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

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Quick Hits - July 27, 2022

EEOC changing the rules on COVID testing:  On July 12, 2022, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its COVID-19 FAQs.  Unfortunately, the update does not offer many specifics for employers, who continue to face the challenge of maintaining a safe, healthy, and productive work environment as more and more of their workers return to in-person work. Most notably, with respect to requiring employees to be tested for COVID as a condition of returning to or remaining at work, the EEOC’s updated guidance makes clear that an employer’s ability to require such a test is not unlimited.  Rather, an employer can require such testing only where it is “job-related and consistent with business necessity” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Based on this update, it appears that the EEOC plans to take the position that a COVID-19 screening test for employees entering the workplace is not per se or presumed permissible. Rather, an employer must be able to demonstrate that such a test is necessary for the safety of the workplace, and consistent with the job in question.  The EEOC advises employers to keep current with CDC recommendations regarding COVID exposure and infection, as well as those of state and local public health authorities.  Source:  Littler 7/14/22

Do you use the 90-day rule? The 90-day rule is that if an employer retains an employee for three months, executives and human-resources specialists say, then that person is more likely to remain employed longer-term, which they define as anywhere from a year on in today’s high-turnover environment. Employers have found that 90 days is typically enough time for workers to get into a steady routine of a new job. That has led manufacturing companies, restaurants, hotel operators, and others to roll out special bonuses, stepped-up training, and new programs to prevent new hires from quitting in their first three months on the job. This can be particularly important for hourly employees in higher-turnover industries like hospitality or manufacturing, executives say, where workers have plenty of options. “If you see someone hit the three-month mark, the reality is, they’re going to be here for at least a year,” said Marissa Andrada, chief people officer at Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. Chipotle has focused on consistent scheduling and giving new hires a clear explanation of company operations and benefits, she said. The tactics are designed to help employees be comfortable in its restaurants and motivated to stay, she said.  Source:  The Wall Street Journal 6/25/22

Are you watching your employees?  Big Brother is watching and employee dissatisfaction is growing.  Three in four bosses are surveilling their staff, according to a recent study by VPN service provider ExpressVPN. 90% actively track time spent by employees doing work versus other activities unrelated to work, and 46% say they’ve terminated an employee based on information collected related to their remote work. Surveillance tactics include screen monitoring, periodic screen capture, enforced time logs as well as storing recordings of staff’s calls, emails, or messages, according to ExpressVPN. And while it may accomplish getting a picture of how an employee spends their time, it’s hurting more than it’s helping. One in six employees weren’t aware it was possible for employers to monitor their communication and/or online activities, and 59% of employees who do know are stressed about having their online activity monitored. 59% of employees say it’s a violation of their trust to have their actions watched, 28% say it makes them feel unappreciated, and 26% say it makes them feel resentment, according to the report.  Source:  EBN 7/13/22

In the UK, high temperatures may impact worker status:  With temperatures set to soar well over 30°C (86°F) in parts of the UK, whether employees work from home, in an office, or another workplace, rumors often circulate about employees' rights in relation to the temperatures in which they can legally work. No, employees do not have a right to stop working. Somewhat surprisingly, whilst there is a minimum working temperature of 16°C (60.8°F) for workplaces, there is no maximum temperature.  However, just like in the U.S., UK employers must take appropriate measures to keep their workers safe in the extended temperature environment.  For those with employees that are homeworking, it is sensible for line managers to check-in with staff to ensure that they are well and remind employees to take breaks and stay hydrated.  For employees that work in a usual workplace, employers should consider relaxing rules around dress code, in particular removing restrictive items of clothing such as ties. Considering a dress-down policy for the days when the temperatures are considerably high is also sensible.  Another consideration may be working a more flexible pattern, such as earlier starts or later finishes, when it is typically slightly cooler, enabling employees to take rest during the hottest part of the day or avoid busy public transport at peak times.  Source: RWK Goodman 7/12/22

Blame the Millennials for inflation: Soaring inflation is hitting everyone’s wallets and making the dream of home ownership even more unattainable for younger generations—but according to one strategist, Millennials could be to blame for escalating prices.  Bill Smead, chief investment officer at Smead Capital Management, told CNBC that Millennials are driving the surging inflation levels seen across the United States in recent months.  He said there are an estimated 92 million Millennials in the U.S., whom he defined as those “primarily in the 27- to 42-year-old age bracket.”  “The last time we saw what we call ‘wolverine inflation,’ which is inflation that is hard for policymakers to stop, was when 75 million baby boomers replaced 44 million silent generation people in the 1970s,” Smead told CNBC.  “What everyone’s not including in the conversation is what really causes inflation, which is too many people with too much money chasing too few goods."  In other words, Millennials are becoming more like their parents every day.  Source:  CNBC 7/15/22 

Have you updated your website for ADA compliance?  2021 was a big year for web-accessibility lawsuits against businesses. Seyfarth Shaw, founded in Chicago, counted nearly 2,900 cases filed in federal courts last year. That compared to just over 800 in 2017.  New York, California, and Florida led the top 10 states for 2021 federal filings, according to the firm.  Writing in the American Bar Association magazine in January, a trio of Seyfarth ADA Title III practice attorneys suggested website-accessibility law is continuing to evolve, "slowly," with each lawsuit filed and appeal heard. "A few things are clear, however," they wrote. "Plaintiffs will continue to file lawsuits" and push the bounds of ADA applicability.  "Digital accessibility is here to stay, and businesses should proactively consider accessibility when acquiring, building, and maintaining all digital assets," they counseled.  Fly by night lawsuits in this arena are becoming common.  Source:  Seyfarth 7/8/22

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