GAWDA Renews Its Human Resources Committee

As GAWDA’s human resources legal consultant, I am responsible for handling the numerous HR inquiries from members—things like hiring, termination and disciplinary questions, minimum wage and overtime rules, and what to do when an employee fails a drug test. GAWDA also has had a committee of members to address HR questions on a broader scale, but the Human Resources Committee has been rather dormant in recent years. Not anymore.

On June 26, a new Human Resources Committee, chaired by Robert Jackson of Jackson Welding in Rochester, New York, met at GAWDA headquarters in Philadelphia. HR professionals from seven GAWDA distributor companies attended, along with legal counsel and GAWDA’s life insurance consultant. Keeping in mind that most GAWDA distributors have less than $10 million in annual revenue and do not have a full-time HR professional in-house, our group set out to determine the most pressing human resources needs for the norm distributor and how to efficiently supply that information and expertise to the members.

We identified four areas where we thought smaller distributors could use immediate help: wage and hour compliance, managing employee performance, employee recordkeeping requirements and practices, and Workers’ Compensation issues. In each area, we then set out specific issues to be addressed.

Wage and Hours
We intend to hold a webinar in October to cover such items as employee classifications (exempt vs. non-exempt employees, drivers in interstate vs. intrastate commerce), how to handle incentive compensation, how to calculate overtime for commissioned employees, on-call status, and when to schedule and how to account for meal breaks. We plan to follow that up with a workshop on similar topics at one of the Spring Management Conferences in 2009.

Performance Measures
The committee will revise the GAWDA Human Resources Manual and make it available to all members free of additional charge as part of what you receive for your dues. The update will include templates for new-hire orientation and training checklists, application forms, templates for employee evaluations and disciplinary actions, links to industry-specific compensation surveys and sample job descriptions. We plan to have this material available in DVD format for all members and make a presentation at the 2009 SMCs.

We intend to compile information on various record maintenance and retention requirements under a variety of government regulatory schemes. We will offer a model for personnel record practices and discuss how to preserve employees’ right to privacy while allowing supervisors efficient access to necessary files.

Workers’ Compensation
The main issue is how to manage employee absences and get employees back to work as effectively as possible. The committee will provide best practices on working with medical staff, employees and labor representatives to develop and implement productive return-to-work policies.

The GAWDA HR Committee will work on these items over the next year, and will meet again face-to-face in April 2009, with regular telephone conferences in the meantime. Eventually, we plan to consider issues such as expanding the GAWDA University employee training programs, health and life insurance and other employee benefits, policy updates, employee drug and alcohol testing protocols and job placement programs. If you have any issues you would like to see the committee address, please e-mail me at, or call me at 202-223-3040.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Meet the Author
GAWDA Government Affairs and Human Resources Legal Consultant Richard P. Schweitzer, Esq., is president of Richard P. Schweitzer, PLLC, in Washington, D.C. Members can reach him at 202-223-3040 and at