Quick Hits - October 7, 2021 - American Society of Employers - ASE Staff

Quick Hits - October 7, 2021

Does fully vaccinated include booster shots?  No one knows yet.  "I think we're still in the no man's land in terms of if this will be a requirement," said Steve Bell, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP.  On September 22, the Food and Drug Administration approved a third dose of Pfizer and BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine for older adults and people at high risk of severe COVID-19. The authorization does not cover individuals who received vaccines developed by Moderna or Johnson & Johnson, according to reporting by HR Dive sister publication Biopharma Dive.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for now, has not made booster shots a component of someone's status as "fully vaccinated," according to a White House press briefing. "Until that happens, it's probably going to be up to the employers to decide whether they feel it's important for the workforce to be vaccinated — booster included," Bell told HR Dive. "If the CDC does say it's necessary, I expect that the feds will adopt that approach."  But right now, employers can determine how they want to proceed.  Source:  HR Dive 10/1/21

The “Great Wait” weighs on HR and leadership’s agenda:  As of late August, 66% of organizations were delaying office reopenings due to COVID variants, according to a Gartner survey of 238 executive leaders. Many big names including Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Starbucks have postponed their return plans into the new year during a period some workplace consultants are calling “The Great Wait.” But after 18 months of working from home during the pandemic, office workers are simultaneously growing tired of waiting for news of their callback and also skeptical of announcements when they come. For some, they’re using the added stretch of time to advocate for more flexibility within their employer’s ever-changing plans. Workplace strategists have consistently advised leaders to be transparent with their decision timeline and what factors they’re taking into consideration and to give as much advance notice as possible for people to prepare for their return.  Caregiving and anxiety are two of the most cited reasons for flexibility needs.  Source:  CNBC 9/17/21

Pet friendly office the next big idea?  Pet anxiety is real. 67% of employees surveyed by Wagmo said their pet is the main reason they are unwilling to return to the office five days a week. 56% said they would give up their lunch break in order to bring their pets to work, 13% said they would be willing to give up their overtime pay, and 16% would be willing to sacrifice paid time off. “People have really started to take stock of what was truly important in their lives and pets continue to play an important role,” says Katie Blakeley, vice president and head of pet insurance at MetLife. “We’ve always treated them as members of the family, but I think in the tough times and especially the early days of the pandemic, pets really became more of a priority in our households.”  Currently, just 7% of employers allow pets in the workplace, according to data from the Society for Human Resource Management. But some companies, including Amazon, AirBnB, and PetSmart already allow employees to bring their pets to the office and have reported positive results, like an improved company culture and increased productivity.  Source:  EBN 10/4/21

When doing the right thing is the wrong thing: Wunderman Thompson (an advertising agency) was seeking to overcome a tarnished reputation regarding its pay practices. In 2018, the company disclosed a staggering gender pay gap of 44.7% in its workforce. Not long after, a top executive was quoted at a conference saying the agency intended to “‘obliterate’ its reputation for being full of ‘straight white men.’”  The comment sparked controversy in the media and among company employees. The issue was compounded when Wunderman Thompson later let go two creative directors who complained about the comments at the conference and who also happened to be straight white men, resulting in a court case against the agency for its alleged bias against individuals of one gender.  While the court acknowledged the agency’s desire to reduce gender compensation gaps as legitimate, it also found the creative directors were unfairly dismissed and discriminated against on the basis of sex. Though the company was trying to advance pay equity, it instead damaged its reputation further.  Source: Trusaic 9/27/21

If looking for employees, why not returned citizens?  Second chance hiring is the practice of hiring individuals with a criminal record. Second chance hiring is not only altruistic, but it also taps into a massive source of talent that many businesses can benefit from. There are an estimated 70 million Americans with arrest or conviction records that create significant barriers to reintegration into society.  The more-than-600,000 citizens who return from prison each year offer talent, loyalty, and motivation that big enterprises have begun to discover. Brands like Walmart, Starbucks, and Home Depot have updated their hiring practices to include people with criminal records. A recent op-ed by Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Company, recognized the value that this labor group has to offer. Research shows that second chance employees are engaged, loyal, and profitable. The Second Chance Business Coalition found that 85% of HR and 81% of business leaders say that individuals with criminal records perform the same as or better than employees without criminal records. “On balance, second chance hires are highly loyal and productive employees. Additionally, research shows that second chance hires have lower turnover rates, which saves companies money,” said the Coalition.  Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce 9/20/21

Federal Contractor minimum wage increases to $11.25 January 1:  On September 16, 2021, the Department of Labor announced an annual update to the current Executive Order 13658 minimum wage for workers performing work on or in connection with covered contracts, increasing the wage from $10.95 to $11.25 per hour effective January 1, 2022, according to the Federal Register notice.  Beginning on January 1, 2022, employers must pay tipped employees performing work on or in connection with covered contracts a minimum cash wage of $7.90 per hour.  In 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13658, “Establishing a Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors,” which set a minimum wage rate for certain federal contractors that is adjusted annually based on inflation.  Covered contracts that are entered into on or after January 30, 2022, or that are renewed or extended (pursuant to an option or otherwise) on or after January 30, 2022, will be generally subject to a higher minimum wage rate of $15 per hour established by Executive Order 14026, “Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors,” signed by President Biden on April 27, 2021.  Source:  CCH 9/20/21

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