Quick Hits - March 31, 2021 - American Society of Employers - ASE Staff

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Quick Hits - March 31, 2021

EEO-1 reporting due July 19, 2021:  After delaying the opening of the 2019 EEO-1 Component 1 Data Collection on May 8, 2020 in light of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that the 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection will open on Monday, April 26, 2021.  The deadline for submitting 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 data will be Monday, July 19, 2021.  Recognizing the continuing differential impacts of the pandemic on workplaces nationwide and the requirement to submit two years of EEO-1 data, the EEOC is extending the data collection period this year from 10 weeks to 12 weeks to provide employers additional time to file.  Source:  EEOC 3/29/21

Dependent care FSA amounts increased under the American Rescue Plan (ARP): The dependent care exclusion is also sharply increased for 2021 only, to $10,500 ($5,250 if married filing separately). ARP provides that a cafeteria plan will not be in violation of the applicable rules if it is amended retroactively by the last day of the plan year in which the amendment is effective and operates consistently with the amendment.  Presumably this is intended to allow plans to let participants immediately increase the amount that they had previously elected to defer to a dependent care account for 2021, in order to take advantage of the increased exclusion. Participants who carried over unused amounts from 2020 to 2021 will also be able to take advantage of the higher exclusion for reimbursements in 2021. For the dependent care exclusion, employers should consider whether a plan amendment is needed to increase the dollar limit (if it is specified rather than just linked to the statutory limit) and to allow mid-year election changes. Also, employers with a dependent care account are required to explain the alternative of using the childcare tax credit, so that explanation should be supplemented even if the dependent care plan is not changed.  Source: Davis Wright Tremaine LLP 3/18/21

If you think recruiting is tough today: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told the House Committee on Financial Services last week that 10 million people are still out of work, but full employment may return next year. If that is the case, finding talent will be even more difficult than before. And it will be a sellers’ market. Even though the autos have slowed down because of a chip shortage, U.S. factory activity picked up in early March amid strong growth in new orders.  Employers will have to think creatively to build a pipeline of eligible workers, especially manufacturers, who need to show how cool it is to work on a line.  CNBC 3/23/21, Reuters 3/24/21

Another study about return to work as vaccinations increase: The staffing company LaSalle Network published a release regarding the first installment of its Office Re-Entry Index. The index details obstacles related to bringing employees back on site, sentiments regarding vaccination mandates, potential internal conflict due to workplace policies and more. Overall, the index is based on responses submitted by more than 350 CEOs, COOs, and leaders in finance and human resources. The majority of respondents said they plan to bring employees back to the traditional office by the fall of this year and nearly three-quarters of respondents (70%) stated plans to "phase employees back in," according to the report. Based on "information currently available," nearly eight in 10 respondents (77%) said their workforce will feature a hybrid work model in 12 months, offering both in-person and remote work. About half of respondents (52%) said they were not planning to mandate vaccination for their employees and more than one-third (39%) were undecided about requiring "employees to get vaccinated before returning to the office," and (66%) said that their organization had "not yet communicated plans with employees" about their stance on a vaccine mandate, according to the report.  Source: The LaSalle Network 3/19/21

When coming back, employees want pet friendly offices:  Three in 10 employees surveyed by Banfield Pet Hospital say they have adopted a new cat or dog during the pandemic. About 38% say their main concern about returning to work is that their pet will face separation anxiety if left home alone all day.  Employers have offered pet-related benefits to appease employees concerned about their pet’s well-being. Currently, 15% of employers offer pet health insurance, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. More than half of employees surveyed by Banfield say they’d be happiest returning to work if their pet was also allowed in the office. 23% say they would be more productive with their animal beside them. When creating a plan to return to work, employers need to consider what is most important to their workers and what may be a cause of distraction — like the well-being of their pets — on the job. Indeed, 72% of C-suite executives expect more workplaces will be pet-friendly after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the survey.  Source: ebn.com 3/25/21

Why production is slowing down:  A six-decade-old invention, the lowly chip, has gone from little-understood workhorse in powerful computers to the most crucial and expensive component under the hood of modern-day gadgets. In February, lead times—the duration between when an order for a chip is placed and when it actually gets filled—stretched to 15 weeks on average for the first time since data collection started in 2017, according to industry distributor data from Susquehanna Financial Group. Lead times for Broadcom Inc.—a barometer for the industry because of its involvement across the supply chain—extended to 22.2 weeks, up from 12.2 weeks in February 2020. The crunch has sideswiped the General Motors and Volkswagens of the world and swung politicians from Washington to Beijing into crisis control. It’s also catapulted Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics Co. to the top of investor and government agendas. It’s a bottleneck that could last several quarters—or into next year. Alarm bells are ringing. A growing number of industry players from Continental AG to Innolux Corp. and Renesas Electronics Corp. have in recent weeks warned of longer-than anticipated deficits snarling production—potentially well past the summer.  Source:  Bloomberg 3/29/21

Next corporate retreat – virtual:  At the last global sales meeting he attended before the pandemic, Jeff Chase went to Caesars Palace Las Vegas with about 60 colleagues, plus many of their spouses. In February, the biotech sales manager scouted a location for their next retreat, the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, on Zoom. He never left his home in Indianapolis.   The organizer instructed him and 70 other attendees from the corporate world to locate sunglasses, a hairdryer, and a refreshing drink in their homes. When the video panned to the Caribbean, they were asked to turn on their blow dryers to simulate a coastal breeze in their hair. Sean Hoff, managing partner of Toronto-based corporate retreats company Moniker, says clients have started inquiring about in-person trips, but are holding off on deposits and flights until at least June. So, he’s plowing ahead creating a virtual island for an upcoming retreat of around 240 people for Webflow, a San Francisco website-design company. Employees will participate in videogame-like team-building activities, including a boat-building race. They will inhabit customized avatars and gather in virtual locales like a “tiki hut” and a “treehouse” for small-group meetings. Articulate held a weeklong virtual retreat in February with over 104 sessions, including virtual yoga and virtual escape rooms. Out of 291 employees across 10 time zones, 267 participated, according to a company spokesman.  Source:  Wall Street Journal 3/14/21

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