Quick Hits - February 17, 2021 - American Society of Employers - ASE Staff

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Quick Hits - February 17, 2021

Employers share concern about talent pipelines reaching diverse candidates:  According to the data released in the 2021 Workforce Report by iCIMS, more than 90% of employers report they are hiring for new roles this year. The overwhelming majority (97%) of employers are planning to invest in technology expansion to accommodate virtual hiring needs and reach evolving talent acquisition goals.  The 2021 Workforce Report highlights how businesses are responding to remote work and virtual hiring, accelerating digital transformation initiatives, enhancing team collaboration, and focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs. At the close of 2020, there were positive signs of a recovery, with overall job openings down just 3%, hires down 10%, and 91% of employers stating they are hiring for new roles this year.  Diverse hiring activity led the rebound with women in underrepresented racial and ethnic groups making up the largest proportion of hires in 2020 at 30%, yet 84% of HR professionals are concerned that their organization's current recruiting and hiring tools aren't reaching diverse talent pools. The workforce composition continues to evolve, as 72% of employers have redeployed up to half of their employees, and nearly 60% plan to rely on contingent hires this year.  Source: iCims 2/3/21

Are you thinking ADA?  Clear mask accommodation:  Nike has agreed to provide employees in its California stores with transparent face masks and pen and paper to accommodate customers who are deaf and hearing-impaired for as long as its COVID-19 policy to provide face masks remains in effect (Bunn v. Nike, Inc., No. 4:20-cv-07403 (N.D. Calif., Jan. 27, 2021)).  The agreement, if finalized, will settle a lawsuit filed by a deaf woman whose attempt to shop at one of company's stores was allegedly stymied by Nike's policy of providing opaque face masks to employees. "Not only do opaque masks muffle sound, but they also block visualization of the wearer's mouth and facial expressions, which people with hearing loss rely on to understand speech," according to the plaintiff's unopposed motion seeking approval of the deal. The plaintiff contended that Nike has a duty under state and federal law to provide additional aids or other reasonable accommodations to customers who are deaf or hard of hearing to ensure they can communicate effectively with the store's employees.  The pandemic doesn’t stop ADA claims from arising but does require more creative thinking.  Source:  HR Dive 2/9/21

Have you neglected your onboarding program? A new study released today by Evive, the leader in digital engagement and communication technology, found employers that focused on cost containment and improving employee engagement must create a more personalized employee experience throughout the employee journey.  Evive’s National Employee Journey Survey, conducted fourth quarter 2020, included a representative sample of 500 full-time employees across industries, positions and the U.S. Half of the survey respondents (50%) said that HR never checked in on them after their orientation period to make sure things were going well. Even more surprisingly, only 45% reported that their company surveyed their satisfaction with their onboarding or orientation experience. Along these lines, four out of 10 employees (44%) felt their onboarding or orientation lacked personalization, while 25% said they didn’t feel their company offered a structured onboarding or orientation experience.  Source: Evive 2/4/21

H-1B prevailing pay rule delayed:   The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will delay the effective date of a rule issued two weeks prior to the end of the Trump administration that seeks to change how H-1B “specialty occupation” visa applications are processed. Specifically, the delayed rule would, among other things, change the current H-1B lottery registration process and implement a selection process prioritizing H-1B visa applications based on the highest Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) prevailing wage level associated with the position’s relevant occupational code and area of intended employment.  The rule had been scheduled to go into effect on March 9, 2021 and would have dramatically altered this year’s H-1B registration process. DHS is delaying the rule’s effective date until December 31, 2021, citing insufficient time to complete system development, test modifications, conduct public outreach, and train staff by the time the initial registration period opens for the upcoming fiscal year cap season (FY 2022).  The registration period for FY 2022 has not yet been announced.  Source: Littler 2/5/21

U.S. Federal minimum wage expected to increase:   Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would increase wages for at least 17 million people, but also put 1.4 million Americans out of work, according to a study by the Congressional Budget Office released on Monday.  A phase-in of a $15 minimum wage would also lift some 900,000 out of poverty, according to the nonpartisan CBO. This higher federal minimum could raise wages for an additional 10 million workers who would otherwise make sightly above that wage rate, the study found.  Potential job losses were estimated to affect 0.9 percent of workers, the CBO wrote, adding: "Young, less educated people would account for a disproportionate share of those reductions in employment."  President Biden has advocated for a gradual increase of the federal minimum over several years. The threshold has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009. Dozens of states and cities have surpassed that level; several are already on track to $15 an hour.  It may not be included in the current stimulus proposal, but it may be in a separate reconciliation bill, which only requires a majority vote.    Source:  CCH, HR Dive 2/8/21

Is there a “Chore Gap” in the U.S.?  Among this year's crop of Super Bowls ads was a 30 second spot by Procter & Gamble Co. about “the chore gap.” The ad alludes to two realities facing millions of families.   Working and schooling from home during COVID has resulted in way more cooking, cleaning, and tidying, and women are the ones more likely to take on the extra work. Thus, the chore gap.   In December, P&G surveyed nearly 1600 adults and found that 63% of women in heterosexual couples say they do most of the household chores. The survey also found that while 31% of men think they take on the "main responsibility" of housework, only 2% of women agree with them. Among couples with kids, the division of labor is even more unequal: 75% of moms in two-parent households are in charge of most of the childcare and housework.  This gap predated the pandemic: In 2019 the Pew Research Center reported that 71% of moms do most of the cooking and grocery shopping for their families, even if they also work. But what's unsettling is that it has persisted even with everyone of all genders home all the time. P&G in its ad and a related campaign suggests couples redistribute housework more evenly, and voila, problem solved. In the commercial, a happy couple does the dishes together.  "We know that it’s hard to change our patterns and habits at home if we don’t acknowledge them," P&G’s Elizabeth Kinney, the communications director for Home Care in North America said in an email. "Our hope is that this message will help start positive conversations and inspire families to use this moment in time, when many of us are spending more time at home, to rethink the way we take care of our homes and each other."  Source:  Bloomberg 2/11/21

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