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What’s an Employer to Do During a Tripledemic?

COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, but remember when other things made us sick? They’re still around, lingering and ready for mingling. ‘Tis the season… for a tripledemic.

Medical experts and health officials are worried about this winter’s rising flu, COVID-19, and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) cases colliding into a so-called “tripledemic.”

The Situation

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Unfortunately, children are among the hardest hit this season for a variety of reasons, including lack of exposure during COVID contributing to more severe illness once kids do get sick, and viruses surging earlier. The current surge in illnesses is even contributing to shortages of over the counter children’s cold medications used for symptom relief, as well as certain prescription drugs. All of this contributes to the stress of caring for a sick child, even when moderately ill and recovering at home.

Even normal cold and flu season sets off a certain chain reaction of scrambling: kids are out of childcare or school, parents have to figure out work, and employers have to fill in the gaps. COVID took this scenario to a whole new level. But here we are in the final stretch of 2022, and according to recent US Department of Labor data, absences from work due to childcare issues hit a record high just this past October.

You might think that the past two plus years taught us something about how to plan for illness, absence, and “plan B” a bit better. But the fact of the matter is: employers are still figuring it out (some better than others). COVID’s hard lessons, when everyone seemed to be sick, and no one could go to work or school, at times seem easily forgotten now.

While entire school and childcare facilities aren’t closing these days, employees caring for kids sick with the flu, COVID, RSV, or something else are feeling the squeeze during this latest surge of sickness. But employers need to keep things going, too.

Obligations and Opportunities

So, what’s an employer to do during a tripledemic? Much depends on the details, of course, but these steps are a good place to start.

  1. Comply with leave laws. An employer, and more specifically those handling absence and leave requests for an employer, should know and understand the state and local leave laws that apply to the organization. When an employee needs time away from work to care for a sick child, employer reps must be able to recognize what’s covered under the law to ensure that an employee receives all the time off to which they are entitled. This may include leave under temporary leave laws that sprang up during COVID, as well as permanent paid sick leave laws, family and medical leave laws, and public health emergency leave laws covering vaccination, quarantine, or other specified events. But employers should also not forget about the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which may provide eligible employees with job-protected leave if a child’s respiratory illness meets the definition of a serious health condition.
  2. Follow (or implement) time off policies. An employer may have paid or unpaid sick leave, family and medical leave, or other time off policies that may apply to eligible employees with qualifying child care needs. Employer reps need to know and understand when these policies apply to childcare-related situations, too. Also, if your organization is in a jurisdiction with mandatory leave laws, ensure that the organization’s own policies do not conflict with the law’s requirements. An employer without such a policy may wish to consider implementing one to address childcare-related needs.
  3. Consider flexible work. An employer may wish to consider temporary flexible work arrangements (remote work, flexible schedules, shift swapping, etc.), either in conjunction with a leave of absence or after an employee has exhausted their available leave time. Be mindful, however, of how you handle these requests and avoid discriminatory treatment (e.g., denying an older employee unpaid leave or the opportunity to work remotely while allowing younger parents to do so; or treating a childcare-related accommodation or leave request differently based on an employee’s gender). Administered appropriately, flexible work can bridge gaps for an employee with temporary childcare challenges while allowing an employer to retain talented and valued employees.


  • Start with a conversation. Employers should involve employees in discussions about childcare challenges and possible solutions (and document them).
  • Communicate expectations. If flexible work will be part of a childcare challenge solution, an employer should clearly communicate its expectations of the employee during this period. For example, you can use a remote work agreement to memorialize what you expect from the employee in terms of performance, work hours, responsibilities, and timekeeping.
  • Accept that separation may occur. Understand that in some situations, employee separation (whether voluntary or based on an employer’s business needs) may be unavoidable. For example, an employee may resign if no leave options or remote work options are available.

Final Thoughts

‘Tis the season for empathy and understanding, too. A little grace can go a long way towards helping everyone get through this sanity-stealing season.

This tripledemic may not be the holiday gift anyone wants, but it may provide employers with a lesson worth revisiting: planning for illness and absence, and having a “plan B” is critical, no matter the season.

Source:  XpertHR

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How to combat business e-mail compromise scams

A human resources representative at a small mining company received an e-mail purporting to be from the CEO and requesting employees’ W2 information. That rep—who had been trained on the risk of e-mail fraud just a month earlier—complied, providing the requested data to the source via PDF.
Fishing hook catches email.The problem: It was a business e-mail compromise (BEC) scam. Because HR hadn’t taken the time to confirm the request, highly-sensitive employee data was now in the hands of fraudsters.
The potential fallout from such a mistake is significant. Employees of the breached organization and their families are now at risk, as the scammers could monetize the stolen information by filing false tax returns with workers’ compromised Social Security numbers, as well as access past tax filings to steal personal data on spouses, partners, and dependents.
With the employee having recently been trained on avoiding such scams, HR also could face challenges. Some are questioning how seriously the department takes security issues, and the trust that employees and the leadership team put in the organization’s HR professionals has taken a hit.
BEC scams have been around a long time but they’ve become more sophisticated in recent years. These old scams are getting new twists, largely due to social media and the widening availability of valuable business information. Hackers can now gather insight online into how a business is run and who’s who in the hierarchy.
Fraudsters are able to target their scams to specific individuals, using their names and sometimes even nicknames, and they know who in the organization is likely to have the authority to request highly sensitive information. They also know to hit a business when things are busy, impersonating high-ranking people within the company and quickly extricating cash or data while everyone is too swamped to notice.
The W2 scam is a popular flavor at the moment, but other common BEC variants involve requests for wire transfers of large sums of money—either to a third-party “business partner” or sometimes to the supposed requestor directly—or for help in accessing other valuable accounts or internal systems.
Even with their increasing levels of sophistication, these attacks can still be avoided. Fortunately, HR is perfectly positioned to deploy some choice strategies that can help prevent the organization from becoming a BEC victim.
The risks of BEC
Criminals stand to reap big financial gains any time an organization falls for a BEC scheme. Wire fraud losses, for example, vary widely. Some companies have been being impacted for as little as $5,000, others a whopping half a million dollars. These scams hit companies big and small, and the FBI’s figures show the average loss to BEC victims is $130,000.
Near-term monetary rewards are the primary objective in most BEC scams, but cyber thieves may also target valuable data such as bank routing numbers, personnel lists, or salary details.
Other threats associated with BEC include the compromise of network credentials, which are often heavily guarded and can be difficult and time consuming for criminals to crack. This makes gaining quick access to internal databases and financial systems a tantalizing prospect for a determined crook.
With a well-crafted BEC, it may be much easier for a cyber thief to trick an unwitting employee into divulging passwords and protected account information than it is to hack into a system the old-fashioned way.
Why is BEC a threat to HR?
Human resources typically holds a privileged position within the organization. Executives share highly sensitive information—strategic, legal, and financial—with HR. In turn, it’s not uncommon for an executive to request the assistance of HR in a matter that requires a quick response or discretion in seeking additional approval, and that trusted relationship is exactly what cyber-thieves prey on when executing a BEC scam.
Compounding matters is the fact that HR is often the gatekeeper for the types of data these criminals use to initiate their ruse. Human resources is commonly the department that verifies employment and maintains personnel records. They also often have contact information and other details about board members, another layer of data that cyber criminals sometimes target.
In all, these scammers count on the recipients’ fear of disobeying upper management and they know that targeting employees who handle sensitive data offers the best chances of success. This puts the bull’s-eye squarely on the HR department.
Preparing the HR team against BEC scams
A solid preparation strategy is key in the fight against BEC threats. Since BEC scams are caused by human error, rather than a technology weakness or sophisticated hacking techniques, they often fall into the gray area between the IT and HR groups. With its focus on human capital, HR can step up and play a critical role in minimizing exposure to cyber threats by educating employees on these avoidable threats.
The first tool HR should leverage is education, both within the department and across the rest of the company. Employees must be aware of the risk of BEC and have the knowledge necessary to avoid becoming a victim.
In addition, the entire workforce should know what to do if they suspect a BEC exposure has occurred. The steps to limit BEC risks aren’t complicated, but some may not be obvious to employees trying to quickly respond to what appears to be valid, time-sensitive requests from senior-level management.
First, advise the executive and leadership teams that they should only use their company-provided e-mail account for potentially sensitive work-related activities. On the flip side, warn employees about the dangers of acting on any message that originates from a Google, Yahoo! or similar free e-mail address, as it’s far easier to forge e-mails using a service that’s outside the IT department’s control.
Employees who would normally process wire transfers, vendor invoices, incoming customer payments, and employee payroll need to be on the lookout for changes to established routines. Put protocols in place that require workers to verify any modification regarding where vendor payments are sent or who has authorization to increase signatory levels. Multistep verification processes are encouraged for wire transfers so that fraudulent transactions can be spotted and stopped.
The HR team can take steps internally to help protect the organization from becoming a BEC victim. Cyber criminals commonly use social media to harvest data about which individuals would make good targets and how companies operate, and HR professionals must be judicious about posting information about employees or the company’s dealings. Personal information on high-ranking leaders should be kept to a minimum, but even knowing who to contact within the HR team could get hackers one step closer to successfully carrying out a BEC scheme.
Given the tremendous level of financial and reputational harm that could befall a company that’s stricken with a BEC scam, organizations may also want to consider additional support tools. Cyber liability insurance is available to help provide protection from monetary damages and many policies include proactive tools such as assistance identifying weak processes and educating employees about good information security practices.

The Top 4 Ways to Avoid Cold and Flu This Season

By Occupational Athletics, Inc. OAI

The Top 4 Ways to Avoid Cold and Flu This SeasonfluCold and Flu Season is officially here, and, unfortunately, cold and flu viruses are extremely contagious. BUT, if you are careful and consistent with your preventative care, you definitely have a good shot at avoiding these illnesses.

Here are the top 4 tips to avoiding the cold & flu…
  1.  Wash Your Hands and Use Hand Sanitizer — a lot. No matter what line of work you’re in, if you come in contact with people who are contagious, or even objects they may have touched, you have to wash your hands over and over throughout the day. ESPECIALLY if you know you were near someone who is sick. To completely get rid of viruses from your skin, you need to scrub hard for 20 seconds or more. A good way to time yourself is to sing “Happy Birthday” twice while scrubbing the backs of your hands, your palms, between your fingers, and under your nails.When you are not near a sink, rub an alcohol-based hand sanitizer onto your hands.
  2. Don’t Touch Your Face. Cold and flu viruses enter your body through the eyes, nose, or mouth. Touching your face is a major way children AND adults catch colds. Many people have a habit of touching their hands to their face throughout the day – resting your hand on your chin, rubbing your eyes, or even biting your nails– be very conscious where your hands are and if you have washed them.
  3. Sanitize your environment. If you’re in an environment where germs could be lurking, which you most likely are, sanitize things that may have been touched already- doorknobs, light switches, faucets, refrigerator handles, keyboards, etc. Some people may think it is hyper-vigilant, but if you really don’t want to catch it – better safe than sorry!
  4. Keep Up A Healthy Lifestyle To Boost Your Immune System. Get adequate rest, exercise on a regular basis, eat foods that give you energy and make you feel well – especially vegetables and fruits. Watch your alcohol consumption. Heavy alcohol use suppresses the immune system in a variety of ways and dehydrates the body.

Cold & flu season creating staffing challenges for your business? Let Allied help!  Contact us today.

Another Reader’s Choice Win for Allied

Allied Personnel Services is thrilled to announce our 12th win as the Lehigh Valley’s Best Employment Agency in The Morning Call’s Reader’s Choice awards!

It is the outstanding performance of all of our staff and temporary employees that earned this award.  Their hard work and dedication continue to set Allied apart as the premier staffing service in the Lehigh Valley.

As we prepare to enter our 35th year of serving the Lehigh Valley, we are grateful for all of our past, present and future clients and employees that voted for us.  Thank you!

2018 Reader's Choice

Lehigh Valley Education and Talent Supply Study

With a strengthening economy and low unemployment comes a potential labor crisis.

Companies in Lehigh and Northampton counties are hiring and plan to continue hiring over the next year, but if the problem of finding the skilled workers necessary to fill these positions persists and nobody takes action to address the issue, the region could see a deficit of nearly 10,000 workers over the next decade.

Over the next decade, the number of baby boomers leaving the workforce is 90,665, while the number of incoming workers is 80,673.

That’s according to the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., which Thursday afternoon released the final report of a yearlong regional study that polled more than 300 companies in Lehigh and Northampton counties on questions related to skill needs, hiring plans, workforce challenges and other factors.

With Lehigh Valley-specific data in hand, economic development and workforce officials say they are poised to capture a greater understanding of how to find the right people for the right job.


“This data is the first time we’ve had Lehigh Valley specific data,” said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of LVEDC. “It’s really saying the Lehigh Valley is in the category of most of the strong growth regions in the country. Demand for skills is increasing.”

At an event that attracted about 200 people to the Blue Grillhouse event center in Bethlehem Township, officials involved in the Education & Talent Supply Study disclosed the findings from the data they gathered over the year. State grants funded the majority of the study.

The Education & Talent Supply Council formed in 2015 to meet, discuss and work on these labor issues and had participation from local schools and colleges, said Mark Erickson, president of Northampton Community College and chairman of the council.


In 2017, LVEDC and the Workforce Board Lehigh Valley hired MDB Insight, a Toronto consulting firm, to conduct the study that included interviews, focus groups and surveys with businesses from five targeted industry sectors and other stakeholders.

That same year, LVEDC hired Karianne Gelinas for a newly created position, director of talent supply. Gelinas helped to gather the data and worked closely with the council.

The targeted sectors are manufacturing; high-value business services; life sciences; transportation, warehousing, logistics and wholesale; and health care. The data are only from companies in these fields, and the council chose these sectors because they said they demonstrated the greatest employment needs.

“They already employ a large sector of our workforce and they are poised for growth,” Gelinas said.

Having strategies to help these growing employers is critical to the region’s economic health, Gelinas said.


The study also used Census Bureau data, which showed there are more Valley residents commuting outside the region to work than there are out-of-area commuters coming into the Valley to work.

Data revealed 91,230 people work in the Valley but live elsewhere, while 186,170 people live and work in the Valley. Furthermore, the data showed 99,138 people live in the Valley and work elsewhere.

“That number used to be way out of balance,” Cunningham said, saying many more residents commuted out of the Valley to work elsewhere. The council would like to broadly identify those 99,138 people leaving the Valley each day to work, their skills and where they are going, he added.


LVEDC, an organization focused on attracting new companies to the Valley and retaining existing ones, is finding that businesses are increasingly more concerned with the quality of the available workforce than they are location, according to Cunningham.

“The availability of skilled labor and gaps between existing workforce and skills that today’s employers need are critical economic challenges,” he said. “This is not just a Lehigh Valley issue.

“It’s a common concern in growing communities across the United States during a period of rapid technological change and historically low unemployment levels.”


A majority of surveyed employers said they have had difficulties hiring. The study showed 71 percent said their company has experienced challenges in recruiting, hiring or retaining workers over the past year.

The study also showed 91 percent of employers said they have hired workers within the past year, and 89 percent said they plan to hire within the next 12 months.

“The constant that we see across all our clients is, the skills gap affects everyone,” said Susan Larkin, vice president of Allied Personnel Services, a staffing agency in Allentown and presenting event sponsor. “The need for this study is clear.”

Larkin said she has not seen a labor market like this one. Her firm has experienced many different labor markets over the years and is one of the Valley’s largest employers.


Now with the survey complete and the data released, the council will examine 36 recommendations that MDB Insight identified, including nine that LVEDC views as the highest priority for taking immediate action.

These include conducting more tours of local businesses for the community and school officials, developing a more targeted mentorship program and finding out where residents go who leave the region for educational opportunities elsewhere. The full study and recommendations are available at LVEDC’s website.

“We are trying to look forward and put some framework in place,” Cunningham said. “We have to understand it to be smart.”

Source:  Lehigh Valley Business

What’s Up, Doc?

Did you know that today marks the birthday of Bugs Bunny?  There’s a lot to learn from this rabbit…



1) Be curious.  His “What’s Up Doc” catchphrase teaches us to be inquisitive of others.
2) Be fearless.  Bugs was brave, he was never shy, and he was quick to match wits with anyone giving him a hard time.
3) Be a creative problem solver.  There was never a pickle Bugs couldn’t find his way out of.
4) Be prepared.  Bugs always knew what his pursuer (usually Elmer) was plotting and planned and prepared to remain two steps ahead of him.

Feeling nostalgic for Bugs and his buddies (Elmer, Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Daffy…)? There is no better rabbit hole on YouTube to fall into than Bugs’.


Job Fair at B Braun Medical, Allentown

Braun Job Fair 2-13-18

Come and learn about these great long-term job opportunities for experienced forklift operators. Can’t make it to the job fair? Stop by our office at 752 Union Boulevard in Allentown, call us at 610.821.0220, or apply online. Don’t miss this chance to get your foot in the door at one of the Lehigh Valley’s top companies!