Quick Hits - April 27, 2022 - American Society of Employers - ASE Staff

Quick Hits - April 27, 2022

I-9 flexibility extended to October 31:  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I 9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19. This temporary guidance was set to expire April 30, 2022. Because of ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, DHS has extended the Form I 9 flexibilities until Oct. 31, 2022.  Source: DHS 4/25/22

Employees sue over the darndest things: Maybe this is a California thing, but employees are suing employers for costs for home offices because of the pandemic.  Home expenses such as telephone and internet fees, extra energy to heat or cool a house, and office supplies can add up to $50 to $200 a month per employee, according to more than a dozen lawsuits examined by The Los Angeles Times.  If expenses were incurred during the entire duration of the pandemic, that could add up to as much as $5,000 for every worker. Some lawsuits are also demanding payment for the potential revenue employees could have collected had they rented out their home office instead of using it for work. “This is one of those pandemic-related issues that rose very suddenly,” said Craig Ackermann, a Los Angeles attorney who has filed about 25 lawsuits to collect unreimbursed business expenses from employers. About half of those lawsuits have been settled, he said. “They say it is a one-in-a-hundred-year pandemic, what do you expect,” he said. “Still, the law is the law. Do you think the employee should eat the cost?”  Glad Michigan isn’t California?  Source:  LA Times 4/7/22

Just got a job, and now you’re looking again? 21% of American workers took a new job in the past 12 months, according to a Grant Thornton survey.  Of them, 40% are actively looking for another job.  These workers will likely account for a good deal of churn in the labor market as the so-called Great Resignation continues, and this suggests employers may need to reconsider pay, benefits, and other workplace issues. That’s a higher share than the 29% of all full-time employees who are actively looking — which means recent job-switchers are more likely to want a new gig than the overall population of American workers. Of the workers who switched jobs in the last year, 40% got a pay increase of at least 10%, according to Grant Thornton. That’s more than double the 18% of all survey respondents. Employees who switched jobs in the last year cited pay (37%), advancement opportunities (27%), and benefits other than health and retirement (18%) as the top three reasons for leaving. Pay and benefits were also the two biggest reasons respondents turned down other offers (42% and 33%, respectively).  Source:  CNBC 4/11/22

4-day workweek in CA coming? A new bill introduced in the state assembly, known as AB 2932, aims to lower the maximum threshold for overtime pay from 40 hours to 32 hours for companies with over 500 employees in the state. The idea of a four-day workweek has been gaining steam for years, but the pandemic and the subsequent Great Resignation have dramatically expanded popular interest. And now, even politicians are getting serious about it. Advocates like Joe O’Connor, CEO of 4 Day Week Global, a nonprofit established to promote the idea of a four-day workweek. He argues the five-day workweek persists as a cultural norm despite decades-old innovations since the 1980s like email and the internet that have made workers more productive.  Source:  Fortune 4/12/22

Maryland next state to enact FMLA law: On April 9, 2022, Maryland became just the tenth state (in addition to the District of Columbia) to enact a paid family and medical leave law that covers private-sector workers, after overriding Governor Larry Hogan’s (R) veto. The Maryland law creates a new Title 8.3 to the Annotated Code of Maryland and establishes the state’s “Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program.” The law covers the vast majority of employers in the state, defined as “a person or governmental entity that employs at least one individual in the state,” and will ensure that covered private sector employees—those employees who have worked at least 680 hours over the 12-month period immediately preceding the date on which the leave is to begin—have up to 12 weeks annually of paid time off for certain purposes. Benefits will replace 90% of weekly wages for an employer’s lowest-income employees (with a smaller percentage for higher-paid workers), up to a maximum of $1,000 per week. Benefits under the law will not commence until January 1, 2025. The law will be funded through a payroll tax that is scheduled to begin on October 1, 2023, and which will be split between employers (with 15 or more employees) and employees.   Source:  Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP 4/12/22

Union organizing increased 57% since last October 1:  Union organizing petitions have increased 57% since October 2021. Amazon and Starbucks recently suffered union organizing defeats. Are these flukes or a warning? What does this mean for large and small employers?  The dramatic increase in union petitions follows decades of decline. And recent union successes demonstrate that any employer may be vulnerable. Amazon saw a more than 8,000 worker distribution center in New York City unionize on April 1. Even more surprising, an NLRB election at a large Amazon warehouse in the low union density state of Alabama is “too close to call.” Challenged ballots will decide the outcome. The same Alabama distribution center voted 2 to 1 against the union in 2021. Several Starbucks locations have also recently voted in unions. Unions are suddenly enjoying new opportunities to exploit workplace dissatisfaction. They also have the benefit of more legal rules designed to empower union organizing. The most recent example is the NLRB General Counsel’s announcement that she intends to challenge employer rights to talk about unions in “captive audience” or other mandatory meetings. Only time will tell whether the recent increase in union organizing is a spike or the trend for the future. For now, however, events require a new diligence from employers who wish to remain union-free.  Source: Frost Brown Todd LLC 4/12/22

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