Quick Hits - March 3, 2021 - American Society of Employers - ASE Staff

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Quick Hits - March 3, 2021

Daylight Savings starts March 14th:  Set your clocks forward one hour Sunday morning, March 14th. Daylight Saving Time was first proposed by George Vernon Hudson in 1895, and its use in the U.S. was first mandated during World War I. It was subsequently used on and off for years by various countries and U.S. states. Since the 1970s; however, it has mostly remained in effect in the U.S. and Europe. The salaries of exempt employees are not affected by Daylight Savings Time. As for non-exempt employees, employers will have to decide whether to pay those employees who are at work when the clock is set forward for this “lost” hour. They do not have to be paid for it since they did not actually work it. The employer may also have to decide whether the lost hour, if paid, will count toward overtime or not (it does not have to). However, an employer must also determine if the hour counts towards leave accrual. To get a copy of a poster, click here

Michigan UIA contribution rates update:  Contribution rates for employers with three or more years of experience will continue to range from 0.06% to 10.3% in 2021. The maximum rate of 10.3% includes a 6.3% maximum chargeable benefit component, a 3.0% maximum account building component, and a 1.0% maximum nonchargeable benefits component. Note that if the employer has submitted no quarterly tax reports, that employer's maximum tax rate will be 10.3%, and the employer also will be assessed a penalty of 3.0%, which is separate from the contribution rate. In addition, the new employer rate remains at 2.7%, plus part of its chargeable benefits component depending on the employer’s year of liability, except for new construction employers.  The nonchargeable benefits component (NBC) for 2021 may range from 0.06% to 1.0%, depending upon an employer's experience. For an employer with no benefit charges for nine years, the NBC is 0.06%. For an employer with no benefit charges for eight years, the NBC will be 0.07%. For an employer with no benefit charges for seven years, the NBC will be 0.08%. For an employer with no benefit charges for six years, the NBC will be 0.09%. For an employer with no benefit charges for five years, the NBC will be 0.1%. For all other employers, the NBC is 1.0% (MUIA Communication).

Reopening of offices being pushed back to September: From Silicon Valley to Tennessee to Pennsylvania, high hopes that a rapid vaccine rollout in early 2021 would send millions of workers back into offices by spring have been scuttled. Many companies are pushing workplace return dates to September—and beyond—or refusing to commit to specific dates, telling employees it will be a wait-and-see remote-work year. Return-to-office dates have shifted so much in the past year that some companies aren’t sharing them with employees. “Everyone’s in the moment of limbo. They want certainty, but they know they can’t have it,” says Elizabeth Mygatt, an associate partner at consulting firm McKinsey & Co., who advises companies on organizational performance. Companies that assigned return dates last year now hesitate to do so, she adds.  “I have seen fewer companies be actually super clear on what the future looks like,” she says. A new survey of 2,200 U.S. workers by the Conference Board, a research group, found that 44% of employees polled didn’t know their company’s plans to return to the workplace. That is up from last September, when 37% of respondents polled by the group said they were unclear on their back-to-the-office plan.  Source:  Wall Street Journal 2/11/21

California court finds “Wi-Fi sickness” a disability: Is Wi-Fi sickness a disability? The California Court of Appeal just said it is in Brown v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2d Dist., Div. Eight), Case No. B294240. In a case that tests the limits of California’s liberal pleading standard, the appellate court green-lighted a claim of a woman who asserted a disability of “electromagnetic hypersensitivity,” or, as the concurring justice put it, “Wi-Fi sickness.” The court acknowledged that it is likely the first to recognize Wi-Fi sickness as a disability under laws against discrimination. In fact, the court discussed contrary federal court authority, distinguishing those cases by concluding that the definition of “disability” in California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act is broader than in the Americans with Disabilities Act.  And you wonder why businesses are leaving California.  Source:  Dykema 2/23/21

Tired of your job? Join the multitude: A new survey conducted by Harris Poll exclusively for Fast Company found that the majority (52%) of U.S. workers are considering a job change this year, and as many as 44% have actual plans in place to make the leap. As for who’s contemplating a job hop, the most likely candidates were those whose annual household income is between $50,000 and $75,000 (the middle-income bracket). 59% of those individuals said they’ve thought about making a switch. Prior to the pandemic in 2018, 51% of workers were planning to change jobs according to data from Statista.  But the poll indicated that even more managers and highly skilled workers are prepared to change jobs. Close to half (48%) of six-figure salaried workers are plotting their switches, and as many as 66% of them are feeling more confident about their decision to change jobs than they did six months ago. Across the board, 21% of workers surveyed felt there were “better opportunities available to [them] at other companies.”  If succession planning is not on your list of to do items, it probably should be and high up there.  ASE has both a roundtable and webinar in March on succession planning. Source: Fast Company 2/23/21

Don’t just be a talking head on Zoom (or Teams, Slack): Keep using hand gestures say experts. There are a lot of misunderstandings about hand gestures.  But most gestures accompany and amplify speech rather than conveying specific meanings like speech itself.  These gestures serve to emphasize, clarify, or intensify our words.  Think of the head shake that accompanies a verbal “no,” for example, as a way of showing that there can be no further negotiation on that particular subject.  The speaker might say ‘no’ while looking down, drawing the eyebrows in and down to express regret, and shaking the head slightly.  All of that body language serves to hint to the listener that this denial is final, with regret perhaps, but final. Another whole category of gesture is particularly important to help us understand what is being said.  Researchers call these beat gestures, and their main purpose seems to be to emphasize certain syllables of words to aid in understanding what word is meant.  Researchers believe that this sort of signaling is an important part of comprehension especially when there is a lot of surrounding noise, as in a restaurant.   Source: Public Words 2/23/21

The union pension issue may be resolved with the new COVID stimulus bill:  The COVID-19 pandemic relief legislation set for a vote this week in the House contains a provision to save struggling union pension plans that experts say has a good shot at passing, forecasting a possible end to a $65 billion funding crisis that threatens one million retirees' pensions.  The American Rescue Plan, which cleared the House Budget Committee on Monday, would provide direct assistance to roughly 200 financially struggling union pension plans through the federal government's safety net for these plans, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which would in turn receive the money from the U.S. Treasury.  If the proposal becomes law, union pension activists say the long-brewing, dire funding crisis could finally come to an end, and about a million retirees could breathe easier after a lot of false starts. Source:  Law360 2/23/21

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