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Off-the-Wall Reasons for Calling in Sick

How to land and keep a job

Many Older Workers Face Astronomical Tax Rates

Safest and Most Dangerous Jobs 2016

No One is Safe from a Cyber Attack, Part 2

Off-the-Wall Reasons for Calling in Sick

Employees have been calling in sick since time immemorial. Although it is not a new practice, compared to last year’s CareerBuilder survey slightly less workers said they had done it over the last 12 months.

Slightly more than a third of workers (35 percent) said they have called in to work sick when they were feeling just fine, down from 38 percent last year.  The nationwide survey was conducted by Harris Poll for CareerBuilder. More than 3,100 full-time workers and more than 2,500 full-time hiring and human resource managers across industries participated in the survey.

When asked why they called in sick when they were feeling well, 28 percent said they just didn't feel like going in to work and 27 percent took the day off to attend a doctor's appointment. Another 24 percent said they needed to relax and 18 percent needed to catch up on sleep. And 11 percent took the day off to run personal errands.

The above were routine excuses commonly used to take a day off. But there were plenty of off-the-wall excuses given by employees, hoping they’d pass muster with their bosses. Here are some of the craziest, many of which border on the outrageous:

  • Employee's pressure cooker had exploded and scared her sister, so she had to stay home.    
  • Employee had to attend the funeral of his wife's cousin's pet because he was an uncle and pallbearer.
  • Employee had to testify against a drug dealer and the dealer's friend mugged him.
  • Employee said her roots were showing and she had to keep her hair appointment because she looked like a mess.
  • Employee ate cat food instead of tuna and was deathly ill.
  • Employee said she wasn't sick but her llama was.
  • Employee had used a hair remover under her arms and had chemical burns as a result. She couldn't put her arms down by her sides due to that.
  • Employee was bowling the game of his life and couldn't make it to work.
  • Employee was experiencing traumatic stress from a large spider found in her home. She had to stay home to deal with the spider.
  • Employee said he had better things to do.
  • Employee ate too much birthday cake.
  • Employee was bit by a duck.

Though most employers (67 percent) give their employees the benefit of the doubt, 33 percent checked to see if employees were telling the truth. Among employers who checked to see if employees who called in sick— asking to see a doctor's note was the most popular way (68 percent), followed by calling the employee (43 percent) — 18 percent of employers took the initiative and drove past the employee's house.

However, more than 1 in 5 employers (22 percent) said they fired employees for calling in sick with a feeble excuse, which was on par with last year’s survey.  More than a third of employers (34 percent) have caught an employee lying about being sick by checking social media. Of those, 27 percent have actually fired the employee for underestimating their employers. However, 55 percent were more forgiving, only reprimanding the employee for the lie.

Was it worth it? The answer is obvious.

Posted on: October 22, 2016 10:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

How to land and keep a job

George Santino didn’t have it easy. He grew up in poverty in one of Philadelphia’s poor neighborhoods.  He had an alcoholic and physically abusive father.  Things didn’t go well for Santino on the work front either. His real estate ventures failed, and he suffered a number of devastating physical accidents.

Despite all these setbacks, Santino never gave up. Each setback made him more determined to get back on his feet and succeed. And succeed he did. Sheer persistence and a strong desire to rise above his humble roots were the motivating factors for writing “Get Back Up — From the Streets to Microsoft Suites,” which is about how he learned to overcome his shortcomings and build a successful career. Here are a few of Santino’s tips that could benefit career builders:

  • Prepare for job interviews. Before you walk into a job interview, make sure you can answer these questions: What does the company do? What recent successes have they had? And, what recent failures have they had? Additionally, arrive at the interview on time, be polite and courteous, dress professionally; answer questions completely; and when asked if you have questions, ask insightful and thoughtful questions. “Remember, what you ask and how you ask it will be evaluated,” Santino said.
  • Follow-up after the interview. Santino suggests doing the following:  Thank the person or persons who interviewed you; ask what will happen next and when you can expect to hear back; and collect business cards or email addresses from each person you spoke with. Writing a physical note helps you stand out.
  • Overcome objections if offered a job. You may or may not be able to negotiate the terms.  Be it doesn’t hurt to ask, Santino said.  If you don’t get the job, don’t let that be the end of it. Call the hiring manager, thank him for his time, and try to find out why you were rejected.  Even if you don’t connect with the hiring manager, it doesn’t hurt to try. You may be surprised by the results.
  • Real work begins when hired. “Your first priority is determining what it takes to be successful in your job.  Santino quotes Woody Allen who said, “80% of success is just showing up." “That may be true, but you have to show up prepared,” Santino said.  From the onset, make sure you understand your job and what’s expected of you. “Talk to the other people doing the same or similar jobs,” said Santino. “Take the time to truly understand your role and its associated deliverables.”
  • Learn what is valued. Just doing your job isn’t enough. The key to success is going the proverbial extra mile and taking on projects that prove you’re a valuable asset  who is fattening the bottom line. “Make sure you’re spending your time doing the right things every day,” said Santino. The author offers the following advice:  What does your boss and the company value and reward?;  Ask clarifying questions about what successful people at the company are doing and then do the same sorts of things;  Exceed expectations; and get feedback from your bosses so that you’re constantly improving.


Posted on: October 20, 2016 02:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Many Older Workers Face Astronomical Tax Rates

Older employed in their 60s face a double-edge sword. While they’re delighted to keep on working, they face extremely high tax rates — considerably higher than the rates paid by millionaires and billionaires, according to a study conducted by Boston University economist and researcher Laurence Kotlikoff.

Kotlikoff, a senior fellow at the Goodman Institute, produced the study with Alan Auerbach, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley, and two additional authors.

"Senior workers earning an average income can easily lose more than half of their earnings to higher taxes and reduced government benefits," said Kotlikoff.  "In some cases, workers can lose 95 cents out of each dollar they earn."

The good news is that millions of older workers are mentally and physically capable of making major contributions to our economy, said Kotlikoff.  The bad news is that the nation is worse off when these people are pushed out of the workforce by policies that encourage them to retire, said Kotlikoff.

Penalized by Social Security system

The study found that the Social Security Administration is a major source of penalties for working: For instance:

  • Beyond a certain income level, early retirees from age 62 to 66 lose 50 cents of Social Security benefits for each dollar they earn — a 50 percent tax rate.
  • From Jan. 1st in the year in which they turn 66 until their 66th birthday, they lose 33 cents of benefits for each dollar of wages — a 33 percent tax rate.

These taxes are on top of income, payroll and other taxes.   Although the government begins adding the benefit reduction back once the worker reaches the normal retirement age, many seniors don't realize that or don't understand it.

"If we abolished these 'earning penalties' the government would probably be a net winner. Seniors would work more and earn more and the other taxes they pay would more than make up for any short term revenue loss," said Kotlikoff.

Another impediment to work is the Social Security benefits tax:

  • Beyond a certain threshold, seniors must pay income taxes on 50 cents of Social Security benefits for each dollar they earn — increasing their marginal tax rate by 50 percent.
  • If they earn even more income, they will reach a point where they must pay income taxes on 85 cents of Social Security benefits for each dollar they earn, increasing their marginal tax rate by 85 percent.

When the Social Security benefits tax is added to the earnings penalty, the tax rate on moderate-income seniors can actually reach 95 percent.

The Social Security benefits tax also imposes very high rates on savings. For example, for someone in the 15 percent bracket for ordinary income:

  • The Social Security benefits tax can increase the tax rate on pension income and IRA withdrawals from 15 percent to 27.75 percent.
  • It can raise the tax on capital gains and dividend income from zero to 12.75 percent, and tax exempt income can also be taxed at a rate of 12.75 percent.

These high marginal tax rates only impact those in the middle of the income ladder, said Kotlikoff. They don't affect the work incentives of the rich or the poor. But, "the loss of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the potential loss of Medicaid and other entitlement benefits create high marginal tax rates for low income workers in other ways."

Posted on: September 28, 2016 11:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Safest and Most Dangerous Jobs 2016

A new report from career portal CareerCast lists the most dangerous and the safest jobs.

CareerCast publisher Tony Lee said that some of the most vital careers ‘‘upholding and maintaining the very fabric of American society are also among the most dangerous.”

It’s no surprise that professions such as police officer, firefighter and emergency medical technician, which are often associated with danger, made CareerCast’s top 10. These professions are tailored for the brave; those willing to sacrifice their own health and safety for the well being of others.

It’s no surprise that veterinarians were also named among the most dangerous professions. “Animals can be unpredictable and sometimes dangerous,” said Kyle Kensing, CareerCast’s online content editor. “Veterinarians working with dogs and cats can face hazards of bites and scratches, and those who work with livestock and other large animals also risk serious injury.”

Also included among the top 10 most dangerous jobs are construction laborer, correction officer, farmer, nursing assistant, taxi driver and truck driver.

Quantifying the safest jobs is not quite as clear as determining the most dangerous. Low demand for travel, low physical activity and/or exertion, and workplace settings contribute to safer, physical conditions. Some of the best-ranked jobs having to do with monitoring and studying the environment have the lowest rate of physical incidents, according to CareerCast.

Predictably, IT jobs such as computer systems analyst and web developer, reported the fewest cases of on-the-job injury or illness. Other safe jobs include accountant/auditor, actuary, dietician, interpreter/translator, mathematician, medical records technician, paralegal assistant, and statistician. 

The following are CareerCast’s 10 most dangerous jobs of 2016, plus average salary and growth prospects:

  1.  Construction laborer.  Salary, $30,890; Growth, 13%
  2. Correction officer.   Salary,  $40,580; Growth, 4 %
  3. Emergency medical technician. Salary, $31,980; Growth 24%
  4. Farmer. Salary, $64170; Growth, -2%
  5. Firefighter.  Salary, $46,870; Growth, 5%
  6. Nursing assistant. Salary, $25,710; Growth 17%
  7. Police officer. Salary, $60,270; Growth, 4%
  8. Taxi driver.  Salary, $23,510; Growth, 13%
  9. Truck driver. Salary,  $40,260; Growth, 5%
  10. Veterinarian. Salary, $88,490; Growth, 9%

10 safest jobs

  1. Accountant/auditor. Salary, $67,190; Growth, 11%
  2. Actuary.  Salary, $97,070; Growth, 18%
  3. Computer systems analyst. Salary, $85,800; Growth, 21%
  4. Dietician. Salary, $85,800; Growth, 21%
  5.  Interpreter/translator. Salary, $44,190; Growth, 29%
  6.  Mathematician. Salary, $111,100; Growth, 21%
  7. Medical records technician. Salary, $37,110; Growth, 15%
  8. Paralegal assistant. Salary, $ 48,810; Growth, 8%
  9. Statistician. Salary. $80,110; Growth, 34%
  10. Web developer. Salary, $64,970; Growth, 27% 

How most dangerous and safest jobs were compiled
An obvious question is why some jobs made the lists and others weren’t. For example, why nursing assistant and not registered nurse? Why police officers and not military personnel and Special Forces’ operatives. CareerCast said that the list was compiled by cross-referencing the 200 jobs tracked in their 2016 jobs report with U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and various trade organization data.  Other jobs not included on the most dangerous jobs list were combat soldiers, pilots, CIA and military operatives and crane operators. Yet nursing assistants were included and other nursing specialists, such as many registered nursing specialties were not. Additionally, professional jobs such as specialist project managers, such as crisis managers and construction project managers didn’t make the list either.

The safest jobs were chosen based on work environment, which includes physical factors, all of which contribute to workplace danger; energy (exertion/stamina); physical demands; work conditions (toxic fumes, noise, etc.); and degree of confinement.


Posted on: September 27, 2016 12:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

No One is Safe from a Cyber Attack, Part 2

Picking up where I left off in my last blog, Scott Schober, CEO of Berkeley Varitronics Systems and author of “Hacked Again,” offers more solid cyber security tips that you ought to take seriously. Here are five more:

Think twice before putting personal information on a social media site

The result is you might end up being a victim of identity theft. When it comes to identity theft, criminals are scouring social media channels for information about targeted victims. It’s important not to give up too much information on your own social channels. More important, don’t post every detail of your personal life. While checking your Facebook account is fun, consider that it “can also be fun for a criminal who now knows when you aren’t home,” Schober said. “Any pieces of personal information a hacker can gather about you is another step toward stealing or selling your identity,” he added.  Don’t list important information such as your date of birth or where you work because it makes you an easy target.

Don’t respond to spam
Schober cautions that “the most important thing to remember about thieves who try to spam you is that they first have to confirm they have reached a real email address.” Simple solution: Don’t respond. Instead, send to your junk or delete folder. And do not click on the bottom of a spam email and ask to be removed from the “Do Not email” list. You will likely receive more spam because they now know you are a real person and will sell your name for more money to other spammers.

 Don’t fall for phishing scams
 Phishing attacks are one of the most popular and effective ways to lure one to click on an attachment in an email you receive. Here are phishing attacks stats that ought to make you nervous, according to Schober:

• 156 Million phishing emails are sent every day by cyber criminals globally

• 16 million emails make it through the SPAM filters

• 8 million people open the emails

• 80,000 people (or 10%) fall for a scam every day and share their personal information.

Solution: Although tempting, fight the urge and don’t click. Said Schober:  If “you think that people don’t fall for phishing scams, think again.”

Beware of insider threats

Schober said that it only takes one corrupt employee within an organization to pull off a successful cyber crime.  His advice: “Report all suspicious activity to your employer as you never know when you have an insider threat.”

Protect credit cards

Due to state-of-the-art technologies, such as scanners and other devices that can quickly and discretely capture your credit card data, these types of breaches are very common, said Schober.  Be proactive and protect your credit cards with security sleeves.  Best strategy: Request credit cards that only use smartchip technology because these cards are much more difficult to compromise. Schober advises regularly checking your statements to ensure your transactions are valid. And contact your bank immediately if you notice something suspicious.

Posted on: September 26, 2016 12:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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