National Clothesline
National Clothesline
Are you old enough to recall the pretty Mousketeer from the Mickey Mouse Club, Annette
Funnicello? Annette said, “When you are young and healthy, it never occurs to you that in a
single second your whole life could change.”
I went to a gastroenterologist and
he told me I had one of the worst
cases of Barrett’s Syndrome he had
found. Anyone who has cancer of the
esophagus has Barrett’s Syndrome.
He then said, “I am sending you to
the cancer institute at UCI.”
In one second, he scared the heck
out of me.
Eventually I did visit the University
of California at Irvine’s cancer center
and had an extensive procedure performed to make certain I did not have cancer. The usual
amount of Barrett’s tissue is one inch and I had three inches of Barrett’s tissue, which meant I
was three times as likely to have cancer of the esophagus.
After taking more than 20 biopsies, they sent me home to wait for two weeks. The biopsy
report that came back stated that I was totally cancer free!
One second can change everything. Enjoy your good health while you have it.
A rookie in the industry contacted me about hiring procedures for new employees. I told him
to create an employee handbook. He said the previous owner had done that. I asked if he knew
when it was last updated. He called the previous owner and learned the current handbook was
last updated more than five years ago.
I suggested he take the handbook to an HR attorney, and he said he would.
I next suggested that he should put together an orientation checklist for new employees. He
asked what should be on the checklist, and I recommended the following subjects. As each item
is taken care of, I suggested that he initial the completion.
• The employee handbook.
• A form to acknowledge receiving the handbook.
• The IRS W-4 form.
• An INS I-9 form.
• A driver’s license.
• A Social Security card.
• An alien registration card, if applicable.
• A time card with the employee’s number.
• An employee number if the computer system is being used as a time clock.
• Talk about on the job safety and a safety incentive program if one is in place.
• Review the employee handbook and discuss company policies for areas such as dress code,
lunch and coffee breaks, overtime pay if applicable, on time policy, fringe benefits such as
vacation time, health insurance, dental insurance, free or paid for drycleaning and laundry,
where to park, and the company safety program and MSDS sheets.
If there are training meetings, list the frequency, time and location.
I then recommended he contact the We Want to Know Hotline. The hotline business office
phone number is (661) 600-2078. The reason I suggested this expense was to protect the
employer in the event an employee is too embarrassed or frightened to go to the supervisor or
owner regarding co-worker issues such as drugs, alcohol, theft, discrimination, harassment,
threats of violence, or safety issues.
I had this program in place per the recommendation of my HR attorney. The hotline will
provide an 800 number where the employee identifies the company and the problem, but does
not necessarily have to identify himself or herself. The hotline company then notifies the owner.
A safety incentive
The safety incentive program that I put in place (per the suggestion of my workers’
compensation insurance company) created an excellent win-win situation for the company and
Here is how the program worked. Once per month names would be drawn out of a bag or
basket. To be eligible the employee had to be with the company a minimum of 90 days.
The number of employees would dictate the number of prizes awarded each month. The base
prize was a $25 check. Every injury-free consecutive month the number of checks would
increase until one year had been completed. Part-time employees (those employees averaging
less than 30 hours per week) were never eligible for the grand prizes that were awarded at the
end of the year.
If a full-time employee was with the company at least one year but less than two years, and
there were no injuries for 12 consecutive months, the employee could win $300 or a trip for two
to Las Vegas.
If an employee had been with the company over two years, the employee could win $1,000 or
a trip for two to Hawaii.
This program worked very well. One of the reasons was peer group pressure.
I next inquired as to whether there were employee files or folders. He responded that there
The employee file
In the employee file, in addition to the employee application, handbook receipt form and W-4,
I suggested a form for direct payroll deposit for employees who wish to participate in that
payroll method.
Also, there should be a statement of confidentiality for employees who use the computer
system and access company and/or customer information, including but not limited to, financial
data, production data, marketing techniques, and information about other employees.
Above the signature line was the following statement: I the undersigned do agree that any
release of this information can result in immediate termination and possible criminal
Per my HR attorney, I suggested that all employee I-9 forms be kept together in a separate
I then suggested an emergency information form to tell the company whom to contact in the
event of a worst-case scenario.
The next item on the agenda would be a verbal safety training discussion, along with a receipt
indicating such training had been given. The training would include potential occupational
hazards in the work area and associated with the job.
Next, talk about what safe working conditions and practices are. Then discuss any protective
equipment that might be required.
Also included in this safety training was potential exposure to hazardous chemicals, the right
to information on the aforementioned MSDS sheets, and what the MSDS information meant.
An employee’s right to ask questions, or provide information to the employer about safety
issues, either directly or anonymously, was talked about.
Disciplinary procedures as they related to compliance with safety were next discussed.
Another training that I suggested, because of the litigious society we live in, was sexual
harassment training. Of course, this form also had to be signed off by the new hire. Due to the
number of employees that I employed, my HR law firm provided a group seminar for the
After completing the above agenda, I then give the new hire a tour of the facility. Be certain
to include the use of the time clock or computer system, restroom location, lunch and coffee
break areas, the various workstations, and emergency exits.
By the end of the new employee orientation, you hope you have covered everything. Only
time will tell.
In the event you need a question or questions answered, do not hesitate to call  or email me.  
As you have read, I will respond to most questions, no matter the subject matter.

New employee hiring procedures
Harvey Gershenson
operates Sterling
Drycleaning Consulting
and is a former owner of
Sterling Dry Cleaners. A
drycleaner, he has been
in the industry since he
was in high school. He
has served as president
of the Cleaners and Dyers
Guild of Los Angeles and
has served on the boards
of directors of the
Drycleaning and Laundry
Institute and the
California Cleaners
Association. He is also a
guest lecturer for the
California Department of
Corrections. He can be
reached by e-mail at
consultme@msn.com or
phone at (310) 261-
2623. His web site is