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Claim Your Free Copy of Overtime Primer: Highlights from the New Regulations

The federal DOL overtime regulations go into effect this year. Are you ready?


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This report includes a summary of key changes, including the salary level test and salary basis test.

As a bonus, we've included a handy flowchart to help you determine exemption status under the FLSA.

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March 11, 2005
Sick Employees at Work: Heroes or Germ Spreaders?
It seems that employees are often at one end of the spectrum or the other when it comes to their attendance record. Some employees take time off from work at the first sign of a headache or the sniffles when it may not be entirely necessary. These are probably the same people who, as children, stayed home from school at the first symptom of an ache or pain.

The other extreme may be worse, however. Some employees will drag themselves into work with full-fledged stomach viruses, the flu, or raging colds, infecting many other employees as these "heroes" barely make it through their workday.

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Encourage 'Heroes' To Stay Home

What should employers and managers do? For one thing, when you encounter an obviously ill employee, thank the person for coming in but recommend that he or she go home and get some rest. Employee publications and department or organizationwide meetings may be used to communicate management's policy regarding employee illness. It will also help if you educate staff about how quickly something like the flu, a respiratory or stomach virus, or strep throat can spread through an organization.

Such communications notwithstanding, you will undoubtedly have some workers who are still going to come to work sick. Therefore, encouraging other practices that stop the spread of germs, such as encouraging employees to wash their hands more often, may also help.

Employees should also make sure that other employees are not using their telephones and computers. If they find another worker doing so, employees should clean their work surfaces with antibacterial cleansers that the company makes available to them.

Other employers have taken precautions a step further by making soapless hand sanitizers in containers that fit in a desk or purse available to staff. These sanitizers may also be installed in permanent hand sanitizer stations. Two companies that offer such systems are Purell and Best Sanitizers.

For more ideas about preventing the flu and other illnesses, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/flu) and Purell's workplace website at http://workplace.gojo.com/.

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