By Liz Witbeck
There are many aspects involved with being a small business owner. Anybody considering starting a company needs to keep in mind key issues involving employees.
“The biggest issue is finding candidates that are qualified and then want to stay in that position,” said Dhianna Yezzi, president and owner of Integrated Staffing, with offices in Saratoga Springs, Glens Falls, and Albany.
Yezzi said the most pressing issue facing employers today is retaining employees.
Noreen DeWire Grimmick, an attorney and partner with Hodgson Russ, said from her perspective there are pieces of legislation taking effect this year that impact business owners and employers should make themselves knowledgeable of the laws. Some of them will be phased in over time.
She said one of the most recent changes to employment laws is that as of Dec. 31, 2016, the minimum wage has increased to $9.70 for most non-exempt employees. For exempt executive and administrative employees, there are also rules regarding the minimum salaries that these employees must earn each week.
Some employers have purposely mis-classified their employees, said DeWire Grimmick. In an attempt to stop employee exploitation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order, passed into law in July, establishing a permanent Joint Task Force on Employee Misclassification and Worker Exploitation.
The Joint Task Force is comprised of 13 state agencies including the Division of Human Rights, Department of Health, Department of Taxation and Finance, State Police, the Workers’ Compensation Board and others. The task force shares information about misclassification of employees and worker exploitation.
“The implications to employers are great,” said DeWire Grimmick. “Clearly employers should be aware that one complaint—no matter how well grounded or not—can open an organization to the attention of a number of agencies all at once. A single investigation, or possibly multiple investigations conducted by one of more of these state agencies, will be expensive and time consuming for employers.”
In April 2016, Cuomo signed legislation to provide paid family leave. DeWire Grimmick said it will be phased in over a four-year period, beginning on Jan. 1, 2018. Leave may be taken for any of the following reasons: to provide for a family member suffering from a health issue; to bond with a child during the first 12 months after birth, adoption, or foster care placement; to attend to obligations because a family member is on active duty.
To qualify, employees must work a minimum 26 consecutive weeks prior to applying for paid family leave. Employees who qualify for paid leave will be entitled to 50 percent of their pay, with a pay cap equal to 50 percent of the New York weekly average pay. When fully phased in, the pay is expected to be set at 67 percent.
She said the legislation will impact more employers in New York state than the he Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a federal law requiring covered employers to provide employees job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons.
“All employers who fall under the scope of the New York State Workers Compensation Law will be obligated to provide paid family leave,” said DeWire Grimmick.
“Since New York employers have another year to prepare for these changes, it is recommended that they become familiar with the legislation, train their personnel, and modify their procedures and policies to be in compliance when the law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.”
Regarding employee retention, Yezzi said she believes that managers are focused on the wrong things during the hiring process.
“A lot of people focus on getting a candidate in, not keeping them,” she said. “As we go into 2017, it’s a question of keeping them happy.”
Business owners must focus on how to retain qualified candidates, said Yezzi. Some effective ways to do this are taking time to understand a candidate’s needs and the unique needs of the workplace. Benefits, employee assistance, vacation days, and flextime are all important things to deal with for employee retention.
She said since the beginning of the new year, Integrated Staffing has helped place 11 people in permanent positions, and placed more in temporary or temporary-to-permanent positions.
Yezzi said for people who need assistance with a job search, Integrated Staffing is holding a resume clinic 5-6 p.m. Tuesdays at the Saratoga Springs office, at 463 Maple Ave., during the month of February. Job seekers can have their resume reviewed and receive advice on their job search.
Employers that may need assistance with understanding the laws surrounding employment can contact DeWire Grimmick at 465-2333.