While there has been a proliferation of products and valuable segmentation in optical, it creates the dilemma of how to differentiate or separate you from the competition. Competition could be down the street, across town or online. What can make a difference?
Proactive and Personalized in Optical
When patients leave your exam room and are handed off to the optical shop, does an optician not only greet them but also provide them with one-on-one attention? At my practice, which I run with my optician and office manager husband, Jason, one-on-one attention is the standard, even for those purchasing a value eyeglass package.
Offering a proactive and personalized approach to service in the optical also means being direct with patients about price. Some optometric practices take the view that you should hide the price until the patient is close to the checkout counter. We take a different view. We feel that patients appreciate having the price conversation up front. For that reason, Jason usually will ask the patient the price range he wishes to stay within. He also will calculate how much the patient’s vision benefit will cut the cost on a pair of eyeglasses, enabling the patient to stay within his price range while having as wide a selection as possible.
— Sherin George, OD
Designing Eyewear Based on Frame Styling
Johnna Dukes, ABOC
By taking charge of the frame selection process, you ensure your patient doesn’t choose a frame that isn’t a good partner to their prescription, virtually ensuring your patient makes a great decision. You’re helping make sure the frame ﬁts properly, can be adjusted to their particular needs, and better still, you’re checking decentration to ensure the ﬁnished product will look great after their Rx is ﬁlled in that frame.
By sharing the information you know about how frames work with your patient, you are displaying your value. You are ensuring they are making a good spend of their money by making sure the frame they choose ﬁts, looks great, is adjustable and is comfortable. For those of you who dislike frame styling, remember how important the frame is to how the ﬁnished eyewear works; the frame holds the prescription in place and is the delivery driver for ensuring the Rx works as prescribed. It’s a factor in the equation that is great vision.
Kids and Contacts
Linda Conlin, ABOC, NCLEC
Pediatric contact lens fitting is another area in which ECPs can offer unique products and services. A 2006 survey by Johnson & Johnson found that only 2 percent of practitioners fit contact lenses for children ages 10 and younger, and only 38 percent had prescribed lenses for children between 10 and 12 years old. Among the most common reasons they gave for reluctance to fit younger children were increased risk of noncompliance, lack of communication of problems and increased chair time. But how much of that is perception and not reality?
Consider the following: By age 2, children’s eyes are the same size as adults’ eyes, reducing the need for pediatric specialty lenses. Children tend to be healthier than adults and therefore have fewer systemic considerations for contact lens wear. Younger children tend to “follow the rules” and have closer adult supervision. According to a 2007 study of 84 children ages 8 to 12 and 85 children ages 13 to 17 newly fit with contact lenses, the younger group required only 15 minutes more chair time over three months.
The realities of fitting younger children with contact lenses made an impact because a subsequent study of optometrists found that 71 percent were currently prescribing lenses to children 10 to 12 years old, and 21 percent were more likely to fit that age group than they were the year before. Why the turnaround? The ODs cited children’s increased participation in athletics, increased interest in contact lenses at a younger age and increases in children’s confidence with contact lenses over spectacles.
An Introduction to Low Vision
Kara Pasner, OD
They say growing old is a privilege but growing up is optional. Regardless of how young we feel or act, age does take its toll on our bodies—our eyes notwithstanding. With age, there are ocular changes, which are considered “normal” and then there are changes, which aren’t. There are quantitative changes, such as a slight reduction in visual acuity, which are measurable in an eye exam. The other changes are qualitative changes, which are difficult to assess since they rely on a patient’s complaints. Usually they are complaints about a slight reduction in brightness, decreased contrast sensitivity, colors seeming duller and increased glare. These normal changes are relatively mild and can be perceived as an overall reduction in visual function—leaving some patients to say things like the familiar phrase, “I just don’t see as well as I used to.”
Promoting Sunglass Sales Through Social Media
Tim Slapnicher, ABOC
You’re familiar with Facebook by now. It’s a part of our culture for sure. People are staring down at their phones at the mall, the restaurant, the concert and definitely at your private practice. Even if you’re not on Facebook yet, you know about it and know how people get sucked in it for hours.
Use this to your advantage. If they’re staring at everything in their “feed,” have them stare at your optical and especially your sunwear. They won’t be interested in eye diseases, and they already know how trustworthy your optical is. So focus on sunwear. In fact, I believe for every five posts that private practices post on Facebook, three of the posts should showcase sunglasses. And it should all be client-driven.
Make sure to use at least one iPad (you’ll need tablets to do this effectively) in your optical shop dedicated to taking photos of your clients. Take photos of clients trying on sunglasses. Take photos of clients picking up their sunglasses. Have them take selfies—they love this. Take a video of their excitement, capturing that “ah-ha” moment of putting on polarized sunwear for the first time. You know how cool you are, but when your clients are doing the bragging for you, your credibility goes much further.
Benefits of In-Office Edging
Alex Bennett, ABOC
Edging ophthalmic lenses has come a long way from hand-edging glass lenses on ceramic cutting wheels; the newest revolution in edging systems is the development of automated multi-axis, computer-controlled routers that can accurately match the bevel of the lens to the frame groove. Some models can drill, edge groove, polish, pin bevel and even engrave lenses. While the up-front cost of these systems may be expensive, they can save your office money in the long run while increasing revenue.
The major benefits of offering an in-office edging system are to lower your lab bills and decrease your turnaround time to your patients.
The Store is the Stage
Mark Mattison-Shupnick, ABOM
“The store is the stage, with scenery, lighting and music…”
Imagine as you walk into your store, that all of a sudden your store is a theatre. Where everything counts, the setup of the store is the scenery in which you communicate with the eyewear consumer.
Imagine your role, and how important your role is in that specific theatre and whatever you say, whatever you do can set the tone for the conversation. You can bring a frame to life, you can make a huge impact in somebody’s appearance, and you can be part of the compliments customers receive tomorrow as they go to church or a movie theatre, and they will think of you.
So you as an actor, bringing this frame to life, are going to be a very important part of the consumer experience in the context of the Art of Retailing.
Recruiters are like air traffic controllers, we are working with clients that are hiring, and candidates that have become available, a good recruiter takes into consideration both the client (practice) as well as the candidate ( employee)
it all starts with you, at the helm making a decision on your best future, a good recruiter has been trained to evaluate you – and your goals, and what your new career holds in growth, development, and success. we learn about your strengths, weaknesses, and thoughts. so be really frank with us.. as we will direct you based on your information.
whether you use a recruiter or not – my tips for your best success.
tips for choosing your new practice include, location, life balance and longevity
- coming out of school or being a long term physician, the location will be essential to your success.
-location, its nice to make 1 million dollars but live in the worst place ever, and hate the patients that you care for. (best places to practice)
so lets take a moment and create a list for everything for your best placement.
- lifestyle, what do you like to do before and after work? are there reasonable accommodations to recharge yourself?
- have family, friends, and loved ones been considered in the relocation.
- longevity is essential: while there are big boxes, big corporations and little practices. determine what environment you would prefer to practice in - long term.
look for strategic advantages to joining a practice or corporation, from the engagement with other physicians to learning new ways to perform at your best.
long term placements in our industry mean you are always learning, and adapting.
- look for progressive development within the practice.
my personal formula for assessing a new client -imatters represents the top 20% in the eyecare industry ( your future employer) :
old equipment = no progression and/or Paper charts = no progression
that usually means financial issues or lack of motivation. ( sorry to be harsh!)
growth, what does the practice offer in growth and support.
what is the culture of the practice like? do that provide assistance in growing your future, offer incentives like bonuses, or do they pay a higher wage to avoid any “soft selling”
benefits, the hidden gem- make no decisions without a full understanding of the benefits to you and your costs. it can make a $10- 50k difference in your income.
how is that firm being hired – there are 3 types of choices:
- retained by the employer - this gives the recruiting firm a “head start” on finding candidates, and making more information available right from the start, such as the employer name, location, almost transparent in information. but the recruiter again is not paid in full until placement.
- service provided by the employer- the best ever! this means the client ( employer) has hired the firm to review the candidates available, make recommendations on the best choices, and assist in long term placement ( imatters services provided by employer, aka 100% paid)
- contingency - means the recruiter is not paid until a placement is made – that can be dicey, given the recruiter tends to sell a job not a career. they may not have your best interest in mind.
now we have not addressed those firms that cost you the hire (candidate) a fee.
there are many firms that will take your information and circulate it to prospective employers, this is dicey too. as you may have to pay a fee for finding the career, or even worse, not be able to get a job because the firm did this. ( this will be addressed in my next post)
imatters works with top notch practices throughout the US, we provide confidentiality to yourself in your search, as well as the most amount of information for you to make the best decision on your career! contact imatters at 866.412.4115 or visit our website blog for more tips! www.imatters.net
imatters will be walking the floor and is on call to schedule meetings throughout the show.
Give us a call- 866.412.4115 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your meeting!
It’s time to interview !
imatters understands exactly where you are and what is happening. To make it as easy as possible to make the right decision, We’ve outlined the five key characteristics to look for in a company culture.
Finding the right culture fit takes time, but it’s the greatest investment you’ll make.
- Low Turnover:
When it comes to your interview, don’t be afraid to ask how long the previous person worked in that role. Ideally, you want to learn and grow in a position for at least two years. Joining a company with happy co-workers who are passionate about what they do will make you want to work harder.
- Great Training:
It’s also important to ask what kind of training programs the company offers. Learning a new skill not only raises your worth in the eyes of your boss, and can give you a personal boost of self-confidence. If your company doesn’t offer the training that you are interested in don’t be discouraged, a quick Google search will lead you to online classes that you can take on your own. Learn from the best, go to your National Associations in the eyecare industry. We have found they are more than willing to assist in your development
- No Egos:
Remember, you’re interviewing a company as much as they’re interviewing you. Come to that meeting with a plan of action on how you could grow the position by working with others. You want to be in a culture where employees get praised and rewarded on a job well done. Steer clear of environments where workers are pitted against each other. You’ll find the best work you do will come from the help of others.
- Feedback’s a must!
Ask: does this company stage reviews regularly? Or, possibly even more importantly, do these reviews allow the employee to give their advice on the pros and cons of the process? Always make sure when you’re giving feedback to your boss, to start with what’s working first. As for what’s not working, come with a thoughtful solution for making things better. Never finger point or cast blame on co-workers.
- Work-Life Balance:
One of the key components to work-life balance is management. Great managers know how to delegate, train and hire the best talent. Work-life balance means 8-9 hour days with a lunch break, two weeks plus paid vacation and PTO days. The occasional late night or weekend work is okay, and should be expected. Come to work focused and stay on task. If you find yourself in the office late every night, never be afraid to ask for help, especially if it’s known you’re taking on a lot!
imatters knows staffing. for 13 years in staffing and 50+ years knowledge in the eyecare field – we wanted better for ourselves and our community. imatters offers top talent, skilled recruiters and proven techniques to assist our clients and candidates to develop those paths of education and growth.
we are in it for the long haul, learn more about us at www.imatters.net or give us a call at 866.412.4115
imatters has compiled a list of free ABO/NCLE CE courses for your use!
HOW TRANSITIONS XTRACTIVE LENSES PROVIDE EXTRA PROTECTION FROM LIGHT OUTDOORS, INDOORS AND EVEN IN THE CAR! (use free ce code: TE-XTRA101)
As you continue to hire new people, asking the right questions in an interview will help ensure you get a clear snapshot of who your candidates are right from the start. So, how do you know if you are asking the right questions to best identify if a candidate is a proper fit?
Taking the time to ask hard-hitting questions in each interview will increase the likelihood you’ll uncover any potential issues with a candidate early.
For example, how the candidate chooses to respond to questions that require an in-depth response will provide a better understanding of who they are, and therefore, make it easier to make the best decision in choosing your next employee.
Furthermore, this will also help save time and money by possibly uncovering any problems that would arise down the line.
A good strategy I like to use to help uncover information about candidates is what I like to call the “linking approach”. The linking approach refers to the way the questions are posed to the candidate by having questions build off each other to form a grander story about the candidate’s previous experiences.
For example, to best use this method, the interviewer begins with a generalized and open question, such as identifying a specific item on the candidate’s resume and asking them to talk about it.
Depending on how the candidate chooses to respond to the initial open-ended question, this opens up a wonderful opportunity to ask more detail-oriented questions related to the one initially asked, such as:
How did you get into eye care?
What do you love about your career?
Would you recommend a friend or family member consider a career in eyes?
What goals do you have in making a career move to our practice?
Managers and Leaders-
Tell me about your best experience in eyes
- What did you contribute to make that a success?
- Were you happy with the result?
- Were you solely responsible, or did you work with a team?
- What were some challenges you ran into, and what did you do to overcome them?
- How do you see yourself here in our practice?
Although each interview process ranges based on position, and level of experience, using the aforementioned method during an interview offers a conversational approach and challenges each candidate to be as specific as possible.
Furthermore, inviting a candidate to elaborate on examples of successful and difficult situations in their professional life will provide you, the employer, with valuable insight to their previous experience and illustrate how well they may perform in your current job opening.
While it can be tough to identify weaknesses in potential candidates, it is extremely important to differentiate a qualified candidate from just an average candidate.
The trick is asking the right questions and then reflecting on both the content and delivery of their answers.”
it is just as important for interviewers to listen for how each candidate approaches their response.
To do this, pay close attention to how the candidate responds to each question.
While someone may be appealing on paper, how they articulate themselves will truly differentiate them from the pack and confirm their qualification for the job. Using the linking approach to ask follow-up questions also forces the candidates to think of a response on the spot, which is another great quality to assess.
Incorporating the linking approach provides the interviewer creative liberty to take the conversation in any direction necessary while uncovering crucial points about a candidate. Interviews are the gateway to making quality hires, and hopefully by using this approach in your next interview, you will be better prepared to hire the best talent.
At imatters this is our strategic advantage in using our recruiting services. We ask those and more questions to understand the motivation, development goals and situational concerns for both the client and potential employee.
Contact us today to see the best potential candidates in your market.
Author: Cecilia Rae – Content Writer at iCIMS, Inc
Have an interview coming up?
The best thing that you can do to prepare is to think through the questions you’re likely to be asked and formulate answers ahead of time. Here are the 10 most common interview questions and how to craft a strong answer to each.
Study up to prepare a strong answer for each that highlights your skills and track record.
“Tell me about yourself.”
Focus on the substance of the role and how it interests you. Don’t talk about benefits, salary, the short commute or anything else unrelated to the day-to-day work you’d be doing, or you’ll signal that you’re not particularly enthusiastic about the work itself. Interviewers want to hire people who have carefully considered whether this is a job they’d be glad to do every day, and that means focusing on the work itself – not what the job can do for you.
Charisse: oh so true! Please focus on them and what you can do in skills and attitude!
“Tell me about yourself.”
This means: “Give me a broad overview of who you are, professionally speaking, before we dive into specifics.” You should prepare about a one-minute answer that summarizes where you are in your career and what you’re especially good at, with an emphasis on your most recent job. Keep your personal life out of it; your interviewer isn’t asking to hear about your family, hobbies or where you grew up.
Charisse: please do not add in information about you, your family or negative comments about your present/past employers, this is a biggie!
“What interests you about this job?”
Focus on the substance of the role and how it interests you. Don’t talk about benefits, salary, the short commute or anything else unrelated to the day-to-day work you’d be doing, or you’ll signal that you’re not particularly enthusiastic about the work itself. Interviewers want to hire people who have carefully considered whether this is a job they’d be glad to do every day, and that means focusing on the work itself — not what the job can do for you.
“Why are you thinking about leaving your job?” Or: “Why did you leave your last job?”
Don’t discuss conflicts with your manager or co-workers, complain about your work or badmouth employers. Job seekers are commonly advised to say they’re seeking new challenges, but that only works if you’re specific about those new challenges and how this job will provide them in a way your last job didn’t. It’s also fine to cite things like a recent or planned move, financial instability at your organization or other reasons that are true.
Charisse: now is the time to tell the future employer how you have learned from the past, keep all conversations positive!
“Why would you excel at this job?”
This is your chance to make a case for why you’d shine in the job — and if you don’t know the answer to that, it’s unlikely your interviewer will figure it out either. Since this gets to the crux of the whole interview, you should have a strong answer prepared that points to your skills and track record of experience and ties those to the needs of the job.
“What do you know about our company so far?”
Interviewers don’t want you to simply regurgitate facts about the company; they’re probing to see if you have a general sense of what it’s all about. What makes the company different from its competition? What is it known for? Has it been in the news lately? If it looks like you haven’t done this basic research, your interviewer will likely wonder how interested you really are and whether you even understand what the company does.
Charisse, we provide the overview to you, yet do your own research, learn about them and their successes, research, google, facebook them! They will be doing the same to yoU!!!
“Tell me about a time when …”
Good interviewers will ask about times you had to exercise the skills required for the job. These may be situations when you had to take initiative, deal with a difficult customer or solve a problem for a client. Prepare for these questions so you’re not struggling to think of real examples. Brainstorm the skills you’ll likely need in the job and what challenges you’ll likely face. Then think about examples from past work that show you can meet those needs. When constructing your answer, discuss the challenge you faced, how you responded and the outcome you achieved.
“What would you do in your first 90 days in this position?”
Interviewers are looking for answers that reveal how you set goals and solve problems, and whether you’re ambitious without being unrealistic. You should also acknowledge that you’ll need to take time to get to know the team, what’s working and what can be improved before you make any big decisions — but your answer should still get into specifics to a reasonable extent.
“What’s most important to you in a new position?”
Interviewers want to understand your career goals and whether this job will fulfill them. After all, if you’re looking for a job with lots of public contact and a highly collaborative culture, and this job is mostly solo work, it might not be the right fit for you. It’s in your best interest to be candid and specific when you answer this so you land in a job that aligns with what will make you happiest.
“What salary range are you looking for?”
Job seekers are almost always asked this question, but they often fail to prepare for it and are caught off guard when it comes up. If you wing your answer, you risk lowballing yourself and ending up with a salary offer below what you might have received otherwise. It’s crucial to research the market rate for the job ahead of time.
Charisse: this is so important, I suggest that you ask them… with my skills and education how do I fit into your pay range?
“What questions do you have for me?”
At the end of every job interview, you’ll likely be asked if you have any questions. At this stage, ask open-ended questions about office culture and those that clarify the role. Also ask about next steps in the hiring process and the employer’s timeline for getting back to you. Avoid questions about benefits and pay; hold those for once you have an offer.
No one wants to hire a dummy.
That’s part of what the interview process is for – it’s a chance for your hopefully soon-to-be boss to determine your preparedness for the position, and asking intelligent questions about the company, your boss and the opening you’re applying for is a step in the right direction.
U.S. News asked notable professionals what was the smartest question a job candidate asked them during an interview. Their responses have been edited.
Sara Clemens, chief strategy officer for Pandora Internet Radio
“‘If you were to rank all the people who have done this job in the past, tell me about No. 1 and why you would put them there?’”
Clemens: Why the Question Stood Out
“It demonstrated the individual was critically evaluating the fit between the role and their own capabilities and characteristics.”
Ted Rubin, social marketing strategist, keynote speaker, brand evangelist and acting chief marketing officer for the firm Brand Innovators
“The smartest question a job candidate ever asked me during an interview was something personal about my career that showed they had done their homework.”
Rubin: Why the Question Stood Out
“It was relevant, in context, and incredibly insightful with respect to me and the job she was looking to win.”
Traci Schweikert, senior director of human resources for NPR
“I was describing the organization I was working with at the time to a job candidate, who asked: ‘You’ve described this as a place that welcomes innovation. Can you tell me about a time when you failed at something, or when someone else in the organization failed at something? How did the organization deal with it?’”
Schweikert: Why the Question Stood Out
“In my role I ask situational questions all the time. The job candidate mentioned to me that she’d had friends who started working for ‘innovative startups’ that had stated they wanted good people, but those good people were thrown away when they didn’t immediately succeed. She wanted to ensure the same thing didn’t happen to her.”
Michelle Herrera Mulligan, editor-in-chief of ‘Cosmopolitan for Latinas’
“There are several questions I loved that people asked me or my team on an interview: ‘What qualities did the person who held this job previously have that you’d like to maintain?’ ‘What are the most important qualities that the person filling this job should have?’ ‘What’s your definition of success?’”
Herrera Mulligan: Why the Questions Stood Out
“I loved [the first] question because it showed she cared about what we were looking for, beyond what the job title asked for. The second is a great question because it goes deeper than the job description. It showed that she cared about whether we would be a good fit as colleagues. The third is an amazing question! It was a subtle way of asking what types of goals I would hope to pursue, and for her to pursue, in the position. I liked her right away and put her on the top of my list after this one.”
Joanne Rencher, chief people officer of Girl Scouts of the USA
“The smartest question, hands down, was a candidate who asked me to describe the skills and characteristics of those considered ‘high potentials’ at our company/organization, meaning, those who are known to have excelled through key results and behaviors. In essence, they wanted to know more about my views on the exemplars of my organization.”
Rencher: Why the Question Stood Out
“The candidate was smart enough to do two things, brilliantly and simultaneously: One, sell themselves for the job after what was carefully done homework on the organization, and two, not be satisfied that the salesmanship was sufficient enough to impress. Asking me to describe those considered high potential gave them a clear window into what I considered the ideal match – not in hypothetical terms, either. The candidate went on to sell themselves, but now with information gleaned straight from the prospective employer.”
How has this position evolved since it was created?
Cheryl Palmer, career coach and founder of the career coaching firm Call to Career, says getting a brief history on the role should clear up whether the position has expanded over the years or has been a dead end for employees.
What have past employees done to succeed in this position?
Knowing how the organization measures achievements will help you understand what the expectations will be and whether you have the skill set to meet them, Palmer says. But don’t undermine your past accomplishments just because your route to success doesn’t match up with the one embraced by the company. “You also don’t want to be too narrowly defined by what other people have done. Because you’re a different person, you may approach things a little differently,” she says.
What have you enjoyed most about working here?
Your prospective boss can relay what he or she values most and what led to his or her personal success with the organization. Then, Palmer says, you can internally ruminate about whether you share the same values and can envision yourself working there.
What is the top priority for the person in this position over the next three months?
This question is helpful so you know what to focus on if you do get the position, Palmer says. Without a clear expectation, she adds, you won’t know what to accomplish or how to make the right impression during your first days on the job.
What are the qualities of successful ( fill in the blank with your career) in this company?
If you’re interviewing for a managerial position, you’ll want knowledge of the skills and core competencies the company treasures in a leader, says David Lewis, founder and president of Operations Inc, a Connecticut-based human resources outsourcing and consulting firm. If excellent people skills and multitasking top the list, emphasize how you’ve demonstrated those traits throughout your career.
If offered the position, can you give me examples of ways I would collaborate with my manager?
As an entry-level staffer, you may want to work with management as a means to showcase your skills and move up. But there’s a distinction between simply taking orders and actively working with a superior who is grooming you for something better. “[Finding] out how an organization utilizes people at the staff level is key,” Lewis says. “Is it a dictatorial environment or a collaborative one?”
What are some challenges that will face the person filling this position?
You owe it to yourself to know what you’re up against. “It just gives you a reality check,” Palmer says. The drawbacks may differ depending on whether the position is managerial or entry-level. As a manager, you may oversee a department that runs on a shoestring budget. As a lower-level staffer, you may work odd hours or get stuck with assignments that lack substance.
Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?
Asking a question like this lets the interviewer know you’re secure enough to openly discuss your vulnerabilities. It also signals confidence and the ability to be coached, says John Kador, author of “301 Best Questions to Ask on Your Interview.” “Coachability is a hugely attractive attribute as far as interviewers are concerned,” he explains.
Charisse: Its been a bit of a read, yet, do your homework! Research the position, the company, google and yelp them to best prepare for your interview. Dress in accordance for your position, and the next step in your career. You can only impress once! Do it well!
Trust that we have your best interest at heart, review the overview that we have presented as well, these are your tools to make you the top candidate in the market.
Now, its up to you. Only you can make this the interview that impresses the boss.
Author: Alison Green, U.S. News
Comments: Charisse Toale, Senior Recruiter
With the holiday season upon us, employers may have questions about providing time off for certain holidays, how to handle pay for company recognized holidays, and how best to manage time off requests and scheduling issues. To help clarify these issues, we’ve addressed several myths concerning company holidays.
Myth: Employers are required to observe certain holidays.
Fact: Under federal law, employers in the private sector can choose whether or not to observe holidays. Some of the most common company recognized holidays include: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Note that some states require certain types of businesses to be closed on legal holidays and certain employees to be able to take off on certain holidays (e.g., veterans on Veteran’s Day). Check your state law to ensure compliance.
Myth: Employers cannot require employees to work on a holiday.
Fact: Under federal law, an employer generally may require employees to work on a holiday. Employers should remember, however, that they may need to consider providing reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious beliefs and practices. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers with 15 or more employees are generally required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs and practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship. This may include providing unpaid time off. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Compliance Manual has a number of best practices for providing religious accommodations, such as encouraging and facilitating voluntary shift swaps and permitting flexible scheduling.
Myth: Employers must pay non-exempt employees for time off on company holidays.
Fact: Employers generally are not required to pay non-exempt employees when they do not work on a holiday, unless the employer has a policy or practice stating otherwise. However, most employers do offer paid holidays to full-time, non-exempt employees.
Myth: Employers can make deductions from exempt employees’ salaries when the company is closed on a holiday.
Fact: But for a few very limited exceptions, exempt employees must receive their full salary for any workweek in which they perform any work. This means that if the company is closed on a holiday and the employee works any part of the workweek, he or she must still receive their full salary, regardless of whether the employer offers paid holidays.
Myth: Non-exempt employees who work from home on a company recognized holiday without prior authorization are not entitled to pay.
Fact: Employers must pay employees for all hours worked, regardless of whether the time was authorized in advance. The employer, however, may consistently apply their disciplinary action policy to employees who work without prior authorization, but in no case may the employer withhold pay.
Myth: All non-exempt employees must receive “premium pay” when they work on a holiday.
Fact: Under federal law, private sector employers are not generally required to provide premium pay for work performed on holidays (other than the overtime premium required for work in excess of 40 hours in a workweek). While the majority of states do not require premium pay for work on a holiday either, there are exceptions for certain employers in states such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Be sure to check your state law to ensure compliance. Even if not required, some employers voluntarily provide premium pay for working on a holiday as an incentive to employees, typically either 1.5 times or 2 times an employee’s normal pay rate.
Myth: Paid holidays must be included when determining whether overtime is due.
Fact: Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime for “hours worked” in excess of 40 in a workweek. Paid time off, including time off for holidays, is not considered “hours worked” under the FLSA. For example, consider the situation where an employee works 30 hours during the workweek of Christmas, receives December 24 and December 25 off as paid holidays, and is paid for 46 hours. Under federal law, the employee would not be entitled to overtime pay because his or her actual hours worked is 30. Some employers, however, choose to voluntarily count paid holiday time off as hours worked.
Myth: If a company holiday falls on an employee’s regular day off, an employer must offer the employee another day off.
Fact: If a holiday falls on an employee’s day off, employers are not required to offer another day off, but some employers do so voluntarily. For instance, consider when an employee regularly has Wednesday off and your company offers Christmas (which falls on a Wednesday this year) as a paid holiday. You may choose to provide the employee with another paid day off (e.g., the day after Christmas) since the employee’s schedule would have had him or her off for Christmas anyway.
Myth: Employers cannot require non-exempt employees to work the day before and after a company holiday to be paid for the holiday.
Fact: Under federal law, employers are generally permitted to require non-exempt employees to work the day before and after a company holiday in order to receive pay for the holiday time off. Typically, employers do not apply this policy to employees who scheduled the time off in advance. Note: This practice may not be applied to exempt employees.
Employers should ensure that their holiday policies and practices comply with federal and state law, are clearly communicated to employees in writing, and are applied consistently to all employees.
In preparation for the upcoming flu season, here’s what you need to know:
This year’s flu shot should work well to fight off this year’s strain of the flu, federal health officials said Thursday.
If true, that prediction will be a welcome shift from a year ago, when a strong, mutated flu strain was largely resistant to last year’s vaccine, catching doctors and the public by surprise.
“So far, the strains in this year’s vaccine seem likely to match,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Two strains of influenza virus have been changed in this season’s vaccines, based on the viruses that experts believe will be circulating during the upcoming flu season.
Typically, the flu season starts in October, before peaking in the winter. But flu vaccines are reformulated months earlier, based on what experts predict will be best to fight off what they believe will be in circulation.
Public health officials said Thursday that now is the best time to get a flu shot, because the vaccine takes about two weeks to become fully protective.
“People don’t think of flu when it’s really warm outside,” said Dr. Matt Zahn, Orange County Health Care Agency’s top epidemiologist. “But it’s better to get vaccinated now so you’re going to be protected when flu season gets here.”
Doctors and public health officials say the severity of any flu season is impossible to predict.
Though the flu vaccine does not always work – in the past decade the effectiveness rate has ranged from 10 percent to 60 percent – health officials say immunization is the best defense against influenza, which can inflict cough and high fever and lead to potentially lethal complications.
Each year, those symptoms become severe enough to hospitalize more than 200,000 people in the United States.
1. Flu can kill
The flu might not just keep you away from work or school. The consequences can be serious: hospitalization and sometimes death.
For about 200,000 people, it can lead to bacterial pneumonia and ear and sinus infections and worsen chronic conditions, including asthma and diabetes.
2. The flu vaccine can make you feel bad…
A vaccine will prompt the body’s immune system to kick into action. That stimulation can cause muscle aches and fever, mimicking an infection, said Dr. Charles Bailey, medical director of infection prevention and epidemiology at Saddleback Memorial in Laguna Hills.
“I got the flu shot this year and really had no symptoms whatsoever,” Bailey said. “I usually do feel a little under the weather for the next day or so. People should be aware it’s a possibility.”
Flu symptoms, however, will be much more severe. So that short-term, lousy feeling, “certainly shouldn’t discourage people from getting vaccinated,” he said.
3. … But it doesn’t give you the flu.
The viruses in flu vaccines are either inactivated or weakened. The inactivated viruses are incapable of causing an infection, and weakened viruses, used in the nasal mist, can cause infection only in the cooler temperatures inside the nose.
4. Hey, it’s contagious; take a sick day.
You can be infectious before you’re even aware you’re sick. Most adults are capable of transmitting the flu to others one day before symptoms appear, and they remain infectious for five to seven days after onset. Young children and people with weakened immune systems can infect others longer than that.
Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets sprayed when sick people cough, sneeze or talk. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are as far away as 6 feet. Less often, a person might get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it.
In addition to getting the vaccine, people should wash their hands frequently, cover their coughs and stay home when sick.
Who should get the vaccine?
It’s especially important for people who are:
• age 6 months through about 5 years
• age 50 and older
• immunosuppressed or who have asthma, cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus)
• pregnant or who will be during the influenza season
• residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities
• morbidly obese (body-mass index of 40 or greater)
• health care workers
• roommates and caregivers of children younger than 5 and adults 50 and older