Paid Family Leave Legislation

Paid Family Leave (HB 2005) is the last remaining Paid Family Leave (PFL) Bill under consideration. OSCC is still awaiting amendments for a new paid family leave bill that would implement a new 12-week paid family leave program for all businesses down to the first employee. Employers with under 25 employees would not be required to do an employer side payroll withhold, only an employee payroll withhold.  We don’t have final language on the proposal, but we can share a sheet that shows the features of the new proposal. 

Previous versions of this proposal under various bills including HB 3031 provided up 32 weeks of leave and required employers with 1 plus employees to do employer side payroll withholds and didn’t accommodate or recognize like or better plans already provided by business.  Based on feedback from business organizations including chambers (our letter to legislators), the remaining PFL bill has been revised to a more manageable size/set of requirements.

Remember, several business organizations have asked for passage of this proposal, thereby increasing the likelihood of passage. The theory was that if business did not support a paid family leave proposal in the 2019 session, we would be confronted with a ballot measure in 2020 that would propose a far more costly and unwieldy system

PERS Unfunded Liability – Legislation & Solutions

PERS cost savings legislation passes. SB 1049 passed the Senate with a bare 16-vote majority and then followed with passage in the House with a bare 31-vote majority, but only after Speaker Kotek stood ‘at ease’ on the House floor and called Democrats into her office to twist enough arms to secure the 31 votes she needed.

It was perhaps the most impressive display of political clout that we’ve seen all session. The Speaker literally marshaled all 31 votes she needed from her own caucus (no Republicans voted for the bill), and in the process infuriated her caucus’ biggest constituency and benefactor (public employee unions). It was truly impressive.

As a refresher on the substance of SB 1049:

  • Tier 1 and Tier 2 members, who are public employees who entered the PERS system before 2004, would have 2.5% of their salaries diverted from their individual retirement accounts into paying off the system’s debt.
     
  • Workers hired 2004 of later (PERS Tier 3 and Tier 4), would face a lower diversion – 0.75% of their salaries.
     
  • The biggest cost savings comes from the re-amortization of the pension debt. Over 2/3 of the savings comes from this re-financing provision.
     
  • A reduction in assumed interest rate for retirees who use the “money match” method of calculating their pension benefits.
     
  • SAIF is largely held harmless.
     
  • About $600 million in pension cost savings per biennium across state government and schools.

For more information on the PERS Unfunded liability, how we got there and possible solutions and coalition information, go to PERSSolutions.org

Networking for Introverts

I’ve been doing some reading on a variety of topics. In so doing it struck me that many of our chamber events, particularly networking are really more geared to individuals who may be higher on the scale of extrovert. 

We are all on a continuum between 100% introvert and 100% extrovert. If you are fairly balanced between the two, then you might be an ambivert.  

Really the classification of whether you are an introvert has to do with how you recharge. 

Do you get your energy from being with a group of people and feeding off that energy and that charges you? – You are likely higher on the continuum toward extrovert. 

Does being with large groups of people actually pull energy from you and you get your energy from things like alone time, time spent with maybe 1 or 2 people, doing something, creative, active, etc? – Then you are on the other end of the continuum moving towards introvert.  If you are kind of in the middle with some characteristics of both you may be an ambivert.

It isn’t that introverts can’t connect, network and participate in large group settings, its just that particular activity doesn’t recharge their batteries.  So if you a reading this and saying, that is so me, then here are some tips for navigating business networking and making it work for you, while being true to yourself.

Redefine what Networking Looks like to You – Let’s call it Connecting, Building Relationships, don’t feel like you have to be this big outgoing personality.  Leverage your strengths, listen, be empathetic, ask a couple of key questions. Figure out your purpose for being there, like I am trying to hire people and ask if they know someone that can help.  Ask what they are trying to achieve, see how you can help.

Don’t Try to Work the Whole Room – Isn’t that a Relief!:)  Try to find kindred spirits, those more on the periphery, find people you truly connect with and go deeper with fewer more meaningful conversations.  Try for at least two.  Who knows where that might lead.

Focus on Asking Good Questions – Give it some thought, and then lean in and listen. Ask questions that can help you figure out how to be of use in building the relationship.  What excites you, what is the biggest challenge you are facing, where do you hope to take your business…..

Bring a Wing Man if that makes you feel better.  There is strength and comfort in numbers and at least you know one person there.

Don’t arrive late after everyone is connected and talking, it makes it harder and more intimidating to break in on a conversation.

Considering Volunteering to Work the Event – Gives you something to do, and and easy way of being introduced.

Ask your chamber staff or ambassadors for an introduction either in person or digitally.  State what you are looking for.  We all need help achieving our goals and our chamber is built on that belief among the members.

Hope you enjoyed this article and find it useful.  Stay tuned for more tips on leveraging the strengths you bring to the table as an introvert in building relationships for your business!

14 Ways to Attract the Best & Brightest Employees

Everyone wants to attract the best and brightest employees. After all, your team directly affects your ability to provide excellent customer service and that is essential to business success these days.

If you’re a very small business, you might not be looking for the best and the brightest but the willing and capable. That’s good too.

But either way, you want to attract good, quality employees just like everyone else. In today’s job market, with unemployment hovering around 3.6%, it’s a job hunter’s paradise and you’re likely hard-pressed to find the stars you want.

To further complicate that, those stars are likely already employed. So how do you become the kind of business that people want to work for? How do you get them to knock on your door instead of you having to chase them? Here are some ideas to help make you an employer of choice in your community.

Become an Employer of Choice and Potential Employees Will Seek You Out

The beauty of becoming an employer of choice–someone everyone wants to work for–is that it doesn’t cost a lot of money. It’s also a lot easier than you might think but there are a couple of things you need to do before we talk about the facets behind a great workplace.

You must know who you’re looking for

Before you recreate your business to attract quality employees, you need to know who those employees are. Are you looking for seasoned professionals or someone with little experience who you can mold? Are you looking for a “hunter” personality or a “nurturer”? Maybe you only want naturally curious people, for instance. Yes, some of these things are position specific, but others reflect the type of culture you want to build.

One note of caution: this tip is by no means suggesting you scout for a particular demographic. That can get you into trouble legally through discriminatory hiring practices.

However, there are overarching themes you should be looking for that help you build the type of environment that will contribute to the service you want to provide your customers.

Know what your competition is doing

While you should never use your competition’s actions to hold you back by thinking, “They’re not doing it yet. We don’t have to.”, you should keep an eye on their hiring and recruiting practices. You don’t want them to pass you up.

You need to talk about yourself

This is hard for a lot of employers but it is absolutely necessary in becoming an employer of choice in the community. But don’t be a bore about it. Don’t tell people how great you are. Show them. Post what you’re doing, what you value, and celebrate your people doing it well for all to see. That’s the kind of thing that will get people excited about working for you.

Speaking of that. let’s jump right in to how you can become a highly desired business in your community (even if you’re teeny tiny):

  • Be flexible with work hours and/or provide work at home opportunities. It needn’t be full-time just give the flexibility.
  • Offer flexible start times. There are some businesses that this does not work for but others can adopt a coordinated window of when people start. Parents really appreciate this perk.
  • Have an attractive work facility or public spaces.
  • Offer safe, ample parking.
  • Make professional development a key component of what you offer. The chamber may provide some very cost-effective options for helping you do this. As a chamber member, your employees can attend their programming.
  • Insist that everyone use their vacation time and don’t create such an intense environment that they feel they can’t.
  • Market your ideas behind work/life balance.
  • Let your personality shine through all of your social media posts, web copy, and business communications.

Tips for Hospitality, Food Service, and Retail

These industries are notorious for the revolving door and it’s difficult to become an employer of choice in many of them because the things that office employers can do (like flexible start times) can’t be accomplished in these industries. But here are a few things you can offer such as:

  • Pay a higher wage for the area.
  • Schedule samplings and trial times. For instance, host paired tastings for employees after the restaurant closes or host a mini fashion show with paired items your employees put together from the store. It will make them better salespeople when they are suggesting dishes or outfits.
  • Celebrate your best employees and help everyone become your best.
  • Ask for employee suggestions and listen to them.
  • Empower them to do better by the customer.
  • Don’t make them feel secondary to the customer. Instead, help them feel like they are pivotal to customer experience and without them, there wouldn’t be customers.

With today’s low unemployment rate, finding quality employees can be a struggle. You will do much better in recruiting and hiring if they notice you and seek you out. As an employer of choice in your community, you will have your pick of future employees and that’s a good spot to be in.

Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.  

Christina is an introverted writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

Oregon Legislative Update 5-21-19

Week 17 – State Legislative Update

Activity on Major Issues

  • The $2.8 billion Commercial Activity Tax (HB 3427) was signed into law by Governor Brown. Starting on January 1, 2020, all businesses doing business in Oregon will see:
     
    • A gross receipts tax rate of 0.57% on Oregon sales over $1 million;
    • A 35% deduction from taxable sales for labor OR business inputs, whichever is higher;
    • An exemption for groceries (defined as those that qualify for ‘SNAP’) and transportation fuel.
  • Cap-and-Trade (HB 2020). On Friday, HB 2020-A passed its first major milestone. After three hours of debate, the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction adopted the -94 amendments on a party line vote and sent the bill to the Joint Committee on Ways & Means for further deliberation. Democrats voted down all other amendments that were brought forward, although it was widely acknowledged that rural Oregon would suffer job loss and economic hardship under the bill.

    As currently written, if this bill were to pass in its current form, transportation costs will increase. Natural gas costs will increase. Propane costs will increase. Local food processors and manufacturers will face a real competitive disadvantage. Small businesses and households will see increases in transportation and energy costs.
    OSCC still believes there are still opportunities to change this bill in the Ways & Means Committee.  

What happened last week?

  • The state revenue forecast added $770 million to state coffers for the upcoming 2019-2021 biennium. Just from the last forecast in March, every metric grew by eye-popping numbers due to a historic influx of revenue over the tax season.

    In addition to the influx of $770 million into the upcoming budget cycle, the kicker almost doubled in size.  It’s now projected at $1.4 billion. Net reserve funds are now nearly $3.5 billion.

    But the real impact of the historic revenue forecast is that it will tamp down on talk of additional tax revenue for the remainder of the 2019 legislative session.
  • The legislature’s attempt at PERS reform was unveiled with Senate Bill 1049. SB 1049 contains the following provisions:
     
    • Tier 1 and Tier 2 members, who are public employees who entered the PERS system before 2004, would have 2.5% of their salaries diverted from their individual retirement accounts into paying off the system’s debt.
    • Workers hired 2004 or later (PERS Tier 3 and Tier 4), would face a lower diversion – 0.75% of their salaries.
    • Public employees earning less than $30,000 a year would be exempted.
       
    • A reduction in assumed interest rate for retirees who use the “money match” method of calculating their pension benefits.
    • Most significantly, legislators seem to have abandoned efforts to raid SAIF to cover PERS liability, which is a good development for Oregon employers. 

The future of SB 1049 is uncertain. Although it is only a modest cost-saving measure, the unions oppose it in force and it is unlikely that majority Democrats can carry the issue themselves.

  • Equal Pay Technical Fixes (SB 123-A). On Tuesday, the Oregon Senate passed SB 123 unanimously. The bill includes several important technical fixes to give employers clarity in implementing Oregon’s Equal Pay Act. Oregon’s law is the most comprehensive in the country, and it has been difficult for many employers – large, small, and seasonal – to implement. We anticipate rulemaking later this year to address several other issues identified by Sen. Kathleen Taylor and Sen. Tim Knopp.

Other key issues coming up this week.

  • Prevailing wages in enterprise zones (HB 2408). We are expecting the Senate Workforce Committee to take up HB 2408 this week. In its current form, the bill requires prevailing wages to be paid on private enterprise zone projects of $20 million or more. OSCC is actively opposing and lobbying the legislation.
  • Lawsuit Damages (HB 2014). We are expecting the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on HB 2014 this week. HB 2014 would repeal Oregon’s legal limit of $500,000 on non-economic damages in personal injury and negligence lawsuit claims. OSCC, health care groups, and business organizations are opposing this legislation because it is a significant factor in driving up health care costs and general liability costs for employers.
  • Paid Family Leave is still under discussion. The last remaining bill alive looks something like this – Details of this are being worked out now.  More like the Washington state model.  Business has asked for it as long as it more clearly mirrors the Washington model. Current scenario.  – Employer employee split 40/60, 12 weeks for serious medical conditions, birth. Same qualifying factors for OFLA, business under 25 employees, exempt, but employees have to pay in those businesses.  Only those (businesses) who pay into system are available for training grants to cover those employees on leave.  Leave requirements apply to any employee down to 1 employee, even if exempt as under 25 employees.  Employer plans we need to meet or exceed these benefits to get a waiver.  More details as we get them.

There are fewer than 45-days before session adjourns, and NOW is the time to make your voice heard.