Quick Hits - November 18, 2020 - American Society of Employers - ASE Staff

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Quick Hits - November 18, 2020

First woman GM hired by baseball’s Miami Marlins: The Miami Marlins hired longtime baseball executive Kim Ng as their general manager Friday, making her the first woman to hold that title in the major North American men’s professional sports leagues and shattering a barrier that at times has seemed impenetrable.  Ng, who also becomes the first Asian-American GM in Major League Baseball history, has been on a long runway to her new role. She held high-ranking positions for three different front offices, played an integral role in building championship rosters for the New York Yankees, and spent recent years as a senior vice president in the commissioner’s office.  “This challenge is one I don’t take lightly,” said Ng, 51. “When I got into this business, it seemed unlikely a woman would lead a Major League team, but I am dogged in the pursuit of my goals.”  Source: The Wall Street Journal 11/13/20

Most employer healthcare offerings remain the same in 2021:  Despite rising costs, many employers are opting to leave health benefits unchanged to eliminate the stress of a carrier shift or premium increase, healthcare consultants say. Others are working to meet needs the pandemic has spotlighted with such benefits as critical illness insurance, hospital indemnity, and more robust telemedicine offerings. In a survey Mercer conducted through August 2020 of more than 1,000 employers, 57% of respondents said they would make no changes to cut costs in their medical plans in 2021, compared with 47% last year. Less than a fifth, 18% of employers, said they would take cost-saving measures for 2021—like raising deductibles or copays—that would transfer greater expense to employees.  As of 2019, 158 million Americans, 49.6% of the population of the U.S., were receiving employer-sponsored health insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.  Source:  Wall Street Journal 11/12/20

Have you considered workers’ comp issues for those employees working from home? Workers’ compensation laws vary by state, but under most state laws, employers are liable for employee injuries that arise both out of and during the course of employment, regardless of the location where the injury occurs. In contrast, injuries that occur when an employee deviates from their working duties to undertake a task or activity for a strictly personal or private purpose are not typically compensable.  To minimize exposure to employee claims for injuries that occur while an employee is working from home, employers should consider implementing the following best practices for employees working remotely:

  • Update and maintain accurate employee job descriptions and expectations and confirm that employees understand the specific responsibilities of their positions when working from home.
  • Require employees to specifically define their home office space and provide employees with information and training about safe workstation set-ups, consistent with your in-office practices.
  • Create and maintain a safety checklist for home offices to ensure employees’ offices are free from any recognized hazards.
  • Remind employees, in writing, of their obligation to promptly report all work injuries consistent with your workers’ compensation and safety policies, even if they occur at the remote worksite.

Source: Godfrey & Kahn S.C. 11/10/20

What I want for Christmas – a bonus and my job: When asked what they would like most from their employer this holiday season, employees participating in an iSolved survey said, a bonus (37%), job security (35%), and an annual merit increase (21%). These ranked far ahead of more traditional holiday gifts (6%) and in-person and virtual parties (1%).  The iSolved research, which details the plans and priorities of employees this holiday season, reveals 70% of full-time employees will not travel out of state this holiday, accounting for 38% of staff taking less paid time off (PTO) this holiday season than before—a number slightly higher than the percentage of employees who want a bonus most from their employer to end the year (37%). The respondents, however, were clear that job security was not the reason for taking less vacation days.  81% of respondents believe their job is secure this holiday season (November and December). They have experienced first-hand, however, the effects of COVID-19 on the economy. 54% of employees report their job was negatively impacted by the pandemic. When asked how, the top way was a reduction in pay (15%) followed by a cut in hours (14%). Source: iSolved 11/9/20

Who won the election?  Marijuana! Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Mississippi all legalized marijuana in one form or another.  Adult, recreational use of cannabis is now legal in 15 states (and the District of Columbia) and medicinal use of cannabis is legal in 35 states (and D.C.).  Other states took considerable steps in relaxing other drug laws, with voters in Oregon passing ballot measures decriminalizing possession of small amounts of drugs, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and another legalizing the therapeutic use of psilocybin mushrooms (aka “magic mushrooms”).  Washington, D.C., also approved measures aimed at decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelic plants.  Drug tests are still worthwhile.  Just make sure to follow state guidelines.  For more information on this topic, see this week’s article, Drug Use Has Increased During the Pandemic.  Source:  Seyfarth Shaw 11/9/20

Harvard admission affirmative action lawsuit case upheld for Harvard:  A federal appeals court ruled last week that Harvard University didn’t violate federal civil-rights law, backing a 2019 district court decision and teeing the case up for potential review by the Supreme Court.  The decision is a blow to Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit group that sued Harvard in 2014 alleging the school intentionally discriminated against Asian-American applicants by holding them to a higher standard in undergraduate admissions, used racial balancing, and didn’t fully explore race-neutral alternatives to diversifying its student body. The group has been behind multiple lawsuits seeking to end the use of race in college admissions. In a 104 decision, the 1st US Court of Appeals said that Harvard identified “specific, measurable goals it seeks to achieve by considering race in admissions,” goals that are actually more precise than those approved by the Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas, a case about admissions at the Austin, Texas, school.  It is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court.  Source:  The Wall Street Journal 11/12/20


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