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Proudly Serving the Fox Cities of Wisconsin

  • 04 Apr 2018 8:56 AM | Rebecca Kellner (Administrator)

    Last September, the Wisconsin legislature updated the definition of domestic partner via the budget bill.  While the intention of the modification to the definition was to stop allowing domestic partner health coverage state employees now that the state recognizes same sex marriage, it resulted in some unintended consequences. 

    Wisconsin FMLA (“WFMLA”), as you may know, provides coverage more broadly than federal FMLA.  This includes extending the use of WFMLA to provide care for a domestic partner or their family members.  To qualify as a domestic partner, an individual may be “registered” (meaning on the state registry) or “unregistered” (which means not on the state registry, but can demonstrate they are in a committed relationship with one another, among other things).

    Registered domestic partnership is covered by Wis. Stat. ch. 770.  To fall under this chapter, partners were required to register by April 1, 2018.  Therefore, anyone that is not on the registry today cannot be added going forward. 

    Unregistered domestic partnership is defined by Wis. Stat. sec. 40.02(21c).  To create an unregistered domestic partnership, individuals need to meet certain criteria.   However, a recent addition indicates those unregistered domestic partners need to a submit an affidavit to the Department of Employee Trust Funds  attesting to satisfying that criteria prior to September 23, 2017.  See 2017 Wisconsin Act 59

    Here’s where it gets messy.  WFMLA says a “’domestic partner’ has the meaning given in 40.02(21c).”  Now sec. 40.029(21c) & (21d) require that to be considered unregistered domestic partners, they submitted an affidavit to the Department of Employee Trust Funds previous to 9/23/17.  If you are in the private sector, it’s pretty unlikely your employees would have had reason to send the Department of Employee Trust Funds (which oversees public sector employees’ retirement accounts) an affidavit regarding their domestic partnership.   So if no affidavit filed, means they can’t be considered “unregistered” domestic partners any longer.  In turn, this means an employee in the private sector likely will no longer be able to take WFMLA for provide care for unregistered domestic partners or their family members.

    So what does this mean?

    If you have Wisconsin employees asking for WFMLA for domestic partners or their family members, you need to ask new questions:

    1.       Are you a registered domestic partner currently (meaning on the registry before 4/1/18)?

    2.       If you are not registered, did you file an affidavit as an unregistered domestic partner with the Department of Employee Trust Funds prior to 9/23/17?

    If the answers to the above questions are no, then no WFMLA leave is provided.  Employers certainly can choose to be generous and offer leave under a personal leave policy, but the protections under the law need not be afforded. 

  • 21 Mar 2018 7:51 AM | Elaine Ruh (Administrator)

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  • 16 Mar 2018 7:54 AM | Elaine Ruh (Administrator)

    Fox Valley Technical College is going to be offering a new course called HR Fundamentals for aPHR Certification.  Basically, this certification is for someone who received a technical degree in HR and would take the aPHR Exam.  It is a study course that will prep participants for this examination.  It will run Tuesday nights from 5:30pm – 8:00pm for six weeks starting Sept 4th – Oct. 9th.  The class will be $425. If anyone has any questions, they can reach out directly to Terleen as she will be instructing the class. 

    Terleen Cheslock

    Manager – Organizational & Staff Development

    Training & Development Services

    P: (920)993-5101 |  E: cheslock@fvtc.edu

  • 13 Mar 2018 4:29 PM | Elaine Ruh (Administrator)
    From Manny Vasquez
    Re: Housing in the Fox Cities


    Thank you to those of you who attended last week’s meeting regarding temporary downtown housing, as well as those who shared feedback via phone and email. 

    After a couple of group meetings, and several one-on-one discussions with many of you, we are all on the same page: a  temporary employee’s first impression and overall experience in our region, has a major impact on their decision to stay or return to the Fox Cities long-term.  To that end, this collaboration is focused on creating more “Fox Cities stickiness” by providing contemporary, short-term housing options that our target audience – i.e. interns, co-ops, trainees, executives –  find attractive and engaging. 

    Several of you who could not attend last week’s meeting requested follow-up notes.  Here is a recap:

    • Our friend Bob Monnet, CFO of Mandel Group in Milwaukee, joined us by phone to talk about his experience with employment-oriented housing.  Bob walked us through a few projects that he and his company have recently completed to serve a similar corporate need in the Milwaukee area, which also struggles to retain and attract top talent.  Here are some notes that I took during his presentation:
    •  o    There are different types of temporary employees – interns, co-ops, executives, etc.  They all demand a high-quality product and  experience.
    • o    The Milwaukee-based companies that Mandel has worked with believe they can attract temporary employees with a good job opportunity, but will keep them with the right housing experience. 
    • o    Location should highlight the community’s best attributes –  it engages and connects the employee to the community, and leaves a memorable impression.
    • o    Being in, or walking distance from, a downtown is very important.
    • o    On-site amenities (rooftop gardens, game/media rooms, grocery stores, workout facilities), as well as walkable amenities (goods, services, entertainment, recreational activities), are a critical component of these properties (“live-work-play” mentality).
    • o    A higher-density project allows for a more robust amenities package – it justifies the cost to provide/maintain them.
    • o    Property amenities are a great way to bring people together and, in the process, strengthen relationships and roots in a community.
    • o    This is a fairly unique type of project – a cross between a dorm, apartment building, and hotel. 
    • o    A corporate housing project like this doesn’t have to be created to address short-term needs alone.  It can/should be mixed with longer-term, market-rate housing.  If the experience is positive enough, tenants may want to return to the same property long-term.
    • o    There are a number of financing tools available – TIF financing, WHEDA tax credits, etc. – to support a project like this.
    • o    It will be difficult to make the project work if there is only demand two/three months out of the year.  Our goal in the Fox Cities should be to aggregate demand among local employers, and approach this project collaboratively. 

    In order to move this project to the next phase, we need your help.  Attached is a short survey in spreadsheet format, which will help our company better understand your organization’s temporary employee flow and housing needs in the Fox Cities.  Please answer these questions to the best of your ability and return your completed spreadsheet to me via email by Wed. March 21st, 2018.  We will then aggregate the data and use it to determine the feasibility of a temporary, corporate housing project in our community.  Please note that this information will be kept confidential, and will only be utilized for the purpose of this project. 

    Let me know if you have any questions, and thank you for helping to move this effort forward!

    Temporary corporate housing survey, 3.9.18.xlsx

    Manny Vasquez

    VP - Business Development

    Pfefferle Companies, Inc.

  • 07 Mar 2018 4:07 PM | Rebecca Kellner (Administrator)

    What’s happening in the HR profession?  What important updates may have you missed?  Check these out and for more details, click on the link to find information from some of our favorite blogs. 

    Ø  Immigration.  Any renewal dates for those with DACA authorization after March 5th are non-renewable and an estimated 120 people lose their deferred status every day. 

    Ø  Temporary employees & work comp: Wisconsin court found temporary employees could bring lawsuits against temporary employers, instead of work comp claims. 

    o   See vonBriesen’s article about the court case.

    o   As a result of employer’s outcry, the Assembly and Senate acted quickly to enact a law (signed on March 1) to reverse this outcome in the future. 

    Ø  Sexual orientation as sex discrimination While Wisconsin prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, federal law does not explicitly list sexual orientation as a protected class.  EEOC takes the position that discrimination based on orientation is sex discrimination.  Previously, the 7th Circuit denied that (which covers Wisconsin).  But now the 2nd Circuit found federal law does indeed protect sexual orientation.  The circuit split means you can expect this to eventually make it to the Supreme Court.

    o   Read more at The Employer Handbook here.

    Ø  Whistleblower protections Evidently for an employee to be protected from retaliation for being a whistleblower, the employee must make the report directly to the SEC (and not just internally).  See SHRM’s article on the recent court case. 

    Ø  IRS issues updated W-4 and tax withholding calculator.

    Ø   Trump’s 2019 fiscal year budget was proposed.  Among other things, it provides money to expand apprenticeships; calls for mandatory e-Verify; and establishes paid family leave using unemployment insurance money. 

    What did I miss?  Let us  know by commenting below!


  • 28 Feb 2018 4:56 PM | Rebecca Kellner (Administrator)

    Fox Valley SHRM's delegation spent last Wednesday in Madison for WISHRM's Day on the Hill Event.  (Read more here for inside perspective of first-timer Elaine Ruh!) Here's a quick recap of the measures we discussed with our state assembly and senators, including WI SHRM's position on these matters:

    * HR Standards (SB 634; AB 748).  Wisconsin already has laws preventing local municipalities from passing their own paid sick leave laws or minimum wage standards.  This bill would prohibit municipalities from creating other employment-based standards.  While this is not yet an issue in Wisconsin, we've seen plenty of states where municipalities have passed these types of law, leaving a patchwork of standards for employers to have to navigate.  WI SHRM advocates for statewide standards. 

    * Harmonization of state and federal FMLA (SB 490; AB 772).  As many of you know, Wisconsin is a rare state that has it's own FMLA law, which was passed prior to the federal law.  Due to the conflicts between the laws, it can be difficult to administer for employers. WI SHRM advocates for harmonization between these laws.  The measures cited above would make a Wisconsin employer exempt from having to comply with the state law where federal law applied.

    * Worker's Comp Cost Containment (SB665).  Wisconsin is one of 6 states that does not have a medical fee schedule for work comp claims.  As a result, Wisconsin employers pay 46% more for work comp insurance than their Midwest neighbors on average.  WI SHRM advocates for the proposed fee schedule to help control costs. 

    We were lucky enough to be present during the last week of the Assembly's session, so our voices were impacting votes that were happening the very next day!  So how did we do?

    HR Standards: AB 748 passed the Assembly and was sent to the Senate.  The Senate reconvenes on March 13, where the measure will likely be discussed. 

    FMLA Harmonization: Both the assembly and senate version of the bill remain in committee.  This means the measure is unlikely to become law this year, but something WISHRM will continue to support. 

    Work Comp Fee Schedule: This measure is before the Senate and still in committee.  However, since the Assembly is done with its session, unless a special session is called for a vote, this is unlikely to become law this year.  WI SHRM will continue to support the passage of a measure to contain workers' compensation costs.

    While Day on the Hill is over, there's still time to get involved.  Tell your local representative that you support these measures.  Tell them why - what impact does this have on your organization.  And ask them to reach out to you if they have questions.  After all, you likely have far more experience with the particulars of these bills than most of the representatives combined.  Show off your skills and make a difference for our profession!

  • 22 Feb 2018 12:47 PM | Elaine Ruh (Administrator)

    Hey FVSHRM Members, 

    I normally do not write blog posts as I usually don't have anything fun or interesting to share. However, the experiences that I had in Madison yesterday for Day on the Hill were awesome and wanted to share with you if you were ever leaning on the fence to go.  I highly advise to go, at least once, just to experience it. 

    To keep it short as a summary; Day on the Hill is a chance for HR professionals to meet with our representatives and let them know our stance on bills that are sitting in committees before voting. 

    We have heard and read this in the past. It was a quick glance over, a zone out moment, a deleted email or tossed mailer.  You might be thinking, I already have politics in the work place, why would I invite myself to be thrown into even more. Another thought; I haven't been following any of the bills that are being discussed and I wouldn't know what to say to these people that I could meet with. Or I'm just one person, they won't care if I'm there or not. My thought was; me? Politics?  Good one!! But I was told just try it. It can't hurt! So I signed up and what a cool experience. 

    Kelly, Rebecca and I had a chance to sit down with our State Assembly Representative for almost an hour. What!? We were brought into his office and was met by a friendly staffer, Evan, who shook our hands through introductions and we started to have small talk discussions that were not awkward (he is human after all). Evan stated that he was going to send a quick text to Ron to join us as they were anticipating to meet with us! (Mind you that the Assembly was deep in their calendar of events and they were a busy group).  Ron walks in with a big smile on his face, shakes our hands and we sit in his office. We all did introductions and explained why we were there. Ron knew of the three bills we were looking to discuss and stated that he supported our stance. From there he asked us about more information we could provide that he could use on the floor before the voting. He actually listened to us! From there, he proceed to take us to areas of the Capital that are off limits to the public; the Parlor, the other side of the Assembly floor and the wing of the library.  (We couldn't wipe the smiles from our faces that we had the chance to see these areas). Ron politely excused himself as he needed to get back to the floor and that was it. Painless! 

    These meetings are so impactful as it will help me put a name with a face. The network has been established that if he needs help with examples for the HR bills that are in process, he can reach out to us and we can provide what he needs as best as we can.  

    This event for WISHRM was fun to see as different Chapters across the State were represented and we all were able to make an impact with our representatives. It felt pretty cool to be apart of the 60+ of us that were walking to the Capital at once, knowing we could make a difference. The State Capital knew we were coming and welcoming as Scott Walker wrote Day on the Hill attendees letter and that he was excited to have us there.  Fox Valley SHRM was well represented but we are looking to be the biggest Chapter at these events. If you hear about these events in the future, please take the 10 seconds to review the information and remember this blog. Anyone on the board and other members that have attended would love to see you there next year!

  • 15 Feb 2018 2:34 PM | Elaine Ruh (Administrator)

    February 12, 2018

    Dear Friends of the Wisconsin Fast Forward Program,

    This message is an invitation to a free informational grant application training session entitled Submitting a Successful Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) Training Grant. The goal of the training session is to increase applicants' understanding of the WFF grant application process, grant program goals, funding processes and information on what makes a successful grant application.  WFF is a business-driven initiative dedicated to improving the skills of Wisconsin workers so Wisconsin businesses can thrive.

    The training session is scheduled from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 28, 2018. You can attend in-person or online using WebEx.  Space is limited at the in-person session. Register now to reserve a seat.

    Training Opportunity: Submitting a Successful Wisconsin Fast Forward Grant

    Wednesday, February 28, 2018

    1:00. – 2:30 p.m.

    Register to attend in-person or online (via WebEx):

    1. Go to http://dwdlearningcenter.wi.gov
    2. Enter you WFF application username and password (your Job Center of Wisconsin or UI password will work as well or you can create a new account)
    3. Search for "Submitting a Successful Wisconsin Fast Forward Grant"
    4. Locate the appropriate time and either "In-Person Session" or "WebEx Session"
    5. Click "Request"

    In-Person Training Session Location

    GEF 1 Room F305

    201 E. Washington Ave.

    Madison WI 53707

    The brief presentation will be followed by a detailed question and answer session, focusing on the key elements of submitting a successful customized skill training grant for our open grant cycle that closes on March 31, 2018 at 11:59 p.m.

    If you have any questions, contact WisconsinFastForward@dwd.wisconsin.gov or me directly.


    Andy Heidt

    Program and Policy Analyst, WI Fast Forward



  • 01 Feb 2018 3:57 PM | Rebecca Kellner (Administrator)

    While our board brings you a monthly legislative report, highlighting new employment-law based proposals at the state and federal level, you may not find that information that relevant presently.  Point in case: to date, there have been 8,667 proposals made in Congress, of which about 327 have been employment-related.  Only a few of those are likely to become laws impacting you.  We do want you to be informed and understand when something is moving forward so you can make your voice heard and to that end, we’ll work on how to do that better.  But we also recognize there are plenty of other ways the HR profession is changed beyond these handful of laws created by Congress or the state legislature each year.  So, in an effort to try to capture that important detail to you and get it out in more manageable chunks, I’m proposing this monthly round-up.

    The intent is to link to other great articles and information providing a smorgasbord of things that could impact you and letting you choose what’s important to delve into further.  Like it?  Tell us about it – comment here or on our Facebook page.

    ·         Tax Reform - technically this happened in December, but since it was so close to the end of the year, I think some people missed the nuances.  Did you know the individual mandate for healthcare reform was repealed?  https://www.associatedbrc.com/Resources/Resource-Library/Resource-Library-Article/ArtMID/666/ArticleID/592/Tax-reform-bill-becomes-law


    ·         Cadillac Tax - For those beginning strategic planning for your benefits plan and how to avoid this tax, you should note the tax got kicked down the road another 2 years (delayed to 2022).  https://www.associatedbrc.com/Resources/Resource-Library/Resource-Library-Article/ArtMID/666/ArticleID/597/Breaking-news-on-the-Cadillac-Tax

    ·         DOL Internship Test – If you use unpaid interns (or want to), you may want to take a look at this:   https://www.theemployerhandbook.com/2018/01/8027.html#more-8027

    ·         Wage & Hour opinion letters – some obscure, but helpful opinions were resurrected by DOL, which may help your company: https://www.theemployerhandbook.com/2018/01/trump-dol-just-unearthed-bunch-employer-friendly-bush-era-opinion-letters.html#more-8033

    ·         Drug policy – The 7th Circuit sends a claim to the jury over whether a fire department used racial motive to decide whether to send a particular individual for alcohol testing https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/pages/court-report-blood-alcohol-test-discrimination-claim.aspx

    ·         Work comp & staffing agencies  - can temporary workers you get from a staffing agency sue you for negligence, instead of claiming work comp?  Turns out yes (but only if they don’t make a work comp claim first) http://lindner-marsack.com/news/employers-who-utilize-temporary-or-loaned-employees-are-now-potentially-liable-for-third-party-claims-brought-by-an-injured-employee

    ·         Non solicitation – WI courts just found non-solicitation agreements must follow the same standards for non-competes (so reasonable in time, scope, and geography) http://lindner-marsack.com/news/wisconsin-supreme-court-declares-that-non-solicitation-of-employee-provisions-are-governed-by-the-same-wisconsin-statute-that-addresses-non-compete-provisions ; http://www.vonbriesen.com/legal-news/3618/open-season-on-your-employees

    What did I miss?  Let us  know by commenting below!


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