Archive for April, 2011

Determining Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits

Author: Michelle Montoya, MLR, SPHR

Client question:

Who determines a terminated employee’s eligibility for unemployment benefits? Does the employer have any control over the unemployment claim?


Eligibility for unemployment benefits is determined by the state agency (EDD, Employment Development Department, in the case of California) where the employee files a claim. The employer has no control over the filing or determination of eligibility.

When an unemployment claim is filed, the agency will request information from the employer about the facts surrounding the termination. This is the time an employer can state the reason for the termination, give supporting evidence, and state a case for denying unemployment benefits. The final determination will be made by the EDD.

Filing for Divorce and Group Health Insurance

Author: Michelle Montoya, MLR, SPHR

Client question:

Will filing of a divorce be enough to cancel a spouse from coverage on our Company’s health insurance plan and be offered COBRA?


No. The qualifying event is the date of the divorce decree (or legal separation). Merely filing for divorce is not considered a qualifying event, and will not render the spouse automatically eligible for COBRA. Courts often order a spouse to be reinstated on insurance plans if dropped before final divorce decree or legal separation, at which point, back premiums will be due, and can be quite expensive.

Termination: Employee signature required?

Author: Michelle Montoya, MLR, SPHR

Client question:

When terminating an employee, am I, as an HR Professional, required to have the employee sign the termination documentation?


No. There are instances when terminated employees do not want to sign any termination documentation, and that is their choice. An employer is required to give notices and termination documents to the employee, but not required to receive signature. Do make a note on the document that the employee refused to sign.

Healthy Employees Save Employers Money, Ideas for Employee Incentives to be Healthy

Author: Dawn Alvarez, PHR, CWC

The costs of unhealthy employees and the savings from healthy employees are real numbers that an employer can track both in higher health insurance rates and the costs of healthcare claims by employees. These numbers are so compelling, that many employers are creating wellness programs targeted at health education, exercise, and treatment of specific diseases for employees and their dependents. An employer can provide incentives to motivate employees to improve their health. Here is a great example:

Kids Sports, How Much is Too Much?

It is amazing how when our kids claim to enjoy a sport, we, as parents, grab on to it with a death grip that cannot be dislodged. We want our kids to be successful at everything they do and we will do anything to initialize and sustain that success. The truth, however, is diametrically opposed to that parental desire. Our kids need to want to succeed at whatever they do, sports, school, friendships, etc. They need to practice on their own. They need to want to watch the games for enjoyment and to learn. They have to look at winning as a by-product of playing well. They have to want to play with kids that are better than they are, because you only get better by pushing yourself. They need to lose gracefully and win gracefully, because they are part of a team and the team wins and loses together.

Tiaras and Tirades

Recently, while flipping through the television channels, I happened across the scene of a young girl (she turned out to be 5 – yes, 5) screaming and crying and pleading with her mother (a seriously overweight, white women with perfect acrylic nails) to stop hurting her. Instantly I was sucked into watching the horror of a little girl having her eyebrows waxed (WTF?!) while her mom pinned her down, and harshly told her to be quiet. The mom was explaining to the reporter that her daughter “really wanted this” but was just “being a brat.”

It’s Not About the iPad Tool, It’s About the Technique

Hi. My name is Lisa Luna DeCurtis, and I have been a bilingual speech-language pathologist for almost 20 years focusing on early intervention and family coaching. As I continue to integrate the Apple’s iPad’s apps in my private practice, as well as in my home with my 3-year-old, I will share with you my focus for using it in a meaningful way.Although the iPad is a markedly beneficial tool with impressive potential for educating children, I believe the key to maximizing the benefit of technology as a teaching tool is all about the technique one uses when interacting with children, especially to young children.As I have previously spoken about why the iPad is such an intuitive tool for toddlers, noting how it maps how young children already think, act, and learn, I have now summed up a few points to ponder for both parents and professionals to get the most from your child’s technological experience.The plan            Think about why are you using a tablet computer’s applications, specifically the iPad’s apps, versus reading actual books or building with blocks or coloring on paper? Is it to associate and extend an activity that the child already knows while introducing new technological concepts? Or is it acting as babysitter or form of entertainment? Feel confident about your plan before handing over your iPad to a child.The participants             Who are you using it with? Is it for one individual or a group of children simultaneously? What are their ages? What are their current developmental levels regarding their attention? What are their special needs? If there are apps that are inappropriate for that child’s developmental level, it’s important to have it hidden and inaccessible. The parameters            How long do you plan to let the child spend on the iPad? Are there certain settings when it’s not appropriate to have it? Consider the American Pediatrics Association’s Recommendations that children under the age of 5 should engage in no more than 1-2 hours of combined screen  time daily, including time watching TV, DVDs, and all computer time.The purpose            What is the advertised purpose of the app that the author reported? What other reason would you want to use that app? Is it truly educational teaching of a new skill or building on previously learned material? Or is just for entertainment? Children will learn something when they’re interacting with the apps, so it’s important to know what you want the child to intentionally learn.The positioning            Are you thinking about the benefits of sitting next to the child while the iPad? Or the benefits of being in front of the child so you’re face-to-face? Are there times it is beneficial to hold the iPad up near your face or down by your lap? Do you alternate between table time and couch time and floor time taking advantage of the versatility? Do you want to maintain control of the iPad to lead the interaction or hand it over to the child to allow him to explore it on his own? Although this will change base on your participants and purpose, it’s beneficial to do some research to see which position will yield the best outcome.The proof            As the iPad has just celebrated its one year anniversary and even Apple’s iPhone apps are only a few years old, there is no current research-based evidence on the effects of using the iPad’s apps with children of all ages. Although young children appear to benefit from various apps, and there is an extensive amount of anecdotal evidence throughout the web (mostly by bloggers) about its usefulness, it’s important to proceed with caution and use good judgment rather than assuming this tool is educationally beneficial.The potential             Between the ongoing excitement of the recent release of the iPad 2, the media’s attention on children with special needs benefiting from the iPad, and the explosion of world-wide developers and programmers infiltrating Apple’s iTunes store on a daily basis, there is no doubt the iPad has an excellent foundation as “game changer”, especially in the field of education.However, both parents and professionals, particularly therapists like me who are utilizing this technology regularly, will benefit from focusing on developmentally appropriate activities and tried-and-true techniques. Also, it is important to seek out sound advice from educators rather than getting caught up in the frenetic pace of this new app-obsessed culture and forgetting what research has shown about how children learn.Going back to the beginning, I encourage you to consider your “plan” before handing over any of your iDevices to children and be honest about its role in providing an interactive teaching opportunity or its role as a babysitter or entertainer. Especially because this is only the beginning.

McDonalds, are you listening? Food I want at the Drive Thru:

I want to love fast food, I really do.  It would be so convenient to stop off and grab something quickly on one of my more harried days, of which there are many.  But, I never give into the convenience because fast food is unappealing to me.  I might be a minority on that, but I committed to healthy eating long ago and now dried out “beef” and processed fixings no longer tempt my appetite.  I guess their salads are supposed to be my healthy choice.  Yawn.  Still, I admit that it would be great to pull my car up to a window, grab some food and be on my way.   If only fast food was as good for you as it is convenient for you.  Recently, McDonalds added oatmeal to its breakfast menu, something that I could actually eat.  I tried it, not bad!  Breakfast, “check”.  Why not take it a step further McDonalds?  Here is my wish list of food that I would pay for, and your kitchen could make in seconds:

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