Quick Hits - September 20, 2023 - American Society of Employers - ASE Staff

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Quick Hits - September 20, 2023

Illinois updates its Equal Pay Act effective Jan 1, 2025: Transparency legislation that requires employers to include pay ranges and benefits in job postings, expanding the state’s Equal Pay Act of 2003 law was signed by Governor Pritzker. The legislation, HB 3129, goes into effect Jan. 1, 2025.  The law also requires that employers notify workers of promotion opportunities within 14 days after the job is posted externally.  Under the legislation, companies must first share a salary range for a position before asking candidates about their wage expectations for the role. Different than in other states – Illinois Law permits employers to link to a public website with a listing of all disclosures.  Source:  HR Dive 8/15/23

California extends discrimination liability to 3rd parties working for employer: Third parties with at least five employees who act on behalf of an employer can be held liable for employment discrimination under California law, the state’s High Court ruled in a unanimous decision.  The direct liability can be applied when the outside party carries out FEHA-regulated activities on behalf of an employer.  Legal experts have said the California Supreme Court’s Raines v. U.S. Healthworks Medical Group opinion has significant implications for third parties involved in hiring processes. The underlying Raines case involved prospective employees’ concerns about pre-employment medical screenings conducted by U.S. Healthworks Medical Group.  A plaintiff alleged that after she declined to answer a question about the date of her last menstrual period, her exam was terminated and her offer of employment from the company that hired the screening firm was terminated. Heather Dillion, a Dorsey & Whitney partner, recommends employers review the California Civil Rights Department’s pre-employment inquiry guidelines and conduct training for all of those involved in the interview process. “Employers should confirm with any third-party hiring agency or screening company that they are asking only lawful pre-employment questions,” Dillion said in a prepared statement.  Source:  HR Dive 9/11/23

Should we have unions?  The National Labor Relations Board is handcuffing employers these days and the Big Three talks are riveting. Unions are about 6-7% in the private workforce.  However, almost 60% of American adults believe that the sharp decline in union participation over the past several decades is “somewhat” bad or “very bad” for the country, according to a 2023 Pew Research Center report. A recent Gallup report found that 67% of Americans approve of unions, and 72% said they sympathize with television and film writers — as opposed to the studios — during the ongoing Hollywood strikes.  Even so, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the rate of union membership declined from 10.3% to 10.1% between 2021 and 2022. BLS noted that more people entered the workforce between the two years, though, which reduced the amount of people in the U.S. workforces covered by unions.  With the strikes at the Big Three, labor and affiliated costs (healthcare, etc.) will be the most important issue for employers coming into 2024.  Source:  HR Dive 9/1/23

At least 50% in office is optimal for hybrid work:  According to new research from McKinsey, spending half of working time in the office is the ideal setup for hybrid work, as it gives employees the flexibility they crave without the isolation of working remotely full-time. Throughout 2022, the management consulting firm analyzed data from its roughly 4,000 teams working around the world, including behavioral data and anonymous surveys, and found that working on-site 50% of the time — either at a client site or an office — works better than an all-or-nothing approach.  “When over 50% of time is spent in-person, we see trade-offs begin to emerge,” Katy George, McKinsey’s chief people officer and a senior partner at the firm, tells CNBC Make It. “Individuals and teams have less flexibility, time for recovery, and opportunities to do focused work.” The research found that when workers spent at least 50% of their time together in person, it vastly improved mentorship, collaboration, trust between colleagues, retention, and overall team performance. “Our research shows it’s the ‘hybrid sweet spot,’” George says.  On the flip side, working remotely two to three days a week gave employees more time for focused work and improved teams’ feelings of psychological safety and belonging.  Source: CNBC 8/25/23

Are you losing female employees with return to office policies? According to the International Workplace Group (IWS), 53% of female office workers are also caregivers. Among those aged 35-44 that figure jumps to 64%.  One study found it the equivalent of holding 2.5 full time jobs. The average commute time in the U.S. is nearly an hour. By simply allowing working mothers to not commute, employers saved them an average of 20 hours a month, or a half a standard workweek.  According to IWS, 80% of female office workers say that working remotely allows them to better balance their work and caregiving responsibilities. In fact, 72% of them say they’ll look for a new job if their flexible- and remote-work options are taken away.  Companies are pushing for a return-to-office. As a result, according to Motherly’s 2023 State of Motherhood report, 18% of working mothers in the U.S. left their jobs within the past year, with a lack of workplace flexibility cited as one of the top two reasons.  It follows then, that companies who’ve allowed employees to continue working from home are more likely to retain their female employees. A recent study by the workforce data company Revelio Labs found that when companies switched job positions from fully in-person to fully-remote they wound up hiring nearly 6% more women.  Source: Bloomberg 8/31/23

Are your employees ready to restart student loan payments? Starting in October, employees across the U.S. will have to resume payments on their student loans and are looking to their employers for financial relief now more than ever.  Only 7% of U.S. employers offered student loan repayment assistance at the beginning of 2022, according to a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management. That number is expected to rise to nearly half in the next few years, according to a 2022 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, as companies are faced with employees' vocal demands.  Currently, there are three major ways employers are helping their workforce pay off their student loans, according to Thomas Campos, the CEO of Spinwheel. First is simply offering financial literacy tools to help employees strategize their payments. Second is through the SECURE Act 2.0, which allows employers to make matching contributions to employees' loans as if they were 401(k) contributions. The third is through student loan repayment assistance programs, which were incentivized during the pandemic by the now discontinued CARES Act, which made it possible for employers to contribute $5,250 a year to employees' loans, tax free. Source:  EBN 8/11/23


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