Effects of an Absence in Your Office

We all know that there is nothing more important than keeping an office running during a planned or unexpected absence. Even though a staff member is not present, the daily office tasks and routines still need to be accomplished. Depending on the size of your office or the role of the person taking the absence, the effects can be detrimental to the entire office. There are ways that you can minimize the effects of an absence in your office.

Early Planning

If you or another employee in the office has advanced knowledge of the time that they need off, encourage them to let you know as soon as possible. Explain the need for important tasks to be covered in their absence. It may also be a good idea to have an office calendar that details when someone will be out of the office so that the staff can be prepared. This can also prevent multiple staff members from taking the same time slot off as everyone else, essentially leaving the office empty and tasks unaccomplished.

Anticipate the Potential Challenges

Anticipate any upcoming projects or tasks that must be completed in their absence. Having advanced knowledge of what needs to be taken care of will prevent surprises and work falling to the waist side. Know the responsibilities and daily tasks of the person that will be absent. Make sure that their tasks will be worked by someone in the office. The more advanced notice that you have, the better you can prepare. It is a good idea to replace the person that will be absent with a temporary employee from a staffing agency. This will ensure that their daily tasks will get accomplished, and reduce the amount of stress of others in the office who would have had to take on additional work. Staffing agencies can provide a temporary employee for as long as you need. This would be essential for an absence due to maternity leave, vacation, FMLA, or military leave.

Employee Morale

An absence in an office regardless of the size can bring tension to the remaining staff. The other staff members may feel anxious or over worked from having to take on added responsibilities on top of their already demanding tasks. While most employees will assume the tasks of their co-workers, repeated absences can strain the morale of the team and create a negative and hostile work environment if not dealt with properly. Overloading another employee with work can lead to them needing time off to cope with the added stress at the office. If at all possible, seek out a temporary employee who can assume the tasks of the person that will be absent.

Client Impact

Clients are the main success for any business. If the client is not happy or unsatisfied, that can cause your office to lose more potential clients and ultimately revenue. If your office is under staffed and the client’s needs are not being met, that can cause significant problems. In the event of an absence, devise a plan that will ensure that all of the client’s needs will be taken care of. Temporarily assign the clients to a different staff member to work with during the absence. Make sure that all emails and voicemail messages leave another contact person for the client to get in touch with if the matter cannot wait. Make sure that another staff member has access to the client’s files and pertinent information. This will prevent any of the client’s needs from being overlooked.

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Lewis & Associates Now Offering Virtual Paralegals

Lewis & Associates has expanded their vast list of services by now offering Virtual Paralegal Services. This service will allow any firm to utilize the expertise of paralegals while decreasing their costs.

There has been an increasing need for providing virtual paralegal services. Virtual paralegals consists of individuals that work remotely as an independent professional, providing a wide range of services to law firms. Virtual paralegals give any size firm the option to outsource assignments that will save them time and money.  A benefit to having a virtual paralegal is that fact that they are independent contractors rather than employees. Clients are not responsible for any employee-related taxes, insurance or benefits that is included with having a full time employee on your staff. Clients also avoid the logistical problem of providing extra office space, equipment or supplies.

Whether you are in need of research projects, assistance on a project or continuous virtual paralegal services, Lewis & Associates can help you with those needs. Virtual paralegals can strengthen your legal team by providing you with an affording, knowledgeable and fast responding team member. Let them become a virtual part of your team!

Outsourcing virtual paralegal services to Lewis & Associates allows you to control costs and increase your bottom line while having the smart advantage of utilizing virtual paralegals. This service is perfect for a solo attorney, small to large law firms, or any business needing assistance with drafting documents.
Lewis & Associates can provide you with a virtual paralegal that will result in:

  •        Having paralegal support only when you need it
  •        Provides paralegals for an upcoming project or deadline
  •        Flexibility depending on  your needs
  •        No long term contracts
  •        Experienced professionals
  •        Keep an assistant on retainer depending on your needs
  •        Increased productivity, efficiency and profitability

Not interested in paralegal services but have other clerical needs? Not a problem! Lewis & Associates provides virtual office assistants as well.  Their level of expertise can save any business money while still performing professional level business services. Virtual Office Assistants can provide the following services to any business.

  • Clerical Support: Typing, Word Processing, Data Entry, Transcription
  • Administration: Document Preparation including Medical and Legal
  • Creativity: Writing, Editing, Proofreading, Website Content, Desktop Publishing
  • Management: Projects, Research, Scheduling, Planning & Finances
  • Business Services: Accounting, Bookkeeping, Research, Recruiting, HR

Whistleblowers, A Protected Class?

Employees are reluctant to report instances of unethical practices due to the fear of retaliation from their employer. Some individuals may not want to be labeled as a whistleblower. A whistleblower is a person who exposes misconduct, alleged dishonest or illegal activity occurring in a company. The alleged misconduct may be classified in many ways such as, a violation of a rule of law or regulation, a direct threat to the interest of the public such as fraud, health and safety violations, and corruption. Whistleblowing is becoming more frequent in the world. Employees that do decide to blow the whistle ponder many things before they make their decision. They may fear loss of their job, or any form of retaliation from their employer. It can be said that whistleblowers have a higher form of ethics.

Whistleblowers see the wrong and unethical practices that are occurring at their place of employment. They may feel a sense of guilt if they do not report what is occurring. Often times, the unethical practice that is occurring at the job may be potentially harmful to someone else. If there are unsafe practices occurring at a meat packing plant, or any industry that serves food to the public, shouldn’t the public be made aware of it? Or other instances at companies may involve harm to animals or harm to the environment. If left untold, that could create a huge problem for society.

Whistleblower Protection

Whistleblowers are exposing the truth about what is really occurring in some industries. They are essentially “saving” the public from harm. The Department of Labor has deemed that whistleblowers are a protected class. They are risking their careers and possibly their livelihood to expose the wrong doing of a company. The wrong doing does not just occur at manufacturing facilities, unethical practices are increasing in corporate America.   The Whistleblower Protection for Employees of Publicly Traded companies states that  “No company with a class of securities registered under section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 781), or that is required to file reports under section 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 780(d)), or any officer, employee, contractor, subcontractor, or agent of such company, may discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, or in any other manner discriminate against an employee in the terms and conditions of employment because of any lawful act done by the employee”. There are numerous laws that protect the individual that came forth exposing the corruption.

This statute protects the rights of the whistleblower against possible retaliation. Having that added protection should encourage the whistleblower to come forward without any troubling consequences by their employer. This protection is needed in order for the government and any other agency to learn about the wrong doings or unethical practices of some companies that they would have otherwise not been made aware of.

Who Is Covered?

Any person who has the knowledge of alleged wrong doing can file a complaint. The Whistle Blowers Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of over 22 statutes protecting employees who speak out. “Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), employees may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for exercising any right afforded by the OSH act, such as complaining to the employer union, OSHA, or any other government agency about workplace safety or health hazards; or for participating in OSHA inspection conferences, hearings, or other OSHA-related activities.” This act prohibits employers form retaliating against their employees for whistleblowing. It is the right of the employee to file a complaint with OSHA that may lead to an investigation of the employer. By exercising their rights, the whistleblower could prevent future harm or corrupt practices by an organization.

Retaliation can come in many different forms. Below is a list of possible methods of black balling or ousting of the whistleblower:

  • Being terminated from employment
  • Reduction in wages
  • A demotion
  • Denial of overtime or promotion
  • Unwarranted acts of discipline
  • Intimidation
  • Threats
  • Black listing

The employee protection provisions listed above forbid covered employers from terminating or in any way discriminating against any employee because the employee engaged in certain activities protected by law. The employer will face legal actions if they are found in violation of this law.

The whistleblower investigation manual can be a guide to learn more about the investigation process.

How to file a complaint can be found at https://www.osha.gov

References

http://www.whistleblowers.gov/

http://www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-whistleblower

https://www.osha.gov

http://www.whistleblowers.gov/acts/ccfa.html

Do Deceptive Business Ethics Pay Off?

Ethics and moral responsibilities have been an issue for centuries. People as well as businesses sometimes have a hard time distinguishing what should be done vs. what ought to be done. From a business aspect, managers have a higher degree of responsibility to uphold ethics and morals when handling company business and dealings with employees, shareholders, investors, or anyone else that has a stake in the company. At times, state and government agencies have to step in and mandate the ethics that should be taking place in the workforce.

Ethics in the corporate world is becoming a widespread issue. With all of the corruption in business today and lack of ethics, people are being misled and a losing a fortune of their income to the greedy business owners. Far too often we hear or read about a company that is accused of corruption and the enormous amount of money that they have wrongfully taken from the public. Since all of the recent corruption in business in the last few years, new legislation has come about to govern how companies handle the financial reporting of a company. With all of the financial analysis tools that are available today, accountants and management are able to produce financial disclosures and give accurate projections of a company’s finances.

Some ways to avoid deceptive business tactics can be accomplished by keeping your business account separate from your personal account. Escrow accounts should be used to separate the client’s money from the personal money of the owner or person in charge of the company finances. This will eliminate the commingling of funds. Having a checks and balances system in place can also reduce the risk of comingling funds in an organization. If one person is managing the finances, have that person report to a higher authority. They should be able to produce on demand an accurate financial accounting of the company’s funds.

Misleading clients is also a deceptive business tactic. Some business owners intentionally or unintentionally mislead their clients. Over promising and under delivering can hurt any organization. It is important to be up front and honest with your clients to ensure that you have the same common goals in mind. Managing expectations should be the priority of any business. The client should be made aware of all of the possibilities that could arise from the situation. They should know that past success is not a guarantee of future success. Giving the client the worst case scenario can be the best option. This way, the client will not be blindsided in the end, and wonder why you did not warn them of what could happen.

Deceptive business ethics do not pay off. When caught, the company or person can lose their job, financial stability, and respect of the community. Businesses that are exposed for their willful wrong doing will be left with a tarnished reputation that cannot be rebuilt. In some instances, businesses will even face criminal prosecution for the unethical business tactics that they have performed. Take the necessary steps and precautions to protect yourself and your business from deceptive business ethics.