By Anthony Dix, PHR GMA SHRM President
As your president, I am starting my term with great excitement and a renewed commitment to serving the HR professional and advancing the HR profession. It is a great time for fresh ideas and opportunities for change. As president of GMA SHRM, I have the wonderful opportunity to interact with many of our membership. I am constantly overwhelmed by the talent, knowledge and wisdom of our members. I am also acutely aware of the time and energy our members and volunteers put into this organization. As a professional association, GMA SHRM will continue to provide members with an opportunity to experience value and achieve success.
When we ask members to volunteer on a committee, serve on the board or even attend a monthly meeting, we strive to extend the invitation in such a way that it compliments what they are already doing. I encourage you to look at your professional career pathway and then look to GMA SHRM as a vehicle to add value to yourself and your organization. I encourage you to attend some of our monthly meetings, get involved in a committee meeting or just network and share your knowledge and expertise. We have many opportunities through GMA SHRM and many options to help our members achieve balance.
I hope you will join me in that excitement and commitment, as collectively we can increase the growing appreciation of the HR profession and the role we play in adding value through effective human capital management.
As all of you know, GMA SHRM is celebrating its 50 th anniversary. Stay tuned for more fun activities to recognize this great milestone in the months ahead.
I wish all of you a fun and safe Fourth of July and thank you for the honor to serve as your president in 2007-2008.
I look forward to meeting and working with all of you!
Anthony J. Dix, PHR
President, GMA SHRM
Going Global - Getting Started Internationally
By Adam Jensen, JD, CEBS, FLMI, Virchow Krause Employee Benefits
Every year, a growing number of U.S. employers elect to enter the global market. While they expect some challenges associated with entering new markets, most do not anticipate the myriad of international employment issues that quickly confront them. Here we will examine some of the challenges facing employers entering the international arena using U.S. employees.
Whom Do You Hire?
The first challenge an employer faces is the basic decision of whom to employ. Companies must decide whether to use U.S. personnel, hire local country nationals (LCNs), third country nationals (TCNs) or some mix of the three. Employers must decide whether U.S. employees are “seconded”, that is go on a temporary assignment in the new host country and remain U.S. employees, or whether they become “expatriates” who are transferred to the payrolls of the foreign operations.
Seconded or Expatriate?
Many U.S. employers begin their international operations with U.S. employees who are technical experts, senior operations executives or sales/distribution professionals. Typically their purpose is to start the international operation and then return within months or a year. Retaining these employees on the U.S. payroll and temporarily assigning them overseas minimizes disruption to their social security, health care coverage, and retirement benefits. Whether an employee is subject to local employment laws is based on whether they are seconded or an expatriate. Using seconded U.S. personnel is a way of breaking into global business while minimizing local law exposure. Many countries mandate costly employment termination payments whenever a worker leaves or retires from an employer. These payments can be required for U.S. expatriates at the end of their assignment because expatriates are subject to local employment laws. Employers who use seconded employees are frequently able to avoid these local termination payments because the seconded employees are still U.S. employees and are not terminating employment locally.
One Foreign Assignment or Many?
Once an employer has decided on whether to second an employee or transfer them as an expatriate, then they must decide on the length of assignment. Will this be a single assignment or is the person a globally-mobile employee (GME) who will go from one foreign posting to another throughout his or her career? Some employers entering the international scene choose to hire a seasoned GME who is familiar with international dealings, rather than developing a current domestic employee. Although GMEs can be seconded repeatedly, many employers choose to second employees only for their initial international assignment and then designate them as expatriates for subsequent assignments.
What Else Should You Consider Before the Assignment Begins?
International assignment agreements setting out the terms and conditions of the assignment should be considered before an employee leaves the U.S. Another important consideration for employers is whether to offer “equalization” to keep the international employee’s standard of living equal to that of their home country. Other pre-assignment issues to consider are “Net/Gross” salary agreements and other allowances, foreign resident, work permit, immigration, and host country taxes. Employers must also consider appropriate post-assignment jobs with a career path to avoid foreign assignments from becoming career limiting moves for valued employees.
Where Do You Go for Benefits?
The choice of “secondment” or expatriate drives where U.S. employees must go to obtain their health & welfare, social security, and retirement benefits. Whereas the vast majority of Americans obtain their benefits through an employer, outside the U.S. employees face a complex mix of government-provided benefits that may or may not be supplemented by employer plans. A U.S. employee who is transferred to the payroll of the foreign operation cannot participate in the U.S. medical or retirement plan. The U.S. employee also falls under the host country’s version of Social Security, which can differ greatly from the U.S. system. Repeated foreign postings across multiple countries can potentially leave employees with little or no Social Security benefits of any sort. The U.S. has a system of international agreements with many foreign governments called “totalization agreements” that allow employees to remain in their home country’s social security system for a specified period of time, usually five years. Totalization agreements also eliminate dual Social Security taxation, the situation that occurs when a worker from one country works in another country and is required to pay Social Security taxes to both countries on the same earnings. Employers should investigate whether the prospective host country has a totalization agreement with the U.S. prior to the international assignment.
Government or Employer-Paid Benefits?
Expatriates will find that most governments outside the U.S. have some type of socialized medical system and pension which provide varying levels of benefits. Many countries then mandate employer-paid programs in addition to the government plans. It is customary in many companies for employers to make supplemental plans available in addition to the mandatory retirement plans. Seconded employees are usually not eligible for host country medical programs and sometimes are also not allowed to remain on the U.S. plan due to insurance carrier rules. These employees must then be put on international group policies or individual global insurance polices. Employers must be sure that the insurer they select offers them a policy that is admitted in the host country. Employers can save costs on foreign medical coverage by starting their employees on a business travel accident/medical policy during their initial 30 days in-country. Depending on the local host country’s quality and availability of medical care, employers may wish to obtain “evacuation” coverage to bring the U.S. employee home in case of a medical emergency.
These are just a few of the many issues employers face when they decide to enter the global marketplace. HR leaders can develop internal expertise as well as seek out external resources. There is a wide variety of consulting and business services networks, including those with local experts across the globe, available to assist with a lobal expansion .
Adam P. Jensen is a Senior Consultant with Virchow Krause Employee Benefits, LLC and has worked in the insurance and employee benefits industry since 1986. Adam specializes in providing regulatory compliance and plan design services for health and welfare plans and qualified retirement plans. He also advises executive clients on non-qualified deferred compensation issues.
2007 Diversity Advocate Award Nominations
Why is this award offered?
To recognize an individual who has been a role model in their local community as a strong advocate for diversity in human resources.
Who is eligible?
Persons nominated for this award should:
- Have worked for diversity in their local community.
- Be a role model for others in their advocacy of diversity.
- Have demonstrated leadership in championing the cause of racial, cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and other aspects of diversity within the human resources profession and community.
- Be a resident of the State of Wisconsin or be employed by a company in the State of Wisconsin.
- While the individual need not be a human resources professional, s/he must have done work that advanced diversity within the human resources community.
Who can nominate?
- Nominations may be submitted by a member of the Wisconsin State Council of SHRM (e.g., SHRM Chapter Presidents, Functional Directors, Regional Directors, or Officers)
Nominations may also be submitted by a Chapter Diversity Advocate/Chair from a Wisconsin SHRM Chapter. (Local Chapter Members and Chapter Board Members may prepare nominations for submission by their SHRM Chapter President or Chapter Diversity Advocate/Chair.)
How can one nominate?
When are nominations due?
- A completed nomination m ust be received by July 15, 2007, for consideration.
How are recipients selected?
- Nominations will be reviewed by a Diversity Awards Committee of the Wisconsin State Council of SHRM.
Completed nominations should be sent electronically to Anthony Dix, GMA SHRM President.
The award will be given out at the 2007 State Conference in LaCrosse, October 10-12.
Preventing Liability Arising From Company-Sponsored Parties
by Nancy N. Stott, HR Information & Solutions Director, MRA
Everyone loves a good party. Companies sometimes host parties, tailgates, or picnics to celebrate a holiday, a milestone, or just to say thank you to staff. However good the intentions, it is important that employers understand the potential liability these types of events entail so they can plan to minimize the risks.
Serving alcohol at a company function is fraught with problems, but many employers elect to do so anyway. If you are one of them, you should make every effort to structure the event to minimize the company’s legal exposure. The organization could face liability if employees consume alcohol at your party and are involved in an automobile crash after leaving the party.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has an interesting and informative Web site that includes a guide to aid in throwing a safe party where alcohol is served (http://www.madd.org/madd_programs/4841). A few of MADD’s many suggestions for reducing the company’s liability for alcohol-related injuries include:
- Review appropriate party behavior with employees before the party.
- Hold the party off the company’s premises and have a third party bartender serve the drinks.
- Be sure the bartender has had server training to prevent over-serving and serving guests under the legal drinking age.
- Promote the designated driver concept.
- Offer non-alcoholic beverages for designated drivers and others who prefer not to drink alcohol.
- Close the bar 90 minutes before the party ends and serve a great dessert treat with coffee. Remember, only time sobers someone who has been drinking.
- Do not allow employees to drive if they have consumed too much alcohol—drive them home, arrange for a ride with another guest who is sober, or call a cab.
Another problem that can arise as a result of company-sponsored parties is sexual harassment—by a coworker, a coworker’s guest, or a manager. Employers have an obligation to investigate all claims of sexual harassment and may be liable for failing to take timely and appropriate action to stop the harassment. Employers have significant liability in cases where a member of management has harassed a subordinate. Employers can minimize the risk of sexual harassment claims arising out of parties by:
- Reviewing the company’s anti-harassment policy with employees and managers prior to the party.
- Selecting a party location that does not invite trouble (no hot tubs!).
- Encouraging the prompt reporting of any alleged incidents of harassment.
Serving alcohol at the party can compound the problem since alcohol tends to loosen inhibitions and cause people to do things they would not do if they were sober.
To help curb both excessive drinking and harassment, it is important to designate several members of management who are responsible for oversight at the event. They circulate at the party, keeping a watchful eye for inappropriate behavior and “nipping it in the bud” where necessary. Handling employees who are behaving inappropriately at an early stage will save many headaches later.
Employers and employees should understand that the party is an extension of the workplace. You wouldn’t proceed without a business plan and you should not proceed without a plan to protect the organization from liability when the company sponsors a party—particularly if alcohol is served at the party. Check out the MADD Web site and take precautions to avoid any potential problems. Then you should be able to relax and enjoy your holiday party!
Nancy N. Stott is HR Information & Solutions Director for MRA. Nancy has helped hundreds of employers find workable solutions to their employment challenges, including managing family leave issues, responding to charges of discrimination or harassment in the workplace, understanding benefits issues, complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws affecting employment. Nancy graduated cum laude from Marquette Law School. Prior to joining MRA, she spent 16 years as employment counsel for a major Milwaukee manufacturing company.
MRA provides over 2300 member organizations the talent, tools and training to effectively harness the power of their workforce: www.mranet.org; 800.488.4845.
Website of the Month: The Library of Congress
Last month, HR InTouch introduced members to the state legislative website where HR professionals can track the progress of bills and committee action related to issues affecting a company’s business and workforce. On a federal level, the Library of Congress offers a similar site at www.thomas.gov, named after founding father and third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson. Despite the enormous amount of information it tracks, the website has a simple and user-friendly home page to help you get started.
Front and center on the homepage is a search box where you can enter a bill number or words/phrases to review legislation in the current Congress. If you have a specific bill number, you may have better success narrowing down the search results. For example, H.R. 800 takes you directly to the history and current status of the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill which amends the National Labor Relations Act. By clicking on the links, you can read the text of the resolution. On the other hand, if you enter “paid sick leave”, you still get a good, narrowed-down list providing links to the versions of the Healthy Families Act, introduced by both the House and Senate, regarding paid sick leave.
Unlike the Wisconsin legislative site, however, the Library of Congress site does not offer a tracking mechanism to notify you of changes on certain pieces of legislation. The site continues to offer enhancements, so visitors may want to check in the future for improved methods to track federal legislation.
Committee Spotlight: Workforce Readiness
By Karol Buckingham, GMA SHRM Director of Workforce Readiness
The Workforce Readiness Committee has been very active for the past several months, keeping Mike Leibundgut (co-director), Melissa Perry (committee chair), and our volunteers busy. We recently completed a resume writing series at Shabazz High School in Madison and have been asked back for another session in September for the careers class. The Workforce Readiness Committee has been asked back for our fourth series at the Wisconsin Youth Company. The summer session, which begins July12 th, still needs volunteers—what a great project for your office to take on as a team! In addition, our volunteers continue to donate their time and expertise to the Common Wealth Development program by conducting mock interviews and providing feedback to middle and high-school students in Madison and the surrounding area.
We are also developing relationships with WorkSource Wisconsin and WC Connection. WorkSource Wisconsin is a collaborative project between Pathways of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin Stout Vocational Institute. The project focuses on educating employers on hiring, managing, and retaining qualified workers with disabilities. WC Connection is a program serving as a liaison between public schools and the vocational technical colleges in Wisconsin.
Also, coming up this fall the Workforce Readiness Program will be involved in the following activities: Workforce Readiness Committee Volunteer Orientation (date and location TBD) and workforce readiness sessions at The Salvation Army Homeless Shelter, the Dane County Job Center, and the State of WI Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
We welcome member input. If you know any community-based organizations that would benefit from our workforce readiness programs, please let us know!
Also, a special thanks to Mike Leibundgut, Co-Director of the Workforce Readiness Committee, for all of his time and effort in making this program successful! Congratulations on your new GMA SHRM Board position!
Welcome New Members!
GMA SHRM welcomes the following members who joined our chapter in May.
Ann E. Bakken, PHR
Merrick Animal Nutrihan, Inc
Assistant General Counsel
American Family Insurance
Nicole M. Joraanstad
Administrator - Recruitment & Talent Services
Benefits & Communication Manager
H.E. Stark Agency, Inc
GMA SHRM Past President Tim Seifriz, SPHR has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C).
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!
Non-Profit Seeks HR Board Member
The Interfaith Hospitality Network of the Madison Area (IHN) serves homeless children and their families in Dane County. We run a shelter network, housing stabilization programs, the Second Chance Apartment project and support the Tenant's Advocacy Group (TAG). IHN is a non-profit, United Way agency. http://ihnmadison.org/
They are currently seeking a candidate to serve on our board of directors who has experience in human resources management. This position will also serve on our personnel committee with our diversity officer. The main responsibility of that committee is to evaluate the executive director of IHN, and review current personnel policies. Interested parties should contact IHN's nominating committee members Jason Punzel at 608-209-1862 or Sona Olson at 608-257-1896 for more information.
Cost Transparency in Retirement Plans, 8 to 10:30 am, Sheraton Hotel, 706 John Nolen Dr. Presented by the Madison Chapter of the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (CEBS), the seminar will discuss understanding different fees in a retirement plan as well as revenue sharing, advisor compensation, disclosure, and much more. HRCI approved for one credit. Cost is $25 for members and non-members/guests. Register by July 13, 2007. Phone: (262) 786-9771, web: http://www.iscebs.org/chapters/lcreg6.asp#mad.
CALL FOR PROPOSALS FOR CAREERS CONFERENCE 2008, Deadline: August 30, 2007. The Center on Education and Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Education is holding its 22 nd annual Careers Conference January 28-30, 2008 at the Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club in Madison. The Careers Conference is one of the most diverse gatherings of its kind, with information for anyone with an interest in education for work or career development. It offers comprehensive information for those providing career services at any level, to all ages and abilities. Educators, counselors, and school-to-work professionals are invited to share their experience and expertise as a presenter of a concurrent or roundtable session. This national event is one of the leading conferences of its kind, focusing on all aspects of career development and education for work, serving levels from Kindergarten through Adult. For information, visit: http://www.cew.wisc.edu/careers
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 .