JANUARY 2004 VOLUME 13, Issue 3
A newsletter for the members and friends of the
MetroWest Human Resource Management Association
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS
Sean Gavin, American Express Financial
Sanine Potemri, Courion Corporation
2004 Brings Change to MetroWest HRMA Leadership
As we enter 2004, we acknowledge the resignation of Cheryl Cushman as President and Chair of the Board. Cheryl will
continue as a member and will assist the membership committee as time permits. We all wish Cheryl well and thank her for her
After appointing her by unanimous vote of the Board of Directors, we welcome Dianne Davidson as President to complete the
current term through August 2005. Dianne has served the MetroWest HRMA for several years as Secretary and, most recently,
as Editor of this newsletter. We all offer our support to Dianne as she assumes the responsibilities as our President!
Dianne holds a BS in Management and a certificate in HR Management from Bentley College. She is employed as a Consultant
at Human Resource Partners, Inc., in Natick.
MetroWest HRMA 2003 - 2004 SEMINAR SCHEDULE
SEPTEMBER 16, 2003 ANNUAL MEETING and FEBRUARY 10, 2004 Annual Wage and Hour, FLSA and
Human Resource Forum FMLA Review and Update
OCTOBER 21, 2003 Hiring, Employing and MARCH 16, 2004 Managing Culture Change in
Retaining the Disabled Your Organization
NOVEMBER 18, 2003 Analyzing Benefit Plans APRIL 13, 2004 How to PR HR and Other Metrics
DECEMBER 9, 2003 Effective Use of Humor MAY 18, 2004 When and How to Outsource
in the Workplace HR Functions
JANUARY 13, 2004 Improving Your JUNE 15, 2004 Annual Employment
Presentation Skills Law Update
For additional information, please visit the calendar section of our website at www.metrowesthrma.com
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SPONSORED BY: Clark University Graduate Management Center, 1671 Worcester Rd.,
Framingham, MA 01701. NOW offering a Graduate Human Resource Certificate for Today’s HR
Professional. For more information please contact Marty Breinlinger at 508-793-7212 or visit our website at
LEAD BY ETHICAL EXAMPLE
If your employees are taking home a box of staples or a few pencils from the supply room, don't call the ethics police just yet. Do,
however, make a mental note that these employees believe your work environment is one in which it's okay to bend the rules when it
benefits them. An employee's belief that he/she is entitled to something -- whether it's office supplies, sporting tickets, or cash -- often
serves as a catalyst for unethical behavior, if left unchecked.
Feeling as though they are owed something isn't the only reason employees behave "unethically." According to the 2003 Business
Ethics Survey (conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Ethics Resource Center), 52% of those surveyed
said they felt at least some pressure to compromise standards, up from 47% in 1997. The top five reasons cited for this increased
pressure were the need to:
1. follow a boss's directive;
2. meet overly aggressive business/financial objectives;
3. help the organization survive;
4. meet schedule pressures; and
5. be a team player.
If employees are feeling pressure from top brass to bend the rules, does that mean they find senior executives to be part of the ethical
problem? Maybe. Only 54% of those surveyed in The Walker Loyalty Report for Loyalty and Ethics in the Workplace believed
that their company's senior leaders were highly ethical individuals.
To ensure that your employees see you as a beacon of ethical light, make sure that you not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.
Employees model their behavior on that of supervisors, managers, and others in positions of authority. So think twice before
compromising company standards no matter how insignificant you think the compromise might be.
It's also wise to paint employees an ethics picture. Telling employees that unethical behavior will not be tolerated is one thing.
Providing them with examples of unethical behavior is quite another. Note: If your company doesn't currently have an ethics policy,
you should strongly consider constructing one. Here are some examples of unethical behavior you may want to sprinkle throughout
your ethics policy:
* Accepting gifts, money, entertainment, etc., from a competitor in exchange for information, services, etc.
Example: A competitor offers an employee two football tickets in hopes of gaining access to that company's customer lists.
* Being financially involved with a competitor.
Example: Working as a consultant for a competitor.
* Using the company's property for personal gain.
Example: Using a company computer system to keep track of records for a personal business.
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* Revealing confidential information about either the company or a customer.
Example: Sharing a customer's Social Security number with someone.
* Falsifying documents.
Example: Recording an employee's performance as unacceptable, when, in fact, the employee is performing in a satisfactory
From Alexander Hamilton Institute, Hot Topics in Employment Law Vol. 5, No. 19
MWHRMA BOARD MEMBERS & VOLUNTEERS
Dianne Davidson, President Rana Hosseini, Vice President & Benefits Coordinator
Human Resource Partners, Inc. Apex Benefits Consultants, Inc.
Maura Grossman, Secretary Kathleen Mahoney, Treasurer
Grafton Suburban Credit Union Middlesex Savings Bank
Mike Sabin, Administrator Editor
Bay State Advisors, Inc. Open
Membership Chair Bob Murphy, Past Chair (Ex-officio)
Open Human Resource Partners, Inc.
SHRM Coordinator George Mullin, Program Chair
Open Associated Industries of Massachusetts
NEWS FROM SHRM
Job Satisfaction Survey Says More Employees Satisfied with Benefits at Large Organizations Versus Small
Majority of Employees Report Overall Job Satisfaction
(Alexandria, VA, December 4, 2003)
Although 76 percent of all employees report satisfaction with their job, employees at large organizations report much more satisfaction
with their benefits than those at small organizations. Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of employees at large organizations and 60
percent of medium-sized organizations report being satisfied with their total benefits package compared to 47 percent at small
organizations, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)/CNNfn Job Satisfaction Series: Job Benefits
This third survey in a series on job satisfaction focused on benefits as a component of overall job satisfaction in the workplace. In the
first survey, employees rated benefits packages as the second most important component (closely following job security).
As organizations work to recruit and retain top employees, HR professionals and their employers must understand the factors that
impact employee motivation and satisfaction. Employee satisfaction contributes directly to organizational growth and the bottom line.
“People issues are important bottom line issues in organizations today,” said Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR, president and CEO of
SHRM. “Organizations that learn what satisfies employees will gain the edge in increasing customer satisfaction, retaining employees,
competing for top talent and driving success.”
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“This survey clearly indicates that it is critically important for small organizations to design comprehensive employee benefits
packages,” said Ken Jautz, executive vice president of CNN News Group’s business news operations. “Small businesses are the
backbone of the U.S. economy, yet they face serious financial and creative challenges associated with providing employee benefits
packages. To retain top talent, remain competitive and grow financially, these businesses must be resourceful to keep employees
The study surveyed a sample of employees and a sample of HR professionals to gain information about their perspectives on employee
satisfaction. Both groups surveyed reported health care, paid time off and retirement benefits as the most important benefits related to
overall job satisfaction. Among the benefits that ranked least important were child-care assistance, flexible spending accounts and
Employees have come to expect robust benefits packages from their employers, and according to the results, most employers seem to
deliver. The majority of employees (63 percent) reported being satisfied with their total benefits package, and 76 percent reported
overall satisfaction with their current job.
Satisfaction levels with benefits vary based on organizational demographics. Employees in medium-sized organizations with 100 to
499 employees (62 percent) and in large organizations with more than 500 employees (67 percent) are almost twice as likely to report
satisfaction with their medical benefits. This contrasts with small organizations (1 to 99 employees) where only 38 percent of
employees are satisfied with their medical benefits. Likewise, employees in medium-sized (66 percent) and large (70 percent)
organizations are satisfied with their paid time off benefits compared to just 44 percent in small organizations.
Age also suggests differences in which benefits are most important to employees. Educational assistance is important to 20 percent of
employees 35 and under, and only 4 percent of employees 56 and over. In addition, employees 35 and under (31 percent), and 36 to 55
(28 percent) value flexible work schedules more than employees 56 and over (19 percent). Knowing the specific makeup and
preferences of the workforce helps HR professionals design benefits packages that are most effective for their workforce.
FROM THE IRS: DOMESTIC PARTNER CERTIFICATION AND RETIREMENT PLAN COMPLIANCE
If you currently, or plan to, offer medical and dental benefits to employees' domestic partners, here's news. The Internal Revenue
Service (IRS) recently issued a private letter ruling (PLR 200339001) that addresses how to document dependent status for
determining the tax treatment of those benefits for same-sex domestic partners. Note: A PLR is directed to the taxpayer requesting it
and may not be used or cited as precedent.
The IRS recommends that employers use a certification process to determine whether medical and dental coverage is subject to federal
income and employment taxes. Employers should have employees and their domestic partners submit a notarized Domestic Partner
Affidavit prior to plan enrollment and then re-certify the information annually.
The certification should state that the domestic partner qualifies as a dependent and meets the support and relationship requirements of
a tax dependent under Code Section 152(a)(9).
These requirements are:
* the domestic partner receives more than half of his/her support from the employee;
* the employee's home is the domestic partner's principal abode; and
* the domestic partner's membership in the employee's household does not violate local law.
If these conditions are met, a same-gender domestic partner qualifies as a tax dependent. In such a scenario, the value of the medical
and dental coverage and reimbursements received by the employee are excludable from the employee’s gross income and would not be
included in wages for employment tax purposes.
On the other hand, domestic partners who do not meet those criteria do not qualify as tax dependents. Employers should include in an
employee’s gross income the taxable portion of medical and dental benefits provided to a domestic partner (the excess of the fair
market value of the coverage over the amount employees paid for such coverage) so that they are subject to income and employment
HReSource is published by the MetroWest HRMA, 12 West Central Street, Natick, MA 01760. Michael M. Sabin, Editor, 508-655-0808.
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