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Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company  
The Boston Globe

December 24, 2000, Sunday ,THIRD EDITION


LENGTH: 882 words


What does it take to make Fortune Magazine's list of "America's 100 Best Companies to Work For?"

In a word? "Perks" to entice "the best and brightest" to come to work for a company - and to stay.

   Just to mention a few: on-site day care (offered by 26 companies), concierge services (29), domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples (47), and fully paid sabbaticals (31).

Seven New England companies made the list this year, led by International Data Group, the Boston-headquartered publisher with the bulk of its 2,400 employees in Framingham and San Francisco. IDG ranked 25th in the nation. Privately held IDG's employee stock-option program has created more than 100 millionaires, Fortune reports, and 400 more employees who have between $500,000 and $1 million in their accounts. After 20 years on the job IDG employees get an all-expenses-paid trip to anywhere in the world.

The other New England nominees:

American Skandia Inc. (38th) of Shelton, Conn., the US arm of Scandinavia's leading insurance company.

Bright Horizons Family Solutions Inc. (47th) of Watertown, operator of employer-sponsored child-care centers.

MFS Investment Management (49th) of Boston, the financial services company that helped pioneer the mutual fund.

Timberland Co. (54th) of Stratham, N.H., the outdoor and leisure footwear firm.

Griffin Hospital (70th) of Derby, Conn., a community hospital declared to be "a model of customer service."

EMC Corp. (91st) of Hopkinton, manufacturer of data-storage computer hardware.


State awards $3.6m for worker training

Sixty-nine businesses and organizations have been selected to get a total of $3.6 million from the state Workforce Training fund in a sixth round of grants to upgrade employee skills.

The awards were announced by Governor Paul Cellucci. Nearly 5,200 employees at 65 companies will receive training in such subjects as English as a second language, computer programming, team interaction, and construction management.

Some companies also will use the funds to conduct training that will help win ISO9000 and AS9100 certification and improve their ability to win contracts from overseas buyers.

In addition, the Metro South Chamber of Commerce and regional employment boards in Cambridge, New Bedford, and Springfield each received $50,000 to provide technical assistance to employers.


Cards should get more than glance

What do you do when someone hands you a business card?

"The biggest mistake you can make when you receive someone's business card is to glance at it and slide it into a pocket," Sue Fox and Perrin Cunningham say in the just-published book, "Business Etiquette for Dummies" (Dummies Press, $19.95).

They recommend spending a few seconds reading the card thoroughly - perhaps repeating the person's name aloud if you are not sure about the pronunciation. Saying aloud the job title that is printed on the card can be a useful conversational tool because you might then follow up by asking about the duties associated with that job.

"Finally," Fox and Cunningham say, "express your gratitude for being given this information."


Minimum wage rises to highest in nation

The Massachusetts basic minimum wage rises to $6.75 an hour effective Jan. 1, the highest in the nation, according to the Department of Labor.

Up 75 cents an hour from the current minimum, the increase in Massachusetts represents the last step of a three-stage increase approved by the legislature and Governor Paul Cellucci in 1999.

The $6.75 rate is equal to about a $14,000 annual salary for someone working full time. It applies to all employees except those who routinely receive tips, such as restaurant workers.

For these workers the minimum remains $2.63 an hour, but employers are responsible for guaranteeing that employees receive the full minimum wage. If tips are insufficient, employers must make up the difference, according to an analysis by the Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

Ten states will have minimum wage rates above the federal hourly minimum of $5.15 as of Jan. 1, 2001, according to the Labor Department. The others are Washington, $6.72; Oregon, $6.50; Connecticut, $6.40; California, $6.25; Rhode Island and Delaware, $6.15; Vermont, $5.75; Alaska, $5.65; and Hawaii, $5.25.


Prescriptions to be covered

Employers must cover costs of prescription contraceptives, including the pill and intrauterine devices, along with other prescription health benefits, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in a ruling earlier this month.

The commission's ruling could affect millions of workers at businesses where health insurance or HMO benefits include no payment for contraceptives, or where such coverage is limited to the birth control pill.

Basing its decision on the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Supreme Court rulings, the commission said denying prescription contraceptives was discriminatory because they are prescribed only for women.

Thirteen states, including Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, already mandate that any prescription drug health benefits include contraceptive drugs or devices, the EEOC said.

LOAD-DATE: January 1, 2001

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