woman leaving the office walking down stairs for extra steps and exercise

StairWELL to Better Health

Taking the stairs is one way to be more physically active. At work, employees are often presented with a choice between taking the stairs and taking an elevator or escalator. Choosing the stairs instead of the elevator is a quick way for people to add physical activity to their day.

Using the stairs requires little additional time, no wardrobe change, and few additional costs because building codes require stairs. If your building has a staircase, why not start using it now?

This section will provide the information you need to transform your stairs into StairWELLs for better health from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The following topics are addressed in this section:

  • Motivational Signs
  • Installing Music
  • Other Ideas to Consider
  • Tracking Stair Usage
  • Project Checklist
man switching from work shoes, to workout shoes to stay healthy

Discount Fitness Club Network

This toolkit provides guidance on identifying and establishing a relationship with a nationwide Discount Fitness Club Network (DFCN) for employees of multi-site organizations. It is based on Healthier Worksite Initiative’s experience with implementing such a service, as a strategy to increase employee access to fitness centers at all CDC locations.

Health Challenge

The Guide to Community Preventive Services recommends increasing access to places to be physically active (combined with informational outreach) as a way to increase the public’s level of physical activity. Increasing access to places to be physically active at work can be accomplished in numerous ways, including making stairways inviting to encourage stair use, opening safe walking and biking trails, and improving community and worksite walkability.

Many worksites provide fitness centers for employees, but not all are able to offer sufficient facilities. In addition, not all employees choose to exercise at work; some prefer a fitness club closer to home.

Toolkit Components

The principles of program development in this toolkit hold true for private sector as well as public employers. The toolkit describes the following project phases:

  • Assessing Need and Interest
  • Promoting Your Project
  • Implementing Your Discount Fitness Club Network
  • Maintaining Interest
  • Evaluating Success
woman in work parking lot in a coat and scarf smoking a cigarette

Implementing a Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative in Your Workplace

This toolkit provides guidance for implementing a tobacco-free campus (TFC) initiative that includes a policy and comprehensive cessation services for employees. It is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) experience with implementing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tobacco-Free HHS initiative.

Health Challenge

Worldwide, tobacco use results in nearly 5 million deaths per year. If current trends continue, it is predicted that tobacco use will cause more than 10 million deaths annually by the year 2020. Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States and is responsible for an estimated 438,000 deaths per year, or about one out of every five deaths.

Policies establishing smoke-free environments are the most effective way to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. Evidence has shown that smoke-free policies in enclosed workplace settings are associated with reduced daily cigarette consumption among employees and possibly with increased cessation among employees.

The benefits of smoke- or tobacco-free campus policies that also apply to outdoor workplace settings have been much less thoroughly researched, probably because these policies are a relatively new development. One recent study found that the implementation of a smoke-free campus policy in an office workplace that already had a smoke-free policy for indoor settings was associated with an increase in quit rates and a reduction in daily cigarette consumption among continuing smokers.

Unlike smoke-free indoor policies, tobacco-free campus policies are not solely designed to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke. Rather, tobacco-free campus policies are also intended to encourage employees to improve their health by quitting the use of tobacco products. Tobacco-free campuses create work environments in which tobacco users find it easier to reduce their consumption or quit altogether.

Establishing a tobacco-free campus provides employers with an opportunity to communicate a consistent pro-health message, project a positive image, and reduce tobacco-related healthcare costs. Providing cessation benefits (coverage for counseling and medications) in conjunction with the policy supports the quitting process.

Toolkit Components

This toolkit describes how others in workplaces can plan and implement a tobacco-free campus policy and evaluate its success. The toolkit describes the following project phases:

  • Assessing Need and Interest
  • Planning
  • Promotion
  • Implementation
  • Evaluating Success
employee and supervisor talking at a table for employee reviews

Employee Reviews

One of the most effective ways to improve your business is through evaluation. Evaluation is a process in which members of your workplace review and rate a variety of aspects of your business, including personnel. The evaluation process should provide the employer with insight on employee performance throughout the complete hierarchy of the business- from ways to improve the leadership team to peers’ working relationships with one another.

The Employee Review section provides comprehensive, 360-degree coverage of the following types of employee reviews:

  • Assessment of Employee Supervisors
  • Assessment of Managerial Effectiveness
  • Assessment of Peers
  • Request for Feedback, Employee Leadership Conduct

As well as the following checklists:

  • Appraising Employee Performance
  • Reviewer Dos and Don’ts
  • Why Performance Reviews are Advantageous

And the following employee surveys:

  • Brief Employee Survey
  • Quality and Effectiveness of Employee Training
  • Rating an Employee’s Satisfaction

Please Note: The sample forms and policies featured in this section may be used for general reference only. All sample forms and policies should be modified to meet your company’s individual needs and applicable laws. Federal and state laws do change and, as a result, the featured forms and policies may not comply with current requirements. We strongly recommend consulting an employment law attorney or HR specialist for assistance with customizing any forms, policies, or the sample employee handbook. Any links that have been provided as an additional source of forms or guidelines are also for general information purposes and cannot be guaranteed for accuracy or compliance with any particular law or requirement.

Stack of dusty blue, purple, and white employee review files

Keeping Employee Records and Files

Employers typically keep a number of different employee records, often called personnel files, as a way of documenting an employee’s relationship with a company. In certain instances, documentation in a personnel file can provide important supportive data—for example, to show an employee’s discipline history in support of a termination in subsequent litigation. The personnel file can also track performance goals, leaves of absence and any employment-related agreements.

In addition to being a good business practice, employers may be required to keep certain types of records in order to comply with specific provisions under both federal and state law. When collecting and maintaining information to be kept in employee personnel files, it is important to comply with all applicable federal and state laws, including any requirements as to what information must or should be collected, what your company may or may not do with that information, and how long employee records should be kept.

All employee records should be kept in a secure location, such as a locked cabinet or locked office.

Types of Employee Records

Personnel Files

A personnel file may contain documents that fall into one of the following categories of records:

  • Basic Information. This category includes personal information such as the employee’s full name, social security number, address, and birth date.  Employers may also wish to collect information relating to emergency contact numbers.
  • Hiring Documents. Many employers retain documents related to the hiring process, including job descriptions, employment applications, and resumes.
  • Job Performance and Development. This is a broad category that may encompass documents such as performance evaluations and supervisory or management notes regarding performance issues; corrective action or disciplinary letters; awards, nominations, and other commendation letters; promotion records; and records of training or education.
  • Employment-Related Agreements. Any aspect of the employment relationship which is governed by an agreement between the parties, such as an employment agreement, union contracts, non-competition agreement, confidentiality or nondisclosure agreement, should be kept in the personnel file.
  • This category includes documents related to compensation and benefits information, such as W-4s and beneficiary forms, payroll records, and time cards for prior year(s).
  • Termination and Post-Employment Information. It is a good idea to keep information related to an employee’s termination on file should a dispute later arise.  Documents the employer may wish to retain include exit interview forms (if applicable) and any final employee performance appraisal, as well as a record of documents provided to the employee along with the final paycheck (e.g., termination letter, benefits notices, unemployment compensation forms).

Confidential Files–Keep Separate from the Personnel File

It is a good idea (and in certain instances may be legally required) to keep certain employee records and information in a confidential file separate from the personnel file, such as:

  • Medical records and Workers’ Compensation claims
  • Federal and state leave documents
  • Form I-9s
  • Documents pertaining to an employee investigation such as a disciplinary action
  • Background checks
  • Note: Many states have laws which prohibit or limit an employer’s use of background checks (also known as “consumer reports”) or criminal records checks and/or prohibit discrimination based on credit or criminal history information. Be sure to check the applicable laws in your state and consult with an employment law attorney who knows your state laws to ensure full compliance.

Please note that this list represents some of the key examples of personnel information which should be kept in a separate file. Please review the Records and File section thoroughly to get a good understanding of federal recording requirements. States may also have specific recordkeeping requirements as well. If you have any questions regarding the confidentiality of a particular record or form, please contact your state’s labor department or a knowledgeable employment law attorney.

hr woman at laptop in office


OSHA’s recordkeeping rule requires employers to record and report certain work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses, and provides employers a system for tracking workplace incidents.

Which recordkeeping requirements apply to me?

Reporting fatalities and catastrophes: Under a final rule, all employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (P.L. 91-596) must notify OSHA of all work-related fatalities within 8 hours, and of all work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, or losses of an eye within 24 hours. Keeping injury and illness records: The final rule also updated the list of industries that, due to relatively low occupational injury and illness rates, are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep injury and illness records. The rule maintains the exemption for any employer with 10 or fewer employees—regardless of its industry classification—from the requirement to routinely keep records of worker injuries and illnesses.

In addition, the following establishments are now required to electronically submit information from their OSHA recordkeeping forms to OSHA:

Click here for more information on the electronic recordkeeping requirement.

How can I tell if I am exempt?

OSHA has released a list of industries that, due to relatively low occupational injury and illness rates, are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep injury and illness records.

smiling small business owners

New Small Business Health Care Tax Credit Form Released

Form Used by Eligible Employers to Claim Credit for 2017 Tax Year

The IRS has released Form 8941, Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums, and related instructions, for tax year 2017. Eligible small employers use this form to figure the credit for health insurance premiums under the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.

The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit is designed to encourage small businesses and tax-exempt employers to offer health insurance coverage to their employees. Among other requirements, an employer may be eligible for the credit for tax year 2017 if:

  • It had fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees for the tax year;
  • It paid at least 50% of the premium cost for single health care coverage for each employee;
  • The average annual wages of its employees for the year were less than $53,000; and
  • It paid premiums on behalf of employees enrolled in a qualified health plan offered through a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace (or qualifies for an exception to this requirement).

Note: Employers in Hawaii cannot claim this credit for insurance premiums paid for health plan years beginning after 2016.

Click here to review Form 8941 and its instructions.

Our Small Business Health Care Tax Credit section provides additional details regarding the credit.

open enrollment 2018 member benefits graphic

Reminder: Individual Marketplace Enrollment Deadlines Approaching

Enrollment Deadline in Most States is Dec. 15

Individuals are reminded that the deadlines to enroll in health insurance coverage through HealthCare.gov or a state Marketplace are quickly approaching. To obtain coverage that will begin January 1, 2018, individuals in the states below must sign up for coverage by the following dates:

  • Connecticut: December 22
  • Massachusetts: December 23
  • Minnesota: December 20
  • Rhode Island: December 23
  • All Other States: December 15

Note: Some states may still be able to extend their 2018 open enrollment deadlines. In addition, certain states may provide extended deadlines for returning customers. Individuals are therefore advised to consult their state’s Marketplace for the latest updates.

Visit our Health Insurance Exchanges (Marketplaces) section for more information on the Marketplaces.

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