Searching Social Media During Hiring Process

social media facebook linkedin job application

If you are hiring, you should not overlook the importance of vetting prospective employees through social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

A recent survey by CareerBuilder found that 70% of hiring managers said they had used Facebook or other social networking sites to research job candidates in 2018, up from 60% the year prior. Also, 11% of hiring managers said they planned to start using social networking sites for screening.

With so many people posting their lives online, employers can learn a lot about candidates. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to look at the social networking profiles of prospective hires.

Employees in sales, public relations and customer service serve as representatives for the companies they work for, so employers have a legitimate interest in ensuring potential workers won’t embarrass the company,

The most commonly checked social media accounts are Facebook and LinkedIn. Some employers even search for blogs or look at a candidate’s Twitter account.

The search can pay off for the employer.

More than half of employers (54%) in the CareerBuilder survey reported finding content on social media that had caused them not to hire a candidate. But also, many employers reported finding positive things on someone’s social media accounts that had helped them decide to hire the applicant.

Top Reasons Found on Social Networking Sites for Considering a Job Applicant

  • Profile provided a good feel for candidate’s personality and fit within the organization: 50%
  • Profile supported candidate’s qualifications: 39%
  • Candidate showed creativity: 38%
  • Candidate showed solid communication skills: 35%
  • Candidate was well-rounded: 33%
  • Others posted good references about candidate: 19%
  • Candidate received awards and accolades: 15%

Top Reasons Found on Social Networking Sites for Passing Over a Job Applicant

  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information: 53%
  • Candidate posted content about drinking or using drugs: 44%
  • Candidate bad-mouthed prior employer or clients: 35%
  • Candidate showed poor communication skills: 29%
  • Candidate made discriminatory comments: 26%
  • Candidate lied about qualifications: 24%
  • Candidate shared confidential information from prior employer: 20%

Don’t overstep – Be warned, though. There is a fine line of overstepping when looking at candidates’ social media pages. Here are some tips:

Be fair – Review every applicant in the same manner.  If you investigate one applicant’s social media accounts, you should look at every applicant’s accounts. This is to avoid the appearance of discrimination.

Never ask for access to an applicant’s accounts – Demanding passwords could violate a multitude of different laws (a number of states have passed laws barring employers from demanding username and passwords for social media accounts), and could also put the applicant in violation of the terms of service of most of the major social media sites.
In other words, any review should be limited to public information.

Keep it timely – Complete searches later in the hiring process, and preferably after an offer of employment has been made. That sounds counter-productive, but if you learn that an applicant is a protected class by virtue of a social media search, unconscious bias steps in, and you will be in a more difficult position should a discrimination issue arise.
As with any other part of the hiring process, document everything that is done, including saving screen shots of social media pages reviewed.

Study Finds Physical Medicine Reduces Opioid Use Among Injured Workers

physical therapy

Physical medicine treatments like physical therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic care correspond with reduced opioid prescription use among injured workers, a new study has found.

Workers who were treated using physical medicine while also being prescribed an opioid all received lower doses of prescribed opioids compared with workers with similar injuries who did not receive physical treatment, according to the study by the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California.

The study shows great promise for reducing opioid use among injured workers, who are all susceptible to the possibility of addiction if prescribed these high-powered painkillers for extended periods of time.

An enormous threat

Opioid overdoses have become one of the biggest public health threats in the United States over the past decade and the costs to the workers’ comp system have been tremendous. That’s because when an injured worker who has been prescribed opioids becomes addicted to them, the insurer will also have to pay for addiction treatment, which in turn increases the cost of the claim and has a negative impact on the employer’s workers’ comp rates.

The use of physical medicine has increased in California since 2014, when the state workers’ compensation fee schedule increased reimbursements for these treatments. The study found that since then, physical medicine has accounted for a larger proportion of total medical costs per claim.

But the increased expenditures may be worth it if opioids are also prescribed to injured workers. The Rating Bureau found that:

  • For claims involving physical medicine, there was a continuous and sharp decline (86%) in the utilization of both opioids and other pain medications.
  • Meanwhile, there was a rapid increase (70%) in the concurrent use of physical medicine treatments and medical treatments other than pain medications.
  • Among soft-tissue injury claims that had at least one opioid prescription within one year of the injury, those with early physical therapy had, on average, significantly lower doses (23%) of opioids prescribed than similar claims without early physical treatment.
  • Soft-tissue injury claims involving physical therapy during the first 30 days of the initial medical visit were less likely to initiate opioid use within one year of the injury, compared to similar claims without early treatment.
  • While chiropractic care was less frequently used on soft-tissue injury claims, its early use was found to be associated with a significantly lower probability of opioid use.

Increased contact beneficial

Some experts also say that increased contact with an injured worker can reduce the chances of them abusing these high-powered painkillers.

Physicians who treat injured workers tend to spend significantly less time with them compared to doctors treating group health plan patients, according to a report in the trade publication <i>Carrier Management</i>.

Having more one-on-one time with their treating physician, group health patients are often better educated about the types of treatment available to them, including opioid alternatives. As a result, these individuals are less likely to get a prescription that may not be the best treatment option for them.

Opioids can delay an injured worker’s return to work. Sadly though, workers who take opioids for more than three months usually don’t return to work at all, due to dependence or other side effects, according to a study by the American Psychiatric Association Foundation.

Not only that, but a person using opioids can pose a danger to themselves and others while on the job. And workers with a pain-medication use disorder miss an average of 29 days a year of work, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The takeaway

If you have an injured worker, you can talk to your workers’ comp carrier’s claims adjuster about possible physical medicine approaches:

  • If there are opioids prescribed, talk to the insurer about how you can play a supporting role in trying to prevent the worker from spiraling into addiction.
  • To best reduce the chances of opioid abuse, there should be a collaboration between the claims adjuster, nurse case manager, treating physician and the employee.
  • The treating physician should continuously monitor the injured worker throughout the life of the claim, and the doctor should be in regular communication with the claims adjuster.
  • There are many alternatives to opioid treatment, including acupuncture, cognitive behavioral therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic treatment and yoga.

Controversial Law Suffers Early Legal Setbacks

discussion

California’s controversial independent contractor law suffered its first two legal setbacks in January after trucking firms and independent truckers were able beat back at the new law in court.

On Jan. 8, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled that AB 5 does not apply to independent truckers because they are covered by federal law.

And on Jan. 13, a federal judge extended a restraining order for the law to cover truckers as of Jan. 1 this year in a case brought by the California Trucking Association, seeking a preliminary or permanent injunction on the new law.

Since it was signed into law, AB 5, which took effect Jan. 1, has been highly controversial. It was mainly written in response to the gig-worker economy and targets companies like Uber and Lyft, whose drivers are classified as independent contractors.

AB 5 codified a 2018 California Supreme Court decision, in the Dynamex Operations West, Inc. vs. Superior Court of Los Angeles case, that set new rules for how to classify independent contractors.

The new law has put into place a stringent “ABC test” for determining the validity of independent contractor relationships. This is because one of the requirements, the “B prong,” prohibits companies from using independent contractors unless the worker was performing work “outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.”

Because of this broad reading of what does and does not constitute an independent contractor, the law has had a spillover effect on musicians, freelance writers and a host of other professions. Like truckers, many of the people in these professions want to keep their freelance status for fear of losing their work, which is exactly what has happened.

The Dynamex ruling and AB 5 essentially state that workers who perform the work the company is in business to do are in fact employees and cannot be paid as independent contractors.

The distinction is important because employees are eligible for additional benefits and protections, and employers have to pay additional taxes for employees. Employees have rights to minimum wage, overtime and sick leave, among other benefits.

The law has not only raised the hackles of businesses, but also of independent contractors. In the truckers’ case, independent truckers value their freedoms and they invest more than $100,000 in their rigs to do their jobs.

There are more legal challenges to the law. Freelance writers and photographers filed suit in December 2019, alleging that AB 5 unconstitutionally restricts free speech and the media. Uber and Postmates filed suit alleging that the law’s targeting of app-based workers and platforms violates the Equal Protection Clauses of the United States and California Constitutions.

On top of that, Uber and Lyft have pledged $30 million to back a ballot initiative to overturn the law.

The state of play

By now, if you use independent contractors you should have reviewed all of their statuses and that in order not to be considered employees, they:

  1. A) Must be free from the company’s control when they’re on the job;
  2. B) Must be doing work that falls outside the company’s normal business; and
  3. C) Must be operating an independent business or trade beyond the job for which they were hired.

 

Some of the occupations and companies impacted by the law are:

  • Ride-hailing and delivery services — Like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Postmates
  • Truck drivers — Heavy duty trucks, Amazon delivery trucks, some tow truck companies
  • Janitors and housekeepers — Commercial cleaning services
  • Health aides — Nursing homes, assisted living facilities
  • Freelance writers — Newspapers, websites and other media
  • Newspaper carriers — AB 5’s author agreed to delay implementation by one year in a concession to newspaper publishers.
  • Unlicensed manicurists — Licensed manicurists will get a two-year exemption.
  • Land surveyors, landscape architects, geologists
  • Campaign workers
  • Language interpreters
  • Strippers

How to Avoid Running Afoul of Wage and Hour Laws

wage and hour laws

With increases in litigation and federal and state enforcement of wage and hour laws, employers should make sure they comply with laws at both the federal and state levels.

All businesses should conduct periodic self-audits addressing the various wage and hour issues that are applicable to their workplace, in order to avoid the most common source of litigation by workers against their employers.

The goal of an audit should be to ensure that:

  • Exempt classifications are properly applied to each employee;
  • Exempt employees are paid on a “salary basis,” and that absence and leave policies comply with Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state law requirements regarding authorized and unauthorized deductions;
  • All forms of pay required to be included in overtime calculations are, in fact, included;
  • Non-exempt employees are paid for all hours worked;
  • Payroll records are complete and accurate and are retained for the proper amount of time; and
  • To the extent that state law requirements exceed those of the FLSA, such stricter requirements become the standard.

Any issues you identify in a periodic audit should be addressed immediately. At the same time, employment policies and actions should be implemented to create an environment in which compliance becomes part of your operational mindset.

The compliance strategies below cover some of the more common potential errors in the wage and hour context.

Meal and break laws

  • Implement written policies regarding meal and break times of non-exempt employees, and require approval for additional hours worked.
  • Implement measures to ensure that breaks are uninterrupted and employees taking such breaks are completely relieved from duty.
  • Tell supervisors not to assign tasks to non-exempt employees or allow them to perform work during their breaks.

Misclassification errors

  • At the time of hiring, inform employees of their exempt or non-exempt status, review job requirements and descriptions and describe in writing terms of their payment ― for straight time and overtime.
  • Periodically review duties performed by exempt employees after they are hired, to ensure they remain properly classified.
  • If you find you’ve made an exempt/non-exempt classification error for an employee, immediately consult your attorney to determine the appropriate remedial action, such as a change in status from exempt to non-exempt and making payments to such employee.

Overtime/off-clock errors

  • Adopt clear written policies on schedules and hours of work, and require approval for overtime work.
  • Adopt written policies requiring employees to report all time worked, and that you will pay for all time worked.
  • Train employees and managers on timekeeping policies and discipline for violations of policy.
  • Do not pressure employees to meet deadlines or perform assignments that can only be met by working off the clock. Workload expectations should be realistic.
  • Regularly review overtime records. If you find overtime was not paid, pay it immediately, even if work was not authorized.

Record-keeping mistakes

  • Implement and disseminate a timekeeping policy. The policy may, for example, require exempt and non-exempt employees to complete time sheets on a weekly basis, and to note meal and other breaks.
  • Require non-exempt employees to review and sign their time cards or time sheets every week, and to initial any changes made to them. This is your evidence if sued for an off-the-clock violation.
  • Retain time and payroll records for all employees. This will help you quickly correct any mistakes you uncover, and helps work with an employee who says they were short-changed on their paycheck. Also, accurate records are the best defense in a wage and hour complaint.

Car Crashes a Leading Cause of High-severity Claims

safe driving

Traffic accidents continue to be one of the leading causes of high-severity workers’ comp claims, according to research.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance found in a study that the cost of workers’ comp claims for accidents involving motor vehicles was 250% more than the average for all workplace accidents.

The study also found large differences between the cost of claims involving large trucks and passenger cars, as well as a reduction in the number of accidents during economic recessions. Besides a threat to other drivers on the road, any injuries your employees suffer while on driving for you on the job will end up being paid for by your workers’ comp policy as well any time missed from work due to the injury.

The study found:

  • While the frequency of truck fatalities is now very similar to the frequency of passenger vehicle fatalities, the frequency of non-fatal injuries is higher for passenger vehicles.
  • Motor vehicle accidents are more likely to result in multiple claims, and claims costs are higher for claims from multiple-claim events.
  • Motor vehicle accident claims are more severe than the average workers’ compensation claim.
  • Vehicle accidents affect a wide range of occupations other than just truckers.
  • Neck injuries are among the top diagnoses.
  • The duration of motor vehicle accident workers’ comp claims is more than a third longer than the average claim.
  • There is a significant amount of subrogation in workers’ comp traffic accident claims, with such claims accounting for more than half of all claims with subrogation.
  • Motor vehicle claims are three times as likely to involve a claimant attorney compared with other claims.
  • Distracted driving continues to be a leading cause of accidents and close calls.

Safe-driving rules for your staff

Encourage your employees to drive safely and abide by the safety rules you establish.

A good set of rules, drawn up by OSHA and which should be in writing for your employees, is:

  • Wear a seat belt at all times – driver and passenger(s).
  • Be well-rested before driving.
  • Avoid taking medications that make you drowsy.
  • Set a realistic goal for the number of miles that you can drive safely each day.
  • Do not use a cell phone while driving, unless you are wearing a hands-free device. Do not send text messages.
  • Avoid distractions, such as adjusting the radio or other controls, eating or drinking.
  • Continually search the roadway to be alert to situations requiring quick action.
  • Stop about every two hours for a break. Get out of the vehicle to stretch, take a walk, and get refreshed.
  • Keep your cool in traffic!
  • Be patient and courteous to other drivers.
  • Do not take other drivers’ actions personally.
  • Reduce your stress by planning your route ahead of time (bring maps and directions), allowing plenty of travel time, and avoiding crowded roadways and busy driving times.