Quick Hits - December 6, 2023 - American Society of Employers - ASE Staff

Quick Hits - December 6, 2023

Gen Zers are outnumbering Baby Boomers in the workforce: The number of full-time Gen Z workers in the U.S. is set to surpass baby boomers in the first few months of 2024, according to a new report from Glassdoor Economic Research. The report examined U.S. Census Bureau data and found that the number of full-time Gen Z and boomer workers in the American workforce is currently about even.  As older workers continue retiring en masse and more young Americans reach working age, Gen Z is set to rapidly overtake the boomer generation, which made up the largest share of the U.S. workforce from the late 1970s until around 2011, according to the report. Baby boomers are considered to be those born between 1946 and 1964, while Gen Zers are those born from the late 1990s until around 2012. Gen Xers, born between 1965 and 1980, took over as the dominant working generation in the U.S. in 2012 before they were overtaken by millennials, born between Gen X and Gen Z, in 2018.  Millennials have since remained the dominant working generation and won’t be overtaken by Gen Z until the early 2040s, the report estimates.  As demographics continue to shift, office culture is expected to follow.  Source:  Bloomberg 11/17/23
Remote work still a number one choice of many: Flexjobs, a search site for remote jobs, surveyed over 8,000 workers, with 63% voting remote work as the most important thing in a job, narrowly beating out salary. In fact, two-thirds of respondents are willing to take a pay cut to work remotely, highlighting the demand for continued flexibility four years since the start of the pandemic. And despite the job market slowing down — the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that workers are now quitting their jobs at pre-pandemic rates — it seems remote work could still motivate employees to rethink their current employers. 56% of workers reported to Flexjobs that they know someone who has quit or plans to quit due to return-to-office mandates. According to ResumeBuilder, 90% of employers plan to ask their employees to return to the office in some capacity by 2024, which is at odds with employee sentiment.  There is a disconnect between employers and employees. While some employers list drops in productivity as one of their reasons for mandates, 77% of employees believe they are more productive working remotely, according to Flexjobs.  Source: EBN 11/20/23

Yet employers offer few incentives for employees to return to the office: Workers have since begun to return to the office in waves, at least for part of the week, and navigating that transition is an ongoing and significant hurdle for employers and workers alike. Many simply cannot fathom a return to the pre-COVID status quo, changing how companies approach their staffing needs. Retaining employees who don’t want to work in person is an issue for companies, but relatively few employers (13%) have introduced new incentives that would make employees more satisfied with it, according to a newly released poll conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.  About 3 in 4 human resources representatives say that retaining employees who don’t want to work in the office is a problem — including 19% who call it a “major problem.” Another 54% of HR representatives call it a minor problem. And only about one-third of HR professionals say employees at their workplace are “extremely” or “very” happy about returning to the workplace.  However, one example shows why remote is preferrable.  “With traffic, it’s about an hour and 45-minute drive each way into the office,” Megan Homis said. “And on top of that, I have two little kids — so just wrangling childcare for them with drop off and pick up is a lot.”  Source:  AP 11/27/23

Feds lose again and drop no poaching criminal cases:  The U.S. Department of Justice has abandoned its first-ever criminal indictments brought as part of a wider crackdown on no-poach agreements, potentially signaling a major shift in the agency’s enforcement efforts.  No reason was given for the dropping of the cases.  DOJ submitted a motion to dismiss the case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on Nov. 13 despite already having obtained a grand jury indictment against the defendants, Surgical Care Affiliates, LLC and affiliated entity SCAI Holdings, LLC. The firms were charged with two counts of conspiracy to restrain trade in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The news marks a notable reversal considering the case against Surgical Care Affiliates followed multiple years of warnings by regulators, who cautioned that illegal no-poach agreements — even so-called gentlemen’s agreements — may lead to penalties up to and including prison sentences. The agreements are also per se illegal, according to 2016 DOJ and Federal Trade Commission guidance, meaning they are deemed as such even without an inquiry into their competitive effects.  This stance drew criticism from business groups including the Society for Human Resource Management, which said the possibility of per se liability and criminal sanctions “creates substantial risks” to HR departments and professionals.  Source:  HR Dive 11/21/23

DOL appeals federal contractor minimum wage ruling to 5th Circuit: In a notice to the district court, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) said it will ask the Fifth Circuit to overturn the District Court ruling that Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi didn't need to follow Biden's executive order raising the hourly minimum wage to $15. Judge Tipton ruled in September that Biden violated the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act when he mandated the wage hike in April 2021. In November 2021, the DOL finalized the rule carrying out the executive order, which took effect Jan. 30, 2022.  Judge Tipton said that "the Procurement Act's text, history, purpose and structure limit the president to a supervisory role in policy implementation rather than a unilateral, broad policymaking power to set a minimum wage."  But while Judge Tipton spared Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi from following the new minimum wage, he declined to extend the ruling nationwide.  This is the third appellate court that will hear this specific case concerning the federal contractor minimum wage.  It is likely that regardless of the outcome, it will be appealed to the Supreme Court.  The DOL issued guidelines for federal contractors' minimum wage that will take place in 2024 with an inflation-adjusted minimum hourly wage of $17.20 the day after the trial court ruling.  Source:  Law360

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