Continuing Education: to pay or not to pay?

Do you follow labor law rules for paying staff for travel to and attendance at seminars, lectures, or workshops?


The question that comes up most often in healthcare when discussing employee benefits and legal obligations is about Continuing Education.  It’s no wonder that there are questions about the subject because the language of the law can be often times misleading and hard to understand.

To begin with, there are 4 criteria that, if all 4 are met, the employer does not have to pay an employee for time spent in lectures, meetings and training seminars.

  1. The employee is going on their own initiative
  2. The training takes place outside of normal working hours—on a Saturday for instance
  3. The training is NOT directly related to the employees current job description
  4. The employee will not be performing any productive work during the course

ALL 4 of those criteria need to be met for the employer to be off the hook regarding obligation to pay.

ALSO, if the training is being taken for the purpose of maintaining licenses or certifications, such as dental hygienists or nurses, the employer IS NOT required to pay.

That means, doctors and employers, you will be paying for Continuing Education if even one of those criteria is not met.  And if attending the seminar will require the employee works more than the Federal or State Maximum regulations, you will have to pay overtime for non-exempt employees.

However, it may be appropriate for you to pay your employees attending Continuing Education courses a DIFERENT CAPACITY WORK RATE for dissimilar work.  This means you can pay your employees a separate straight-time rate of pay for dissimilar types of work during the same workweek.

  • That rate must meet or exceed the minimum wage requirements
  • Employees must agree in writing that any overtime pay will be at the special rate.

This will require that you keep meticulous records documenting the what’s, why’s and how’s.

It’s worth it, however.  Continuing Education is an important function of a well-run healthcare practice, and is advantageous to both employer and employee.   Therefore, give your employees opportunities for learning and self-improvement, and know your rights and obligations.

If you still have questions, and I know you will…comment on this blog and I’ll be happy to help you out!  You can also contact my good friends at Bent Ericksen & Associates who specialize in Employment Law Compliance and Human Resources Management.

Blueprints for team building. Are you a SOUTH?

Building a team for your business or organization is a process that is very much like building a house.  Team members are business tools, that when used properly will provide foundation and structure to your business blueprint.  Choosing the right team members is as important as using the right materials in a construction project.  

In looking at a blueprint for your fishbowl, the first step is to determine the compatibility of those you’re considering for your team. With all kinds of personality and leadership style indicators out there, I decided to use a simple system introduced to me by Toastmasters International  They didn’t have a name for it, so I call it “Directional Communication” because every individual is defined as a NORTH, SOUTH, EAST or WEST.


Last week I posted some personality traits of a NORTH.  (To determine if you are a NORTH, check last weeks post).

Today, we’re going to define the SOUTH personality type!  If you like fairness and abhor injustice, then you are probably a SOUTH!

As with any of these systems, it is rare to be 100% of one type over another, but I suggest that you determine the type that you appear to be MOST apt to, MOST often.  Let’s find out about the SOUTH type of personality:

South: The Nurturer

  • Likeable
  • Supportive
  • Caring
  • Sympathetic
  • Non-competitive
  • Team player
  • Feelings-based
  • High value on fairness

The SOUTH personality has a great need to be liked by others.

Are you a SOUTH?  Do you work on a team with someone who is a SOUTH?  How do you have a successful outcome when working with a SOUTH

Following are ways to best work with the SOUTH personality…

Keep the process in mind

The process is important to the South. A South must make sure that the right people are involved in making the decisions and implementing them.  A South never wants to offend anyone, nor make waves, therefore they try hard to follow proper procedures and keep the process flowing smoothly.

Pay attention to your relationship with the South

Relationships are everything to a South. You can make mistakes in the project and they are totally forgivable as long you pay attention to the relationship.  The South personality will overlook almost any shortcoming others have as long as there is genuine respect and concern for each team member. 

Justify your decisions using values and ethics

A South will not go against his/her values and/or ethics, even if it means taking a personal hit.  Integrity is the most important aspect of the South personality, and it guides them to do what they feel is right all the time. A South will quit a job, even while facing long bouts of unemployment if the organization they work for is not being congruent with the mission/vision/values it has espoused.  

Appeal to the relationship the South has to others

South’s enjoy building personal relationships, and being part of connecting friends and team members to people they feel will get along well.  There is nothing more rewarding to a South than matching people together who could benefit from one another’s experience and knowledge.  

Listen closely

A South will often take a little more time to process information and make decisions (unless it is clearly in opposition to their values/ethics). The conversation taking place could be at step three, but the South is still thinking about step one trying to piece together a full picture. 

As a result, the first thing a South may say to answer a question may not be his/her last word on the subject.  This can be confusing for someone who hears what sounds like an answer, when it is really one statement towards a decision by a South.  

Allow feelings and intuition in logical arguments

 A South may understand logic, yet find it frustrating when a “gut feeling” is not allowed when making a decision.  They may even feel that time spent thinking through a problem logically is wasted.   When the South is free to make decisions from their heart, they will most often be right.  

A South will often struggle with science and math, preferring subjects that allow more interaction and personal reflection instead. 

Can’t say “no”—may be easily taken advantage of

A South often finds it hard to put themselves first, therefore when they are asked by someone they care about to perform a favor, they may not be able to see the added stress or detriment they are placing on themselves.  The concept of saying no is absolutely foreign to a South. 

If you care for a South, and you know that taking on another task may overburden them, be a good friend and don’t ask—that way they won’t have to say yes, because they won’t say no.

Provide positive reassurance—show appreciation

Gratitude is the language a South speaks.  They may not be able to understand you if you don’t speak the same language.  A South needs reassurance to feel appreciated and happy.  They will demand that you show it to others as well!   

There you have it.  If you’re a SOUTH, then show me some love and speak up by posting a comment.  C’mon, be a friend and help me out here.  I sure would appreciate it!

Putting out fires can be a drag!

Hello blog followers,

I saw the funniest clip on the news last night, and I had to share it with you because it made me think about some principles of leadership.

It seems that some firefighters were on their way to a charity event dressed in ball gowns.  On the way they encountered a fire.  Watch the video to see the event as it happened:

Firefighters in drag

In my leadership role of Lt. Governor Education and Training for Toastmasters District 2, I feel that I am called upon to to put out fires occasionally.  Not real fires as you see in the video, but urgent situations that come up that require immediate action on my part.  I have sacrificed other events with family and friends because of situations that are urgent in my role as business consultant or Lt Governor.  Leadership is not easy.  Leadership is not always timely or convenient.

However, if you are committed to leading, providing for, and serving others, then keep your red hat and fire hose ready, because you will be required to put out fires occasionally.  These are opportunities to grow and develop new skills!

Please chime in, I’d love to hear from you!

Human Resources tHRursday: Employment Agreements


Do you have signed, legally valid “Employment Agreements” for each of your employees?

Watch this video:  Employment Agreements

The use of an Employment Agreement or Employment Contract is of key importance.   Its use in a new hire situation or with an existing employee can:

  • Set the terms of employment
  • Enforce rights and obligations
  • Communicate and clarify expectations
  • Provide dialog about the employment relationship
  • Support recruitment, employee morale, and employee retention
  • Protect important business assets and intellectual property
  • Protect the company’s reputation, trade secrets and confidential information

For a free example of an Employment Agreement (form #200), comment on this blog or send me an email!

Blueprints for team building. Are you a NORTH?

If you were to look at blueprints for a house, would you know the tools that would be needed for each part of the building process?  If you’re unfamiliar with construction, how would you even begin to start building?

Building a team for your business or organization is a process that we often know as little about.  Team members are business tools that when used properly will provide structure and stamina to your business.  On the other hand, if you choose the wrong team member for a task that requires a different type of skill set than they have, your finished product may look very different than what’s on the blueprint!

In looking at a blueprint for your fishbowl, the first step is to determine the compatibility of those you’re considering for your team.  One way to do this is through the use of one of the many different personality profile systems.  The most common ones are:


These tests can often be useful, but I personally find them to be a little too complex.  They have helped me discover my own personality traits, but when I’m working with a team, I want to know more about my potential team members, and how to work best with them.   These systems don’t always help me discover that.

The best system I’ve had opportunity to use was introduced to me by Toastmasters International at a leadership training meeting.  I don’t even know if it has a name, but I call it Directional Communication.

Through simple directional indicators of North, South, East or West this system allowed me to discover not only my own communication and leadership tendencies, but it provided tools to help me understand better my team members that have like or different tendencies.

As with any of these systems, it is rare to be 100% of one type over another, but I suggest that you determine the type that you appear to be MOST prone to, MOST often.  I will start with the NORTH type of personality.  (To offer full disclosure, My name is Jackie Bailey, and I am a NORTH)

North: The Go-getter

  • Assertive
  • Courageous
  • Confident
  • Goal-Centered
  • Hard-working
  • Quick to speak up–“I’ll do it!”
  • Likes control
  • Enjoys challenges
  • Expects others to “Do it now!”

The NORTH personality is very dependable and does not like to be micromanaged!

Are you a NORTH?  Do you have a team member that is a NORTH?

If you’re on a team with this type of personality, and you’re trying to have a successful outcome in your business or organization—here’s how to work best with a NORTH:

Assign tasks that require motivation & persuasion

If there is a task that needs doing that no one else wants to do, the NORTH personality may be your best solution, and will probably offer to do it before you ask twice!  A NORTH will get it done better than you expected, but with added touches you weren’t expecting (for good or bad)

Present your case quickly and clearly w/confidence

A NORTH is always thinking about getting a task done, so they won’t tolerate a long explanation—tell them what you need or want in very concise ways or you’ll lose their attention.

Tell what the incentive will be

A NORTH likes to work for a reward, therefore if you focus on what they will gain by performing the task, you’ll probably be successful at winning their commitment.

Focus on the challenge of the task

Don’t sugar coat anything for a NORTH.  Be clear on the challenges they may come up against, but ensure them that they can do it.

Allow plenty of autonomy

A NORTH does not need to be micro-managed.  You can provide points of accountability such as, “Call me in two weeks with an update”, but don’t hover over a NORTH—they will get the job done.

Establish timelines and stick to them

If you tell a NORTH that you need something by 5:00, they will probably have it ready by 4:00, but they will have worked very hard to make that happen.  Thank the North for working so hard.  On the other hand, if you commit to having a task completed at a specified time, a NORTH will be very frustrated if you don’t follow through.

Give positive, public recognition

NORTH’s like to be appreciated for finishing their assignments, and they will be upset if someone who didn’t complete their assignment gets recognized in the same way.  UGH!

There you have it.  Are you a NORTH?  Come on–step up and admit it!  I want to hear from my northern friends, and I want to hear RIGHT NOW!

HR tHRursday: “At-Will” Employment and your Policy Manual

Are you an “at-will” employer, and does your “at-will” policy information appear in all prescribed places in your policy manual?

Watch this video  “At-Will” Employment  for important information.

As an at-will employer, you can terminate an employee at any time, and for any reason, except for a few legal limitations which supersede “at-will”. 

For instance, you cannot terminate an employee because of age, race, religion, or gender.  Nor can you terminate an employee because they have complained about illegal activity, discrimination, harrassment or about health and safety violations in the workplace.

Furthermore, even an “at-will” employer can’t terminate an employee for exercising a variety of legal rights such as:

  • Family and Medical leave
  • Military leave
  • Time off to vote
  • Time off to serve on a jury

How do you avoid wrongful discharge lawsuits?

  1. Emphasize in your personnel policy manual, and your job application that you are an “at-will” employer.
  2. Don’t use terms such as “long-term”, “permanent”, or “probationary” in your job advertisements or anywhere else either verbally or in writing
  3. Write a clear and detailed job description for each employee.
  4. Keep detailed and accurate records

Litigation is always costly, whether or not you’re found at fault.  The first question your attorney will ask you when a lawsuit is brought against you is, “have you kept accurate records?” 

If you have kept accurate and concise records, and you can show proof, often times the suit will be dropped. However, if you haven’t done so, then the opposing side will come after you for sure because the suit will be based on “he said/she said”, and most often the employee wins.

Good luck out there!  If you want to better navigate your fishbowl AND the landscape of human resources/employment compliance, then contact my friends at Bent Ericksen & Associates  They’ve been the specialists in healthcare HR for 40 years.

Questions?  Let me know, or comment on today’s blog.

Happy HR Thursday!  See you next week!

Regret can be a powerful motivator for change

“It’s unfortunate that we only see each other at funerals”. 

I’m sure I’m not the only one to have ever said this.  And although it was many years ago that I uttered these words to my employer at the time, the memory of that occasion has been brought back to mind because of the loss on Saturday of a family/friend.  How else do you define the mother-in-law of your daughter?  She was a family member created by love and friendship. Jan was my family/friend, and I will miss her.

It was at the funeral of Marilyn, a co-worker and friend, wherein I said those words.  Marilyn had died of cancer, just like Jan; and many of her co-workers, friends, family and family of co-workers were in attendance.  That last group is actually who I was referring to when I made the statement.  The family members of Marilyn’s co-workers.

I met Marilyn because I got a job for the same oral surgeon that she was working for.  When I came on board, I was amazed at the environment that this doctor/employer had created.  HE GOT IT!  I mean, he understood the value of his team, and he made sure that WE felt valued.  It was the most amazing work experience I’ve ever had!  He actually called Marilyn, Lenka, Sheila, Cherri and I his “dream team”!

Dr. T took his team on trips, just for fun.  Not because we had a conference or seminar to attend, but because he appreciated us.  Dr. T was good to us, and his staff was loyal to him.  I worked for him for 10 years…..and then things changed.

Dr. T brought a partner into the mix, and Dr. A was young, fresh out of school and had not experienced the down side of employees.  He didn’t know how good he had it with the team Dr. T had assembled.  For reasons I still don’t understand today, Dr. T allowed Dr. A to change things.  Promises were broken, benefits were rescinded, and morale plummeted.
We didn’t have fun as a team anymore outside of work. 

Then, Marilyn was diagnosed with cancer.  Shortly thereafter Lenka’s daughter was killed in a tragic automobile accident.  We grieved as a team.  We rallied to help each other, but the doctors seemed distant.  Work and making money seemed to be the focus.  The team was there to perform the neccessary work, and that’s about all we did.

When Marilyn died about 13 months later, I was no longer working for Dr. T and Dr. A.  I had left for reasons stated above, and for others.  But there we were at Marilyn’s memorial service.  Her friends, family, co-workers and families of co-workers were all there, and it was the first time we’d been together outside of work since the service for Lenka’s daughter.  Upon making that observation, I made the comment, “It’s unfortunate that we only see each other at funerals”.

Dr. T was touched when he heard that.  He later told me that he understood immediately what I meant, and he recognized the distractions that he’d allowed himself to be ruled by instead of building relationships with his team.  He regretted his choices and behavior.  His realization came too late for his “dream team”.  A few of us had left; a few had returned; and still others had labored through.  But it has never been the same.

What is distracting you from building relationships with your team?  Do you know their family members?  Do you know who your team members really are?  There’s great value in being able to answer these questions in the affirmative.

Regret can be a powerful motivator for change.  Will you let it motivate you?

HR tHRursday: Protocols for Reviewing Personnel Files

Do you have established protocols in place in the event that a current or former employee, or his/her attorney, ask to view their personnel file?

If you don’t, you could be putting your business at risk.

Watch this video
Personnel File Review Requests

Most states have laws that govern what current and former employees can view in their employee files.  However, even in the states that have such laws, access to information is usually pretty limited.

If an employee requests to view information from his/her personnel file, you as the employer can require a written request for that inspection.  After the written or verbal request has been made, an appointment is made for a mutually convenient time during regular business hours, but on the employees own time.

The employee can take notes or make copies of his/her files, but no records are to be removed or altered—and the information is only available from the employees regular file.  In most cases, the employer does not have to give access to the confidential personnel files.

The regular file would include documents used to determine “the employee’s qualifications, promotion, compensation, termination, or any disciplinary action”.  This could include:

  • Employment applications

  • Payroll authorization forms

  • Attendance records

  • Layoff notices

  • Performance reviews

If you’d like a copy of  Request to Review Personnel File Form #426 from Bent Ericksen & Associates, email me and I’ll send you a copy.

As you try to navigate your fishbowl, proper communication and record keeping is essential for you to keep your head above water in your business and to protect your assets. 

Thanks for tuning in—I’ll see you next week.

4 Ways that Collaboration Affects your Work Environment

When my children brought home those goldfish, I learned quickly that their behavior and habits were affected by the conditions I provided for them.  In order to make sure the fish behaved the way I wanted them to, I bought a product called Special Blend  for aquariums.  It claimed to be a complete eco-system in a bottle!

It’s features:
dramatically reduces the need for frequent water changes
– naturally stimulates plant growth
– helps allow plants to use light, water & nutrients
– will lower ammonia levels and biologically minimize nitrates
– helps break down residue on gravel, rocks, plants & more

I realized that fostering an environment of collaboration with a team in business would just as clearly provide the necessary conditions to ensure success in a healthcare practice.  After all, shouldn’t your team be a special blend of human resources? 

Fostering collaboration is very much like providing the optimum eco-system for your practice.

Collaboration will:
dramatically reduce turnover
– naturally stimulate business growth
– Allow team members to use their skills and talents successfully
– Lower levels of discord and frustration


An effective team leader will foster collaboration with his/her team.  How is this special blend accomplished? 


  • Team building
  • Delegation
  • Coaching
  • Service

My next several blog bosts will be about these four areas. 

Since I’ve worked on many teams, whether in healthcare or with non-profit organizations, the make it or break it dynamic I’ve witnessed is COLLABORATION. 

I once showed up to work with a practice when NO ONE on the team knew I was coming.  (Awkard) As a matter of fact, I happened to be sitting at the front desk assisting a patient when the front desk administrator showed up.  She was shocked (as you can imagine) to see a total stranger doing her job.  If I had been more of a prankster, I would have said something like, “oh…it was my understanding that you weren’t coming back…”, but I’m more kind-hearted than that.

The point is, this doctor NEVER took the time to tell any of her 3-4 employees that I was coming in to work with the practice that day.  Not only a sign of obvious bad communication, but clearly no collaboration.

Get ready to have some fun!  The next several posts are going to be a journey in self-discovery as we explore team building to foster collaboration!!!!!

If you have some good stories—please share!

HR tHRursday: Maintaining accurate and current info

Last Thursday I educated you about the two types of files you are legally required to keep on each of your employees.  The Employee Regular File and the Employee Confidential  File.  Today, I will share with you some ways to maintain accurate and current information in these files.

Watch this video  Maintaining accurate and current information

1.    How will information be gathered for these files?

Information about your employees can be collected in the following ways:

  • Psychological testing
  • Behavioral profiling
  • Medical testing
  • Urinalysis
  • Hair analysis
  • Fingerprinting
  • Performance appraisals
  • Training tests
  • Disciplinary records
  • Interviews

* Never include unsubstantiated derogatory comments or other unnecessary information

2.    How will the collected information be used?

The information collected by any of the above methods can be used in the hiring process or promotion process; determining compensation; and when taking disciplinary action.

3.    How long must the information be kept?

The length of time required for keeping various records on employees varies with the type of information in the files.  And the statute of limitations varies per State.  If you want to safely cover all laws and statutes of limitations, keep the records for 4-6 years after the employee has been terminated.

4.    Where are records kept and how are they safeguarded?

The physical safety and privacy of personnel records must be secured at all times.  Safeguards should include locked files and/or computer access codes.

5.     Who has authorized access to the information?

Only authorized management personnel who have employment-related “need to know” may inspect the personnel records of an employee, along with Department of Labor inspectors.

Make sure you protect yourself, and the privacy of your employees by keeping the proper records for the proper length of time in the proper safeguarded place.

For questions, contact me or Bent Ericksen & Associates  and tell them Jackie Bailey sent ya!