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  • 16 Oct 2020 1:04 PM | Kate Nolin-Smith

    SHRM Foundation’s Team Empower – Turning obstacles into opportunities takes teamwork...join us to make a difference!

    Team Empower is a special group of passionate individuals who are dedicated to helping empower HR professionals to build inclusive organizations. Established in 2017, Team Empower is the SHRM Foundation's most accessible giving circle.

    Your annual donation of $30 or more will automatically add you to the team.

    All members of Team Empower will:

    ·         Receive an official Team Empower ribbon to display proudly at SHRM conferences and local events.

    ·         Receive a digital badge to display on personal websites, social media or LinkedIn.

    ·         Be recognized by the SHRM Foundation throughout the year for their support and dedication.

    ·         Receive access to Team Empower’s exclusive LinkedIn networking group.

    Here is the link https://shrm.org/foundation/getinvolved/donate/join-team-empower/Pages/default.aspx

  • 15 Jun 2020 11:34 PM | Kate Nolin-Smith

    Report unemployment insurance fraud

    The Minnesota Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program operates a continuous investigation program to detect and prevent administrative errors, benefit overpayments, and tax irregularities. These activities protect the UI trust fund by ensuring that all employers are assessed the proper tax rate and all benefits are paid only to eligible applicants as defined by Minnesota law. Violations by applicants and employers may be criminally prosecuted as felony theft under the fraud provisions of the law.

    You can help prevent fraud by reporting potential violations to the UI Program by using the online Fraud Report. When completing the Fraud Report:

    • Provide as much information on the form as possible.
    • Your contact information can be helpful in the investigation; however, you are not required to provide it.
    • To remain anonymous, simply do not enter your name and contact information in the Fraud Report.
    • Be aware that you will not be updated on the status of the investigation.

    Applicant Fraud: An Unemployment Insurance Specialist will follow up on all potential violations from the public. An example of a potential violation is an individual that is working and not reporting hours or earnings during the same period of time he/she is receiving unemployment insurance benefits.

    Employer Fraud: An Unemployment Insurance Specialist will investigate potential tax avoidance schemes. Common schemes include the designation of employees as independent contractors and the creation of shell corporations.

    Detecting and Recovering Benefit Overpayments: The Minnesota Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program actively pursues collection efforts based on the amount of debt owed.

    Remaining Anonymous: Anonymous reports can be harder for us to act upon if we need more information. If you do choose to provide your name and contact information, we may have to provide that information to involved parties in the event that there is legal action taken regarding the fraud.

    If you have questions about reporting fraud, please call us at 651-296-8715

    Visit the website at https://www.uimn.org/employers/contact-us/ui-fraud.jsp 

  • 12 Jun 2020 6:55 PM | Kate Nolin-Smith

    In our commitment to serving the HR community, we would like to address the issue of recent fraudulent Unemployment Insurance claims. Unfortunately, with so many layoffs occurring, this is a prime opportunity for scammers to submit fraudulent claims.

    It is highly recommend logging in to your employer UI portal to make sure no one has made a fraudulent claim. If there is a fraudulent UI claim, any business or employee who has been affected can contact Unemployment Insurance by phone at:

    Toll Free: 1-877-898-9090

    Local: 651-296-3644

    Web address: www.uimn.org

    Understanding that wait times are long to talk with a UI representative, if the fraudulent claim is a matter that requires a quicker response, please email deed.dw@state.mn.us and provide a brief synopsis of the issue. If needed, employers can also email jason.wadell@state.mn.us

  • 05 Jun 2020 10:55 AM | Kate Nolin-Smith

    NHRA is committed to supporting our HR community during this rapidly changing time.

    If you are an HR professional in transition, NHRA would like to extend a FREE membership through DECEMBER 31ST 2020. We know this is a challenging time. Education and support can go a long way. Join NHRA and come network with people who want to help YOU and continue to see our community grow!


    To Register for your FREE membership, please reach out to Amanda Goodman at amanda.goodman@nm.com

  • 27 May 2020 11:32 AM | Kate Nolin-Smith

    We are honored to announce that SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) recently awarded the Northland Human Resource Association (NHRA) its prestigious EXCEL Platinum Award for the NHRA’s accomplishments in 2018.

    The EXCEL award aligns individual chapters’ and state councils’ activities with SHRM’s aspirations for the HR profession. The award recognizes major accomplishments, strategic activities, and tactical initiatives that elevate the profession of human resources.  

    Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, president and chief executive officer of SHRM, said, “So much of SHRM’s success in shaping better workplaces—where employers and employees can thrive together— is owed to the hard work of our chapters and state councils such as NHRA. Through their courage and leadership, NHRA is driving true, measurable progress toward the healthy, productive, and dynamic workplaces of tomorrow.”   He further stated that “Awarding this Platinum EXCEL Award is just one small way for SHRM to recognize and celebrate the big steps this chapter has taken this past year.”

  • 28 Apr 2020 11:22 AM | Kate Nolin-Smith

    Here is a helpful resource from the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce for MInnesota businesses that are preparing to reopen.

    Business Reopen Tool Kit

    Yesterday, Governor Tim Walz signed Executive Order 20-40, which allows workers in industrial and office settings to return to work, subject to several conditions. Executive Order 20-40 provides a limited first step in the process of safely returning to work beginning on Monday, April 27.

    In conjunction with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, we are sharing with you this Business Reopen Tool Kit:

    For more information, go to the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce website https://duluthchamber.com/business-resources-coronavirus/#ToolKit

  • 15 Apr 2020 2:05 PM | Kate Nolin-Smith

    If you are searching for credible resources during this time of uncertainty, the SHRM website offers members many valuable webcasts. These webcasts include topics like Coronavirus, FFCRA, CARES Act updates, and many more. Not only do these webcasts offer insightful information but many of them also offer SHRM credit.

    Here is just a brief list of webcasts available:

    How to Lead Remote Teams-https://shrm.org/LearningAndCareer/learning/webcasts/Pages/0420mcleesegilbertseiter.aspx

    Learning From Times of Uncertainty:  Hr’s Critical Role in Business Continuity -https://shrm.org/LearningAndCareer/learning/webcasts/Pages/0420develinmullenlowery.aspx

    Boosting Morale & Community:  Merck’s Story -https://shrm.org/LearningAndCareer/learning/webcasts/Pages/0420leoreimertsantos.aspx

    For a full list of webcasts, please visit the SHRM website at  https://shrm.org/LearningAndCareer/learning/webcasts/Pages/default.aspx

  • 09 Apr 2020 11:00 AM | Kate Nolin-Smith

    Click here for the PDF with images.

    10-minute Workout Anywhere

    Boost your heart rate and brain power with this quick home workout. For a digital version of this workout, visit heart.org/movefor10. Do each exercise at your own pace for 30 seconds with 30 seconds of cardio between exercises (such as high knees, march in place, jog in place). Rest as needed.

    Try these tips:

    Weight(s) can be small dumbbells, kettlebells or anything heavy you may have at home, like a purse, water bottle or gallon jug, backpack or book. Or make your own adjustable weight by loading a small tote bag with magazines or books.

    Stabilize yourself as needed by holding or touching a wall, desk or stationary (non-rolling) chair. As you get stronger, test your balance by letting go of the support. *Please speak with your health provider before starting an exercise program and with a fitness professional for adaptations that best meet your individual needs.

    Shoulder Rolls Activity: Standing or sitting with feet hip width apart, slowly roll both shoulders forward, up, back and down. Reverse direction. Add Intensity: Hold hand weights down at sides.

    Squats/Chair Activity: Standing with feet hip width apart, keeping back straight, bend knees and hips as if to sit down in a chair with arms out in front of you. For squats, straighten back up and repeat. For chair pose, hold in “seated” position. Add Intensity: Raise arms overhead or hold weight(s) at chest or shoulders.

    Calf Raises Activity: Standing or sitting with feet hip width apart, keep legs straight but not locked as you slowly lift heels and rise to tip-toe position, then lower back to floor. Add Intensity: Do on one leg at a time while keeping raised foot at ankle or knee. Do at least 10 repetitions before switching to other side.

    Side Bends Activity: Standing or sitting with feet hip width apart and hands on hips or overhead, bend to one side and return to standing. Do at least 10 repetitions before switching to other side. Add Intensity: Hold a weight down at your side (on working side), at chest level or overhead.

    Toe Taps Activity: Standing or sitting with feet hip-width apart, lift knee to waist height, extend and tap toe on floor in front of you, lift knee again and return to standing. Alternate sides. Add Intensity: Tap toe on the edge of a wastebasket, chair or desk instead of the floor.

    Pushups/Plank Activity: Standing with feet hip-width apart, place hands shoulder-width apart on stable surface such as wall, desk edge or stationary (non-rolling) chair, walk feet out behind you until body and legs are in a straight line at about 45- degree angle with floor. To begin hold in plank position (make sure to tighten abs) and bend and straighten at elbows. You may also do pushups from the floor (begin with knees on the ground and work up to full pushups). Add Intensity: Lift one leg behind you and hold during pushups or plank. Repeat for other leg.

    Neck Stretch Activity: Standing or sitting with feet hip-width apart and shoulders down and back, look straight ahead and tilt ear toward shoulder until you feel the stretch. Hold for about 10 seconds. Repeat to other side and forward. Add Intensity: With hand on top of head in each position, apply light pressure to increase stretch.

    Leg Lifts Activity: Sitting at the front edge of a chair with feet flat on the floor, straighten one leg out in front of you and hold in place for a few seconds. Return foot to floor and repeat and alternate legs. Add Intensity: Instead of sitting on chair, support your weight with your hands.

    Thigh/Glute Squeeze Activity: Sitting at the front edge of a chair with feet flat on the floor, squeeze glutes and thighs together and hold for at least 10 seconds. Add Intensity: Hold a book or other sturdy item between your knees without using your hands.

    Forward Bend Activity: Sitting at the front edge of a chair with feet flat on the floor, fold forward with chest to thighs and head dropped forward. Relax and take a few deep breaths. Add Intensity: Do forward bend in standing position with knees slightly bent.

    Learn more ways to Move More at heart.org/HealthyForGood

    ©2020, American Heart Association a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit. All rights reserved. Healthy for GoodTM is a trademark of the AHA. Unauthorized use prohibited. 3/20DS16004

  • 09 Apr 2020 10:40 AM | Kate Nolin-Smith

    Ballad Spahr provides a Coronavirus Disease (2019) resource center for up-to-date federal and state guidance.

    "We are actively monitoring federal and state government guidance and situation updates—and stand ready to help clients navigate Coronavirus-related business concerns.

    Guidance and regulations involving COVID-19 are changing rapidly—often with little or no notice to the public. Our alerts and resources pages are continually updated. Please make sure you are reviewing our most recent guidance, and consult a member of our team before taking action."

  • 09 Apr 2020 10:14 AM | Kate Nolin-Smith


    Under DOL regulations, employers may require certain information from employees to verify the need for FFCRA leave. More importantly, under IRS guidance, to take advantage of the payroll tax credits, employers are required to obtain and retain (for four years) certain information. The following enumerates all categories of information discussed by the DOL and IRS.

    Initial Information from Employee

    Initially, employers should memorialize the following information, which may be provided orally by the employee. If provided orally, according to the DOL/IRS, the employer should document the oral statements.

     Employee’s name

     Dates for which leave is requested

     Qualifying reason for leave

     Statement that the employee is unable to work or telework because of the qualifying reason.

    Additional Information from Employee

    The regulations further specify forms of additional documentation based on the reason for leave. In each instance, the information may be provided by the employee and does not require any further certification, such as by a health care provider. The nature of the additional information depends on the reason for leave:

    For leave requested pursuant to an order to isolate or quarantine -- identify the government entity that issued the order.

    For leave based on advice of a health care provider to self-quarantine -- the name of the healthcare provider; and, if the leave is to care for another individual, the identity of and relation of the individual to the employee.

    Although not mentioned in the documentation rules, the DOL regulations define an “individual” as someone with whom the employee must have a personal relationship. Examples: an immediate family member, a person who regularly resides in the employee’s home, or a similar person with whom the employee has a relationship that creates an expectation the employee would care for that person if quarantined.

    For leave due to a school closure or unavailability of childcare -- (1) the name of the child; (2) the name of the school, place of care or childcare provider that closed or is unavailable due to COVID-19; and (3) a statement that no other suitable person is available to care for the child during the period of requested leave.

    In addition, under IRS guidance issued on the same date as the DOL regulations, an employer can require that, if a child is over 14 years and care is during daylight hours, the employee provide a statement of “special circumstances” requiring employee to provide care.

    IRS Required Documentation

    Additionally, the IRS requires that employers maintain documentation related to the following:

     How the employer determined the amount of EPSL or FMLA-PHE Leave paid to employees, including records of work, telework and leave

     How the employer determined the amount of qualified health care expenses allocated to wages

     Completed Forms 7200 submitted to IRS (Advance of Employer Credits)

     Completed Forms 941 (Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return) submitted to IRS

    Track Documentation

    Employers should set up a system to gather the information from employees seeking leave. If the employee does not respond or provide all required information, notify the employee of the deficiency and give them a reasonable period (7 calendar days) to cure the issue. If the employee fails to cure the issue, even after being notified, the employer is not required to provide paid leave under the FFCRA.

    Sample Form

    Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response act (FFCRA)


    To request Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) or paid FMLA Public Health Emergency Leave as provided under the FFCRA, please complete the following Request and Documentation Form and submit to the Human Resources Department as soon as possible, but not later than five (5) working days after the first workday missed. 

    For FMLA Public Health Emergency Leave, only leave required for reason No. 5 below applies, and notice of the request for leave must be provided as soon as the need for leave is foreseeable.

    Employee Name (Print):


    Manager Name:

    Requested Start Date:

    Estimated End Date:

    The reason for this leave request is (check the appropriate reason below):

     (1) I am subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID–19.

    Name of governmental entity ordering quarantine:  ______________________________________

     (2) I have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID–19.

    Identify the health care provider’s name, specialty, and address:  ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

     (3) I am experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis Identify the health care provider’s name, specialty, and address:  _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

     (4) I am caring for an individual who is subject to either Reason 1 or 2 above. Identify the name of the individual and relationship to you:  _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Does the individual reside in your home?  _______________________________________________

    For Reason 1, Name of governmental entity ordering quarantine:  _______________________________________________

    For Reason 2, Identify the health care provider’s name, specialty, and address:  _________________________________________________________________________________________________

     (5) I am caring for my son or daughter disabled and needing whose primary or secondary school, or place of care, has been closed, or my childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions.  My son or daughter is under age 18 (or over 18 and incapable of self-care due to a disability. 

    Name and ages of all children needing care:  ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Name of school, place of care, or child care provider that is closed/unavailable due to COVID-19: 


    By checking here, I am representing that no other person is available to provide care to the child(ren) listed above during the period for which leave is requested: 

    For any child ages 15, 16, or 17 who needs care during daylight hours:  I hereby represent that there are special circumstances requiring me to provide care, as follows:  ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

     (6)  I am experiencing another substantially similar condition specified by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.  This condition is:  _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    If you have used EPSL while working for any other employer since April 1, 2020, identify the total number of hours of EPSL you have used:  __________________________________________________________________

    Additional Documentation regarding my request is attached.

    I hereby certify that I am unable to work or telework due to the qualifying reason identified above.

    By signing this form, I certify that the above information is truthful and accurate.  I understand that my employer will rely upon this information in filing for a payroll tax credit with the Internal Revenue Service:

    Employee Signature:  ______________________________________         Date:  ________________________

    Manager Signature:  _______________________________________        Date:  ________________________

    Human Resources Signature:  ________________________________    Date:  ________________________

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