- Education and Events
- Partners and Marketing
- HR InTouch Newsletter
The Monthly Newsletter of the Greater Madison Area SHRM
In This Edition
Compensation and Benefits
GMA SHRM Social Media
GMA SHRM Upcoming Events
GMA SHRM Announcements
GMA SHRM Member News
I write these words for the December edition of HR InTouch Newsletter as the Thanksgiving Holiday approaches. The occasion reminds me to slow down and indeed offer thanks for all of the contributions that individual GMA SHRM members have made to help our chapter soar!
Some notable people who really stepped up this past year to help us serve our members and the community were:
So as you can see, as the chapter president, I have many people to be thankful for. Without their energy, creativity, ideas, and passion, my work would be so much harder. These individuals, along with many many others whom I haven’t mentioned here (mostly because I have run out of room!), enable our chapter to do all of the great things we do every year.
My primary role as president, it seems, is just keeping up to speed with what everyone is doing! My head spins!
If you see any of these remarkable people over the next several months, make sure that you thank them for all that they have done and continue to do for our chapter. Their energy, along with the work of the Board and many other volunteers, enabled us to win the national SHRM Gold Excel Award for 2013. They helped make great things happen!
Click here to view the full GMA SHRM Board of Directors
Wisconsin’s Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage will Impact Employers on Multiple Fronts
Contributed by Andrew N. DeClercq with Assistance from Jennifer Mirus and the Labor & Employment Practice Group
As of October 6, 2014, the State of Wisconsin has recognized the legality of same-sex marriages. This means that Wisconsin will now recognize the marriage of any same-sex couple that was legally married either before or after October 6, 2014 in a state (or country) that, at the time of the couple’s marriage, recognized same-sex marriage as legal. This includes same-sex marriages conducted in Wisconsin on or after October 6, 2014, as well as those same-sex marriages that occurred in Wisconsin in June of 2014 during the one-week period after Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage was struck down by a federal district court (before the court stayed its decision).
So what does this mean for employers in Wisconsin? As a general matter, it means that employers must now treat same-sex spouses in the same manner as they treat opposite-sex spouses. This general rule will impact employers in a number of ways, the most significant of which are summarized below.
The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. As such, any action by an employer that discriminates against an employee because that employee is in a same-sex marriage could give rise to a discrimination claim under the WFEA. In addition, any action by an employer that treats an employee’s same-sex spouse differently than an employee’s opposite-sex spouse could also lead to a discrimination claim under the WFEA. For example, as discussed in more detail below, employers that offer spousal benefits (e.g., group health insurance) to opposite-sex spouses but not same-sex spouses could be found liable violating the WFEA. Similarly, employers that offer spousal benefits to both same-sex and opposite-sex spouses could be found liable for violating the WFEA if they treat same-sex spouses differently in regard to those benefits (e.g., by requiring proof of marriage for same-sex but not opposite-sex spouses).
Health Insurance Benefits
Any employer that offers spousal benefits under a group health plan will need to consider how Wisconsin’s recognition of same-sex marriage impacts its plan. And, while the general rule that all spouses must be treated the same generally applies, there are some wrinkles in regard to health plans that employers must consider. The nature of these wrinkles will depend on the type of health plan (e.g., insured or self-insured) and employer (e.g., public sector or private sector) at issue.
Prior to Wisconsin’s recognition of same-sex marriage, many employers voluntarily chose to offer spousal benefits to same-sex spouses under their group health plans. Until June of 2013, when the Supreme Court issued its decision in United States v. Windsor recognizing same-sex marriages for purposes of federal law, spousal benefits for same-sex spouses were (unlike spousal benefits for opposite-sex spouses) subject to both state and federal income taxes. As such, employers that offered health benefits to same-sex spouses were required to impute income to account for the taxation of those benefits under state and federal law. After the Windsor decision, the federal income tax rules changed, but the Wisconsin rules did not. Employers offering health benefits to same-sex spouses therefore no longer had to impute income for federal income tax purposes but still had to impute income for Wisconsin income tax purposes.
Other Employee Benefits
As with benefits under a group health insurance plan, if an employer offers any other types of spousal benefits, those benefits likely must now be provided to same-sex spouses on the same terms that they are provided to opposite-sex spouses. For ERISA-covered benefits plans, there may be a preemption argument that might permit an employer to avoid this general requirement, but the same issues discussed above in regard to ERISA preemption as it relates to employer-sponsored group health plans would apply.
Now that Wisconsin has recognized same-sex marriage, employers will be required to treat both same-sex and opposite-sex spouses in the same manner for purposes of leave under both the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act (WFMLA) and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). For example, leave for the serious health condition of a spouse will have to be made available equally for both same-sex and opposite-sex spouses. Depending on how an employer’s FMLA policy is currently drafted, the policy may need to be amended to account for this change
Domestic Partner Benefits
Wisconsin recognizes domestic partnership under two separate sets of laws. Chapter 40 of the Wisconsin Statutes includes provisions regarding domestic partnerships for purposes of the Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF). These rules permit both same-sex and opposite-sex couples to establish a domestic partnership for purposes of benefits administered by ETF. Chapter 770 of the Wisconsin statutes includes provisions that permit same-sex couples to establish domestic partnerships for purposes of Wisconsin law. Domestic partners under Chapter 770 are eligible for a number of benefits provided for under various Wisconsin statutes (e.g., WFMLA leave), but they are not entitled to the full range of benefits available to a legally married couple. In addition to domestic partnerships under the Wisconsin statutes, many employers have also opted to offer domestic partner benefits under their benefit plans (e.g., health insurance coverage for domestic partners). In general, these domestic partner benefits are determined by the terms of the employer’s plan
Warning about Work from Home
Contributed by Christine Wittleder, UW Health
Employees who work from home usually have to log-in to the company system before they can start. "Log-in" is necessary in order to "clock-in" and begin work. The DOL has now taken the position that these daily log-ins and log-outs may be paid time if they take six or more minutes. The FLSA has a de minimus provision exempting trivial amounts of time. (See U.S. Supreme Court case Sandifer v. U.S. Steel.) However, regular short periods may be different, because they add up. Just six minutes a day is 30 minutes a week and 26 hours a year, or more. So, this is fair warning to look at what is required for people to get in and out of the system when working from home or other remote locations.
In Hochstether v. IBM (D. Mich., 2014), a technical writer with an autoimmune disorder requested an accommodation of a reduced work schedule. As a salaried employee she was working 60, or more, hours per week. The company clearly understood that its goals required this sort of time commitment. Her doctor verified that her condition would not allow her to work that many hours without serious health and safety consequences. She asked for a 45 hour per week work limit. The company granted the lowered hours but would not lower the production goals. It told her that she must still meet the original goals as an essential function of the job. The employee was then laid off for failing to meet goals. The court found that there was a valid claim under the ADA. "A reduction in hours but refusing to decrease workload constitutes a failure to make a reasonable accommodation" and IBM failed to show that the original production goals were essential functions which could not be reduced.
Local compensation data is hard to find and the GMA SHRM Compensation survey is a great resource!
Losing a key employee over compensation can be expensive (recruiting costs, training a new employee, etc.) and so can over paying employees. The new GMA SHRM Compensation Survey Report will provide local compensation data related to Base Pay, Total Cash Compensation, Salary Range Information and Pay Practices.
About the 2014 GMA SHRM Compensation Survey
Interested in obtaining your PHR or SPHR? Sign-up for a study group!
Each year, GMA SHRM offers a study group for those preparing for the PHR or SPHR certifications. The meetings are focused on open discussion/dialogues for participants on topics in any of the modules as well as test taking skills. If you are interested in participating in a study group, please contact the chapter office at firstname.lastname@example.org. The study group participants will work out a mutually beneficial meeting location and time.
The Literacy Network offers a variety of courses, tutoring and other services to Dane County community adults to further reading, writing and speaking skills. Specifically the Literacy Network offers customized language instruction to improve employees' English communication skills both on and off the job. Literacy Network excels at developing programs tailor-designed to meet your company's specific workplace needs. If you are interested in learning more please visit us at: http://litnetwork.org/programs/index.php?category_id=4493
GMA SHRM Social Media
Our Member Directory is Now Mobile Friendly!
Wish you could stay connected with GMA SHRM members? Now you can search for a member, call, e-mail or find directions to their listed location and be confident that it’s up to date. Check it out today, you can now stay better connected to GMA SHRM members and it’s just a click away at http://www.gmashrm.org/mobile
Want to know what’s going on in HR for the other areas of Wisconsin? WI SHRM has a new blog, Forward HR. Click here to take a look.
2015 WI SHRM Student Conference and HR Games Competition
The 2015 WISHRM Student Conference and HR Games Competition will be held on March 6th and 7th, 2015 at UW Whitewater. Volunteers are needed to help out as judges, presenters, timekeepers and scorekeepers/matrix managers. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend so you can help make a difference in the lives of our future HR Leaders. Visit http://www.wishrm.org/2015-HRGames to register and sign up for volunteer opportunities. This is a great event that needs HR Professionals to be successful! For immediate questions, please contact Matt Nechodom, PHR, 2015 College Relations Director at email@example.com or 888-374-7121 ext. 38692.
Would you like to help write the strategic plan for our chapter’s future? Want to know more about how we sort through our strategic options to set an agenda for the coming year? Curious about how the Board of Directors works? If the answer to any one of these questions is “YES!” then have we got a deal for you!
Join us on January 9th for a day-long (8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) examination of where we are today as a chapter, where we want to be, and what strategies and goals we’ll follow to help us achieve our destination. We’ll be reviewing our current three-year strategic plan; dig deep into the array of services we currently provide you, our members; and together refine our strategic plan for 2015.
This is an exciting time for GMA SHRM – we have a lot going for us – and we would love to have you join us to help write the next chapter for our chapter!
Please RSVP by e-mailing our President Jeff Russell (Jeff@RussellConsultingInc.com) or our President-elect Dawn Koopman (DKoopman@milios.com) to let us know you’d like to participate. We’ll follow-up with more details closer to the date. See you on January 9th to help us start the New Year off on a great start!
We are in the beginning stages of forming our new committee, Technology & Social Media, which is spinning off from the Marketing & Communications committee. The new committee will be responsible for website revisions, social media posting, and coming up with new ways for our members to engage and collaborate via technology (the exciting part!). If you are interested in joining the committee, please contact Melissa Versnik at (608)826-1122 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Member: Tom O’Day
Where do you currently work?
Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.
What is the focus of your position?
Employment and Labor Law.
How long have you been in the Human Resource field?
Which of your career accomplishments makes you proudest?
In 2012, I had the honor of testifying before the Wisconsin Legislature about proposed legislation to benefit employers in the discrimination process. It was a wonderful way to mix my passion for policy and politics with my passion for employment law and my job as an employment attorney.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
You “may profit by their experience without paying the price which it cost them.” John Jay, Federalist #5 (for all those other political science geeks out there).
Why did you decide to join GMA SHRM?
The networking opportunities in SHRM in general are amazing; I had always heard that GMA SHRM was one of the best—if not the best—chapters in the country. The participation and excitement in the organization is very evident even in my short time in Madison.
Welcome New Members!
GMA SHRM welcomes the following members who joined our chapter in October 2014!
Have you started with a new company? Has your organization recently promoted you to a new position? Or do you want to recognize a new person or promotion within your department? If so, we want to hear about it. Send us an e-mail, and we’ll publish your good news in the next HR InTouch!
If you are a member who is in between jobs, or who is currently employed but seeking new positions or career paths, write us a brief description of your skill set, areas of expertise, what you’re looking for, etc. Send us an e-mail. We’ll publish your information in the next HR InTouch.
HR InTouch Guidelines
Do you have an interest in writing for the HR InTouch? We have an interest in learning more about your area of expertise!
Why should you volunteer? Top three reasons: 1) to share your knowledge and experiences to educate others; 2) to become more connected in the HR and Dane County communities; and 3) to contribute towards the advancement of GMA SHRM and the HR profession.
The first step is for you to choose a submission option: you can pre-submit an article to GMA SHRM at any time for us to use in any of the upcoming newsletters, you can sign up to write for a particular month, or we can put you on a list of people to contact in future months whenever we need articles.
Because the HR InTouch is now in an online format, the size is flexible. The article should be engaging and hold readers’ attention. Include the core information in your article, and we will advise if it is too lengthy.
GMA SHRM is conscious not to allow solicitation through the articles, in an effort to protect the interests of our partners and members. The nature of the article should be educational (i.e., what are the business advantages of having a product like yours) or informational. Otherwise, if you truly are interested in advertising through the HR InTouch, you can work with our Marketing Committee. As a rule of thumb for article writing, if the submission relates to a for-profit event, or specifically markets your company (vs. your industry), it is an advertisement, and should be purchased. If it is a not-for-profit event that your company is hosting, or an announcement (i.e., a SHRM member recently joined your company), it is an acceptable addition to the HR InTouch content. If you have any questions related to the appropriateness of your submission, please contact us.
If you have questions, or to submit an article, contact GMA SHRM at email@example.com .