Springfield, MO

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Meet Karen Shannon, HR Consulting Expert


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Karen Shannon is Vice President of BusinessConsulting/CHRO for Ollis/Akers/Arney. Karen has served in senior leadership positions in banking and human resources for over 30 years. She and her team provided HR services to 5,000 employees across the US, United Kingdom, India and Mexico. Today, she works with world-wide clients on key business and HR strategies which have resulted in cost savings upward of $7 million.  

Karen received her MBA and BA in Business Administration and Economics from Drury University. She is a graduate of Leadership Missouri, past president of the Junior League, and was appointed to the Board of Trustees for banker education for the Missouri Bankers Association. She has served on the Board of Directors for numerous organizations and is a regular presenter at national and regional conferences. Karen was recognized in 2000 by the Springfield Business Journal in its inaugural class of the Most Influential Women in Business.

What is the Roth Catch-Up Contribution change?

The Roth contribution requirement is among the provisions under SECURE 2.0 that includes sweeping changes to the retirement landscape. It had required earners making $145,000 or more to make catch-up contributions to employer-sponsored retirement plans, like a 401(k), on a Roth basis rather than pretax contributions effective Jan. 1, 2024. Plan sponsors and employees now have until 2026 to comply with the new law. 

Is there a new I-9 form?

Yes, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a new Form I-9, which has been streamlined and shortened, that employers should begin using August 1, 2023. Employers may use the older form (Rev. 10/21/19) through October 31, 2023. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also issued a final rule that allows employers to implement remote document examination, meeting the needs of today’s remote workforce. 

Have you ever been convicted of a crime?

How do I handle a positive marijuana drug test? What should I avoid saying in a termination meeting? Join our "Navigating the HR Jungleseminar on August 1 to learn about federal and state regulations, lawful interviewing, taking corrective action, workplace harassment, employee privacy, pay transparency and other human resources hot topics. 


Are breaks paid to express milk under the new PUMP Act? 

Most nursing employees have the right to reasonable break time and a place, other than a bathroom, to express breast milk for up to one year after the child’s birth. They must be completely relieved from duty or must be paid. When employers provide paid breaks, the employee must be compensated the same way that other employees are compensated for break time.


Are there accommodations I must provide to a pregnant employee? 

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a new law effective June 27th that requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations due to limitations related to pregnancy or childbirth unless it would cause an undue hardship on the employer. Examples of reasonable accommodations may include having a water bottle available, the ability to sit down or stand as needed, appropriately sized uniforms, or excused from strenuous activities.

Do I have to offer COBRA to an exiting employee? 

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows individuals to continue their group health plan coverage in certain situations. COBRA generally applies to group health plans offered by private employers with 20 or more employees. Group medical plans, dental and vision plans, Health FSAs and HRAs are subject to COBRA. Termination of employment would typically be considered a qualifying event to trigger COBRA eligibility. 


With hybrid and remote work, am I obligated to reimburse work-related expenses?

The number of lawsuits claiming employers failed to reimburse employee expenses is rising, so ensure you are following federal and state laws. Review your reimbursement policy to ensure you explain what expenses are reimbursable, outline the timing of reimbursement payments, establish who owns devices and equipment, and state what happens to the device when employment ends.


What are the HR trends for 2023? 

I expect hybrid work schedules and flexibility will continue to evolve as more employees will have caregiver responsibilities as our population continues to age. Diversity has become an employee expectation with Gen Z candidates researching a company’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion when evaluating offers. Pay transparency will gain momentum and emotional and financial wellness and professional development will continue to be priorities.


What are the trends around pay transparency? 

Today’s workers want to know what they’ll be paid before interviewing and that they are being compensated fairly compared to their colleagues. Employees also want to clearly understand their career development potential. Some states have passed pay transparency laws requiring the disclosure of salary in job postings while others require it only upon request. Many states and municipalities are joining this movement and it has become a top compensation trend. 


Should I revise any policies due to recreational marijuana?

Employers may still ban marijuana from their workplace and prohibit employees from working under the influence of marijuana. Employers should review their existing policies and procedures to ensure compliance. Also, ensure policies prohibit discriminating against authorized medical marijuana users based on their lawful, off-duty use of medical marijuana unless an employer can show that an employee was impaired by marijuana at work.


How can we avoid “quiet quitting” in our business?

Quiet quitting, an emerging trend where employees only do what is in their job description, can be the result of decreased motivation and burnout. Four tips include:

    • providing clear expectations with accurate job descriptions and employee handbooks;
    • conducting performance reviews to reward and inspire employees and discuss areas for improvement;
    • providing learning and development opportunities to increase engagement and motivation; and   
    • providing resources to managers on good management strategies to increase their effectiveness.


May an employee take PTO rather than go through our FMLA process?

The FMLA provides eligible employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. This may be paid based on the employer’s established policies. A Department of Labor opinion letter clarified an employer’s obligation to timely designate FMLA leave, even when the employee is using paid leave and does not request FMLA leave. The absence must also count against the employee’s annual FMLA leave entitlement.


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