Release Highlight 5/17/15

Over the weekend we released some new features to our software!

Many items included in the release were requests for improvements directly from our clients. We take pride in our commitment to being responsive to clients’ changing needs and are happy to incorporate ideas they have for improvement to the software whenever we can.

Savings money keyboard key. FingerOne such request came from a client that was looking for more communication from the system to their employees when a change occurred with an employee’s Direct Deposit setup for payroll purposes. We always had the capability to notify employees through the system, but because of the client’s request, the decision was made to always send an email to the employee when a change was made.

This change will help to keep the change process transparent and friction free for payroll managers and employees that have changes to their information.

The full release notes were recently sent to all StratEx clients . If you are using the software and have any questions about any of the updates, don’t hesitate to let us know.

Protecting you from your browser!

Most eStratEx users are aware that we at StratEx strongly encourage use of a modern browser when accessing eStratEx and Spokeware. This is not because we want to make life difficult, but rather because a modern version of your favorite browser will yield the most operational and secure user experience.

It is in this spirit that we will be phasing out support for old Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols. SSL is a security measure employed by internet browsers and websites, allowing for the secure transmission of private data online. Just like browsers themselves, these security protocols are improved and updated over time. Research published in late 2014 revealed that older versions of SSL contain vulnerabilities which can be exploited by hackers. Eliminating support for these older versions will help ensure you are not unintentionally exposing yourself and your data to attack by using insecure technology.

What does this mean for you?

Most users will experience no disruption. All modern browsers use the latest protocols (TLS 1.0, 1.1 or 1.2) by default.

Internet Explorer versions 7-10 support the latest protocols, but they are not enabled by default. Anyone using these versions of IE may need to update their browser settings. To do so:

1. Go to Tools>Internet Options
2. Select the Advanced Tab
3. Scroll to the Security Section
4. Select the checkbox Use TLS 1.0

No users should be operating on versions older than IE 7, as we communicated the decision to end support for old versions of Internet Explorer late last year. If anyone is, however, they may not have the option to update their version to a secure protocol and therefore will not be able to access the site unless they update their browser altogether.

On May 20th, 2015, these changes will be implemented for system downloads (reports, attachments, document library files, etc.). Anyone using old SSL will be unable to download files from eStratEx after this date. On July 4th, the changes will be applied to the site as a whole, preventing all access for those still using insecure protocols.

If you have any questions, or need assistance updating your browser version or settings, please contact your friendly Service Team at StratEx.

StratEx: A Best Place to Work in Illinois 2015

A few weeks ago, I was getting ready to head into the office on a Monday morning after being on vacation with my family for a week. As I wished my kids a good day at school, they expressed how depressed they were to go back. I asked “Why?”, and my daughter bemoaned, “What do you mean? Don’t you hate going back to work?” I laughed and said, “Actually, I am excited and I missed work very much. I missed everybody and am looking forward to seeing everybody.” She quickly responded “Yeah, that’s because you get to choose where you work and you don’t have to go.”

It’s true. We each make a choice about where to work, and I am grateful for every person that makes the choice to work at StratEx; the choice to be a part of our unique culture, by adding to the overall fabric of what makes our company what it is. This is what excites me to show up every day.award1

So, it’s gratifying that the rest of Illinois is finally starting to get to know what we already know: The Daily Herald Business Ledger and HRMA selected StratEx as an honoree of the Best Places to Work in Illinois award in the small business category. Out of hundreds of small business nominees, we were selected as the 9th best place to work in the state.

We are honored by the award and look forward to continuing our mission of bringing Friction Free service to the masses.
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StratExians (l to r): Andrea Ljevar, Mackenzie Malloy, Dave Banaszak, Libby Hagemeyer and Madeline Skaggs

Press Release: StratEx Named a 2015 Best Place to Work in Illinois

Congratulations, Chelsea!

Chelsea Garot, one of our HR Account Managers, is being celebrated today at StratEx!

Chel_Grad2

Chelsea will be graduating from Loyola’s Quinlan School of Business with her Masters in HR this weekend. We are proud of her and her accomplishment, and know that this is just another indicator that she is an asset to our company and the clients she serves.

Congratulations, Chelsea!

5 Things You Must Do Before Hiring an Intern

With the summer internship season set to begin soon, are you ready to welcome interns into your company with full-confidence that you are complying with all employment laws? Including compensating them appropriately?

Don’t find out the hard way: it is important that you have a good understanding of the requirements for hiring interns.

In recent news, Condé Nast (a company that publishes Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and a number of other well-known titles) paid $5.8 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought on by unpaid interns.  These interns claimed that their job did not meet the requirements to be considered an unpaid internship and therefore the company should have paid them minimum wage for all hours worked.

summer_intern_imageAlthough it can be difficult to determine if an individual is exempt from being treated as an employee in the event of an internship, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has six guidelines for defining their role within your business.

DOL Rules for defining an internship:

  • The experience, or training, of the internship must be similar to that which would be given in a vocational school.
  • The work is for the benefit of the intern.
  • The interns do not displace regular employees, but work under close observation.
  • The employer that provides the training/experience derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded.
  • The interns are not necessarily entitled to a job at the completion of the training period.
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

It is important thing to keep in mind that the internship must meet all six of the requirements above in order for it to be unpaid. See the DOL Fact Sheet here for more details.interns

To keep you in the clear of handling the intern situation incorrectly, we offer the following:

5 Internship Best Practices

1. Audit your intern program to see if it complies with all 6 DOL guidelines. Some good self-audit questions are:

  • Does your internship program have an appropriate educational purpose?
  • Are the benefits of the program in favor of the intern, rather than your company?
  • Are the duties of the intern different from duties of other employees?

When in doubt, or if all 6 DOL guidelines are not met, you should consider paying state minimum wage to the intern. In lieu of minimum wage, work with the intern’s school to set up course credit.

How-to-manage-interns2. Train Supervisors who will work with the interns to ensure that they:

  • Understand how to best utilize an intern
  • Prevent expansions of responsibilities that may jeopardize the intern’s classification as an employee
  • Have the time and dedication to spend with the intern

3. Write a Memorandum of Understanding that is presented to and signed by the intern. The memo should state the following:

  • The internship is unpaid
  • A job offer is not guaranteed upon completion
  • The educational purpose of the internship and the intent to benefit the intern
  • Limited scope of activities that the intern will perform
  • Intern’s obligation to promptly and accurately report any assignment of duties that are outside of the identified scope

4. Keep in mind that paid and unpaid interns alike should be protected from any form of discrimination, just as any other employee.

This is not only a best practice from an ethical standpoint, but also the preemptive result of a wave of proposed city and state laws providing this protection to interns.  For example, Illinois recently passed legislation to amend the Illinois Human Rights Act to protect unpaid interns against workplace sexual harassment. The amendment went into effect on January 1, 2015.

5. Don’t forget to check your state’s Child Labor Laws.

Federal and state laws dictate how to pay minors, when they are allowed to work, at what age they are allowed to work, the type of work they are allowed to do and in some states, they require employers to obtain proof of age documentation. It is important to ensure that you are abiding by all Child Labor laws when employing interns who are minors.

That should cover it. Knowing these DOL guidelines and following our best practices should put you on solid ground to neutralize that menacing intern threat.

Posted in HR