Andy Przystanski

Andy Przystanski

Andy Przystanski is Content Marketing Manager at Namely, the HR, payroll, and benefits platform built for today's employees. Connect with Andy and the Namely team on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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How to Get SHRM-Certified

It’s always back-to-school season for professionals looking to bolster their HR credentials.

What is the SHRM certification? There are two primary certifications available to HR professionals today: the PHR and SHRM-CP. If you’re looking to get certified with the latter, you have two options: the regular SHRM-CP (certified professional) and SHRM-SCP (senior certified professional). Testing occurs twice a year, once in winter and again in spring.

Whether you’re planing to register for the exam or looking for study tips, the below serves as your roadmap to SHRM certification.


1. Determine Your Exam Eligibility

SHRM doesn’t let just anyone take its exam. Depending on your education and the specific certification applied for, you’ll need to have spent a minimum number of years in an HR-related role. For example, a candidate with a bachelor’s degree will need at least two years of experience before qualifying to take the SHRM-CP exam. If you don’t have a college degree, you’ll need four years experience.


Want to go even further and take the test for the SHRM-SCP role? You’ll need double those minimum requirements. A full listing of eligibility details and scenarios can be found on the organization’s website.


2. Apply for the Test


Once you’ve determined that you meet the minimum requirements, check to see whether you’re in the middle of an application period. SHRM offers its exam in winter and spring, each period with its own application deadlines. A schedule of deadlines and fees can be found below. Note that this information applies to both the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certifications, and that the organization charges full price for any subsequent retests should you fail to pass the first time around.

2020 SHRM Application Deadlines

Applications Open Regular Deadline Late Deadline Test Period
January 6 (Spring) March 20 April 10 May 1 - July 15
May 13 (Winter) October 16  November 6 December 1 - February 15

2020 SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP Exam and Processing Fees

Application Costs Member Price Nonmember Price
Early-Bird Exam Fee $300 $400
​Standard Exam Fee $375 $475
Transfer Fee $100 $100
Retest Fee Full Price Full Price


3. Schedule Your SHRM Certification Test


After submitting your application and payment, SHRM will review your HR background to confirm that you have the required experience. You’ll receive an  “Authorization to Test” certificate, enabling you to log into SHRM’s scheduling portal and set a time. This part of the process is handled by Prometric, a test administration service.

Be sure to pick an otherwise free day for your test, as SHRM certification exams take four hours to complete. If you need to reschedule, be sure to do so at least 30 business days in advance to avoid incurring a fee.


4. Hit the Books


SHRM offers a full suite of online and print study materials, but this package can cost over $1,000 depending on your membership status. If your employer is willing to shoulder the costs, it’s worth it. If not, you can find dozens of third-party books and flashcard sets for sale online—just be sure that you’re purchasing an edition that’s recent enough to be consistent with latest version of the test.

Don’t forget to reach out to friends and your broader HR network. If you know anyone who passed the test already, ask to borrow their learning materials if they have any. Even materials related to the PHR certification can be helpful, so long as you don’t rely on them exclusively. If you haven’t already, join your local SHRM chapter and ask about joining a study group.

Just like taking any standardized test, part of the challenge is studying the exam itself. Get familiar with the format of the test. You’ll be asked to answer 160 multiple choice questions, of which 95 relate to specific HR knowledge and 65 on situational judgement. An example from the latter category, pulled directly from SHRM’s own online practice test, can be found below:

While that example might seem cut-and-dry, one criticism of the exam is that its situational judgement questions are often subjective. Keep up with the latest by subscribing to HR blogs and following what’s in vogue when it comes to HR best practice.


5. Don’t Forget Recertification


Were you one of the 70 percent of test takers that passed the exam? Congratulations! Getting certified is just beginning. You’ll need to continually renew your certification by amassing SHRM credits over a three year period—or prove yourself by taking the test all over again.

Certified HR professionals are required to gather 60 Professional Development Credits (PDCs) every three years by attending SHRM-sanctioned webinars, presentations, and panels. The rule of thumb is that a one hour event equals one credit. Session-filled conferences like the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition offer candidates a great opportunity to amass credits in a short period of time.

Need to earn SHRM credits? Namely is a SHRM recertification provider, meaning it frequently hosts webinars and events that are eligible for credit.

With the new year in full swing, make it your resolution to take the leap and get SHRM or HRCI certified. To learn about other ways to grow as a professional, read our guide 6 Tips for Climbing the HR Career Ladder.


The 10 Most Creative HR Job Titles

Human resources has an image problem. Considered by workers to be the corporate equivalent of a “principal’s office,” HR’s bad rap even extends to its portrayal in popular culture.

It would be easy to say that HR’s involvement in sensitive matters like benefits and payroll makes it an easy target. But, that doesn’t explain the even larger issue of trust—only half of U.S. workers believe their employers are “open and honest” with them. In order to gain employees’ trust back, human resources needs to change their image. Employees don’t want to confide in human resources because they’re afraid of being reprimanded for the issues they bring up or fear that nothing will change once they bring something up. 

As a result, it looks as though the profession might be in the early stages of a rebrand. Scouring Namely's database of over 1,000 midsize companies and 150,000 employees, our analysts identified a trend toward more informal HR job titles, with an increase in more employee-centric terms like “people” or “talent.”

The spirit behind these unique titles is one that shuns the use of “resources” to describe employees, and instead embraces the idea that there’s more to modern HR than just being data-driven. These titles demonstrate an acknowledgment that happiness is a metric just valuable as revenue or profit, and they suggest an effort to foster greater trust between people teams and their employees.

HR job titles mean a lot more than you might think. Merely changing a word or two in someone’s title could bring a lot more respect and trust than the traditional title carries.  Although a title change doesn’t necessarily come with more responsibilities, it should make people view the role differently and for the better.

Without further ado, here are the ten most creative HR job titles:

1. Chief Happiness Officer

HR earned its place in the C-suite a while ago, but this title emphasizes that employee happiness is just as important as any other function of the business. Let your employees know you’re committed to keeping them happy and interested in the work they’re doing. If you or your HR team is struggling to do that, invest some time and money into creating a title to make it happen.

2. Culture & Geek Resource Manager

One of HR's greatest responsibilities is building and maintaining a strong workplace culture. So, having a designated culture geek to ensure everything is running smoothly, and people are happy where they are can be a great way to boost workplace culture. Your culture geek should know that culture doesn’t necessarily mean pool tables and an open bar after work. They should understand that employees make up your company’s culture, and your company needs to be hiring people that will elevate that culture.

3. Director of Attracting Talent

When it comes to recruiting, it's a candidate's job market, making the search for top talent one of HR's biggest challenges. Therefore, it’s no surprise that crafting a strong employer brand has emerged as a strategic and crucial HR function. Designate someone on your HR team to create a stellar recruiting and hiring process. Job seekers will hear about your great candidate experiences, and current employees will be more willing to recommend their friends to an open position.

4. Champion of Office Happiness 

HR Professionals know that employee engagement is incredibly important to measure for overall business productivity.  But, how do you ensure your team is constantly checking results and coming up with solutions?  Introduce a champion of office happiness, who can be your office’s guru to all things employee engagement. 

5. Head of Optimistic People

Employees shouldn't only see their HR rep when it’s time to pick up their W-2s. Make your  HR department a little more approachable by appointing someone to bring optimism to the workplace. This positive energy will encourage employees to perform better and be more productive. An inviting, "optimistic" title helps make your department more approachable year-round.

6. People & Culture Systems Guru

Want to make it clear what your HR team’s day-to-day looks like? Don't be afraid to highlight skills or responsibilities in their title—even if it means being playful and including words like "guru" and "genius." Highlighting the skills of your HR team makes it easier for your workforce to figure out who they should go to for help.

7. CVO; Chief Vibes Officer

Make the office a little more approachable by expanding on the responsibilities of a CHRO that employees love. Having a Chief Vibes Officer takes away a little bit of the CHRO stigma and lets your employees be a little more comfortable approaching them. A CVO would do everything a CHRO is in charge of with a focus on getting to the core of your employee’s emotional state or the atmosphere in your office. 

8. VP of Teammate Success

This title has most of the same responsibilities as a VP of Human Resources; the only difference is that they’re focusing on their coworker's success. This includes the entire employee experience from onboarding to offboarding. A VP of Teammate Success supports their coworkers every step of the way. Not only are they working with those around them, but they’re also working closely with the executive board to ensure they know who’s doing well, who’s falling behind, and where the overall company culture stands. 

9. Director of Employee Engagement

Engaged employees are happy employees! Having someone who monitors employee engagement and checks-up on those who are noticeably unengaged will make a noticeable difference in how your employees are interacting with each other, clients, and customers. A Director of Employee Engagement doesn’t have to do all of this manually; part of their job could be finding a tool that monitors your employee’s engagement. The trick to using an employee engagement platform is making sure someone follows through with the data it collects. When you have someone in charge of making sure your employees are engaged, you’re guaranteed to have a positive company culture.

10. VP of People

Sometimes, employees and people, in general, don’t like to be managed. Taking ‘manager’ out of a title can put your employees at ease and allow them to trust the HR department a bit more. Adding VP to a title gives the person in that role a little more authority than an HR manager might get. Also, adding ‘People’ to the title takes the resource element out of your employees. You want your employees to know they’re more than just a resource to the company. Your employees are the ones who make up your company culture and keep your clients happy, and the person who manages them should reflect that in every aspect of their role.

The Value of Creative Titles

Can you tie “warm and fuzzy” HR job titles to results? To make lasting changes, HR teams will need to go beyond just HR job titles and actually walk the walk. With that said, even messaging can make an impact. Workplace studies have found a strong correlation between the perceived intent of HR teams and employee performance. In one analysis, companies with HR teams that were viewed as motivated by employee wellbeing over efficiency or profits saw higher engagement and performance ratings. The C-Suite should take particular interest in those findings, as nine in ten chief executives rank employee engagement as their top priority.

No matter your title, Namely’s HR software, can cover every part of an HR leader’s role. From talent acquisition to employee engagement, we have everything your HR department needs.

Contact us today to get started

This article was originally published on November 28, 2018. It was updated on December 18, 2019. 


Ask HR: Halloween Costumes at Work and More

Boo! The workplace is full of questionable (and spooky) situations. That’s what this month’s Ask HR mailbag is all about.

Over the past month, we’ve asked for your burning HR, payroll, benefits questions. We were frightfully delighted that some of them related to Halloween.

When there’s something strange in the workplace, “who you gonna call?” Looking for answers, we turned to our in-house experts: Julie Li, Senior Director of People Operations, Ryan MacPherson, People Operations Manager, and Emmett Swan, Senior Manager of Payroll Compliance.

By request, the names below have been changed in the interest of privacy. We invite you to submit you own questions using the form on the bottom of the page.

"For the last six years running, our company has held a Halloween costume contest. Unfortunately, last year someone showed up in a Jessica Rabbit outfit. Do you have any draft language or advice on handling these situations? We want to keep it light hearted but work appropriate." Marc, Washington

Julie: We're all about letting employees express themselves, but a sense of professionalism needs to be maintained. A simple way to make sure everyone is dressed appropriately is to include some simple guidelines in your costume contest announcement. Something that's friendly and easy to interpret could be, “We love seeing you unleash your creativity, but please remember to keep it PG-13! That means nothing too gory or suggestive."

"Every Halloween, we stock the office pantry with lots of candy corn and chocolate. Is office candy tax-deductible like other snacks?" Clementine, Florida

Emmett: Sorry to spoil your appetite! While Halloween candy does indeed count as a de minimis fringe benefit (like other snacks, or even a Thanksgiving turkey), last year's tax reform law has started to phase out their tax-deductible status. Starting this year, employers can only write off 50 percent of their cost. By 2025, you won't be able to do it at all. I'd recommend consulting with tax attorney or consulting IRS Publication 463

"What exactly is an HR business partner, and what are they responsible for? Going further, what are the salary expectations?" - Elena, New York

Ryan: The business partner role as become more prevalent over the past 15 to 20 years, as HR has shifted from a transactional to strategic function. Someone in this role serves as a strategic partner to the business, usually to a specific function or region. Responsibilities vary broadly from company to company, but the job typically entails a focus on engagement, retention, talent mobility, and employee relations—among the countless other things that can pop up.

First and foremost, they're there to support and play an advisory role to the business, helping leaders make the best decisions for their respective teams while mitigating legal risks. Salary varies broadly from an entry-level to principal HR partner, but Glassdoor can be a great reference on rough expectations.

"How do you cultivate enthusiasm in the workplace?" - Rocko, Tennessee

Ryan: There’s no silver bullet when it comes to getting employees excited about their work. What works for me might be totally different for my peers. That said, I think the two big things are: 1) work that stimulates and challenges and 2) an understanding and belief in the bigger picture. Boredom kills engagement, so taking on a new project can stretch an employee's skills and help them grow. Paint a picture of not only where the company and your team are going, but also how they can continue to grow and develop over the long term. Position those new projects as exciting opportunities and be sure to praise your team when they step up to knock it out of the park!

There are countless other ways to spur enthusiasm, but when it comes to the individuals on your team, it’s important to work with them one-on-one on their development.

"Our department recently hired an intern, my first-ever direct report. It was brought to my attention that he started bringing a friend to the office to help him keep up. Essentially, my intern hired his own intern. I’m not really sure how to address the situation with him or with HR." - Clarissa, Pennsylvania 

Ryan: While I almost admire your intern’s ingenuity, you should sit down with your intern ASAP and discuss how inappropriate these actions are. Bringing in a non-employee to complete their work is a huge breach of trust and creates a significant security and liability risk for the company.

While you should seek to understand why your intern brought in that friend, draw a hard line and make it clear that those actions are wildly inappropriate. This could justify a final warning or even potentially a termination.

To me, an internship is a proving ground for a potential full-time employee. These actions don't inspire a lot of confidence. In other words, he doesn't exactly sound like someone I’d be willing to take a chance on.

Have your own burning HR, payroll, and benefits question? Ask our experts and we’ll answer it on the Namely Blog. Simply email or complete the form below for a chance to be featured in our next edition.


Today's Workplace Is Mobile-First. Why Shouldn't HR Be?

From shopping for groceries to hailing a cab, there isn’t much that we don’t do on our phones. We’ve gotten used to having the world in our pockets. Well, for the most part.

Let’s face it: Between cumbersome onboarding forms, tear-off paystubs, and outdated software, human resources sometimes feels like it’s stuck in the nineties. But we know how exciting and progressive HR is when it’s paired with modern technology. And when it comes to staying relevant in today’s landscape, you need to meet employees where they are: on their phones.

We’re excited to announce that Namely’s updated app now gives employees full access to the big three: HR, payroll, and benefits. That means employees can access the information they need whenever—and wherever.

At the doctor’s office and need to confirm your coverage? Use the app to check what benefits you’re enrolled in. Applying for an apartment? Don’t miss out on the listing. Use the mobile app to quickly pull up your Form W-2 and forward a copy for your background check.

When it comes to mobile HR, we’re all in. But don’t just take our word for it. This year, we’ve added electronic paystubs, benefits information, W-2 access, and even eSignature to the mobile app. Here’s a full listing of the features live today:

  • Employee profiles 
  • Company newsfeed
  • Company directory
  • Time off requests and approvals 
  • Company holiday schedule
  • Paystubs 
  • Form W-2 and 1099s
  • Benefits information 
  • Office map
  • Direct link to enter hours 
  • Company resources 

From a new hire's first day to payday, we're mobile-optimizing the employee experience. To see the above features in action, click or scan below to download the latest version of the Namely mobile app. 



Is ‘Burnout’ Really a Disease?

Chronic fatigue. Forgetfulness. Loss of appetite. No, that isn't the flu. It’s just Monday morning in the office.

There’s been no shortage of research done around the “burnout” phenomenon. A 2019 survey found that over 90 percent of managers believe their teams are suffering from the affliction. Looking for solutions, employers and their HR teams have implemented unlimited vacation policies, flexible schedules, and other perks. Even legislators have gotten into the mix—last year, New York City nearly enacted an ordinance making it illegal to email employees after hours.

Is there a doctor in the house?

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization made headlines when it announced it was officially recognizing burnout as a “syndrome.” Symptoms of the condition include “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and reduced professional efficacy.”

While the organization stopped short of classifying the phenomenon as a medical condition, it acknowledged the well-documented link between work stress and serious illnesses. The Mayo Clinic even has an entire webpage dedicated to burnout, linking it to depression, substance abuse, and even heart disease. One multi-year study found that burned-out workers were over 80 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. 

More Than Vacation

While it’s unlikely that doctors will be diagnosing burnout any time soon, that hasn’t stopped businesses from looking for cures. Companies and employees have long viewed vacation as a potential remedy, spurring many to increase time off limits and even offer work sabbaticals. Unfortunately, the potential benefits here might be short lived—if they exist at all.

A survey from the American Psychological Association found that two thirds of workers reported that the benefits of vacation either disappeared immediately or lasted just a few days after their return.

Disconnecting, for Real

There’s mounting evidence that simply giving employees more vacation isn’t the solution. So what is?

It turns out that the cities and even countries looking to limit after-hours emails might be onto something. A university study tracking nearly 300 adult professionals found that the inability to disconnect from work caused significant “anticipatory stress.” The mere expectation of emails—even if they never actually came—was enough to trigger feelings of being overwhelmed or burned out.

Some companies are catching on, eager to retain workers in hyper-competitive talent market.

Cristian Renella, the CEO of, an insurance plan comparison tool, instituted a company policy forcing employees to unplug. “Six months ago, we created a company policy that prohibits sending emails, texts, or calls after 5:00 PM or before 9:00 AM. The results have been amazing so far. Productivity increased by 11 percent,” he said. The company’s HR team found that the policy increased retention, too.

Wellness company Thrive Global takes it even further. When employees go on vacation, emails to their inbox get automatically deleted. Senders receive a polite—but firm—automated response to reach out at a later date. 

Beyond Lunch Breaks

Even short breaks can alleviate burnout. According to some studies, just a few fifteen-minute breaks throughout the day can go a long way in refreshing employees’ minds. Scheduling these recurring breaks on your calendar might be the best way to make them part of your daily routine.

According to Giovanni Ramirez, a talent and culture representative at Communication Service for the Deaf, that’s all she needs to stave off burnout.

“Walk away from the computer. Be sure to give yourself breaks throughout the day. When I do, I simply take a few minutes away from the screen and then I'm able to hop back in,” Ramirez said. The short breaks allows her to break out of what she described as “tunnel vision.”

While burnout hasn’t been classified as a “disease” just yet, recognition from the World Health Organization, Mayo Clinic, and other medical associations has been more than enough to get the public's attention.

Although companies are becoming more familiar with the term burnout, some employers still struggle to recognize it. In reality, an employer may have no idea bandwidth is even an issue. It may be a difficult conversation to have, but it's critical that employees express burnout to their employers so they can work on solutions together.

As for employers, that concern might be rightly placed. A Gallup poll found that burned out employees are almost three times as likely to be interviewing. That's a big concern for businesses looking to stay competitive—and a call to action to find creative solutions to the problem.


4 Reasons You Need a New HR System by January 1

For most HR and payroll professionals, the beginning of the year is marked with dread, not confetti or champagne. It’s when the most pressing IRS deadlines are scheduled, new regulations take effect, and W-2s need to be squared away.

So why would anyone want to roll out a new HRIS then? Here are four good reasons why you need a new system by January 1.

1) PEOs and Double Taxation

If you’re with one now, this shouldn’t be news to you: leaving your professional employer organization (PEO) can be a tough proposition. Because a PEO becomes your employer-of-record for tax purposes, leaving one midyear has historically meant double paying certain taxes.

Not sure what that means? Some employer taxes, like Federal Unemployment (FUTA), apply only to a certain amount of wages per year. Once that threshold is crossed, an employer no longer needs to pay the tax until the following fiscal year. When you leave a PEO in the middle of the year, however, that slate is wiped clean—and you have to pay up all over again.

That’s why starting with a new system on January 1 has always been a popular choice. What if you want a change even sooner? With a new law, you can likely avoid double taxation altogether. You can learn how that works here.

2) ACA Reporting

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), colloquially referred to as “Obamacare,” is here to stay. Don’t start the new year without a system that can process your ACA reports. Getting the ball rolling sooner rather than later is critical, especially since you’ll need to wrangle up benefits documentation from your current broker or system. That can be a time-consuming and error-prone process, and the IRS’s ACA Information Returns (AIR) system is known for being persnickety.

It’s a lot to manage on a tight schedule. Luckily, some platforms come bundled with consulting services as well, meaning they can handle all of this reporting for you. 

3) Employee Communication

Preparing employees for any change, let alone something as major as a new HR, payroll, and benefits platform, isn’t something you can do overnight. Between scrambling to meet reporting deadlines and planning the company holiday party, you aren’t going to have time to push it off to year-end.

If you haven’t settled on a vendor yet, you should give yourself plenty of time to both implement the system and build a communications strategy for roll-out. If the vendor doesn’t already have training materials available, you’ll likely need to create those as well. Getting all of this work out of the way now means one less thing to stress over this holiday season.

4) A Fresh Start!

Going into a new year, there’s nothing quite like that new HRIS smell. It’s a time when employees feel refreshed, more accepting of change, and eager to turn the page on the last twelve months. Capitalize on this wave of energy by giving employees a personal, engaging HR platform that boosts both performance and culture.

Yes, engaging. We know that HR technology has a reputation for being outdated or hard to use. While that may be true for some legacy solutions, the last decade has seen a wave of intuitive and dynamic platforms emerge. There are a number of exciting players in the market, with features like a social news feed, employee appreciation, and customizable profile pages.

That’s what Namely thinks HR software should be like. If you share that belief, forget waiting until January 1—there’s no time like the present. Schedule a demo today to learn more.

Namely Ranked No. 1 HR Software by Newsweek

The race to attract and retain talent has never been fiercer—and we’re passionate about building software that empowers companies to stand out from the competition. So when we heard that Namely was ranked as the top HR software provider in Newsweek’s Best Business Tools 2019, we took the result to heart.

Newsweek’s findings are based on a nationwide survey of more than 10,000 users of software and software service providers. Survey participants were asked about their willingness to recommend the software and to rate the provider in categories of trust, service promise, reliability, security, improvement, and satisfaction.

The survey identified Namely as the top HR software with a total score of 83.4. Namely led the category with the only ranking above 80 on the list. Below are some of the other vendors included in this year's survey. For a full listing of results, click here
Our commitment is to deliver HR software that not only makes teams' lives easier, but empowers them to build a better workplace. To that end, we're thrilled to have been included in Newsweek's recent survey. To learn more, read the full press release here.


The Secret to Equal Pay? Representation at the Top.

The secret to eliminating the pay gap could be more intuitive than you think.

It’s not news that America has a pay equity problem. Per the latest figures, women earn an average of 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. Non-majority women are at an even steeper disadvantage. Hispanic women earn just 54 cents for every dollar earned by white men.

Nearly sixty years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, federal and state regulators are still tinkering with potential solutions. This fall, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will require employers to report on employee demographics and compensation for the first time.

Over the last five years, one approach has come into vogue: banning salary history questions during job interviews. The theory here is that if future compensation is based on old (and inequitable) information, women and non-majority employees will always be at a disadvantage. As of this writing, 18 states and 17 cities have such a ban in place.

But while there’s certainly potential for these laws to turn the tide, they’ll need to overcome old habits. One anonymous survey found that as many as 80 percent of businesses still rely on pay history when determining what to offer a hire. And there’s some academic work that suggest that it isn’t the salary history question that perpetuates the gap, but inherent biases in how people react when discussing pay with men versus women.


Identifying the Exception

Namely is an HR platform used by over 1,300 companies and 250,000 employees. In our Workplace Diversity Report 2019, we look at pay equity data across every industry in our database. For a full breakdown, see below. Both adjusted and unadjusted pay discrepancies are listed. The former measurement compares individuals within the same job tier, whereas the latter is a full account irrespective of role or rank.


While most industries have pay disparities, the “gap” problem isn’t one that’s shared equally. The unadjusted numbers are particularly troubling in the financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, and technology industries. A disparity of 20 cents or more between the adjusted and unadjusted figures suggests inequitable distribution of women and non-majority employees across different ranks and job tiers.

The above confirms much of what we’ve already heard in the press. But hidden away in the data, we find one clear exception: nonprofit companies. These businesses have the smallest gender and ethnicity pay gaps. When looking exclusively at nonprofits’ adjusted numbers, women actually have a two-cent advantage. Similarly, non-majority ethnicities don't have an adjusted pay gap at these companies either. 


It’s About Representation

So what is it about nonprofits, anyway? It would be easy to say they’re “mission-driven” and perhaps more likely to be thoughtful about issues like equal pay—but that’s purely a theoretical exercise. Was there anything unique about their demographics or compensation data overall?
Parity is about more than compensation. The even distribution of genders and ethnicities across job tiers is arguably just as important. In Namely’s Workplace Diversity Report 2019, we look at the gender and ethnicity breakdown by job tier. These numbers, by industry, are shown above.

Fair representation means that these numbers should mirror the overall population. Women account for half of the U.S. population—so they should ideally account for at least 50 percent of each salary tier. Similarly, non-majority ethnicities should account for roughly 40 percent.

Only two industries have 50 percent representation of women at their highest pay grade: nonprofits and retail companies. It wasn’t even close in other sectors. If you recall from earlier, retail companies also have among the smallest pay gaps as well.

Looking at ethnicity, these companies also have non-majority representation in the highest salary tier that is within 10 percentage points of the ideal. At nonprofit companies, representation remains fairly consistent across all tiers. Over half of the other industries actually have overrepresentation of non-majority ethnicities at the lowest salary tier.

So what does this all mean? The companies that lead the way on equal pay have greater diversity at the highest pay grade. Conversely, the organizations that struggled the most at gender pay equity, like healthcare and technology companies, have among the lowest representation of women and non-majority employees in that tier.

Diversity and pay equity go hand in hand. But accurately measuring meaningful diversity isn’t about a blanket measurement that covers the entire company or a department. It’s about going a step further and measuring representation by salary tier.

For most organizations, an individual’s compensation is often an indicator of their influence or authority in an organization. In this respect, companies have a lot of room to improve. In our data, we find that 60 percent of managers are men and 70 percent are white. And as found in last year’s report, individuals are more inclined to recognize and reward peers within their own gender or ethnicity.

It seems intuitive enough: If you want to eliminate the pay gap, it helps if the aggrieved are in a position to call more of the shots.


Oregon Passes Nation's Most Generous Paid Leave Law

With the number of paid leave laws passed in recent years, you’d be forgiven for thinking the passage of another would hardly be newsworthy. Consider this an exception.

Earlier this month, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed off on the country’s most generous paid family leave program. Both houses of the state’s Democratic-leaning legislature voted overwhelmingly in favor of the proposal before it made it to Brown’s desk. The news makes Oregon the eighth state to offer paid family leave benefits.

Eligibility and Benefits

Starting January 1, 2023, Oregon businesses will be required to provide employees with 12 weeks of paid leave to:

  • Bond with a child within the first year of their birth or adoption.
  • Recover from a serious health condition.
  • Care for a family member with a serious health condition.

While employees are allowed to extend their leave by four weeks, that additional time will be unpaid. Women who experience complications due to childbirth will be entitled to two more weeks, accounting for a total benefit of 18 weeks.

The leave is job-protected, meaning an employer can’t subsequently terminate or take adverse action against an individual for using it.

Oregon’s program is considered generous is because it offers low-income workers 100 percent of their regular wages while on leave. Other states have opted for more modest benefits—for example, New York’s program will only offer 67 percent of wages when fully implemented in 2021.

Employee benefits under Oregon's aptly named Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program are influenced by the state's average weekly wage, approximately $1,044. As already mentioned, workers who earn less than 65 percent this number ($679) will receive all of their regular wages. Those with earnings exceeding that threshold will be eligible for 65 percent of the state’s average weekly wage, plus 50 percent of the amount their wages exceed that number.

Need an example? For someone who typically earns $1,000 per week, here’s what that looks like:

Example Calculation
Regular Weekly Earnings: $1,000
Oregon Average Weekly Wage x 65%: $679
Additional Wage Difference: $1000 - $679 = $321
Additional Wage Percentage: $321 x 50% = $160.50
Total Weekly Benefit: $839.50

High-earning employees should note that there is a maximum weekly benefit under the FAMLI program: 120 percent of the average weekly wage, or about $1,254. The state’s average weekly wage is subject to annual review by the Oregon Employment Department.  


Payroll Deductions

The new program will be funded entirely through a new payroll tax, set to take effect on January 1, 2022. While the actual tax rate won’t be published until 2021, the law does give employers and their workers an inkling as to what to expect.

The law specifies that employers and employees will cover 40 and 60 percent of the tax, respectively. Companies with 25 or fewer employees are exempt from paying the employer portion. As an additional benefit, businesses may opt to cover the tax entirely for their employees.

Oregon’s law represents just one example of how states are increasingly accommodating workers and their families. Since 2016, the number of states offering paid family leave has nearly tripled—putting pressure on federal lawmakers to make headway on a national program. Though President Trump released a statement earlier in his tenure calling for Congress to pass a paid leave mandate, a bipartisan bill remains to be seen.

The Namely team will continue monitoring the implementation of Oregon’s paid family leave program.


New York Bans Salary History Questions

Parades are known for a lot of things, not to mention confetti, marching bands, and floats. But employment law?

At a recent celebration honoring the U.S. women’s national team, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new state law banning salary history questions during the interview process. The law comes bundled with other changes, including an expansion of the state’s existing equal pay rules.

Salary History Questions

Effective January 6, 2020, New York businesses will no longer be permitted to ask about job applicants’ compensation history. Even if the information is disclosed voluntarily, employers can't use it to influence hiring or compensation decisions.

Notably, these new requirements go beyond just external hiring. If an existing employee applies for another role internally, asking about (or using) their compensation history at the same company is also non-compliant.

If these requirements sound familiar, it’s likely because employers in New York City have been subject to such a ban since late 2017. A growing number of cities and states have adopted similar measures, including California, Oregon, Vermont, and others. 

"Similar" Work

“Equal pay for equal work” has long served as a rallying cry for labor and advocacy groups. But for individuals claiming pay discrimination, the burden of proof associated with “equal work” has often served as a mountain too high to climb in court. Two employees’ responsibilities, even if they share the same title, are seldom the same or “equal” in every single way. 

The law signed by Governor Cuomo could go a long way in addressing that issue. Effective October 8, 2019, employees will now only need “substantially similar” roles in an equal pay claim. That means two individuals within the same organization can be compared as long as their roles require similar skills, responsibilities, and working conditions.

Age, race, sexual orientation, and disability status are protected traits under the law, meaning they can’t influence compensation. Notably, New York law also includes “domestic violence victim status” as a protected trait. Only bonafide reasons, like a seniority system, experience, or geography, can be used to back pay differences. 

The governor’s choice of venue for the law’s signing couldn’t have been more appropriate given the U.S. national team’s longtime fight for equal pay. But behind the festive atmosphere and the fog of confetti, a somber truth: Two decades into the 21st century, women are still paid only 80 cents on the dollar compared to men. The gap is even greater when comparing non-majority women to white men. 

While it remains to be seen whether salary history bans will effectively reset the pay gap in the longterm, there's no doubt that state and city lawmakers have embraced them as a novel solution to an age old problem. 

The Namely team will continue monitoring the status of similar proposals across the country. 

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