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Drug Testing For Public Agencies
Posted on April 3, 2018 by Andrea Shindlebower in Drug Testing

Drug Testing For Public Agencies

We expect employees to come to work free of their personal issues. However, a personal struggle as all-consuming as addiction will inevitably spill into the professional realm.  That is why it is crucial for employees and supervisors alike to understand how addiction manifests itself in the workplace and to have a thorough knowledge of related city personnel policies.

Personnel policies should begin by emphasizing in positive terms the need for safety in the workplace and adherence to job requirements and work quality, and go on to cite goals such as improving safety and productivity.

When writing or amending policies, cities also need to keep in mind that the laws regarding governmental drug testing policies, unlike for the private sector, place restrictions on who, what, when and how the testing can be done.  Governmental employers must have a compelling justification for testing or risk violation of the employee’s Fourth Amendment rights.

Under a city policy, employees can be tested based on reasonable suspicion, post-accident and pre-employment (only after a conditional offer of employment).  Random testing, unlike in the private sector, is reserved for those employees who are considered safety-sensitive.  These employees have safety-sensitive responsibilities to citizens within the areas of public safety.  Examples of such employees include:

  • Police officers
  • Emergency dispatchers
  • Firefighters
  • Emergency medical personnel
  • Heavy equipment operators
  • Employees with commercial driver’s license (CDL)
  • Mechanics that work on CDL-regulated vehicles
  • Gas pipeline workers
  • Personnel who drive vehicles carrying senior citizens, handicapped peopled or children
  • Lifeguards

 

Before doing any type of testing, a written policy must be in place and a copy of the policy should be given to all employees at least 60-90 days in advance of the start of testing.  This allows any employee with a drug or alcohol addiction to seek rehabilitation.  And be certain that all employees sign a receipt of acknowledgement that they have received, understood and agree to abide by the policy.

Your policy must explain how, when, where and for what reason testing may occur and outline the steps that will be taken to ensure employee confidentiality. The records should be stored and locked separately from general employment records with access to these records only on a strict need-to-know basis.  It should also explain the consequences of an employee’s refusal to test, interference in the testing process, or a positive test. 

In addition, it is important that the policy address federally regulated employees (such as CDL) separately.  One of the main differences is the requirement that federally regulated employees are randomly tested in their own separate pool.   The federal regulations also require that a Medical Review Officer (MRO) review the drug tests before they are given back to the employer.  Even though this is only a requirement for federally regulated employees, it is recommended that an MRO be used for all the city’s drug testing, since they are formally trained and certified. 

Lastly, the policy should also set out guidelines for mandatory training for both supervisors and employees.   The ability to know the ins and outs of testing can only be ascertained through sufficient training.  Remember that lack of knowledge can lead to liability issues that cities cannot afford.  KLC provides free training on our website for employees and supervisors that complies with the requirements for federally regulated employees as well as for cities that maintain the certified Kentucky Drug-Free Workplace status through the Kentucky Department of Labor. 

A drug and alcohol policy addresses much more than drug-testing in the workplace. An effective policy is a legally compliant policy that provides employee awareness and education, supervisor training and a plan of action. Taken together, it conveys a full, comprehensive program designed specifically to meet the needs of your city and that will set expectations for current and future employees. 

For questions on this or other personnel matters, contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, personnel services specialist.

 

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2018 Form W-4 Released February 28th
Posted on March 15, 2018 by Andrea Shindlebower in Employee Forms

2018 Form W-4 Released February 28th

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released an updated Withholding Calculator earlier this year and a new version of Form W-4 this week, to assist taxpayers in checking their 2018 tax withholding following passage of the new tax law in December.  The changes in the new tax law include increasing the standard deduction, removing personal exemptions, increasing the child tax credit, limiting or discontinuing certain deductions and changing the tax rates and brackets. Because of the changes, the IRS is encouraging taxpayers to use the tax calculator to make sure they have the correct amount of tax taken out of their paychecks.  Any employees that wish to change their deductions will need to fill out the 2018 version of the Form W-4.  Employers should also begin using this form for any new hires and should have begun using the new income-tax withholding tables no later than February 15 of this year. 

For more information on this or any personnel-related matters contact Andrea Shindlebower, personnel services specialist.   

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Spring Forward ... Straight Time or Overtime?

Spring Forward … Straight time or overtime?

That can be the question when clocks are set forward one hour March 11th

The arrival of daylight saving time requires clocks to be moved forward one hour at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 11. Shift workers who are on duty at that time and who normally work an eight-hour shift will actually work only seven hours.

"Some employers decide to pay the normal eight hours of pay for that shift as a matter of policy, but under the Fair Labor Standards Act, they are not required to include the additional hour of pay when calculating an employee's regular rate for overtime," noted Heidi Henson, JD, CCH workplace analyst.

For example, if someone actually works 40 hours in the week, the additional hour's pay for that daylight-saving hour would be at straight time, not overtime.  Even if the employee works over 40 hours in the city’s defined workweek, that one hour would not have to be included in the overtime calculations.

For more information or sample policies on this or any other personnel related matters contact Andrea Shindlebower, personnel services specialist.  

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Get Required Workplace Posters at No Charge 

HR Weekly News -

Get Required Workplace Posters at No Charge 

Kentucky statutes and federal regulations enforced by agencies within the Department of Labor require that certain posters or notices be posted in a conspicuous area in the workplace.  Posting requirements vary by statute; that is, not all employers are covered by each of the Department of Labor's federal or state statutes and thus may not be required to post a specific notice. 

However, for those posters and notices that cities must post, there is no need for cities to purchase from companies, as cities can find all the required posters at no cost on the following links:

Kentucky Safety Poster:
https://kysafe.ky.gov/services/Pages/Publications.aspx

Kentucky Child Labor Laws:
https://labor.ky.gov/Documents/KY%20Child%20Labor%20Poster%20English.pdf

Kentucky Wage and Hour:
https://labor.ky.gov/Documents/KY%20Wage%20and%20Hour%20Poster%20English.pdf

Kentucky Wage Discrimination:
https://labor.ky.gov/Documents/KY%20Wage%20Discrimination%20Poster%20English.pdf

Kentucky Unemployment:
https://labor.ky.gov/Documents/ui_ben5_1_0108.pdf

Kentucky Equal Employment Opportunity:
https://labor.ky.gov/Documents/Equal%20Employment%20Opportunitiy%20Poster%20English.pdf

The US Department of Labor website also provides assistance for employers in deciding which federal posters are required at https://www.dol.gov/general/topics/posters, as well as providing those posters for free. 

KLC strives to notify cities of new poster requirements and changes as they occur; however, all city employers should check the above link and the Federal and State Department of Labor websites frequently as the statutory laws and federal regulations can change.  Failure to comply with the requirements for posting can result in fines of up to $7,500 per inspection.

For more information on this or any personnel-related matters contact Andrea Shindlebower, personnel services specialist.   

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Spring Forward … Straight time or overtime?

Spring Forward … Straight time or overtime?

That can be the question when clocks are set forward one hour March 11th

The arrival of daylight saving time requires clocks to be moved forward one hour at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 11. Shift workers who are on duty at that time and who normally work an eight-hour shift will actually work only seven hours.

"Some employers decide to pay the normal eight hours of pay for that shift as a matter of policy, but under the Fair Labor Standards Act, they are not required to include the additional hour of pay when calculating an employee's regular rate for overtime," noted Heidi Henson, JD, CCH workplace analyst.

For example, if someone actually works 40 hours in the week, the additional hour's pay for that daylight-saving hour would be at straight time, not overtime.  Even if the employee works over 40 hours in the city’s defined workweek, that one hour would not have to be included in the overtime calculations.

For more information or sample policies on this or any other personnel related matters contact Andrea Shindlebower, personnel services specialist.   

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Romance in the Workplace
Posted on February 5, 2018 by Andrea Shindlebower in Romance in the workplace

Weekly HR News –

Romance in the Workplace

Love is in the air!  And unfortunately for cities, sometimes that love can come in the form of those in employee relationships.  So what is an employer to do about these situations? 

Some employers choose to enact policies that complete ban romantic relationships in the workplace, but even this is not without its own set of issues.  By completely banning you can force employees that are in a romantic relationship to go into hiding, which leaves the city completely unaware and unprepared for the issues that may result.  By not dealing with this out in the open it can be the source of even bigger problems down the road.

Other employers choose to allow it to happen as long as there is disclosure.  This can also create problems of its own.  Many employees will perceive that preferential treatment is being received by a coworker based on their relationship, especially when one is in a supervisory role over the other. 

No matter the policy that your city enacts, you need to review your ethics ordinance and personnel policies to see what they say about employees and supervisory relationships.  In addition, does this relationship create a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest and is it the subject of office gossip?  Any relationship, whether it is causal or romantic should not have a negative impact on city business.  And lastly, if love goes south, an employee can claim retaliation and harassment based on the previous relationship, which along with many other problems, may prove to be costly in court.

So how can the city protect itself from love gone wrong? 

  • First, have a clearly written policy with expectations set out in an easy to read and understand format.  And, it is recommended that those in supervisory positions should not be allowed to date subordinates under any circumstances. 
  • Second, if your city ethics ordinance applies to city employees, and your nepotism policy applies to dating relationships, be certain that it is also included in the personnel policy. 
  • Lastly make sure that your sexual harassment policy is up to date, has a clearly established complaint procedure and that all employees and supervisors are trained on what the policy states and what it requires.

Running a city is not all champagne and roses, so you need to protect the city by being proactive.  One of the ways to do this is to have a current and legally compliant personnel policy.  If your city needs to update personnel policies you need to work with someone who not only has expertise in personnel law and human resource matters, but someone who knows municipal law as well.  KLC can offer this expertise in a way that is specific to your city needs.  Whether it is creating or reviewing city personnel policies, providing training on your city policies, sexual harassment, or on a variety of specialized HR topics, we have you covered.  For more information on this service or any other personnel related matters contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, personnel services specialist.   

 

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