Febr uar y201 6
Introducing a New, Exclusive Beneﬁt for
LOGISTICS PROGRAM Save 5-25% on transportation and logistics expenses with this free program for MBA Members!
Transportation and logistics represent an increasingly signiﬁcant expense for most businesses. For that reason, the Manufacturer & Business Association (MBA) has partnered with Logistics Plus® to create a new Logistics Program for our members. Through this program, Logistics Plus is committed to providing MBA members with affordable and reliable transportation and logistics services. When you work with Logistics Plus, it’s like having your own, in house logistics department on your side. MBA members that work with Logistics Plus will receive the following beneﬁts: LTL (less-than-truckload) rates discounted 75 percent or more on shipments between 150 and 5,000 lbs. (larger discounts available for higher volume shippers) Industry-best volume and truckload rates on shipments over 5,000 lbs. Competitive air and ocean freight forwarding rates on import and export services Customs brokerage and global trade compliance expertise Free access to easy-to-use Logistics Plus eShipPlus™ online freight management tools Live logistics specialist support and free customs brokerage consulting Access to cost-effective temporary storage or long-term warehousing and distribution services If you’d like to learn more about the MBA Logistics Program, visit www.mbausa.org/logistics. If you’d like a free, no-obligation logistics analysis to help determine your potential savings, see the attached form.
Enroll online at: www.mbausa.org/logistics 1.866.LOG.PLUS 1.866.564.7587 www.logisticsplus.net/quotes firstname.lastname@example.org
BUSINESS VOL. XXIX NO. 2 | FEBRUARY 2016
MBA MEMBERSHIP: MAXIMIZE YOUR BENEFITS
A NEW MODEL OF CARE AT
SAINT VINCENT HOSPITAL COORDINATED APPROACH TO IMPROVE QUALITY, COSTS
EDUCATION TAX CREDITS WHY THEY MAKE ACADEMIC AND BUSINESS SENSE
RV NEW SE
! T N E M UNCE
MEET YOUR EXTENDED LOGISTICS DEPARTMENT + Do you feel like you are paying more than you
should for transportation and logistics services?
The Manufacturer & Business Association has partnered with Logistics Plus® to create a Logistics Program for you, our members!
+ Does your business ship or receive pallet-size
Learn more at www.mbausa.org/logistics.
+ Are you managing multiple carrier and/or 3PL
or larger “freight” shipments (i.e., less-thantruckload or full truckload)?
+ Is transportation and logistics a major expense item for your business?
relationships with limited resources?
+ Do you import or export freight shipments or
would you like to but don’t have the in-house expertise to do so?
A “yes” answer to any or all of these questions would indicate a possible opportunity to help save you time, money, grow your business and reallocate your personnel to areas they can add greater value to your operation.
FEATURES FEATURE STORY | WHAT’S INSIDE
HEALTH & WELLNESS 2016 Solutions for a new start.
COVER STORY | LOCAL PROFILE
A NEW MODEL OF CARE By taking a coordinated approach to health and wellness, Saint Vincent Hospital shares how it is improving quality and costs.
SPOTLIGHT Q&A| REAL SOLUTIONS
How you can better connect your employees with wellness options. Frank Pietrantoni
EVENTS & EXTRAS
HEALTH MATTERS | GUIDANCE
NETWORKING & MORE
MBA MEMBERSHIP Maximize Your Association Benefits
LEGAL BRIEF | PLANNING AHEAD
AWARDS & PROMOTIONS
READ ON THE GO! For the most current Business Magazine updates, visit mbabizmag.com.
Feature Photography Rob Frank R. Frank Photography Karen Torres
Contributing Writers Jenna Bickford Kim A. Jacobs Darryl M. White
Illustration & Photography Buck Consultants Casey Naylon iStockPhoto.com
Get your workplace into good (legal) shape. Jenna Bickford
ON THE HILL | SPEAKING UP
Executive Editor, Managing Editor & Senior Writer Karen Torres email@example.com
Why transparency matters when it comes to cost and quality of health care. Kim A. Jacobs
Design, Production & Printing Printing Concepts Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org
Advertising Sales David Thornburg 814/833-3200 email@example.com
Read about the benefits of the Education Improvement Tax Credit program for students and employers by guest columnist Darryl White. Then comment on it in our new CEO/CFO Soundoff blog with Custom Engineering CFO Jim Ohrn!
On the Cover: Saint Vincent President and CEO Scott Whalen, Ph.D., FACHE, stands in front of the Allegheny Health Network Health + Wellness Pavillion Westside, which will open in Millcreek Township in spring 2016. For full story, see page 4.
Mission Statement: The Manufacturer & Business
Association is dedicated to providing information and services to its members that will assist them in the pursuit of their business and community interests. – Board of Governors
Manufacturer & Business Association 2171 West 38th Street | Erie, Pa. 16508 814/833-3200 or 800/815-2660 www.mbausa.org
© Copyright 2016 by the Manufacturer & Business Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of editorial, pictorial or advertisements created for use in the Business Magazine, in any manner, without written permission from the publisher, is prohibited. Unsolicited manuscripts cannot be returned unless accompanied by a properly addressed envelope bearing sufficient postage. The magazine accepts no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or artwork. The Business Magazine and Manufacturer & Business Association do not specifically endorse any of the products or practices described in the magazine. The Business Magazine is published monthly by the Manufacturer & Business Association, 2171 West 38th Street, Erie, Pa. 16508. Phone: 814/833-3200 or 800/815-2660.
mbabizmag.com • FEBRUARY 2016
AS YOUR SOURCE FOR NATURAL GAS Since 1991, National Fuel Resources, Inc. (NFR) has been supplying the manufacturing community with a cost effective source of natural gas. NFR recognizes the importance of a strong manufacturing base in our community. We have been a long time natural gas supplier to the manufacturing community here in Western Pennsylvania. We pride ourselves in being a long term supplier. NFRâ€™s flexibility, experience and dedication provide the most competitive and direct prices to our clients. And this is what makes us uniquely qualified to manage the natural gas needs of any business. Our strategic mix of capacity, storage, and wholesale activity all blend to provide our clients with reliable service and direct access to the product. We are the supplier; we are your direct source, no unnecessary layers of cost. We take pride in our business reputation. We are committed to our clients and look forward to being a part of the continued growth of our areaâ€™s manufacturing community.
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FEATURE STORY | WHAT’S INSIDE
HEALTH & WELLNESS 2016 SOLUTIONS FOR A NEW START A new year brings a new start — for both employers and employees — especially when it comes to their health care and health-care costs. Studies show that anywhere between 70 percent to 90 percent of health-care spending is caused by preventable, modifiable health risks. Action begins with the individual, but employers also have a unique opportunity to help employees through workplace wellness programs. Is your company promoting a healthy workplace? If not, maybe it’s a good time to learn more.
RESULTS DRIVEN Wellness programs are no longer a “soft” issue for organizations around the world, experts say, as employers increasingly recognize the value of employees’ health and overall wellbeing to their organizations’ bottom line. According to a 2013 report from Buck Consultants, A Xerox Company, employers cite their commitment to promoting health and wellness as a business strategy and show continued desire to expand health
Reprinted with premission from
Buck Consult ants
workers’ compensation and disability insurance costs among companies that had wellness programs. And a 2014 Harvard Business Review study of 20 companies found an average annual health-care cost increase of 1 percent to 2 percent for companies with wellness programs, compared to the 7-percent national average.
promotion initiatives. For employers, the return on investment most often translates to lower absenteeism, higher job satisfaction and work productivity, higher employee retention and lower
READ ALL ABOUT IT
From a new model of care in health-care delivery to practical tips about keeping your employees engaged in their health and health-care spending, there are a lot of great resources out there right now. We hope you will take some time to read about these new initiatives, as well as the many other value-added services available through your MBA Membership, and also encourage you to contact the Manufacturer & Business Association to learn about how we can assist your organization.
In this issue of the MBA Business Magazine, we’ll explore an array of solutions that are helping to improve health-care and their costs.
health-care costs. In fact, one review of 62 studies, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion in 2012, found 25 percent lower sick leave, health plan,
The road to workplace wellness starts with you!
mbabizmag.com • FEBRUARY 2016
Scott Whalen, president and CEO of Saint Vincent Hospital, a member of the Allegheny Health Network, is overseeing a major redesign of health-care delivery, starting with patients’ primary care.
A NEW MODEL OF CARE Saint Vincent Hospital Takes Coordinated Approach to Improve Quality, Costs
Scott Whalen, Ph.D., FACHE, president and CEO of Saint Vincent Hospital, has a unique perspective on the changes under way in the health-care industry. As head of Erie’s first hospital, which was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania in 1875 and now a member of the Allegheny Health Network (AHN), Whalen is overseeing a major overhaul as Saint Vincent redesigns its delivery of care to serve changing needs. According to Whalen, over the past five years, Saint Vincent Hospital has been leading the way with its new health-care delivery model, making improvements in how patients receive care from their doctors and specialists. “We’re really truly moving from a healthcare procedure company to a health company,” Whalen states. “That’s why wellness and prevention, all these changes, are so critically important.” In the fiercely competitive health-care industry, passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has placed a new emphasis on payment reform, prevention and
FEBRUARY 2016 • mbabizmag.com
population health. The shift is transforming the industry from fee-for-service medicine, paid by the number of visits and tests ordered, to value-based care — highquality care at a lower cost. That means rethinking everything, from the scope of services provided to the way in which they’re delivered. Hospitals seeking to improve the quality of care and control cost are embracing new strategies — and bridging the gap between hospital and home. At Saint Vincent Hospital, administrators are actively implementing a coordinated care model focused on prevention and one that reduces readmission rates in chronic diseases. The hospital is also embarking on making its health and wellness services more convenient with the grand opening of its new AHN Health+ Wellness Pavilion Westside in Millcreek Township this spring. “We are really redefining how we deliver health care,” Whalen explains. “The concept is that in the past you would think about care as being segmented with inpatient and outpatient: You come
in, you’re discharged, and somehow we’re done with you. Now, the concept is just continually changing the level of care for the patient. That level of care can be at home. That level of care can be in the Health + Wellness Pavilion. That level of care can be in a hospital. It’s that coordinated movement that’s so important.” Patient Centered Medical Homes In the new ACA era, hospitals, like Saint Vincent, are focusing on what they do best — critical care, emergency visits and labor and delivery — while primary care offices will be the driving force of coordinated care across the network. Saint Vincent’s most progressive move in this direction has been the implementation of patient-centered medical homes (PCMH) in 17 of its 20 primary care physician (PCP) practices prior to the ACA’s required implementation date. The model, which has long been adopted in many pediatric offices, is accredited by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and has five primary functions — compre-
hensive care, patient-centered care, coordinated care, accessible services, and quality and safety. Saint Vincent Family Medicine was the first primary care practice to adopt the patient-centered medical home model in northwest Pennsylvania. “Essentially, the patient-centered medical home provides a place for patients that coordinates their care using a team-based approach,” explains Caitlin Clark, D.O. “The physician leads the team, but the team together manages the patient and helps navigate them through the complex medical system that we have today.” “It’s better care for the patient and quality has improved,” she adds. “There are just multiple layers of people making sure that every aspect of patient care is being taken care of.” According to Dr. Clark, the patient-centered medical home looks different — depending on which office you go to and what support systems they have — but typically include physicians, nurses, medical assistants, laboratory technicians and various office personnel. Health coaches are the newest addition to Saint Vincent’s PCP team. These health coaches take notes, answer questions, order prescriptions and send referrals to specialists. The new staffing feature gives physicians more time to treat more patients — whether in the office or via virtual visits — while other tasks are delegated among their team. This coordinated approach creates a more pro-active team for follow-up care when
Caitlin Clark, D.O., of Saint Vincent Family Medicine examines a diabetes patient in her Erie office. Saint Vincent’s primary care offices are adopting a coordinated approach to care, including chronic diseases, such as diabetes to improve patient outcomes and reduce health-care costs.
Saint Vincent Hospital’s 17 of 20 primary care offices operate under the patient-centered medical home model, accredited by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. it comes to prevention and wellness — scheduling mammograms and pap smears to colonoscopies and other preventative measures — and can help address a potential and costly complication that may be tied to a certain diagnosis or disease. For example, as Whalen points out, data shows patients with chronic conditions who have some form of depression can cost 70 percent or more to treat. By addressing those complications early on, it can translate into less cost and a better quality of life for the patient. “When you think about that continuum of care, that’s important to all parties — patients, employers, providers and insurers — because we know that health and wellness or prevention actually adds value,” adds Whalen. “They benefit from this. The ability to be able to share data, risk stratify, and get the patient to the right level of care, that’s in the interest of all that we do.“ Quality Care – Better Patient Experience A major contributor to health-care costs is the high number of hospital readmissions, especially for people with chronic diseases. Yet, experts say, a well-developed care management program can be the key to better outcomes and cost savings. At Saint Vincent, the goal isn’t “discharges,” but rather continuing the relationship to ensure a patient’s health needs are addressed before they get out of control. One of the hospital’s strictest quality measures is the reduction of admissions and readmissions from such conditions as congestive heart failure, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and diabetes.
Patty Ballman, director of Accountable Care at Saint Vincent, provides oversight for value-based programs, specifically with population management on the outpatient side. Her nursing staff works with high-risk patients in the coordination of care to keep them as healthy as possible once they leave the physician’s office or hospital. For example, in a patient population of 5,000 diagnosed diabetics, Saint Vincent has risk stratified — or identified patients — as low, high and rising risk groups. In an effort to stay engaged in their health, these patients will have access to a hybrid of the hospital’s traditional diabetes resources and more. Instead of going to see their physician once every three to six months, care managers will follow up with these patients in between care. If a patient is hospitalized or is admitted to the Emergency Department, they’ll also be mobilized to ensure that diabetic care is on track. The goal is to have diabetes educators embedded in each of the patient-centered medical homes this year. “These educators will work side by side with the doctor, health coach and the care team,” notes Ballman. “They’ll work with high-risk care mangers who are doing outreach.” To monitor these efforts, Saint Vincent has developed a registry that tracks the indicators of a specific patient — from their hemoglobin A1Cs, the last time they were in for a visit, last time they had diabetes education, to any care management outreach. “It’s education beyond just that one-time visit or incident and providing them support throughout the continuum,” says Ballman.
mbabizmag.com • FEBRUARY 2016
Practice and Asbury Family Medicine — Children’s Health Care West and an ACL lab.
The $18.1-million AHN Health + Wellness Pavilion Westside will be 44,000 square feet of dedicated health and wellness space. “In the old model, patients would see their physicians for illness or prescriptions. They would go home and live their life, and then they would call if they had any issues. Now, we have to change the way we think about patients coming in for a visit. It’s not just one visit, it’s about the whole person.” Health + Wellness Pavilion By this spring, Saint Vincent will introduce a whole new level of health and wellness services at Allegheny Health Network’s Health + Wellness Pavilion Westside, the fourth Health + Wellness Pavilion within the AHN system. The $18.1-million facility, located at 4747 West Ridge Road in Millcreek Township and site of the former YWCA, is a 44,000-square-foot space dedicated to health and wellness. The new location offers the convenience of free parking and a wide array of outpatient services — all in one place. According to Whalen, the first piece of the development was deciding the most Architectural renderings show what the Health + Wellness Pavilion will look like when it is ready to open by May.
FEBRUARY 2016 • mbabizmag.com
convenient place to build for patient access and which services to include. Construction began in early 2015 with completion expected this May. Housed there will be the Saint Vincent Imaging Center, Saint Vincent Urgent Care, Saint Vincent Sports Medicine, Saint Vincent Rehab Solutions, two primary care physician offices — West Ridge Family
“Rather than that being a combination of private practices, and some rehabilitation, it’s a unified practice that will have the centralized physician record, the centralized scheduling — all the pieces and parts, if you will, that are needed to take care of the patient, that’s what that will look like,” says Whalen. “It will be not six or seven silos of different services, but what makes sense to be in an area for patients with certain conditions. Why is Rehab there? Because, we have Sports Medicine there. If you’re a Sports Medicine patient, you’re likely going to need some aspect of Rehab.” Whalen is confident that, with the addition of the new pavilion and health-care delivery model, Saint Vincent Hospital and Allegheny Health Network are embarking on something great. “We are committed to giving patients the right care, at the right place, at the right time,” he says. For more information, visit www.ahn. org/locations/saint-vincent-hospital.
Marymount Hospital, a Cleveland Clinic hospital, Surgery Expansion
Erie | Cleveland | Fort Lauderdale
Architecture | Interior Design | Master Planning
mbabizmag.com â€˘ FEBRUARY 2016
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SPOTLIGHT Q&A| REAL SOLUTIONS
How Can You Better Connect Your Employees to Wellness? Experts agree that keeping your workforce healthy can be key to your company’s bottom line. According to a study by the Society for Human Resources Management, the vast majority of companies see workplace wellness as an opportunity to reduce health insurance costs, increase productivity and reduce absenteeism. Here, Frank Pietrantoni, manager of Pharmacy Business Relations at Wegmans Food Markets in Buffalo, New York, talks about how the grocery chain is helping employers better connect their employees to wellness. Tell us about your health and wellness coaching and what it entails. Our stores make that easy by providing the freshest ingredients and the knowledge to help anyone eat better. Next, we focus on awareness. Awareness is built through health screenings. Our screenings allow our employees to Know Their Numbers and take control. Our pharmacists and nutritionists receive training to help motivate our employees to make healthy changes. The result is people living healthier, better lives. In 2015, Wegmans was ranked No. 7 on FORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list and was named best grocery store in America by Consumer Reports. How critical is workplace wellness to the company’s success? Wellness is a key part of our success. Danny Wegman has been instrumental in making wellness a priority and part of our culture. Danny shared his challenges with blood pressure. Our program was designed to help manage everyday struggles like high blood pressure by providing people with dietary education, customized coaching and incentives to get moving.
Wegmans touts that “when you take care of your employees, they take care of your customers. So, when you help your workforce get and stay healthy, you’re really helping to keep your bottom line healthy, too.” Please explain some of the benefits Wegmans has realized from being active in workplace wellness initiatives. Chronic diseases are prevalent in our communities. These diseases create a financial burden on individuals and businesses. Preventing and managing disease helps to contain costs. This means less sick time and better productivity. What is the Wegmans Pharmacy Business Partnership Program and why was it established? The Business Partnership Program was designed to counter increasing healthcare costs. Our program provides custom solutions at your workplace by utilizing our pharmacists and nutritionists. There are many wellness programs available; many miss this mark by not providing results or engaging employees. Our program does both of those things.
people eat better” or “how do we increase vaccinations.” We then establish a goal and plan. Our program is offered a la carte. Our biggest advantages are low pricing, but most importantly, our people. We often hear about the “atmosphere” we bring to an employer event. The atmos- phere contributes to participation in wellness events. What are some easy and affordable wellness tips that employers should consider implementing today? Appoint champions, ideally an executive and some key people. Start with flu shots. This is an easy event that often costs nothing. Keep people engaged through resources available online. A blood pressure screening is a low cost way to raise awareness of a problem that affects many Americans. Most importantly, build trust. I heard about a CEO who spent one hour of his time handing out fruit to his employees. A little effort goes a long way. For more information about the Wegmans Business Partnership, call Frank Pietrantoni at 716/254-1083.
How does the program work and what are some of the advantages? We seek to understand the needs of your employees. We often hear, “help my
mbabizmag.com • FEBRUARY 2016
Your total wellness. Our primary focus. Excellence at every level. Anthony P. Behm, DO
The choice is clear. A UPMC Hamot primary care physician gives you access to world-class care, together with the personalized attention you and your family deserve. For routine or complicated health issues, you will have the confidence of knowing you are connected to a network of medical and surgical experts, emergency medicine specialists, outpatient services, and more.
Choose from a network of more than 85 primary care experts.
To find a primary care office that is right for you and your family, call 814-877-5678 to speak to one of our network representatives. To learn more about the UPMC Hamot Physician Network, visit UPMCHamot.org/PrimaryCare.
Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, UPMC is ranked among the nationâ€™s best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report.
HEALTH MATTERS | GUIDANCE
Health-Care Transparency: Why It Matters for Cost, Quality
physician or health service, consumers will be able to make more informed choices.
Kim A. Jacobs is vice president of Strategic Business Development, Consumer Innovation and Commercial Strategy & Performance for UPMC Health Plan, which is part of the UPMC Insurance Services Division. The UPMC Insurance Services Division offers a full range of insurance programs and products and also includes: UPMC WorkPartners, UPMC for Life, UPMC for You, UPMC for Kids, Community Care Behavioral Health, LifeSolutions, EBenefit Solutions and Askesis Development Group.
In health care, price and quality transparency is quickly moving from an emerging trend to an expectation. When the cost of the same medical procedure can vary by more than 100 percent even within the same geographic region, consumers of health care understand that they need some kind of guidance. Without access to good, solid cost and quality information, the modern health-care consumer pretty much is operating in the dark. Only through the use of transparency tools can a health-care consumer have the ability to make the best and most wellinformed decisions. The ideal transparency tool is one that makes price and quality information readily available for consumers, so they can easily read and compare. The need for both cost and quality information is necessary because there is not always a correlation between high costs and better healthcare quality.
Transparency Trending Health-care trends suggest that there will be an increasing need for cost and quality information from health-care consumers in the years ahead. Because more health insurance plans require members to handle more of the up-front costs of care — through high deductibles and co-insurance — a lack of good, valid information could result in consumers paying much more for care that may actually be sub-standard. Even though consumers do not literally “shop” for care as they might for other retail items, they are nonetheless entitled to having the kind of information that will enable them to select high-quality and affordable health care. Providing consumers with quality and cost transparency tools can give them the ability to do this. By having easy access to consistent, accurate information about quality, price and service options when choosing a
What should be understood, however, is that having access to transparency tools does not supplant the traditional role of the physician in any plan of care. Nothing can replace the invaluable knowledge of a patient’s health-care history that a primary physician has. For many, the convenience and comfort that is associated with working with a familiar physician cannot be overstated. Transparency tools do not replace a physician’s role; instead they can provide a way for patients to be educated in terms of cost and quality and give them information they can use to have a meaningful conversation with their physician. How Effective Transparency Tools Work Transparency tools are often powered by crowd-sourced data from consumers and physicians. What these tools can do is focus intelligence about a variety of conditions. For instance, the top treatments for persons with the same condition can be highlighted, as well as the most popular treatment chosen by other users of the tool. With these tools, users can compare treatment options, learn about side effects, costs and typical patient preferences. These tools can also compare costs for the same procedure at different facilities in the same region. Transparency tools can serve as a way to educate patients in terms of cost and quality and they can use that knowledge to have a more informed conversation with their physicians. When health-care consumers only learn the actual cost for a procedure at the time they get their bill, it can lead them to feel somehow cheated by the process. This adds to an erosion of trust in the health care system and could contribute to dissatisfaction with an employer that offers plans that do not include any form of transparency. To learn more about the UPMC Health Plan transparency tools, visit http://www. upmchealthplan.com/healthyu/decision.html.
mbabizmag.com • FEBRUARY 2016
HR & Legal Support
What does the MBA do? Glad you asked. It’s a question we hear frequently. Put simply, the MBA helps employers face challenges by delivering services that lower the cost of doing
HR Services & Products Comprehensive and In-Depth
Legal Help Professional
Development Training Expert
business, ease the burden of compliance and increase productivity for our members.
We accomplish our mission by providing members exclusive, value-added services. The list is long – too extensive to capture on a
four-page document, but we’ve put together a snapshot of the services and programs our members use to help their day-to-day operations, develop their employees’ skill sets,
lower their insurance costs, reduce energy costs and keep current with legislation.
We encourage you to keep this pull out section
and refer to it when you need: Timely
Legislative Information Thought-Provoking
Regional Business News
Comprehensive and In-Depth
HR & Legal Support
HR Services & Products
MBA trainers provide an interactive, engaging class environment that delivers the skills and tools to improve performance and help your organization compete more effectively. The Association offers half- and full-day classes, onsite and regional training as well as one-on-one customized
Your MBA membership entitles
coaching in classes that include:
your company to free and discounted HR services that include:
• Certified Supervisory Skills • Leadership for Team Leaders
The MBA’s HR/Legal Hotline is staffed by the Association’s employment law attorneys and certified HR generalists who are ready to advise you on a broad range of workplacerelated issues at no charge. It’s like having an attorney on your staff! Call the HR/Legal Hotline for issues such as:
• Hiring and firing • Employee benefits issues • Employment law • Contractual agreements • Workers’ compensation • Compensation and benefits • Unemployment compensation • Employee handbook policies • COBRA • ADA, FMLA • OSHA compliance • Sexual harassment
• Regional wage, salary and benefits data
• Food Safety Certification • HR Essential Certification
• Salary Increase and Adjustment Survey
Some issues may require more in-depth assistance than a
• PHR/SPHR Certification
• Records retention schedule
hotline call can provide. In
• Holiday and vacation shutdown schedules
those cases, MBA employment
• Lean Operations Champion Training
• HR compliance reviews
consultation and support on a
• Recruitment and selection
fee-for-service basis. Common
• Background checks
matters include, but are not
• Affirmative Action plans
law attorneys are available for
• Attorney-reviewed forms; download more than 25 up-to-date, legally reviewed online employment forms, applications, letters, guides, worksheets, checklists and more
• Finance for Nonfinancial Managers • HR for Non-HR Professionals
• Employee handbooks • Employee opinion surveys
• Six Sigma Green Belt Certification and Implementation
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• Safety Basics for the Supervisor
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• Quality/Productivity Programs
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• HR ListServ
• Onsite Training
• Employment law posters • HR conference and roundtables
HR Services Director:
HR Services Director:
Vice President/ Employment Counsel:
Manager of Member Engagement:
Stacey Bruce, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Stacey Bruce, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Tammy Lamary-Toman, Esq., PHR, SHRM-CP
Your employees can keep current with their computer skills with the MBA’s comprehensive computer training. Offered three ways — full-day and handson, eLearning webinars and onsite training — instruction is delivered in a “learn it today, use it tomorrow” approach. Hands-On Training offers small class sizes, individual laptops and expert instructors in the comfort of the MBA computer lab.
• Excel (Levels I, II and III) • Access (Levels I, II and III) • QuickBooks Pro 2015 • Social Media • eLearning Excel (Basics, Intermediate and Advanced, PivotTables and Charts) • eLearning Word (Basics, Intermediate and Advanced, Mail Merge) • eLearning PowerPoint (Basics, Intermediate and Advanced) • Windows Basics • Computers for Executives • Onsite Training
Manager of IT Systems and Services:
The MBA Insurance Agency’s three licensed agents offer individuals and employers the personalized attention and guidance necessary to navigate the confusing health insurance arena. Our agents work with the industry’s leading insurance carriers to offer members a wide range of premium insurance plans and coverage options at the lowest rates available. MBA members also enjoy excusive discounted rates from the Association’s group ancillary plans – Delta Dental, Aetna Life, Short-Term Disability and AD&D.
• Medical and Prescription Drug • Group Life, AD&D, Short and Long-Term Disability • Dental • Vision • Critical Illness and Accident Insurance • HRA, HSA, FSA Guidance • ACA Compliance • Long-Term Care Insurance • Workers’ Compensation Insurance • Self-Insurance and Alternative Funding Plans • Employee Benefits Hotline – answers to insurance-related questions, such as how to enroll or handle a billing or eligibility issue
The MBA, through its partnership with Logistics Plus, offers affordable and reliable transportation and logistics services. It’s like having your own, in-house logistics department on your side. MBA members that work with Logistics Plus will receive the following benefits:
MBA’s EnergyAdvisors is dedicated to helping members find the right energy supplier with the best energy supply
• LTL rates discounted 75 percent or more on shipments between 150 and 5,000 lbs
product at the right price. We
• Industry-best volume and truckload rates on shipments over 5,000 lbs
and rates for all types of energy
• Competitive air and ocean freight forwarding rates on import and export services • Customs brokerage and global trade compliance expertise • Live logistics specialist support and free customs brokerage consulting • Access to cost-effective temporary storage or long-term warehousing and distribution services
access a comprehensive list of pre-qualified suppliers on your behalf that offer varying plans users in the Penelec, PPL, West Penn, Penn Power, PECO and MetED areas.
• Long-term fixed-rate pricing • Variable rate pricing indexed to the day-ahead market • Blended rates • Demand response curtailment services for large energy users
Manager of Member Engagement:
Legislative Information Regional Business News
The MBA has long been known as the employers’ advocate in Pennsylvania. We monitor Breakfast meetings. Lunch
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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE is a catastrophe that can strike
The cycle of violence must be broken, and we must turn to our social and community services, and particularly our Public Health Services. Hence, wherever it occurs is a threat to individual, family, and community life. This makes it very much an issue for public health. As Surgeon General, I had made a concerted and progressive effort to call attention to violence as a public health issue. — C. Everett Koop Surgeon General
Erie’s Accredited Domestic Violence Agency To learn more, visit our website www.safeneterie.org 814-454-8161
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FEBRUARY 2016 • mbabizmag.com
LEGAL BRIEF |PLANNING AHEAD
Employee Wellness Plans: Get Your Workplace Into Good (Legal) Shape (“PHI”), applies to, among others, employersponsored group health plans. So, PHI that is collected from, or created about, employees in a wellness plan may be protected. If an employer, as plan sponsor, administers the plan, the plan documents must: a) establish separation between employees who perform plan functions and those who do not; b) prevent use of PHI for employment-related actions or other purposes not permitted by HIPAA; and, c) implement safeguards to ensure the security of electronic PHI. If a breach of unsecured PHI occurs, HIPAA requires that notifications be made and remedial measures be taken.
Jenna Bickford is an associate at MacDonald, Illig, Jones & Britton LLP. She practices in the areas of Business Transactions, Real Estate, Government Services and Health Care. She can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 814/870-7762. With employee health benefit costs on the rise, employers are looking for ways to save. One approach is to adopt an employee wellness plan. In concept, a healthier workforce will lead to lower medical care costs — and fewer days of missed work. An employee wellness plan allows an employee to earn a reward, such as a premium discount or a reduced deductible, by either participating in a healthy activity or obtaining a healthy result. In adopting an employee wellness plan, employers must exercise caution as numerous laws apply. Some key legal requirements are summarized below. HIPAA / Affordable Care Act Employee wellness plans cannot
discriminate; all employees must have the opportunity to participate. In some plans, employees earn a reward solely by participating. For example, employees may earn a lower deductible by attending a health education seminar or getting a flu shot. These plans do not discriminate because all employees can earn the reward. In health-contingent plans, employees earn a reward only if they achieve a particular result. These plans must be available to all employees and must permit employees to attempt to earn the reward at least once per year. Additionally, a reasonable alternative must be provided to employees who are unable to achieve the result due to a medical condition and the plan disclosure materials must describe the alternative. For example, a plan may provide a reduced premium for employees who do not smoke or, as an alternative, who attend a smoking cessation program, regardless of whether employees stop smoking. The reward in health-contingent plans is capped at 30 percent of the employee’s cost of coverage or 50 percent if the plan is related to reducing tobacco use. HIPAA Privacy and Security HIPAA, which protects the privacy and security of protected health information
Americans with Disabilities Act Under the ADA, employee wellness plans may not discriminate based on a disability. Obesity may be a disability if it limits a major life activity. If a wellness plan’s reward is based upon a healthy weight, an alternative may be needed, such as participating in a healthy lifestyle program, regardless of whether employees achieve a healthy weight. Also, voluntary health examinations conducted as part of wellness plans must be kept confidential and separate from employment files. Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Because genetic information is uniquely protected, employee wellness plan questionnaires should not request genetic information. If genetic testing services are offered, results should remain confidential between the licensed professional administering the test and the employee. While employee wellness plans can be a valuable part of employee benefit plans, by improving workforce health and reducing health-care costs, employers must ensure the plans are legally compliant. If you need assistance getting your employee wellness plan in good (legal) shape, please contact an attorney at MacDonald Illig. mbabizmag.com • FEBRUARY 2016
BUSINESS BUZZ | WHAT’S NEW
GE TRANSPORTATION DONATES $10K TO ERMP GE Transportation recently made a $10,000 donation to the Erie Regional Manufacturers Partnership (ERMP), during a ceremony at the GE’s Customer Innovation Center in Erie. ERMP is addressing the recent growth of manufacturing and declining pipeline of skilled manufacturers in Erie County. “Our goal is to grow the pool of skilled labor to fill manufacturing labor needs of today and in the future,” said George Currie executive vice president of Erie Press Systems and chair/president of ERMP. “We will do this by continuing to work with related community stakeholders, developing a workforce roadmap with dynamic goals and measurements, and opening plants to educate students, teachers, guidance counselors and others by illustrating family sustaining opportunities in the manufacturing workplace.” The ERMP Manufacturing Workforce Summit was held on October 1, 2015. The Summit successfully engaged a wider group of approximately 200 interested regional manufacturers, educators, workforce and economic development professionals, government officials and other community leaders to discuss ideas, establish workforce priorities, and develop a comprehensive action plan for moving forward. GE Transportation is a founding member of ERMP and has contributed to the funding, planning and participation of this summit. The information collected from the Summit participants and key stakeholders, is instrumental in developing the next steps that will allow ERMP to influence manufacturing for the next few years. The Strategic Action Plan has been drafted and were to be reviewed in January to determine focus areas and action teams. ERMP plans to announce their top priorities this month. “For the first time in recent history we have banded together manufacturers from our region with one goal in mind, to create the workforce of tomorrow,” said Roger Schultz, manager of Technical Training at LORD Corporation and vice chairperson of Erie Regional Manufacturer Partnership.
FEBRUARY 2016 • mbabizmag.com
Phil Katen (left), president of Plastikos and a member of the Manufacturer & Business Association Board of Governors, cuts the ribbon at the company’s recent open house.
BETTER BAKED FOODS, INC. NAMED 2015 SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR The Kroger Company, headquartered in Cincinnati, has named Better Baked Foods in North East, Pennsylvania its Supplier of the Year for 2015. The Kroger Company operates 2,625 supermarkets in the United States and is the second largest retailer in the Unites States. Better Baked Foods manufactures single serve French Bread Pizza manufactured exclusively under the Kroger Foods brand and has been a supplier to the Kroger Company for more than 25 years. The supplier of the year award criteria measured quality, delivery and service. Better Baked Foods was recognized over the more than 450 suppliers to Kroger with a formal presentation by Kroger executives at the Private Label Show in Chicago, Illinois. “It is a huge honor for us to be chosen as Supplier of the Year,” stated Joseph Pacinelli, president of Better Baked Foods. “Our owner, Bob Miller, never started this business to receive such an award; however, the attainment of the award exemplifies what we believe and practice every day and that is to be the best.” Better Baked Foods, with locations in Erie, North East and Westfield, New York, employs more than 400 associates. They are a national contract manufacturer that produces frozen bread-based products for companies such as Kroger, Wegman’s, Aldi, Schwan’s, Kraft Heinz, Kellogg’s, General Mills, and Con Agra Foods.
CYBERSECURITY 101 FOR MANUFACTURING PROGRAM TO BE HELD FEBRUARY 16 With the rise of cybercrime and data breaches, all businesses need to be prepared. Manufacturing companies are becoming more and more vulnerable as they rely on software, the cloud, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to manage and integrate data from many sources. Northwest Industrial Resource Center (NWIRC) will host a free program, Cybersecurity 101 for Manufacturing, from 8:30 – 10 a.m. Tuesday, February 16, at the Knowledge Center, 5240 Knowledge Parkway, to review the basics. Topics will include legal perspectives, shop floor security, prevention measures, and incident response. Presenters are: John Persinger, MacDonald Illig, Emerging Technologies Practice Group; Scott McCausland, Process and Data Automation; Jay Markey, Green Seven Technologies; and David Peck, David J. Peck & Associates, LLC. To register, visit www.nwirc.org or call 814/898-6888.
PEOPLE BUZZ | AWARDS & PROMOTIONS
CHANNELLOCK PRESENTS COVETED FALCON AWARD, ANNOUNCES PROMOTION
award, highlighting his 20 years of service and commitment to the company.
Damon Grove, Heat Treat supervisor at Channellock Inc., was honored with the 12th annual Falcon Award during a lunch ceremony this past fall at the company’s headquarters in Meadville, Pennsylvania.
As the 2015 Falcon Award recipient, Grove will receive a gift of his own choosing: a zero-turn lawn mower. Grove also received an engraved silver bowl and will have his name inscribed on a plaque displayed beside the handblown Daum crystal falcon that serves as the symbol of the Falcon Award at Channellock’s headquarters.
According to the company, the Falcon Award is the crown jewel of the Falcon Program, a multi-faceted initiative implemented in 2003 and designed to reward, encourage and celebrate Channellock Inc. associates at work, at home and in the community. The Falcon Award is presented to the one associate who best demonstrates the ideals of the program: speed in action through productivity; far-sightedness and clear vision in making everyday decisions that impact Channellock’s bottom line; job performance at work; leadership skills through participation in community organizations; and a clear understanding and commitment to Channellock’s “Vision Blue,” which states that “communication, commitment, cooperation and constant improvement yield success.” Grove’s dedication and work ethic are examples of how Channellock has benefitted from his exemplary service. Grove’s peers nominated him for the
TEAM HARDINGER GM KEEPS COMPANY LOCALLY OWNED Team Hardinger, an Eriebased transportation, warehousing and value-added services company, recently announced the acquisition of the company and its subsidiaries, Hardinger Logistics and Schaal Realty, by Harold “H.” Bender. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Bender, an Erie native, has served as the company’s general manager since 2008 and has shared ownership with the company’s co-founder, William “Bill” Schaal Sr., since 2012. As general manager, Bender led a significant expansion of the company’s services and offerings, including the establishment of the Erie region’s first and largest Foreign Trade Zone, the creation of a brokerage
HARTMAN GROUP WELCOMES CLIENT SERVIES REPRESENTATIVE
In addition, the company announced that Kari Ferguson has been promoted to payroll manager/ accountant. Ferguson has been with Channellock Inc. for 21 years. In this role, Ferguson will oversee the hourly payroll processing and develop methods to improve the processes. She is also responsible for preparing the quarterly payroll tax returns and is responsible for the W-2 preparation for associates at year-end.
Jo’nelle Fetzer recently joined The Hartman Group as a Client Services representative. Fetzer works in the Williamsport office and will be responsible for coordinating renewal processing, developing medical cost and benefit comparisons, and facilitating solutions to claims and billings issues to support the firm’s clients. Fetzer holds a degree in communications from Bloomsburg University. Most recently, she worked as the listing coordinator for Coldwell Banker Penn One Real Estate and previously worked for Moran Industries. The Hartman Group consists of The Hartman Agency, Inc., Hartman Employee Benefits, Inc., and Hartman Financial Services with offices in Williamsport, State College and Duncannon. Hartman operates commercial employee benefit, commercial property and casualty, financial services, and personal lines divisions.
“Kari has been a valuable member of our team and we were thrilled to offer her this opportunity,” said Erica Plyler, Channellock Inc. corporate controller. “It is dedicated associates like Kari that make Channellock Inc. successful.”
ERIE CITY MISSION NAMES NEW DIRECTOR
Founded in 1886, Channellock, Inc. is a worldwide leader in the manufacturing of highquality pliers and assorted hand tools.
Stephen L. Westbrook, CPA, CGMA was recently named new executive director of the Erie City Mission. Having served in both public accounting and with private companies, Westbrook is a CPA/CFO/ED corporate leader whose work has spanned over 28 years, including 18 years in the nonprofit and human services sector.
transportation subsidiary, and a multimillion-dollar investment in bestin-class infrastructure, equipment and technology. “We have a tremendous team that has built Team Hardinger’s capabilities to where we compete at the national level,” Bender stated. “I am extremely proud of the team and the work we’ve done so far, and I look forward to the opportunities we will create for our customers, employees and the community in the future.”
Westbrook’s corporate leadership has produced effective fiscal management and mission-based organizational strategy and outcomes. His expertise helped lead to the successful recovery, stability and sustainability of several turnaround operations. According to the City Mission, Westbrook has proven proficiency in developing internal key performance indicators and other processes resulting in increased organizational insight, margin and growth.
Team Hardinger is an integrated logistics services company that provides asset-based transportation, truckload brokerage, warehousing, Foreign Trade Zone, and value-added services for manufacturers and the food industry nationwide. Team Hardinger is headquartered in Erie and employs approximately 175 team members at four locations in northwest Pennsylvania.
Westbrook has served on the national board of the Lutheran Financial Managers Association, is a graduate of the FaithBased Leadership Institute and is a member of both the AICPA and TSCPA.
mbabizmag.com • FEBRUARY 2016
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FEBRUARY 2016 • mbabizmag.com
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ON THE HILL | SPEAKING UP
Help Students Escape Failing Schools Darryl M. White is senior vice president for the Commonwealth Foundation Pennsylvania’s free market think tank. Email him at dmw@ commonwealthfoundation.org.
Ask any business leader the key to a company’s success, and the answer will likely be “finding the right people.” While many factors define “right,” few would dispute that a solid education is essential. Tragically, many schoolchildren across Pennsylvania today are denied the quality education so critical to success in life. Trapped by their zip codes in failing and sometimes even violent schools, these children have incredible potential but their hopes and ambitions are needlessly crushed. It doesn’t have to be this way — and business leaders can play a vital role in turning things around. Since 2001, students have had access to a lifeline out of failing schools via Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. The EITC lets companies direct a portion of their business taxes to scholarship organizations, which then provide scholarships for students to attend schools of their choice. In return, businesses receive a tax credit worth 75 percent of the donation. If the company pledges to give the same donation two years in a row, the tax credit rises to 90 percent. Thanks to the involvement of the business community, thousands of children and families have had their lives set on a new positive trajectory. In 2013-14 alone,
Why Education Tax Credits Make Academic — and Business — Sense
nearly 40,000 Pennsylvania schoolchildren received EITC scholarships. In Erie, students benefited from more than $5 million in EITC funding in the 2013-14 school year; in Pittsburgh, more than $16 million; in Harrisburg, more than $9 million, and in Philadelphia, nearly $16 million. In Erie, 2,500 students received approximately $2.5 million in scholarships last year through the STAR (Student Tuition Assistance Resources) Foundation, according to a Times-News report. Thanks to the contributions of more than 100 companies, these students have the opportunity to build a solid educational foundation that will last a lifetime. The average income of families receiving EITC scholarships is $29,000. Stretching this income to meet the demands of food and housing is challenging enough; adding tuition would be nearly impossible. Too many of Pennsylvania’s public schools are failing our students. Often, violence and arrests at schools create very difficult learning atmospheres. How can we expect students to focus on algebra when they’re concerned for their safety? These students don’t deserve to be consigned to failing schools; they deserve
the opportunity to succeed that EITC scholarships provide. It’s not surprising, then, that demand for EITC scholarships far outweighs supply. For example, the Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia, the largest K-8 scholarship program in the state, is forced to turn away 8,000 students each year. Businesses can be the catalyst that fills this gap and brings opportunity to these students and thousands more like them. Through EITC scholarships, companies support their local communities and help provide schoolchildren the chance they desperately need and want. Meanwhile, students gain an educational experience specifically tailored to their individual needs. It’s a win for everyone — students, families, businesses, neighborhoods and the Commonwealth. And after all, what better way to build a prosperous future for our communities and our state than to invest in the next generation? Information on the EITC program is available at community.newpa.com/programs/educationalimprovement-tax-credit-program-eitc.
Participate in the CEO/CFO Soundoff Blog! CURRENT TOPIC: HOW TO DIRECT YOUR TAXES WITH EDUCATION TAX CREDITS
Instead of paying taxes directly to the state, why not redirect some to support education for local children? Read Custom Engineering CFO Jim Ohrn’s stance on why employers should take advantage of Pennsylvania’s EITC program. Then share your thoughts with fellow CEOs and CFOs on our exclusive, secure site at www.mbabizmag.com.
mbabizmag.com • FEBRUARY 2016
HR CONNECTION | WORKPLACE UPDATES
PRESENTEEISM: STUDY EXAMINES WHY SOME WORKERS GO TO WORK SICK
Remove the Stress Effect WHY IT MATTERS TO YOUR COMPANY’S PRODUCTIVITY A highly stressed employee usually equates to someone who does not have the ability to focus on their productivity in the workplace. When they’re overly worried about things, it impedes their ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Sure, a little bit of stress can keep employees on their toes and ward off complacency. But time and time again, we have found that while much management-driven stress is unintentional — and many managers are unaware of the consequences of their actions — that doesn’t change the reality that too many helpings of stress seldom get management where it wants to go. There have been numerous documented findings of the negative consequences of workplace stress on both the health and productivity of employees. A recent StressPulse survey notes that 64 percent of employees report high stress levels, with 29 percent missing three to six days a year due to stress, and 16 percent missing more than six days per year. Not only is this stress-related absenteeism, but also an employee state of “presenteeism” — meaning an
employee is on the job, but distracted and not functioning well.
Why do workers go to work when they are sick? A new study aimed to improve understanding of the main causes of “presenteeism,” as well as to help make managers more aware of the existence of the growing phenomenon and what triggers the behavior. The study, by a researcher at the University of East Anglia (UAE) and Concordia University, found that high job demands, stress and job insecurity are among the main reasons why people go to work when they are sick. A key finding of the study, “Going to work ill: A meta-analysis of the correlates of presenteeism and a dual-path model,” published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, is that presenteeism not only stems from sickness and stress, but also from raised motivation, resulting from high job satisfaction and a strong sense of commitment to the organization.
As greater demands for additional productivity are placed on our management team, the stress associated with it gradually affects their management civility by taking their frustrations out on the employee. The result of this almost always ends the same way — a capable employee voicing their dissatisfaction by leaving the organization for what is perceived to be a less stressful situation, with an employer forced to rehire, retrain and work short-handed in the interim.
REPORT: MORE EMPLOYERS WILL MAKE WELLNESS AN HR PRIORITY THIS YEAR A new report released by Virgin Pulse — the habits-focused well-being company — reveals that employers are implementing wellness programs to achieve business objectives and address HR priorities.
As managers, we tend to increase stress levels because we’re concerned we’re not getting the productivity we want. The irony is that, in so doing, we often unwittingly further diminish the productivity we hope to increase. Make sure you use the power of “Managing by Walking Around” by engaging with your employees to gauge their stress levels. Many employees manage stress through interaction and conversation, so all managers need to ensure they are approachable and available to employees in times of high stress.
More than half of the HR professionals surveyed in the report say they are looking to improve employee engagement (60 percent), productivity (53 percent) and organizational culture (52.8 percent) through wellness, which is no longer being seen as strictly an HR initiative, but rather a business imperative. For the second year in a row, Virgin Pulse partnered with Human Capital Media, the research arm of Workforce magazine, to survey more than 1,000 HR professionals across levels and industries. According to the report, seniorlevel executives are looking at wellness programs not so much as a cost reduction measure, but to help improve employee engagement and productivity, which were cited as key HR priorities for the year.
Tracy Daggett is an instructor in the Association’s Professional Development Training Department. For more information, contact him at 814/833-3200, 800/815-2660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
mbabizmag.com • FEBRUARY 2016
LEGAL Q&A | GET ANSWERS
I JUST RECEIVED A DECISION THAT A FORMER EMPLOYEE OF MINE WAS FOUND ELIGIBLE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION (UC) BENEFITS. CAN I APPEAL THIS? Absolutely. If you feel that the former employee was wrongly found eligible for UC benefits, you can and should appeal. There are three levels of UC eligibility appeals: 1) UC Service Center Determination Appeal to a UC Referee; 2) UC Referee Decision Appeal to the UC Board of Review; and, 3) UC Board of Review Decision Appeal to the Commonwealth Court.
MY HR MANAGER WILL BE REPRESENTING OUR COMPANY AT A UC HEARING NEXT MONTH. SHOULD HE BRING ANY DOCUMENTATION WITH HIM? Yes, he should bring any documentation that you feel is relevant to the case. A helpful tip is to take three copies of all of your relevant documents to the hearing in case he will need to give copies to the hearing officer and/or the claimant and still have one for himself. He should do this even though you typically have to send the documents in advance. Documents that are commonly relevant for employers to bring to a hearing are pertinent written standards of performance and policies, employee signed acknowledgement of the standards, and any warnings that were given. Depending on the case, other documents may be necessary.
WHAT ARE THE UC RESPONSIBILITIES OF PA EMPLOYERS? According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, employers who pay wages for employment covered under the UC Law are required to: register with the Department of Labor & Industry; maintain certain employment records; file quarterly reports of wages paid and contributions due; pay the employer contributions due on such quarterly reports; and withhold and remit any employee contributions due on such quarterly reports for quarters during which employee contributions are in effect; and, respond timely and adequately to the department’s request for information regarding an individual’s eligibility for compensation.
FEBRUARY 2016 • mbabizmag.com
Unemployment Compensation Eligibility Case: WHAT EMPLOYERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT A RECENT DECISION In a recent unemployment compensation (“UC”) case, the Commonwealth Court held that a substantial and unilateral change to an employee’s pay and performance goals was enough to meet the burden of a “necessitous and compelling cause” to voluntarily quit employment. The Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law at 43 P.S. §802(b) provides that an employee shall be ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits for any week “in which his unemployment is due to voluntarily leaving work without cause of a necessitous and compelling nature.” In this case, the employee was reassigned to a new supervisor and, soon after, filed a complaint with the company about his former supervisor. After an investigation, the employer did not take any disciplinary action against the employee’s old supervisor and dismissed his complaints. According to the employee, shortly thereafter, the new supervisor changed the way his bonuses would be calculated, resulting in a significant decrease in his annual pay, and set “unachievable expectations.” The employee quit his job as he considered the changes to be retaliation for the complaint against his former supervisor. He then filed for unemployment compensation benefits. In upholding the Unemployment Compensation Review Board’s decision and affirming the employee’s eligibility to receive UC benefits, the Court stated that a necessary cause to quit one’s job can exist when the employer has made an unreasonable change and that a considerable reduction in pay occurs. The Court further agreed that it was not unreasonable for the employee to believe that these “unachievable expectations” were in retaliation for filing a formal complaint with his employer. While the Court is careful to point out that mere dissatisfaction with reasonable modifications is not enough to establish a necessitous and compelling cause to quit one’s job, employers should be aware of making unilateral changes that may be viewed as unattainable or unachievable.
Tammy Lamary-Toman is the employment law counsel for the Manufacturer & Business Association. For more information, contact her at 814/833-3200, 800/815-2660 or email@example.com.
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