March 24, 2021 - American Society of Employers - ASE Staff

EverythingPeople This Week!

March 24, 2021

Marty Walsh confirmed as new U.S. Secretary of the Department of Labor:  Marty Walsh was confirmed Monday by the U.S. Senate, putting a self-proclaimed ally of workers and unions in charge of the agency tasked with overseeing enforcement of some of the nation's labor and employment laws. Walsh, a former union worker and mayor of Boston, received bipartisan support for his confirmation in a 68-29 vote. Walsh has supported the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, a broad labor law overhaul recently reintroduced by Democrats. The bill would strengthen the National Labor Relations Act by imposing financial penalties on employers that violate workers' rights, nullify state laws letting workers refuse to pay dues, narrow exclusions for contract workers, and more.  The newly confirmed DOL chief has also advocated a federal minimum wage of $15 per hour, and he has said he will create programs aimed at helping women and workers of color. Additionally, Walsh has committed to enforcing employee benefits plans' compliance with a federal mandate to cover mental health and substance abuse treatment at levels similar to medical and surgical treatment.  Source:  Law360 3/22/21

Biggest priority for HR-Maximizing budget constraints:  HR Dive wanted to know more about the people behind a business function that is both essential and veiled. In its inaugural Identity of HR Survey, HR Dive asked HR professionals to name their priorities and call out their challenges. They heard from 419 self-identified HR professionals. A quarter of respondents said their highest priority is maximizing value within budgetary constraints, and 22% said their greatest priority is culture.  Respondents’ pandemic-related challenges generally lined up with their priorities. Budgetary constraints and culture were again the most popular, vastly outpacing other challenges.  When it came to challenges outside of Coronavirus, employee training took the most votes, followed by a tie between hiring and culture. Budgetary constraints came next.  Also, HR pros were more divided in how their departments are valued by leaders. While 28% said their departments are highly valued by leadership, 32% said they are very valued, and roughly the same amount said they are somewhat valued.  Source: HR Dive 3/22/21

Work from the office a talent attraction tool? While a number of companies are using the health crisis as an opportunity to get out of leases, some are bucking the trend. Tech companies in particular have been gobbling up office space. That’s despite many of them being first to embrace the remote-work lifestyle. Many of these businesses also view the office as a perk to lure top talent in the coming years. According to a report by CBRE, tech companies were the leaders in signing and renewing office leases last year, accounting for 24% of leasing activity by square footage. Some employees are more eager to return than others, craving moments like afternoon water-cooler talk or post-work happy hours. Others have adjusted to their work-from-home setups and don’t miss the anxiety-ridden office commutes. Most executives agree there are advantages to both. As Americans return to work at a staggered pace, plans may favor a hybrid model. 12% plan to do so during the second quarter, and 21% during the third quarter. 40% of respondents still had no plans to return to the office, as of January, CBRE said.   Source: CNBC 3/10/21

Are you working more hours these days?  Many are:  Long before Covid-19 hit, Americans were expected to work like they didn’t have families. Some call it the myth of the “ideal worker” — the idea that the perfect employee is someone “unencumbered by any other problem other than your job,” Andrea Rees Davies, associate director of the Stanford Humanities Center and a historian who has worked on gender in the workplace stated.  That ideal was unrealistic long before the pandemic, for parents and non-parents alike, but add in the demands of taking care of kids with schools and day cares closed, and a bad situation has become unbearable for many — and yet they’re somehow bearing it. The result is burnout, with 91% of moms reporting more exhaustion than before the pandemic (along with 35% of dads), according to a December survey by Calarco. With the advent of technologies like smartphones and email, 9 to 5 became 24/7 — the ideal worker was available “any time, day or night,” Davies said, still with no family obligations or anything to distract from their “single-minded devotion to the employer.” Today, the average American works more hours in a year than the average worker in any other similarly wealthy nation.  Source:  VOX 3/15/21

New York City and Portland pass biometric laws: Both Portland and New York City have followed the example set by the Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”), a statute that has spawned thousands of cookie-cutter class action suits regarding the alleged collection of biometric information. Like BIPA, these new ordinances create a private right of action for individuals that could subject local businesses to potentially millions of dollars in liability. Businesses in these cities should carefully review these new ordinances as well as any technology they be using that has the potential to collect biometric information. the Portland and New York City ordinances differ from each other (as well as BIPA) in significant ways, they each share a common feature: a private right of action. Accordingly, these new laws have the potential to bring on a rash of high-stakes class action litigation in each of these cities. Businesses in Portland, OR, and New York City should be mindful of these new laws and act accordingly.  Source: Seyfarth Shaw 3/4/21

For those with operations in Mexico, make sure you update your Employer Registration Certificate: Mexico’s National Institute of Migration is the agency charged with issuing a document known as the Employer Registration Certificate. This Certificate authorizes companies to perform any processes and procedures related to their non-citizen employees, including the issuance of new work visas, renewal of the migratory document for employees who are already working in Mexican territory, and renewal of notices provided to the Institute whenever a non-citizen who already resides in Mexico is hired.  This Certificate is valid for one year, and companies must update it within 30 days of presenting their annual tax declaration. The document must be duly updated in order to continue with any procedures involving the National Institute of Migration.  The Certificate must be updated in any of the following circumstances: (1) after making the annual tax declaration; or (2) after making any modification to the company, such as changing the legal representative, name, or address, or opening a branch office. Once any of these modifications occurs, or after the payment of the annual declaration of taxes, companies have 30 days to notify the Institute.  Source:  Littler 3/19/21

Number one destination for global workers?  Canada: Canada placed ahead of the U.S. as the top destination for workers in a global survey by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the firm said in a recently published report. In the three iterations of the survey published by BCG, covering the years 2014, 2018, and 2020, this is the first in which the U.S. did not take first place. BCG identified several factors behind the shift, including the U.S.'s "inconsistent pandemic response, the adoption of more nationalistic policies, and social unrest," while also noting strides made by Canada as well as Australia. Canada is a particularly strong choice for respondents with either a master's degree or PhD; those with digital training or expertise; and those younger than age 30, BCG said. The firm surveyed more than 208,000 people in 190 countries in conjunction with recruiting company The Network.  Overall, the proportion of workers who were willing to move to another country for work declined from 57% in 2018 to 50% in 2020. Travel restrictions "clearly had an impact on people's attitudes," BCG said, but remote work may also be a factor as it can allow foreign employers to hire applicants without requiring them to work in a company office or relocate.  Source:  HR Dive 3/12/21

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