The Modern Office & Managing the Risk

modern officeToday’s employers are placing a premium on employee wellness and engagement. And rightfully so, hard working employees deserve some love. But in addition to doing right by their people, businesses that provide comprehensive wellness plans and lifestyle perks for their employees are realizing huge benefits from it. But with more unconventional and physical activities going on in the office, there comes a whole new set of risks for employers.

Let’s talk about what employers are doing for their people, how it’s working, and how to manage the risks involved in the modern office.

A New Age of Employee Engagement

Now more than ever organizations in business are truly investing in their people. Employee perks and benefits are evolving to an all new level thanks to forward-thinking companies like Google with state of the art fitness facilities, fully stocked game rooms, free bicycles and more cool perks for employees. Who ever thought we’d see a rock climbing wall at the office?  Googles’ perks go so deep that past and current Google employees have gone online to list their favorite perks working for Google.

Here are Some Common Contemporary Employee Benefits, Perks and Activities

  • Fitness gyms
  • Yoga, Karate, Pilates studios
  • Basketball courts
  • Table games: Ping Pong, Foosball, Billiards, etc.
  • Video games
  • Reading rooms
  • Massage chairs
  • On Site Pet Care
  • And yes, even rock climbing

A New Age of Risk

Not to be a wet blanket, but you can get hurt playing Ping Pong, and the bottom line is: If you’re putting perks and activities in place that present the potential for an accident or injury, you have a responsibility to manage the risk and provide the safest environment possible for your employees. So, before you put up the basketball hoop, put some basic risk management measures in place.

Here are some simple things that you can do to manage the risks involved with lifestyle perks:

Liability Waivers: If you’re offering activities with any level of physicality or potential for injury, it’s a common best practice to get signed waivers from participants…even if it’s only Ping Pong.

Medical Clearance: Depending on the physical level of the activities you make available, you may consider requiring clearance from a doctor before employees may participate in any activities.

Restrict Access: To reduce employer risks, allow only employees of the company (and not friends and family) to take advantage of the amenities (Gym, Sports Court, etc).

Safety Programs: Institute a safety education program covering the equipment and activities, and post safety guidelines in game rooms, gyms, and on ball courts or playing fields.

Get Covered: If you’re thinking of providing any new perks or benefits for your employees, make sure that you have adequate liability and workers’ comp  insurance coverage in place (yes, even if it’s ping pong).

The modern office landscape is changing, and with this new era of employee engagement and all of the perks that go with it, a new set of risks arise. So, if you’re considering taking your benefits package to the next level, talk to us at Sinclair. We specialize in measuring your risk and covering your exposure. We’re also Liability and Workers’ Comp experts, so this is right up our alley.

Shannon Hudspeth
Human Resource Director

Why your business needs a wellness program

“Ban the Box” Law Prohibits Inquiries of Criminal History

“Ban the Box” Law Prohibits Inquiries of Criminal HistoryOn June 1st, Connecticut Governor Malloy signed House Bill 5237, An Act Concerning Fair Chance Employment. This new law is referred to as the “Ban the Box” bill.

Effective January 1st, 2017, Connecticut employers will be prohibited from asking about criminal history (including prior arrests, convictions and charges) on job applications. Connecticut is now the 19th state to adopt this type of legislation.

The law applies to any employer with one or more employees, including the state (and any political subdivisions of the state). However, it does not apply to job applications of independent contractors.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission collected data that shows that 92% of employers perform criminal background checks on job candidates, and that a criminal record reduces the likelihood of a job offer (and even just a callback) by more than 50%.

The EEOC asserts that the criminal history box on an application allows employers to instate blanket policies to disregard any applicant with a criminal history. Further, they claim these practices disproportionally affect minority applicants, which violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The new law is designed to enhance the protections of people with criminal or legally-troubled pasts. Throughout the United States, more than 100 million people (about a third of the population) have criminal records.

There are two exceptions to this new law. An employer may ask about an applicant’s criminal history on a form if they are otherwise required to by state or federal law. They may also ask about criminal history if any kind of security, fidelity or money bond is required for the position.

Similar “Ban the Box” laws in other states typically prevent the employer from inquiring about criminal information until a certain point in the hiring process. However, Connecticut’s law only prohibits a criminal history inquiry on the initial application. Employers may ask questions about an applicant’s history at any point forward, including during the interview. The interviewer may also run a background check on an applicant and ask any questions they like, even regarding expunged and erased convictions.

The law establishes a “Fair Chance Task Force” that will study employment opportunities available to individuals with criminal histories and may recommend further statutory restrictions.

The law is a victory for anyone whose past has been marred with any type of convictions or arrests. It allows them to display their credentials to prospective employers before being forced to reveal their criminal past.

Employers should take a few steps to ensure compliance with the “Ban the Box” law: 1) Remove any language regarding criminal histories from job applications and advertisements. 2) Provide training to employees who conduct hiring to teach them when it is acceptable to make inquiries into criminal histories of applicants. 3) Audit the hiring process to ensure the compliance and timing of inquiries into criminal histories.

Shannon Hudspeth
Human Resource Director

“Ban the Box” Law Prohibits Inquiries of Criminal History