for less than you actually owe
  5. Discharge of Property – Must meet eligibility requirements
  6. Wait 7 years for it to fall off of your credit report. Verify that the lien shows on your credit as being paid/satisfied*

*There is ONE MORE resource for you if you didn’t pay your taxes previously. The federal government created the Fresh Start Program. If you pay your debt in full, you can request that the IRS WITHDRAW your tax lien. The credit bureaus do not include withdrawn tax liens on your credit report.

The best thing you can do, as much as it may hurt, is to pay your taxes in full from the beginning. For the most part, a tax lien can be avoided, so why deal with that hassle?

For more information on the Fresh Start Program

Authorized Reasons to Run Credit

There are many reasons that you can run a person’s credit. The most common reasons are:

Credit transactions which help the lender determine the credit worthiness of the individual for the purposes of a loan, mortgage or credit card;

Tenant purposes to determine the likelihood that an individual will pay rent on time for property to be leased;

Employment credit reports are used to quickly and cost-effectively provide objective and factual information, providing insight into an applicant’s integrity and financial responsibility.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has set in place specific guidelines that must be followed any time credit is pulled. The individual whose credit is to be pulled must authorize in writing that they are aware and allowing this to take place. Also, the applicant has rights if the information obtained is used to deny credit, residence, or employment.

If there is doubt as to whether it is legal to pull someone’s credit report, confer with your background screening company or a legal team.

https://www.hrbackground.com

 

 

 

 

 

New Year, New Laws

new laws

Minimum Wage on Federal Contracts

An executive order establishing a minimum wage for contractors was signed by President Obama on February 12, 2014. This executive order raises the minimum wage for contractors working on Federal construction and service contracts to $10.15. This rate must be paid to workers performing work on or in connection with covered contracts beginning January 1, 2016.

Additional information

 

Pregnancy

States have now passed laws protecting against discrimination of pregnant or nursing women in the workplace. Each state has their own protections that are specific to different types of employers. Many states have also opted to provide accommodations for pregnant women.

See the map for more details

 

Paid Leave

Balancing family responsibilities and our jobs has become increasingly complicated with both parents working full time in the majority of households. Often times employees come to work when they, or a family member, are sick because they feel they are unable to miss work without pay. Several states have now passed the paid family and medical leave laws. California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey are the first states to give employees paid leave to care for themselves or family members so they do not have to worry about being affected financially because of missing work. Other states are sure to follow suit as the “Lead on Leave” campaign becomes more well known.

Find out more

 

Social Media Searchessocial media

Considered to be an invasion of privacy, twenty-one states have now passed laws that apply to an employers restricted use of social media to check out their employees. Research has shown that employers that research their candidates on social media sites often discriminate based off information found on the sites. This information would not generally be known to the employer (religion, children, sexual preferences), and the candidate is then not viewed based on their educational or work credentials. Also, thirteen educational institutions have now made it illegal to ask for access to students’ social media account.

Click here for a list of states that have enacted the new laws

 

Minimum Wage

Minimum wage rates throughout the country are at an all-time high. Over 50% of the States in the U.S.  now pay a higher minimum wage rate than the federal rate. The federal minimum wage rate sits at $7.25 per hour. Two states, Wyoming and Georgia are still behind, paying below the federal rate. That’s good news for employees and consumers. Are you curious about which states pay at a federal level or higher?

Click here for minimum wage rates

https://www.hrbackground.com