Monthly Archives: February 2016

Marijuana Laws Could Impact Your Hiring Practices

Elections tend to revolve around red and blue states, but a slew of ballot questions regarding medical marijuana might be turning some states green this November. On Election Day, voters in at least nine states will consider various measures that would decriminalize or legalize either the medical or recreational use of marijuana.

The specifics of each ballot question and their contexts are different, but employers everywhere should be aware of how the changing marijuana landscape affects their business and its employment policies. As states legalize and decriminalize on an individual basis, the federal government maintains that cannabis is an illegal substance, creating a lack of uniformity around marijuana regulations. Naturally, this has bred confusion among employers as to what is expected of them when it comes to hiring practices and drug screening.

To find out what you need to know about the potential changes on the horizon and how they impact your business, Business News Daily spoke with Dr. Todd Simo, chief medical officer at employment screening company HireRight.

Business News Daily: Tell us a bit about the current state of cannabis policy in the U.S.

Dr. Todd Simo: Today, there are 24 states that offer medical marijuana as a recommendation for people that fall under some form of the Compassionate Care Act. Recreational marijuana is decriminalized to buy, have and smoke a certain amount of at any one time [in] Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and D.C. I always cringe when I hear someone say it’s been “legalized”; it’s not legal in the sense that I could buy 50 cartons of cigarettes and keep them in the trunk of my car. It’s still truly illegal from a federal perspective, so you can’t cross state lines or anything with it.

BND: What are employer concerns surrounding medical and decriminalized marijuana?

Simo: Depending on what state they’re in, the rules for employment are vastly different. If [they’re] in Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New York or Pennsylvania … the employer should do some due diligence in regards to accommodating [an employee who uses medical marijuana]. You can terminate them if they show up impaired to work … but you can’t arbitrarily say they tested positive and then terminate them or deny them employment. The rest of the 24 states [with medical marijuana programs] and D.C. basically fall into two categories: either there’s case law that says the regulation allows employers to not hire or terminate for cause due to a positive drug screening; or the regulations are essentially silent and there’s no mandated accommodation in those states.

So, the question for employers is, do you accommodate [marijuana users] as a standard practice or do you do due diligence and decide in which cases you have to accommodate? The employers we speak to split about 50/50. You really have to know what the rules are for accommodation where you’re operating; otherwise, you might end up with a wrongful termination case on your hands.

BND: In what ways are employers responding to the changes in state laws governing marijuana?

Simo: In our last benchmarking report, [52 percent] of our clients that responded said they don’t even have a policy in place with regards to medical marijuana, even though many of them are operating in states that have a medical marijuana program. About 39 percent don’t accommodate medical marijuana use at all and have no plans to. We have a huge [clientele] in the transportation industry, and the regulations they fall under say they just automatically can’t accommodate – the federal government still says, “No, you can’t.” So, those companies have a policy that arbitrarily draws a line that says you can’t cross it at all.

Author’s note: The benchmarking report also states that about 5 percent of HireRight’s responding clients do not currently accommodate marijuana use, but plan to within the year. Another 5 percent of respondents already have policies accommodating medical marijuana use.

BND: What advice can you offer to employers who are trying to rework their accommodation policies as marijuana laws change?

Simo: Work with your employment attorney to get the right language into your policies. Sometimes accommodation can be easy, like in the case of a receptionist, which is not a safety-intensive duty. But you might not want someone running the overhead crane in a munitions plant if they have a condition requiring medical marijuana. From an ADA and accommodation perspective, you have to look at it not only by the state you’re in, but the job categories that you’re filling.

Half of our clients haven’t even looked at [marijuana reforms] in terms of their company policies. That’s something I encourage everyone to look at. The landscape is changing and they should really look at where they’re operating and what to do in regards to company policy. That way, when the first case happens they won’t have to scramble to figure out a de facto policy. They’ll have the levers in place to make the appropriate action from a hiring decision.


Let’s Check Your Job Applicant’s Credit History

Earlier this month, I met with a recruiter about an independent contract gig at a prestigious bank in town. At the end of the interview, the recruiter told me he’d check my criminal background history. He then asked me if it was OK to check my credit.

I later learned background credit checks were standard for the financial industry. CNN reports employers include credit checks in their due-diligence process to prevent fraud and embezzlement.

In a NerdWallet blog post, author Lindsay Konsko notes that credit histories ― not your score ― may be seen as a reflection of your personal trustworthiness and responsibility. That’s why 47 percent of employers, even outside of the financial industry, check applicants’ credit reports, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

However, when credit histories are used to compare candidates, credit can be used to judge an applicant’s ability (or inability) to work. An applicant’s self-worth then reflects his or her financial background just as much as, if not more than, their education and professional experience. [See Related Story: 10 Job Interview Questions That Aren’t Legal]

Should you check an applicant’s credit report?

If your businesses uses credit checks in the hiring process, there are some things you need to consider before using it to evaluate a candidate. First, there are plenty of circumstances where credit doesn’t affect an individual’s ability to work. I was a victim of identity fraud myself, and it can happen to anyone.

Your identity can even be stolen by family members. Editor and publishing professional Alaina Leary said that, at age 17, a family member took money out of a checking account that she did not have.

The same family member started opening credit accounts in her name without paying them off. Leary was hit again with identity fraud two years later when she was 19, when someone used her information to open another account and charged it $1,000.  Now whenever she applies for a job with a credit check, she says she feels so uncomfortable that she’d rather not explain her financial history to a prospective employer.

Similarly, freelance writer Lauren Friel experienced financial abuse at the hands of her ex-partner.

“Basically, [my ex] wanted to ruin my credit so I’d be dependent on him,” she said. “I don’t qualify for anything that’s not offered by a loan shark.”

Friel’s ex had access to her personal information, which allowed him to open and max out credit cards in her name. He also screened her mail for anything from financial institutions, which he’d throw away immediately. Friel hasn’t applied for a job that checked her credit, but would be uneasy if a potential employer did so.

This credit-check process is completely legal in most of the United States. However, some states have deemed it unlawful. Demos reports the states of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington have all enacted statewide bans on employment credit checks, in addition to some major cities such as New York City and Chicago.

If your company wants to “level the playing field” for candidates, one alternative to a credit check is fact-checking a resume. According to CareerBuilder, 7 in 10 employers spend less than 5 minutes reviewing a resume. Additionally, more than 1 in 2 employers have caught a lie on a resume. Some real-life resume falsehoods include claiming to be a former CEO of the prospective company the candidate applied to, being a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and having a degree from a nonexistent college. (Yes, really.)

Even if your area hasn’t outlawed employment-related credit checks yet, you’re better off fact-checking a resume before judging candidates based on their credit history.

Motivator for Employees Who Quit Their Jobs

While baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials don’t always see eye-to-eye on what they want out of their careers, there is one issue they all agree on. Employees from all three generations say not getting paid enough is what’s most likely to have them looking for a new job, research finds.

The new study from Paychex revealed that overall nearly 70 percent of employees say that a low salary is the primary reason they have left or would leave a job.

Although the largest percentage of employees from each generation indicated how much they’re paid is a driving factor behind them staying or leaving their employer, some generations say it’s a slightly more motivating factor for them.

“All three generational categories (baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials) ranked a low salary as a top reason to leave, but millennials put more importance on salary, with a whopping 70.82 percent of those surveyed marking it as a reason they quit,” the study’s authors wrote.

Generation X employees weren’t far behind, however, with 69.32 percent saying they have left or would leave a job because a low salary. While still critical to baby boomers, it was slightly less important to them with just 58.46 percent saying not getting paid enough would motivate them to find a new job. [See Related Story: Think Your Employee Is About to Quit? How to Handle It]

While salary issues topped all three generations’ lists, there were some key differences among their other reasons for leaving a job. Here are the top six reasons employees from each generation would leave, or have left, a job because of:

Baby boomers (Born between 1946 and 1964)

  1. Low salary – 58.46 percent
  2. Lack of benefits – 49.23 percent
  3. Overworked – 47.69 percent
  4. Boss didn’t honor commitments – 40.00 percent
  5. Moved to another city or state – 38.46 percent
  6. Employers didn’t care about employees – 37.69 percent

Generation X (Born between 1965 and 1981)

  1. Low salary – 69.32 percent
  2. Overworked – 60.36 percent
  3. Employers didn’t care about employees – 52.79 percent
  4. Didn’t like boss – 46.61 percent
  5. Moved to another city or state – 46.61 percent
  6. Lack of recognition or reward – 46.61 percent

Millennials (Born between 1982 and 2004)

  1. Low salary – 70.82 percent
  2. Overworked – 65.93 percent
  3. Employers didn’t care about employees – 54.46 percent
  4. Didn’t enjoy work – 52.34 percent
  5. Moved to another city or state – 50.35 percent
  6. Lack of recognition or reward – 46.03 percent

Among the factors least likely to have employees from all generations looking for a new job are having an employer that doesn’t offer, match or contribute to 401(k) plans, having a sense that layoffs or firings were imminent and not being creatively engaged.

While not getting paid enough and being overworked are reasons for workers to leave, there are some generational differences on reasons that keep them where they are.

“When it comes to employees’ reasons for staying at a job, the benefits that matter vary a bit by generation,” the study’s authors wrote. “Baby boomers and Generation X rank inexpensive, quality health care highest on their lists of reasons to stay, while millennials long for better bonuses.”

Next Generation of Workers

The next generation of employees is getting ready to enter the workforce and they have a much different outlook on what they want out of their careers than those who have come before them, new research finds.

The study from the job search site Monster revealed that soon-to-be professionals from Generation Z, those born between 1994 and 2010, are more driven by money and ambition than those who are already working. Specifically, 70 percent of those surveyed from Gen Z said their top work motivator is money, compared with just 63 percent of employees from all other generations.

Being able to work in a job they are passionate about is another motivator. The study found that 46 percent of those from Generation Z, specifically between ages 15 and 20, said the ability to pursue their passion is a top motivating factor, compared with only 32 percent of baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials.

A driven generation

The next generation of workers appears more willing to put in the extra effort needed to achieve their goals. Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed from Generation Z said they would work nights and weekends for higher pay, opposed to just 45 percent of millennials, 40 percent of Gen Xers and 33 percent of baby boomers.

Gen Z workers will also head anywhere for a job they want. Nearly 70 percent of Generation Z said they would be willing to move for a good job opportunity, compared with 52 percent of those across all other generations. [See Related Story: Employers: Don’t Treat Gen Z like Millennials]

“We’re seeing drastic differences between what drives employees in Gen Z compared to previous generations like millennials,” Seth Matheson, director of talent fusion, said in a statement. “At this stage in the recruiting game, employers looking to attract future talent need to expand their focus beyond millennials to understand the next generation’s unique, practical job must-haves, and proactively develop a working environment that will keep them happy and motivated.”

What Gen Z wants

When it comes to what they’re looking for in a job, Generation Z’s attitudes are much more in line with baby boomers and Gen Xers than millennials. Health insurance, a competitive salary and a boss they respect are the top three must haves for those from Generation Z.

“As I talk to many employers, the focus is still on millennials, with a lot of questions about perks like nap pods and free lunches,” Matheson said. “However, a common theme we saw in the report is Gen Z’s emphasis on some of the more ‘traditional’ benefits like health insurance and a quality, two-way relationship with their potential manager.”

How employers can prepare for Gen Z

In order to attract Generation Z workers, employers better make sure they are keeping up with their technology. Having grown up their entire lives immersed in technology, those from Gen Z believe that having access to the latest technology will make them more productive and allow them to work from anywhere.

In addition to their technology offerings, organizations need to start defining their brand to Generation Z if they want to attract them when they hit the workforce. The study’s authors said engaging with this generation requires a strong employer brand that differentiates an organization in the marketplace and that also communicates in a language Gen Z understands.

“The key to successfully attracting and engaging Gen Z throughout their candidate journey will be a strong employer brand that is consistent across technologies,” Matheson said. “Organizational brands will need to be transparent, adaptable, personable and memorable, targeting the brand’s ideal Gen Z employees through tools like social recruiting and talent CRM targeted emails.”

The study was based on surveys of more than 2,000 people across the boomer, X, Y and Z generations. The Gen Z respondents pre-qualified themselves as either employed or, among younger teens, planning to work in the future.