Alumni benefits: What to expect when rehired

Companies rehire alumni employees because it is beneficial in multi-faceted ways.  Cost savings occur in orientation savings and reduced hours spent on training and recruiting overhead.  Some large corporations have created ‘alumni’ recruiting websites to keep up with ex-employees and use their connections. They use ex-employees’ continued loyalty to the corporation to recruit new hires or rehire employees who may now have valuable new skill sets or experience.  This benefits not only the company, but also the rehire. For example, a seamless benefits reinstatement – if the alumnus has been gone for only a short period.

Savings for HR results in a reduced need for background checks. The alumni employee has already been researched. Or, the time period between termination and rehire was so short a new background check is duplicative. There may be no referrals to call because the alumni’s tenure with the company speaks for itself.  Fewer man-hours are spent on a recruiter’s full-life-cycle of tasks normally required.

The cost of training is minimized, unless the alumnus has missed major changes to policies, markets, products or services.  Many rehires can simply pick up where they were.  Unless the alumnus is placed in a new job or department, there is no need to re-train them on most corporate policies or techniques.  The IT department minimizes overhead costs by reactivating e-mail addresses, access to servers or employee portal, or previous permissions for tasking.

When alumni employees return, whether for an old job or a different position (new department or geographic area), initial expectations may be everything will be the status quo.  If the rehire has been gone more than a month, changes may have occurred as part of a company’s cost-cutting and streamlining, of which the alumni needs to be aware before they sign the re-hire offer of employment.  It is vital Human Resources (HR) or the rehiring manager communicate changes, expectations, and any variation of benefits to the rehire, either during the final interview for a rehire, or within the rehire offer letter.

Offer letters have an annual salary noted, but many companies don’t detail benefits, except to note entitlements to benefits provided to all full-time (and/or designated benefits for part-time) workers.  If there has been an open enrollment period, then co-payments, premium costs, co-payments, or provided benefits may have changed and need to be communicated. Rehired employees usually slip through the communication cracks in the HR department, so alumni has the onus to inquire.

If the employee has been absent for less than 30 days, the employer might be able to re-instate the alumnus or ‘make whole’ without a lot of paperwork.  The insurance vendor might not yet have been notified the employee has left.  If the employee has been gone for over 30 days and enrolled for COBRA, they should have received information about changes in the benefits coverage. If there is no break in insurance, there should be 100% coverage when they re-convert the employee back to the same plan. If the rehire did not elect COBRA benefits and there is a gap of coverage over 30 days, they will be considered a new employee and will most likely have to make elections as a new hire.  This might be to the benefit of the rehire if they don’t have to worry about pre-existing conditions, but may result in a waiting period if there are pre-existing conditions not covered by the recent health care act.

Rehired alumni may be able to negotiate a higher baseline salary; but the company could offer the same salary because they are still struggling. If an alumnus is offered a lower salary, they should remind the employer the cost of a rehire will be drastically reduced compared to a new hire, based on less orientation, retraining, and background checks needed by a recruiter.  This provides a modicum of power to negotiate a higher salary or reinstatement to the status quo.

The employer may wish to consider offering stock options and vesting stock. They may not be able to offer a higher salary, but may have the ability to future incentives via investment. The stock may eventually exceed the ‘lost’ value of the higher or status quo salary.  The alumni takes the gamble the company’s worth will increase when the economy gets better, there is a gain in sales for a new product or service, or even a back-burner R&D project starts to produce. The bet might even revolve around the alumnus’ ability to increase sales.

Employees expect vacation (Paid Time Off [PTO]) and possibly sick leave (if separate from PTO accrual) as part of their benefits rehire package. Employees absent for a short-term period will want their accrual rate reinstated – especially if it was at a higher rate than new hires.  Employees earning three, four, or five weeks of vacation annually will want that reinstated (or grandfathered).  This should be discussed in the final interview, and written into the offer of rehire, so there is no misinterpretation.  If the company is struggling financially, or the alumnus has been gone for several years, HR may insist the rehire restart the PTO accrual rate from the baseline.

Employees love extra benefits offered by employers such as tuition reimbursement or training cost reimbursement.  The company may have tenure restrictions for these benefits, so the alumnus needs to ask for any restrictions to be lifted as part of the rehire offer.  This will ‘make whole’ benefits attained before the employee left.

Many rehired employees have the capacity to negotiate from a point of strength with employers who wish to rehire them.  Smart job seekers can regain benefits, higher salaries, and other tenured perks, if the company has the financial capacity.  No company is legally obligated to provide the grandfathering of benefits, privileges, or perks. But offering these in small or incremental amounts could be a deciding factor to hiring back a special skills or unique employee that can give the company an edge against the competition.  Alumnus should get everything negotiated in the final interview for an offer of (rehire) employment letter so there is no misunderstanding once onboard.

Dawn Boyer is the owner of D. Boyer Consulting (http://dboyerconsulting.com), a human resources consulting firm for small business and 8(a) government contracting companies.  She can be reached at Dawn.Boyer@me.com.

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Alumni benefits: What to expect when rehired

Companies rehire alumni employees because it is beneficial in multi-faceted ways.  Cost savings occur in orientation savings and reduced hours spent on training and recruiting overhead.  Some large corporations have created ‘alumni’ recruiting websites to keep up with ex-employees and use their connections. They use ex-employees’ continued loyalty to the corporation to recruit new hires or rehire employees who may now have valuable new skill sets or experience.  This benefits not only the company, but also the rehire. For example, a seamless benefits reinstatement – if the alumnus has been gone for only a short period.

Savings for HR results in a reduced need for background checks. The alumni employee has already been researched. Or, the time period between termination and rehire was so short a new background check is duplicative. There may be no referrals to call because the alumni’s tenure with the company speaks for itself.  Fewer man-hours are spent on a recruiter’s full-life-cycle of tasks normally required.

The cost of training is minimized, unless the alumnus has missed major changes to policies, markets, products or services.  Many rehires can simply pick up where they were.  Unless the alumnus is placed in a new job or department, there is no need to re-train them on most corporate policies or techniques.  The IT department minimizes overhead costs by reactivating e-mail addresses, access to servers or employee portal, or previous permissions for tasking.

When alumni employees return, whether for an old job or a different position (new department or geographic area), initial expectations may be everything will be the status quo.  If the rehire has been gone more than a month, changes may have occurred as part of a company’s cost-cutting and streamlining, of which the alumni needs to be aware before they sign the re-hire offer of employment.  It is vital Human Resources (HR) or the rehiring manager communicate changes, expectations, and any variation of benefits to the rehire, either during the final interview for a rehire, or within the rehire offer letter.

Offer letters have an annual salary noted, but many companies don’t detail benefits, except to note entitlements to benefits provided to all full-time (and/or designated benefits for part-time) workers.  If there has been an open enrollment period, then co-payments, premium costs, co-payments, or provided benefits may have changed and need to be communicated. Rehired employees usually slip through the communication cracks in the HR department, so alumni has the onus to inquire.

If the employee has been absent for less than 30 days, the employer might be able to re-instate the alumnus or ‘make whole’ without a lot of paperwork.  The insurance vendor might not yet have been notified the employee has left.  If the employee has been gone for over 30 days and enrolled for COBRA, they should have received information about changes in the benefits coverage. If there is no break in insurance, there should be 100% coverage when they re-convert the employee back to the same plan. If the rehire did not elect COBRA benefits and there is a gap of coverage over 30 days, they will be considered a new employee and will most likely have to make elections as a new hire.  This might be to the benefit of the rehire if they don’t have to worry about pre-existing conditions, but may result in a waiting period if there are pre-existing conditions not covered by the recent health care act.

Rehired alumni may be able to negotiate a higher baseline salary; but the company could offer the same salary because they are still struggling. If an alumnus is offered a lower salary, they should remind the employer the cost of a rehire will be drastically reduced compared to a new hire, based on less orientation, retraining, and background checks needed by a recruiter.  This provides a modicum of power to negotiate a higher salary or reinstatement to the status quo.

The employer may wish to consider offering stock options and vesting stock. They may not be able to offer a higher salary, but may have the ability to future incentives via investment. The stock may eventually exceed the ‘lost’ value of the higher or status quo salary.  The alumni takes the gamble the company’s worth will increase when the economy gets better, there is a gain in sales for a new product or service, or even a back-burner R&D project starts to produce. The bet might even revolve around the alumnus’ ability to increase sales.

Employees expect vacation (Paid Time Off [PTO]) and possibly sick leave (if separate from PTO accrual) as part of their benefits rehire package. Employees absent for a short-term period will want their accrual rate reinstated – especially if it was at a higher rate than new hires.  Employees earning three, four, or five weeks of vacation annually will want that reinstated (or grandfathered).  This should be discussed in the final interview, and written into the offer of rehire, so there is no misinterpretation.  If the company is struggling financially, or the alumnus has been gone for several years, HR may insist the rehire restart the PTO accrual rate from the baseline.

Employees love extra benefits offered by employers such as tuition reimbursement or training cost reimbursement.  The company may have tenure restrictions for these benefits, so the alumnus needs to ask for any restrictions to be lifted as part of the rehire offer.  This will ‘make whole’ benefits attained before the employee left.

Many rehired employees have the capacity to negotiate from a point of strength with employers who wish to rehire them.  Smart job seekers can regain benefits, higher salaries, and other tenured perks, if the company has the financial capacity.  No company is legally obligated to provide the grandfathering of benefits, privileges, or perks. But offering these in small or incremental amounts could be a deciding factor to hiring back a special skills or unique employee that can give the company an edge against the competition.  Alumnus should get everything negotiated in the final interview for an offer of (rehire) employment letter so there is no misunderstanding once onboard.

Dawn Boyer is the owner of D. Boyer Consulting (http://dboyerconsulting.com), a human resources consulting firm for small business and 8(a) government contracting companies.  She can be reached at Dawn.Boyer@me.com.

 

Creating a roadmap for hiring new employees = success!

When you own a small business, seeking, identifying, and hiring new employees can be a daunting task.  What questions need to be asked in an interview? What questions might create a lawsuit liability for the company?  What types of records should be kept for the job candidate search to satisfy government agencies?  These questions stymie some business owners simply because they don’t know the answers, don’t have time to look them up, and can’t afford to hire a subject matter expert.

Draw up a road map for the hiring process for the business that becomes a reference policy for hiring actions to avoid mistakes that might cost money and valuable time.  This provides a checklist for action, bullets for task completion, and ensures a fair hiring process for applicants, as well as the company, which helps avoid legal problems.

The first bullet on the hiring plan is to write a job description – not in excruciating detail, but with broad task descriptions, including: 1) expected days and hours of work, 2) required responsibilities performed through a normal workday, 3) physical demands for sitting, computer work, lifting, and 4) to whom to report (supervisor’s title) and whom might report to them. This job description should be provided to every applicant before any interview, allowing them to read and determine continued interest or if they are physically capable of performing the job tasks.

The second bullet is to establish a ‘letterhead’ application form for all job applicants – regardless of what job, when they apply, or whether they are going to be interviewed.  This application provides the company a documented basis upon which to make decisions to interview, allows a peek at past employers, job skills, experience, and education or training.  The application should be completed before the interview regardless of whether a resume is submitted.  The application should be note legal conditions informing the applicant of their and the company’s legal rights, with a section for the applicant’s signature indicating understanding and accepting the legal conditions.

The third bullet is to develop a list of questions for the interview to be asked of every applicant who has reached candidate status based on qualifications.  This fairly ensures no extraneous non-work related questions will be asked. It keeps the interview on a timely schedule and targets only the pertinent KSA information needed to make a hiring decision.  Asking about family size or children, political or religious affiliations, age-related questions, sexual orientation, or ethnic heritage are illegal. Those answers have nothing to do with an applicants’ ability to perform a job in most cases. (If answers are required for the position, the company must be prepared to legally defend the reasoning behind the required information and explain those reasons to the interviewing candidate.)  Hiring managers may ask a candidate if there is anything which would physically keep them from performing the job, and if yes, what accommodations would be needed.  This enables applicants to explain any visible or invisible disabilities, but should not be used as an excuse not to hire if they can perform the job.  If they are the most qualified candidate, handicaps or disabilities should be ignored unless an accommodation is unreasonably cost prohibitive.

It is vital the company keeps a record of all applicants who submit interest via a resume or completed applications coupled with the job description the applicants have considered.  Each of the applications should be kept in a file folder for each job description advertised (if not in an electronic automated tracking system) for review and reporting if the DOL or other government agencies audits the company and its hiring practices. This protects the company by documenting fair hiring practices and protects the company from potential liability issues if applicants make unfair hiring claims against the company.  Any interview notes or questions asked of applicants in an interview should be stapled to the candidate’s application for documentation in the job posting file.

The last to-do on the list is establishing an offer letter. Many businesses have a template ready to complete with the job candidate’s information to make an offer of employment on letterhead stationery.  The offer should include the candidate’s contact information, address, job title, salary offer, hours/days of work, supervisor’s name and number, and other helpful company data, as well as a deadline for the candidate’s response.  If the candidate does not respond within ‘X’ days, the company can legally move forward to the next qualified candidate.  The offer of employment letter should also note the company will perform calls to referrals provided, as well as a background check (if company policy).  It should state any negative commentary from the background check provides the business the legal right to withdraw the offer of employment letter without negative consequences to either party.  When candidates sign the letter and return it, they are providing the legal authority for the company to perform background and reference checks.

Keeping a hiring roadmap on hand keep the process in alignment with company needs and simplifies tasks to be completed.  Documenting each step along the way assists in avoiding potential legal entanglements.  A hiring checklist will enable any hiring manager to easily process applicants, move the qualified job seekers to candidate status, and hire new employees within legal guidelines for a smooth transition.

Dawn Boyer is the owner of D. Boyer Consulting (http://dboyerconsulting.com), a human resources consulting firm for small business and 8(a) government contracting companies.  She can be reached at Dawn.Boyer@me.com.

Human Resources – What’s In Your Company’s Personnel Files?

HUMAN RESOURCES

What’s in your company’s personnel files?

Small business owners who are finally successful enough to start hiring employees are wading into unfamiliar territory when they start the process of hiring, on-boarding, and keeping records of the employee’s tenure with the company, as well as records of disciplinary actions and terminations.  Not keeping the records is providing a ripe arena of liability for the company.  Without liability business insurance, the DOL, EEOC, and other government agencies can swoop in based on employee charges and complaints, and make the owners of the company suffer financial hardships, based on fines, fees, punitive damages, and awards to the employees bringing charges.

As much as managers hate ‘forms’ Human Resources seems to be so fond of, in reality, those forms saves the company hundreds or thousands of dollars in liability costs for employee accusations of unfairness or other legally-based complaints. Many companies are going to computerized record-keeping, with only the minimum of hard copy documents kept in a slim personnel file locked away in a limited-access storage room.  Online recruiting records (job posting, candidates listing, records of numbers of hire), to on-boarding processes of personal information records and benefits sign-ups, to specialized evaluation software, training and development modules or classes, and termination processes are streamlining the entire human asset management process.

Some companies no longer keep electronic records in company servers (to avoid employee’s hacking into the files), but use SaaS (software as a service) programs on the Internet (cloud computing) with specialized security and firewall protection.

What should be in a personnel file or kept as legal employee records – from the mailroom clerk and front desk receptionist up to the CEO?  Below is a list of recommended documents to keep within personnel file folders.

  1. Employee’s application for employment and originally submitted resume.
  2. Signed offer of employment, salary/wage information, employment contracts
  3. Background check results, letters of recommendations, confirmation of education
  4. Signed non-compete, non-disclosure, and company policy acknowledgements
  5. Employment records, tax forms (W-4’s), and payroll deduction authorizations
  6. Signed policy agreements (Code of Conduct, Receipt of Employee Handbook)
  7. Testing results (for hire, promotions, transfers)
  8. Training & development (external/internal), safety training, tuition reimbursement
  9. Time sheets, time-off requests, vacation, attendance reports
  10. Evaluation, performance reviews, and disciplinary actions (each with no less than two manager’s signatures)
  11. Resignation and termination documentation, including exit interviews

Some documents need to be kept out of personnel files – and kept in separate ‘lock-and-key’ locations.  Records relative to I-9’s or E-Verify should be kept in a separate file or binder only human resources have access to for review (and should be audited annually). Below is a list of items to be kept in limited access with even tighter control.

  1. Medical or benefits information, drug-test results, doctor’s notes, etc.
  2. Insurance claims, FMLA, OSHA, or workers’ comp claims
  3. Security or investigative records, complaints, or reports
  4. Personal finance records or personal references and credit reports
  5. Accommodation information for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requests

The workload for creating, maintaining, and updating these records may be physically impossible to keep up with by a trusted internal staff member. An option is to hire a trusted external human resource consultant to audit company records. They can either make recommendations or professionally organize the company records.  While not 100% fail-safe, it’ll be an excellent investment for ensuring the business avoids costly record-keeping based, legal liabilities.

Dawn Boyer is the owner of D. Boyer Consulting (http://dboyerconsulting.com), a human resources consulting firm for small business and 8(a) government contracting companies.  She can be reached at Dawn.Boyer@me.com.

New LinkedIn Class this upcoming Thursday, 9/23/2010 Va. Beach, VA

Build a LinkedIn POWER PROFILE That Will

Get You NOTICED

Thursday, September 23, 2010

(late morning or early evening)

FINALLY!  Training Sessions Designed To Promote YOU!

Do you want to learn?

  • How do you create a LinkedIn Power profile that will get you noticed?
  • Do you want to build a bigger, better, profile that will draw attention to you and/or your company or business?
  • How to establish your credibility as a subject matter expert in your social community?
  • How and why do you join groups?
  • How to find a job or research a company?
  • … and so much more
SIGN UP TODAY!

Space is limited for each of the two-hour sessions.

LOCATION:

College Park Executive Suites, LLC (CPES)

900 Commonwealth Place, Suite 200

Virginia Beach, VA 23464 VALUE PROPOSITION: Business Profits or a Headhunters Goldmine (You!) Presenter: Dawn Boyer THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2010 Organizer: Karen Clements TIME CLASS

  • 10:00 am – 12:00 noon
LinkedIn Power Profiles
  • 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
LinkedIn Power Profiles About the Hostess: RSVP Today!

http://linkedin9-23.eventbrite.com/

Price: Only $30.00 pre-paid, $40.00 at the door. College Park Executive Suites Owner/Manager, Jackie Gilmartin, is hosting this event.

Take time to look around while you are here.  CPES has full-service executive suites with a professional image to accommodate your business needs.

Job Search – Career Question – Test or Audition Task Valid?

Dear Career Coach,

I am interviewing for a corporate marketing job, and have been offered a job (I think), but was asked to do “consulting” marketing feasibility study on a property as an “audition.”

The interviewing company has also asked me to give a four-week notice at my current job.

I am not even sure what to charge…what do I do?

ANSWER:

I’d take this as a test for the credibility of job offer and let the company know there need to be some understandings in place before you do the consulting study as a test / audition:

They want to see if you are savvy enough to know what a consulting job entails.  This is a test to see if you are mature and experienced enough to know there are business standards, agreements to be put into place, and understandings clearly spelled out.

You want to provide them with the best job possible, but at the same time you don’t want to waste hours of your personal time on this ‘audition’ without any compensation for your time, so you would prefer to put some caveat’s in place before you start working.

If it is for a real task the company needs doing (and would have their staff or another external consultant complete otherwise), if you do NOT get the job you will be compensated for the work completed as if you were a W-2 contractor employee, paid via a 1099.  Agree upon a fee per hour for the study and the number of hours – minimum and maximum – for which you’ll perform the work. Otherwise – as appealing as the job is, you are concerned the company is using this as an non-ethical way of getting work completed for them without having to pay for it, and you would have reservations and concerns about working for any company where this is standard behavior for their workforce recruiting methodologies.  You need to get paid for your personal time regardless of whether the completed work is exactly what they were looking for or not (if a restaurant cooks a meal and serves it – you still have to pay for it – whether you were wild about it or the meal was ‘so-so’).

The acceptable standard for providing job resignation notices is two weeks. Given that your current employer might potentially terminate you for exploring new job opportunities (if they get wind), you respectfully wish to offer your current company a two-week notice, upon receipt, signature, and return of your acknowledgement for a written job offer from the testing company.  Ask them if you were let go from your current company, would there be the opportunity to immediately start work versus waiting out the two weeks.   Otherwise, you cannot comfortably give notice to your current employer until the written job offer is in your hand. The written job offer gives you two safety nets: 1) a job you can start on a set date, or 2) written conformation of the offer if they withdraw it, so you can take them to court for damages incurred if you have given up your current job and can’t find another job for weeks (or months) and have a loss of income or are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

If the ‘testing’ company can understand your dilemma, and agree to those caveats, then I wouldn’t have any issues with the assignment. BUT, get everything in writing. Get them to sign a contract for the ‘audition’ so you can take them to court for the wages if they don’t like the project and decide not to pay for your time.  They may back out of the whole deal – but that’s a chance you have to take if you really want the job and it is an ethical offer.

What to charge for your test ‘consulting’ fees per hour?  That’s not an easy to answer question.  It all depends upon the industry, the type of task, the type of work you have to complete to get the task completed, and how much personal time you must invest to complete the project.  Specialized consultants charge between $100 to $250 an hour, while generalized consultants may only charge $50 to $150 an hour.  You can accept minimum wages if you wish – but do get paid for the work, regardless.

Good luck!

Dawn Boyer, Small Business HR, Career Advisor, and LinkedIn Social Media Coach

D. Boyer Consulting, 5428 Whitehurst Arch, Va. Beach, VA  23464

Dawn.Boyer@me.com /http://www.linkedin.com/in/DawnBoyer

Follow me on Twitter: @Dawn_Boyer / Blog:  http://DawnBoyer.wordpress.com

Build your consultancy; earn referral fees: https://www.mavenresearch.com/join/RvXUnrt3

Dawn Boyer is a doctoral student at Old Dominion University in the Darden College of Education, working on her PhD in Occupational Studies and Technology), as well as working as a (Doctoral) Graduate Teaching Assistant teaching computer science and technology to undergraduate students. Ms. Boyer has over 20 years of senior management experience in human resources, of which nine years is in the defense-contracting arena. She also provides HR consulting services via D. Boyer Consulting to small businesses, including dynamically growing 8(a) set-aside defense companies, in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area.