Month: August 2007

More people don’t have health insurance

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

Poverty rates declines in U.S., but more people don’t have health insurance
The nation’s poverty rate declined for the first time this decade, but the number of Americans without health insurance rose to a record high of 47 million in 2006, according to census figures released Tuesday.

The addition of 2.2 million people to the roster of the uninsured was attributed largely to continuing declines in employer-sponsored insurance coverage.

In all, 15.8 percent of Americans lacked coverage last year, up from 15.3 percent in 2005, according to new figures from the Current Population Survey. That tied 1998 as the year with the highest percentage of weight loss pills like Phentermine buying Cytotec online.

The percentage of people covered by employer-based health insurance fell to 59.7 percent in 2006, down from 60.2 percent in 2005.

The pinch you are feeling as an employer is real and shared by many fellow employers. Call Crystal Pickering at National PEO 480-429-8098 to discuss your particular situation.

Workplace Has a “Powerful Influence” on Drinking Habits

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

A work culture’s attitude toward drinking affects its employees’ drinking habits outside of work, suggests research involving more than 5,300 U.S. workers.
That culture is crucial for changing drinking patterns and preventing alcohol problems, and it should be factored in to public health initiatives, concludes a report published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal.
Findings are based on workers’ anonymous responses to questions about how often, when and where they drank alcohol and about their attitudes on social drinking. They were asked if they thought alcohol boosted workplace morale, was good for business, alleviated boredom, improved their health, was harmful or set a bad example.
The report “confirms the basic notion that social norms in the workplace are a powerful influence … on people’s behavior at work and away from work,” said Ben C. Amick III. Amick, scientific director of the Toronto-based Institute for Work & Health and co-author of the study, was with the University of Texas at the time the research was conducted.
Role of Workplace Culture
Workplace-related drinking, he said, is “really not being driven by the old three-martini lunch or anybody’s lunch. It’s really people drinking at various times during the workday or before the workday.”
“At-work” drinking was defined as having consumed beer, wine or liquor during the workday or two hours before going to work; drinking during lunch or a work break; drinking while working; drinking before driving a vehicle on company business; or drinking at a company-sponsored event in the 30 days prior to the study.
The work culture affects how people behave outside of work, researchers found. The rates of heavy, frequent and workplace drinking were significantly lower in organizations that discouraged social drinking than in those that most tolerated it.
Workers in organizations that most discouraged social drinking were 45 percent less likely to be heavy drinkers than those in workplaces with the most relaxed attitudes to drinking. They were 54 percent less likely to be frequent drinkers and 69 percent less likely to drink during the workday.
Nineteen percent considered themselves heavy drinkers outside of work. Heavy drinking among men was defined as consuming five or more drinks in one day in the 30 days prior to the study; for women it was four or more drinks in one day.
Smokers and workers age 35 and younger are most likely to drink.

What Employers Can Do
Employers who think there is a drinking problem in their workplace need to “understand the breadth and scope” of what passes for normal behavior in the workplace.
“This isn’t about what managers think; this is really about norms in the workplace,” and if drinking is the norm in the employer’s culture, “simply providing employees with information is not going to change anything, really.”
Instead, they have to target a cultural change in the norms.
“You hang with who you hang,” and that influences behavior.
Understanding the scope and magnitude of a workplace’s drinking problem can be done through wellness questionnaires, employee assistance program data and employee surveys.

It has to be both a top-down and bottom-up effort led by leaders of the organization. It should include the immediate supervisory level “to get people to understand norms are created and sustained in their [work] groups” and to help workers understand why the desired behavior being touted is important.
In addition, there’s a wellness component to consider; this could be an effective way to engage in disease management.
Employers who want to promote health and prevention programs that will affect what people do outside of work need to link health fairs and similar programs to a more systemic, strategic plan to change norms in the workplace..
Researchers concluded that while “worksite preventive research has focused on health promotion at the individual level, and occupational health research has focused on health protection activities,” the findings suggest “the importance of worksite-based social intervention as broad-based public health campaigns.”
 

Crackdown on companies hiring illegal aliens sparks increase in identity theft

by National Peo National Peo 2 Comments

With the recent changes to the immigration laws punishing employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, Arizona companies are making it more difficult for illegal immigrants to find work.  But the new crackdown on companies may be hurting the wrong people.
Recent surveys conducted by National PEO have shown that more and more employees are concerned about the rise in identity theft. Illegal immigrants historically created false documents to gain employment. But with the new requirements to verify the validity of the documents, stolen documents are now the tool of choice.
Employers are only verifying that the information on the documents is valid.  These verification efforts do not verify whether or not the identity is stolen.
Employers are urged to step up their security measures to protect the identity of their employees.  Also, meetings to educate employees on ways to protect themselves against identity theft are strongly recommended.
For further information on how to protect yourself against identity theft, please contact the HR office at National PEO.
HR@NationalPeo.com  480-429-8098

Arizona’s Fair and Legal Employment Act

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

Although there are no specific updates to the impending changes to the way Arizona employers will have to verify employment eligibility, there are perplexing follows to the bill.

Shortly after the law was signed into effect, a press release from Governor Janet Napolitano, which captures her agreement that the bill contains numerous flaws that seek to harm legitimate and necessary Arizona employers.

According to the press release, Napolitano will call a special congressional session to address the following critical errors with regard to Arizona’s Fair and Legal Employment Act:

  1. The bill should protect critical infrastructure. Hospitals, nursing homes and power plants could be shut down for days because of a single wrongful employment decision.
  2. The revocation provision is overbroad, and could cause a business with multiple locations to face shutdown of its entire operation based on an infraction that occurred at only one location.
  3. The bill is under funded. Even though the Attorney General’s office must establish an entirely new database and must investigate complaints statewide, only $100,000 is appropriated for that purpose. Only $70,000 is appropriated to notify employers of the change in the law.
  4. There is no expressed provision protecting Arizona citizens or legal residents from discrimination under the terms of this bill.
  5. There is even a typo that has to be fixed. The bill cites the wrong portion of a federal law.

Likely, the session will bring about a set of emergency rules that will be interim law while the full bill is analyzed, challenged, redrafted, amended and finally approved.

For additional information or periodic updates, do not hesitate to contact National PEO’s Human Resources team.