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P.O. Box 1750, Cockysville, MD, 21030
Risk Management Bulletin
How To Celebrate The Holidays And Avoid Religious Discrimination
Winter holidays give your company an opportunity to host celebratory parties and have fun. You could be liable, though, if you celebrate the holidays in a way that discriminates against employees. Be sure your holiday festivities celebrate diversity and avoid religious discrimination.
Granting Holidays Off
According to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Right Act, you cannot discriminate against your employees based on religion. Also, you must accommodate “sincerely held religious practices” unless doing so would cause undue hardship for you. These guidelines prevent you from firing employees whose religious practices require a Sabbath day of rest. However, you are not required to give an employee the entire week of Diwali, Christmas or Hanukkah off if doing so would:
Burden other employees.
Violate employee rights.
As a company, you can accommodate all your employees during the holidays in several ways. These actions ensure your company remains compliant with the law and respectful of your employees.
Include floating holidays in the benefits package.
Allow employees to take a vacation, sick, personal, or unpaid day off for holiday celebrations.
Let employees work a different schedule or swap shifts to accommodate their holiday observance.
Decorating the Office
Office decor can improve your employee’s morale. Religious or symbolic decorations like lanterns or crosses may offend employees of different religions, though.
Support diversity and inclusion as you decorate. Choose generic items like snowflakes rather than religious objects. You can also give your employees permission to decorate their personal space. In this case, stipulate that the decor items must be minimal and cannot interfere with navigation around the office. For example, a six-inch Christmas tree on a desk is acceptable, and but a six-foot tree in a cubicle or walkway would be inappropriate.
Hosting Holiday Parties
A holiday party gives your company the chance to unwind and relax while building rapport. You must remain sensitive to your employees’ religious beliefs as you plan and enjoy the party, though.
Comply with the law, avoid discrimination and show sensitivity to employees when you:
Include members of different religions on the party planning committee.
Make parties non denominational.
Schedule the party for a date and time that will not interfere with religious observances.
Include elements of all religious seasonal holidays.
Give employees the choice to attend the party.
Avoid serving alcohol, which is forbidden in certain religions.
Adopt a charity as a company or match charitable donations rather than host a holiday party.
As a company, you can celebrate the holiday season and embrace and celebrate diversity in a way that avoids religious discrimination. Start with these tips. For more information, talk with your corporate attorney, HR professional or business liability insurance agent.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
Benefits and Risks of Hiring Temporary Employees
As many as two million individuals look for temporary employment each day. Consider the benefits and risks of hiring temporary employees as you decide if this option is right for your company.
Benefits of Hiring Temporary Employees
In general, temporary employees are cheaper to employ than permanent ones. That's because you won't have to pay to fingerprint and drug test them, and you are exempt from providing benefits. Over time, your company will save money when you employ temporary employees.
Quickly Fill Open Positions
Vacations, maternity or disability leaves, sudden staff departures or busy seasons can tax your workforce. In addition to overwhelmed staff, you could suffer quality control issues or safety challenges. Use temporary employees to help handle the workload and quickly fill open positions.
Part Ways Easily
Firing a permanent employee for incompetence or personality challenges takes time and requires you to follow several laws. Alternatively, you can release a temporary employee fairly easily, allowing you to continue your search for the right candidate for the position.
Fill Permanent Positions
Temporary employees can be excellent candidates for the permanent positions you need to fill. Studies show that they are reliable. They also already know the job, co-workers and procedures and can step into the job with a short adjustment period.
Risks of Hiring Temporary Employees
Training Takes Time
Unless the temporary employee has worked for you before, they will need training on company procedures and the specific job for which they are hired. This training takes time and ties up you or your key employees, which can affect a project's deadline.
Studies show that injuries rise on job sites that employ temporary employees. Despite the best training, a temporary employee might make a safety mistake that jeopardizes everyone. A supervisor will have to observe a temporary employee carefully until there is no doubt that they can perform their job with complete safety.
Temporary employees works alongside your permanent employees but do not receive the same benefits. They also may work slowly or make mistakes, which can affect production. These and other challenges can affect morale in your workforce.
A workers' status and eligibility for benefits must be monitored carefully. Be sure to treat temporary employees with the same respect you give permanent employees, too. Any discrepancies could result in legal action against your company.
Temporary employees can benefit your company, but they also carry risks. Be informed with the facts about temporary employees as you make the right choice for your company.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
Why And How To Reduce Stress In Your Workplace
affects more than nine in 10 employees, reports the International Stress Management Association (ISMA). And when your employees or co-workers experience stress, they may contribute to accidents, cause injuries or underperform, which increases your company's liability and risk. You have adequate liability insurance for your business, but take these steps to reduce stress in the workplace as you protect your valuable employees and your business.
Recognize the Signs of Workplace Stress
Look for these potential physical, psychological, emotional, and behavioral signs of stress.
Aches, pains and tension.
High blood pressure.
Inability to concentrate.
Depression and/or anxiety.
Sensitivity to criticism.
Lack of motivation.
Decreased interest in pleasurable or relaxing activities.
Increased reliance on alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, or drugs.
Poor time management.
Aggressive or anger outbursts.
Identify the Main Causes of Stress in your Company
To address stress properly in your workplace, first identify the sources of stress your employees experience, such as:
Too much or not enough responsibility.
Lack of training.
Unsafe working conditions.
Relationship strains among co-workers.
Solve Workplace Stress
To address stressors in your workplace, take these steps.
Create an Open-Door Company Culture
Encourage staff members to talk about their concerns, including factors that contribute to stress.
Re-Evaluate Duties and Responsibilities
Ensure each staff member has the right training and the right position that maximizes his or her talents, skills, interests, and education.
Hire a Professional Stress Consultant
Role-playing, talking and performing hands-on stress therapy exercises can improve stress management among employees.
Schedule Massages, Reflexology and Aromatherapy Sessions
Give your staff opportunities to unwind in a private office or spa setting.
Make time to have fun and build relationships as a team. To promote play, provide card games in the break room, play with bubbles, coloring books and clay during brainstorming sessions, and plan spontaneous basketball tournaments or outdoor hikes.
Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle
Educate your employees on the benefits of good nutrition, hydration, exercise, and self-care. Remind them that to use their health insurance to prioritize their well-being, too.
Celebrate Stress Awareness Day
On November 7, take time to focus on stress reduction. This year’s Stress Awareness Day theme is “Does Hi-Tech Cause Hi-Stress,” so consider logging off your devices and offering a company-wide team building day that reduces stress.
Your business relies on healthy employees who show up ready and able to work all day. This month and all year, take steps to reduce workplace stress and your liability as you protect your employees and company.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
Differences Between Financial Risk and Business Risk
Starting your own business can be risky. Numerous factors can affect your success and your business's value. Financial risk and business risk are two common types of risks you face as a business owner. Know the differences between financial and business risk as you plan for success.
What is Financial Risk?
Your business's financial risk refers to your ability to repay creditors and still meet your other financial obligations. In general, financial risk relates more to your business's debts than overall financial health.
There are several types of financial risk.
Credit risk if your loans go into default
Liquidity risk if you cannot sell or purchase assets or securities quickly
Asset backed risk if securities fall in value
Foreign investment risk if foreign economies face downturns
Equity risk if stocks change in value
Currency risk if interest rates or monetary values fluctuate
Reduce financial risk when you:
Repay debts on time.
Expand and diversify your customer base and investment portfolio.
Continue to look for ways to decrease overall spending and increase savings.
What is Business Risk?
Business risk describes cash flow. It relates to your business's ability to pay regular operating expenses, not debt. There are two kinds of business risk.
Systematic or systemic risk describes the economy in general. An economic downturn or failure because of a recession, economic crash, interest rate drop, natural disaster, war or other factor could cause your business to suffer.
Every business faces systematic risks, and you can't eliminate them. However, you can increase or decrease your systematic risk.
Unsystematic or unsystemic risk describes your specific business's chances of experiencing a downturn or failure. This type of risk varies greatly between businesses, and you can make decisions and take actions that increase or decrease your unsystematic risk.
Decrease your overall business risks when you:
Make smart business choices that cushion your business against economic downturns.
Manage your finances properly.
Cut expenses when necessary.
Diversify your portfolio.
Own several businesses in various industries.
Why Should you Manage Financial and Business Risks?
The worth of your business depends in part on your risk factors. The more risks your business faces, the less it is worth. Improve your chances of succeeding and turning a profit when you decrease your reduce debt, improve your financial standing and take other wise steps.
For more information on the financial risks and business risks your business faces, talk to your financial advisor. He or she will help you plan for and successfully navigate the risks your business faces.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
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