Score, the national nonprofit organization of volunteer business people who help peers start and grow their own businesses, is trying to start an Atlantic County chapter.
Volunteers from Score, many from Florida chapters, have been in the state this summer helping businesses through the process of securing grants and loans to cover damage from Hurricane Sandy.
Miguel Orta, chairman of the Score chapter in south Broward County in Florida, said national Score officials want an Atlantic City-area chapter. He’s sure there are plenty of people well-suited for it.
“When I got here and started meeting with business people, I wondered why we’re spending money flying us up here, putting us in hotels. I guarantee I could find people in this community who could do what we’re doing,” Orta said.
He said he spoke about starting a Score chapter at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Atlantic City this week.
His own chapter has 14 volunteers, many older business people but some as young as 19 — a good age to help with IT issues.
“What I ask from the volunteers is five to six hours a month to give to people being mentored or asking for advice,” Orta said. “Most people I recruit are retired, have talent and want to do something.”
Anyone interested in helping start a local Score chapter should email firstname.lastname@example.org, the organization’s coordinator for this region.
New leave law
A new form of leave from work mandated by the state has gotten so little attention it’s practically sneaking up on employers.
The N.J. Security and Financial Empowerment Act requires employers to give up to 20 days of unpaid leave a year to victims of domestic violence or sexual assault as of Oct. 1.
This new leave mandate joins two prior ones created by the state: the Family Leave Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
As with those acts and virtually all of the state regulations, domestic violence/sex assault leave comes with a host of details about eligibility, benefits and enforcement.
The N.J. Business & Industry Association’s government affairs office has sorted out and simplified them to the extent possible to help businesses understand and comply with the new mandate.
For starters, the act applies only to employers who have had 25 or more workers for at least 20 months in the preceding 12 months.
For employees of such a firm to be eligible, they must have been working for at least the prior 12 months and have worked at least 1,000 hours.
Employees become eligible for the leave from work if they have experienced domestic or sexual violence themselves, or if a parent, child, spouse, domestic partner or civil-union partner has experienced domestic violence or sexual assault.
The unpaid leave may be taken a day at a time, up to 20 total days a year, for the purpose of:
n getting medical care or recovering from injuries or psychological harm caused by the experience, or assisting a family member with the same;
n getting help from victim services organizations;
n getting psychological or other counseling;
n relocating, planning for safety or taking other steps to increase safety or economic security;
n getting legal assistance;
n or participating in legal proceedings related to the experience.
Employers can require documentation of the domestic violence or sexual assault, but they are required to hold such information “in the strictest confidentiality” unless the victim in writing authorizes disclosure of the information.
The Security and Financial Empowerment Act considers the following to be “sufficient documentation” of an eligible incident:
n a copy of a restraining order or other documentation issued by a court;
n a letter from the county or municipal prosecutor;
n documentation of the conviction of a person for domestic or sexual violence;
n medical documentation of domestic or sexual violence;
n documentation from a certified domestic violence specialist or the director of a domestic violence agency or rape crisis center;
n or other documentation of the victim’s experience from a social worker, clergy member, shelter worker or other professional who has assisted the victim or family member.
Employees taking the leave may be required to use accrued vacation, personal or sick leave during part or all of the 20 days of protected leave.
The act specifies penalties for employers of $1,000 to $2,000 for a first violation of its provisions, and up to $5,000 for each subsequent offense.
The act also requires that employers conspicuously post a notice in their workplace advising employees of the provisions of the law. The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development expects to issue such a notice in the near future.
Given the state’s practice of occasionally sweeping through workplaces and handing out fines for the absence of any of its various required notices, that posting requirement might be the first thing businesses should worry about.
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