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November 2020 Colorado HR Legal Updates

Colorado Voters Pass Paid Family and Medical Leave Law

What happened?
The Colorado voters passed Proposition 118, creating a Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) law that will start in full on January 1, 2024.

What are the details?
The PFML program will allow employees to utilize 12 weeks of paid time off for the birth of a child and family emergencies, with an additional four weeks for pregnancy or childbirth complications. Additionally, the time may be used for adoption, military service, and abuse or sexual assault.

Employers will need to start making payroll deductions starting 2023, with the payroll tax starting at 0.9% for the first two years of the program. Employers will split the percentage in half with employees contributing 0.45% and the employer covering the remaining 0.45%. Employers can pay for a larger percentage if they wish. The percent tax will increase each following year up to a cap of 1.2% of each employee’s wages.

The PFML program will cover virtually all employees in the state. Any employees who earn at least $2,500 in wages subject to PFML premiums and have been employed by their current employer for at least 180 days before the commencement of the PFML, will be eligible.

Small employers, defined as employers with fewer than 10 employees, do not need to pay the employer’s share of the premium, though they must still withhold and pay the employee’s contribution into the fund. Local Governments, independent contractors, sole proprietors, partners, and joint ventures are not required to participate in the PFML program. They can, however, opt-in to the program with a minimum of a three-year commitment.

Proposition 118 also creates the Division of Family and Medical Leave Insurance, responsible for creating a notice detailing program requirements, benefits, claims process, payroll deduction requirements, job protection rights, benefits continuation, protection from discrimination and retaliation, and other information. Once this notice is created, employers will need to post it in a conspicuous location and notify employees of the program upon hiring and/or learning that a covered individual is experiencing a triggering event under the program.

An article going over Proposition 118 can be found here.

Proposition 118 can be read here.

What do employers need to do?
Colorado employers should stay aware of the developments that will come in the future regarding this PFML program.

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CDLE Issues Final EPT Rules

What happened?
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) issued its final Equal Pay Transparency Rules (EPT Rules) on November 10, 2020, with additional information on job and promotional postings. The EPT Rules go into effect on January 1, 2021.

What are the details?
For those unfamiliar, Colorado will have a new Equal Pay Transparency law that is effective next year. This law, before these final rules, had required employers with any number of employees inside Colorado to post job openings for jobs outside of the state of Colorado, for all employees. Essentially requiring employers to provide information about jobs located outside the state to candidates also located outside the state. The final rules dictate that the job promotions that happen outside Colorado, the compensation posting requirements and jobs to be performed entirely outside of Colorado do not need to conform to the rules of this law.

The rules also include information regarding:

  • Compensation and benefits information included in job postings
  • Promotional opportunities
  • Exceptions
  • Content of the required notice
  • Employees who must receive notice

A detailed article focused on the EPT Rules can be found here.

The EPT Rules can be read here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers in Colorado should review the above information and read the article. This rule applies to any new job postings and will affect all Colorado employers.

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REMINDER: Colorado Paid Sick Leave Law Effective January 1, 2021

What happened?
The Colorado Senate has passed a bill that will create three mandatory types of sick leave:

  1. COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave (CO-EPSL)
  2. Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST)
  3. Public Health Emergency Paid Sick Leave (PHEL)

What are the details?
The Colorado Senate has passed SB20-205, the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA). The bill was signed by the President of the Senate on 6/22/20 and remains to be signed by the governor to take effect. The bill will create three distinct sick paid leaves. The paid leaves will take effect at varying times. The sick leaves will be broken down individually below:

CO-EPSL:
Effective (once signed by the Governor) immediately through December 31, 2020, all employers will need to provide CO-EPSL to their employees. This applies to the federally mandated paid sick leave provided by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

It is not clear what exemptions may exist when a collective bargaining relationship exists between the employer and employees, nor how the federally required leave will interact with the also required Health Emergency Leave with Pay rules that already exist in Colorado.

Details related to the leave provided by the FFCRA can be found here.

Note: the CO-EPSL is the same amount of sick leave provided by the FFCRA. It is only different in that it will be required of all Colorado employers.

PSST:
PSST will first apply only to employers with 16 or more employees starting January 1, 2021, then be applicable to all employers on January 1, 2022. Employees will start accruing one hour of PSST for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours per year. Employers may frontload the 48 hours instead of accruing per hour worked. It has not been mentioned if this relieves employers of the need to carry over balances, as it does for other states. Therefore, every employee will be allowed to carry over their unused balance, up to 48 hours of PSST, to the following plan year. Employers with existing policies that already meet or exceed the 48 hours of PSST, and the 80 hours provided (assuming the employee is working at least 80 hours every two weeks) will not have to create a new sick plan policy. Unlike other mandatory sick leave programs, PSST has no usage waiting period; Employees may use PSST as they accrue it.

To read more about PSST, including when employees may use it, click here.

PHEL
PHEL is only a supplemental Paid Sick Leave. It will only be applicable in the event of a public health emergency. A public health emergency is defined by the HFWA as:

  • an act of bioterrorism, pandemic influenza, or an epidemic caused by a novel and highly fatal infectious act, for which: 1) a disaster emergency is declared by the governor; or 2) an emergency is declared by a federal, state, or local public health agency;
  • a highly infectious illness or agent with epidemic or pandemic potential for which a disaster emergency is declared by the governor.

Additionally, the employee can use their PHEL up to four weeks after the official termination or suspension of the public health emergency. The amount of supplemental leave provided varies by the amount of time worked by the employee. The amounts are as follows:

  • For employees who normally work 40 hours or more per week: At least 80 hours.
  • For employees who normally work fewer than 40 hours in a week: At least the greater of either the amount of time the employee is scheduled to work in a 14-day period or the amount of time the employee actually works during an average 14-day period.

For more details on PHEL click here.

The Senate Bill itself is available here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers with employees in Colorado should closely monitor the Governor’s website, as when it is signed it if effective immediately. Paid sick leave policies should be changed to accommodate the new emergency leaves and PSST that will start at the beginning of 2021.

November 2020 California HR Legal Updates

Prop 22 Passes Grants Special Rules for Gig Workers

What happened?
The Uber and Lyft backed Proposition 22 has passed in the 2020 election.

What are the details?
Proposition 22 creates an exemption to AB 5, a worker classification law using the Dynamex court case’s ABC test to classify all workers. Many exemptions have applied to AB 5 since its passage, but gig workers had notably excluded.  Gig economy companies, like Uber and Lyft, spent vast sums of money to promote the passage of Proposition 22, to continue their current business model in California, spending upwards of $225 million in promotional costs.

The proposition creates a new exception to AB 5 by declaring app-based drivers be classified as independent contractors rather than employees. In addition, it will require drivers be paid no less than 120% of the minimum wage for the time they are engaged, as well as payment per mile. Additionally, network companies are required to provide healthcare subsidies and insurance coverage to drivers, develop anti-harassment policies, provide drivers with mandatory safety training, and conduct criminal background checks on network drivers.

Law firms, namely Littler Mendelson P.C., have noted that the passage of Proposition 22 may lead to other states or the federal government to have new conversations about the independent contractor status.

An article further explaining the impact of Proposition 22 can be found here.

You can read the full text of Proposition 22 here.

What do employers need to do?
Gig economy employers operating in California should review the conditions outlined in Proposition 22 to take advantage of the new exemption created for their workers.

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Cal/OSHA Approves Emergency COVID-19 Standard

What happened?
On November 19, 2020, the California OSHA Standards Board adopted an emergency standard related to COVID-19 prevention in the workplace, imposing significant requirements on state employers.

What are the details?
The new standards can be in full effect as soon as November 29, 2020.

The new emergency standard will touch on nine new requirements for employers.

  1. A written COVID-19 prevention program
  2. A notice of protentional COVID-19 exposure and cases
  3. Physical distancing
  4. Face coverings and personal protective equipment
  5. Exclusion of COVID-19 cases – and possible new paid time off requirement
  6. General testing requirements
  7. Return-to-work criteria
  8. Workplace outbreaks
  9. Employer-provided housing and transportation

An article going in-depth on each of these requirements can be found here.

An additional article going over this information from a different approach can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
California employers should review the articles linked above and update their workplace policies to reflect the new requirements that will be expected of them.

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The CDPH Provides Guidance on AB 685

What happened?
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued two new pieces of guidance regarding AB 685.

What are the details?
Effective January 1, 2021, AB 685 will create new reporting requirements related to COVID-19 for employers. AB 685’s reporting requirements rely on technical jargon unfamiliar to the majority of employers. In response, the CDPH has issued two resources to clarify what the meaning of some terms contained in AB 685 will mean, and other questions in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) style.

The first resource defines terms used in AB 685. Terms include COVID-19 outbreak, infectious period, and laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19.

The second resource addresses issues employers have about AB 685 in the form of a FAQ. These questions include:

  • “Who qualifies as a COVID-19 case?”
  • “What information am I required to give workers?”
  • “What does AB 685 authorize Cal/OSHA to do?”

The first resource, containing useful definitions, can be found here.

The second resource, the FAQ piece, can be found here.

A summation article reviewing the aforementioned resources can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the resources while creating workplace policies to ensure compliance with AB 685.

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DWC Announces 2021 Temporary Total Disability Rates

What happened?
The California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) announced that the minimum and maximum temporary total disability (TTD) rates would increase on January 1, 2021.

What are the details?
The new rates for TTD are as follows:

This increase is required by California Labor Code section 4453(a)(10), which mandates a parallel TTD rate increase alongside any increase in the State Average Weekly Wage.

The announcement from the DWC can be found here.

An article providing some additional information can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
As the TTD is unique to each state, employers will not need to take any action regarding this update.

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San Francisco Passes Tax on Highly Compensated CEOs

What happened?
The voters of San Francisco have passed Proposition L, a tax that will affect companies who compensate their Principal Executive Officer(s) at a rate greater than 100 to 1 when compared to the median compensation paid to the business’ employees based in San Francisco.

What are the details?
The tax will be administered through payroll expenses. Specifically, “for businesses other than an administrative office, the tax rates would be a percentage of gross receipts attributable to the City and, depending on the executive pay ratio, would range from 0.1% to 0.6%.  For businesses engaged in business as an administrative office, the tax rates would be a percentage payroll expense attributable to the City and, depending on its executive pay ratio, would range from 0.4% to 2.4%.”

The full text of Proposition L can be found here.

An article summarizing this Proposition can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Businesses based in and operating within the city of San Francisco should consult with their payroll technician if they fit the tax’s criteria to determine their next steps.

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SB 973 Reporting Requirement Guidance Published

What happened?
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has released guidance on the reporting requirements created by SB 973.

What are the details?
Following SB 973 employers will need to provide a pay data report to the DFEH, every year. For 2021, the report will be required by March 31, 2021. For now, the DFEH has only addressed the introduction section, which answers broad questions regarding the reporting requirements, and the filing requirements section, further outlining the filing process.

The DFEH plans to answer additional questions. Employers with questions regarding SB 973 are welcome to submit inquires to paydata.reporting@Dfeh.ca.gov.

The guidance can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers with questions regarding the required pay data reports should review the guidance available.

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SB 778 Training Deadline Approaching

What happened?
The training required by SB 778 needs to be administered before January 1, 2021, for employers to stay in compliance.

What are the details?
SB 778 requires employers with five or more employees to provide sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees for two hours, and at least one hour for all other employees. The deadline of January 1, 2021 has not been postponed due to the pandemic.

The DFEH has provided an online platform offering this training to employers, free of cost. The website can provide supervisory and nonsupervisory training. The training can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers who have five or more employees and have not yet administered the required training should being the steps needed to satisfy the requirement, either through the free resource linked above or through their training program.

November 2020 Arizona HR Legal Updates

Arizona Voters Legalize Recreational Marijuana Usage

What happened?
The voters in Arizona have passed Proposition 207, the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, which legalizes the possession and use of marijuana by adults age 21 and over for recreational or non-medicinal use.

What are the details?
Proposition 207 includes language allowing employers to maintain drug-free workplace policies. However, employers should be mindful of the existing protections that are still applicable to employees who use medicinal marijuana. Specifically, employers may not discriminate against any person who uses marijuana for medical reasons as permitted by state law because of “positive drug test for marijuana components or metabolites, unless the used, possessed or was impaired on the premises of the place of employment during the hours of employment.”

Employers are not required to “allow or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sales or cultivation of marijuana in a place of employment. “Additionally, the Prop. bars any operation of vehicles, boats, or planes while impaired by marijuana in any way.

An article going over the Proposition in more detail can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers with employees in Arizona may need to communicate their workplace policies to their employees to reinforce the employer’s expectation of employee conduct.

November 2020 Federal HR Updates

Department of Labor (DOL) Issues New COVID-19 Guidance for Employers

What happened?
On November 7, 2020, the DOL released two documents outlining common workplace inspection citations regarding COVID-19.

What are the details?
The first document (Common COVID-19 Citations) provides a robust list of all frequent employer citations pertaining to onsite inspections by the DOL. This document includes a thorough breakdown of each violation.

The second document is a one page summary of the first document with concise violation details.

The announcement also includes a reminder that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducts on-site consultations that are zero cost and confidential for small to medium-sized businesses. This program helps identify workplace hazards, provides advice for OSHA compliance, and assists in establishing and improving safety and health programs.

As of November 19, 2020, the amount of complaints filed in the healthcare industry is more than the combined total for all complaints filed by the Retail Trade, Grocery Store, Construction, General Warehousing and Storage, and Automotive Repair industries. Overall, OSHA citations have totaled $2,496,768 since the end of October. The largest individual employer fine is around $20,000.

Resource Links

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the provided guidance to guide their decisions in the workplace. This guidance is extremely useful for employers who are worried about OSHA inspections and citations. As a recommended best practice, employers should review this resource for further knowledge and awareness.

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CDC Modifies Guidance for Critical Infrastructure Employers

What happened?
On November 16, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) modified its guidance for “critical infrastructure” employers on whether they can permit asymptomatic workers to continue to work after exposure to an individual with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

What are the details?
Since the start of the pandemic, the CDC had allowed critical infrastructure employers the ability to keep employees working in the workplace if they were asymptomatic, given the employer adhered to specific practices. The CDC has since modified its stance to reflect the option to have asymptomatic employees working as a last resort. Asymptomatic employees should only be working if a cessation of operation of a facility may cause serious harm or danger to public health or safety. Serious harm to a business’s ability to continue to operate is not adequate justification.

The CDC is recommending employers cross-train employees to eliminate single points of failure by relying on trained employees to fill in as needed, while spreading out critical functions among equally skilled and available workers.

An article going over these changes in more detail can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers working in any of the industries identified as critical infrastructure should review the above guidelines and update their workplace policies to ensure the absence of key employees will not devastate company operations.

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Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Issues Final Rule Regarding Procedures for Resolving Employment Discrimination

What happened?
On November 10, 2020, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued a final rule on procedures to resolve potential employment discrimination.

What are the details?
The Department of Labor published this final rule to codify procedures that the OFCCP will use to resolve potential discrimination and other material violations of the laws and regulations administered by the OFCCP that applies to federal contractors and subcontractors, add clarifying definitions to specify the types of evidence OFCCP uses to support its discrimination findings, and correct the title of the OFCCP’s agency head.

The final rules include new information and changes to the following subjects:

  • Predetermination notices;
  • Notice of violation;
  • Expedited conciliation options;
  • Evidentiary standards;
  • Disparate treatment and disparate impact; and
  • Practical significance

The changes to the “evidentiary standards” is significantly impactful as identified by the OFCCP. The use of two standard deviations to identify potential discrimination in hiring practices. Law firms like Littler Mendelson P.C. have argued that federal contractors can reasonably operate with their hiring practices showing a standard deviation of up to three, by showing supporting evidence. This has happened in cases of disparities in selection rates.

An article by Littler Mendelson P.C. going over each of the changes in depth can be found here.

Find the final rule in the Federal Register here

What do employers need to do?  
Federal contractors should review these changes and hiring data to ensure compliance with the new OFCCP standards.

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement Announces Extension to I-9 Compliance Flexibility.

What happened?
On November 18, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibilities in rules related to Form I-9 compliance.

What are the details?

On March 19, 2020, due to precautions implemented by employers and employees associated with COVID-19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its goal to exercise prosecutorial discretion to defer the physical presence requirements associated with the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) under section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This policy applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. If employees are physically present at a worksite location, no exceptions are being implemented at this time for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

This extension will end on December 31, 2020.

The extension announcement can be found here.

The original announcement of the I-9 flexibility can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers who have been using the provided flexibility may continue to do so.

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The DHS Proposes New H-1B Visa Rule

What happened?
On November 2, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a notice of proposed rule making to replace the random selection process with a one that prioritizes H-1B petitions with the highest wage levels.

What are the details?
Should this rule be implemented it would drastically change the way that H-1b visas are selected. DHS is promoting the idea that elimination of the random selection process will make it possible for petitioners to improve their chances of selection by agreeing to pay higher wages to H-1B workers. The rules are open to public comment until December 2, 2020.

An article going over this proposed rule can be found here.

The proposed rule can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers who utilize this visa should monitor this proposed rule, as it may affect their ability to use the visa in the future.

A New Approach to Remote Work Recruitment

Young mother working from home as her son ask about data analysis on her computer screen

In a world where technology has provided innovative business solutions, technology has allowed businesses to shift to remote workplaces, which as a result has changed the trajectory of business strategies to recruit new talent.

Some of the nation’s largest tech hubs, such as New York City, Silicon Valley, and Seattle, have found that employees are willing to accept a salary reduction for the ability to work remotely. However, those who would relocate with a salary reduction also noted that the reduction must not exceed 10% of their salary. Other surveyed employees aren’t afraid to push back on salary reductions for an opportunity to work remote arguing that doing so devalues the employees’ labor.

Benefits to Remote Work

Employees may enjoy:

  • Reduced transportation costs. Because employees do not need to commute, money spent on gas, public transportation, or vehicle repairs and maintenance can be reduced.
  • Tax breaks. IRS Form 8829 provides “Expenses for Business Use of Your Home,” where individuals may deduct business expenses that apply to part of his or her home used exclusively for business on a regular basis. You may review Form 8829 instructions for additional information.
  • Lower day-to-day expenses. From lunch with co-workers or grabbing your morning breakfast from your favorite morning café, to vending machine snacks and drinks, working remote can lower your day-to-day expenses.
  • Decrease price of living. While taking a salary reduction might seem counterintuitive, it doesn’t always have a negative impact. For example, accepting a 10% reduction in salary to reside in an area 15% less expensive may result in an employee’s favor. Additionally, research for the reduced salary may still be higher than the average salary of the area of residence.

Employers may enjoy:

  • More productive workforce. Despite popular belief, some studies show that remote workers are more productive than in-office workspaces. This could result from no commute time, improved focus, less absenteeism, and increased availability for work.
  • Cost savings. There are many areas where employers may enjoy cost savings in offering remote work options. One advantage is reduced commercial property costs. For example, companies headquartered in larger metropolitan areas, such as San Francisco, California and New York City might be able to reduce or completely eliminate physical office space(s) and shift to remote workspaces. This can be a significant cost saving for companies. Another cost-saving advantage of remote work is increased employee retention. Happy employees are more likely to remain loyal to an employer, as well as increase quality of life for remote workers. Lastly, shifting to a remote workforce can offer access to a broader range of talent and typically at a lower cost. By opening job vacancies to remote workers, employers are expanding beyond local candidates. Remote work options oftentimes assist with recruiting efforts as well, especially in times like COVID-19.

Whether you already have employees working remote and are looking for additional benefits, or would like to allow employees to work remotely but not sure where to start, VensureHR can assist you. Our HR experts can provide employers tips for remote work best practices, update employee handbooks to include remote work policies, and ensure all human resource management needs are addressed. Contact us today learn more about our full-service HR solutions.

 

Sources:

Dice

Outsite

Global Approach to Small Business

Young businesswoman preparing to ship packages from her small business around the world

Small business owners oftentimes face the barrier of going outside of traditional business borders. As a result, small business growth may be limited by serving local customers and hindered by local competitors. There is some myth to the popular belief that in order to conduct international business, business owners must have deep pockets. If done with adequate effort and strategy, engaging in international business can be incredibly rewarding, especially for small business owners.

Here are some tips to consider expanding into a larger, international level.

Understand product and service deliverability.

If you are a product manufacturer, creating and distributing products internationally or at a larger quantity can quickly eat your budget. However, investing in a foreign distributor can help offset your costs. Additionally, establishing foreign connections can create opportunities to expand your business into international territories.

Leverage website and social media for marketing.

Thanks to social media and the power of the Internet, international marketing has become much easier for businesses. The secret to building a successful website is focusing on user experience through easy navigation and clear, concise language. It would also be beneficial to understand social media platforms used by audiences in different countries and build your presence there.

Establish a target audience.

Here’s where strategic thinking is most critical. Understanding the audience for your product or service is critical to your business’s success. For example, your product or service may fall into a niche industry. To effectively market to that niche, you need to understand where your target audience is located, what types of products or services they seek, and through which medium they prefer to communicate.

While expanding business to a larger scale may be frightening, stressful, and overwhelming, most benefits of expanding outweigh the negative. To learn how to successfully expand your business, reach out to VensureHR. Our team of business development specialists can provide you the support you need to continue your business’s success, including engaging in mergers and acquisitions. We can assist with managing employee and client relations, integrating industry-leading technology to streamline business efficiencies, and the resources, tools, and expertise to support your efforts.

Source: Business Matters Magazine

 

November 2020: Minimum Wage Increases

Effective January 1, 2021, minimum wage rate increases will go into effect for a number of states, cities, and municipalities. These increases will be applicable to employers who have employees performing work in the affected areas.

To assist our clients, we have compiled a comprehensive resource containing wage increase details. All minimum wage rate increases are listed here.

If you have any employees whose pay rate is currently below the new listed minimum wage in the area in which they perform work, please connect with your Payroll Technician to ensure pay rates are adjusted to reflect the new increase.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your HR representative.

*Note: Rates may differ in certain areas depending on employee count.

Workers’ Compensation and Telecommuting

Cheerful remote worker calling on her mobile device getting it done

When businesses shifted to remote workplaces, one consideration they may have overlooked are telecommuting policies. A common question among workers’ compensation policies and coverage is: “Are telecommute employees covered under workers’ compensation?”

The short answer is yes.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, “an employee injury or illness is compensable under workers’ compensation if it arises out of and in the course of employment, regardless of the location the injury occurs.”

The burden of proof for the work-related injury is on the employee. Employers and employees should understand that “arising out of” is defined as the activity for which the employee was involved in at the time of injury, whereas “in the course of” is defined as the time for which the injury occurred. For an employee to successfully claim workers’ compensation benefits, the employee is required to demonstrate that the activity by which they were injured or fallen ill was in the employer’s interest.

Because telecommuting employees’ residence may serve as the work premises for which he or she conducts employer work, home hazards are considered hazards of his or her place of employment. Therefore, employers are responsible for safe, remote workspaces as in-office employees.

To help reduce workers’ compensation liability fortelecommute employees, employers should develop remote work policies summarizing employer expectations for remote employees. These policies should address:

  • Objective. This section should provide a high-level overview of remote work, such as the purpose, the company’s vision, and general expectations for employees.
  • Procedures. Procedures should include the proper process by which an employee is to request remote work (i.e., do they have to fill a form and submit to their supervisor?). This should detail any other processes for remote workers, such as expected timeline of remote work allotted, personal issues (i.e., childcare) that may impact remote work, and other similar processes.
  • Eligibility. This should highlight which individuals are eligible for remote work, the length for which the individuals may work remote, and proper recordkeeping to ensure successful evaluation for remote work opportunities.
  • Equipment. While this section should focus on who will be responsible for providing proper equipment to perform remote work, employee wellness should be taken under consideration. For example, ergonomic equipment is highly recommended to prevent chronic pains or injuries from sedentary positions.
  • Security. There should be training on cybersecurity best practices (i.e., password changes, Internet policies, phishing, spams, etc.), as well as oversight by an IT specialist or department to ensure remote employees are following proper security standards. Additional consideration may be needed for employees who handle sensitive personal information, such as protecting file cabinets and desk drawers, regular password maintenance, and home security (i.e., liability protection from burglary).
  • Safety. A great way to ensure home or remote work safety is to provide a safety checklist to employees to evaluate their remote workspace. This section should highlight employer expectations with regard to workers’ compensation claims.
  • Schedules. All hours worked should be accurately recorded and in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Additional Ad Hoc Arrangements. This section may include temporary, short-term, or other ad hoc arrangement details between employer and employee.

If you already have a remote work policy, but would like an HR specialist to review and offer industry best practice tips, please contact VensureHR. Our human resource services are provided by seasoned industry experts who are equipped with resources and tools to customize HR solutions for your business needs. Partnering with a PEO like VensureHR offers you more competitive workers’ compensation policies, as well as access to a suite of HR services.

 

Source:

Society for Human Resource Management

Co-Working Spaces: Changing How Employees Work

Two businesswomen wearing masks as the share a co-working station

Remote work and co-working spaces might not be new concepts to business operations, but it has certainly been streamlined since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. With flexible workspaces expected to expand to nearly 49,500 by 2022, it should come as no surprise that as business efficiencies change, so do the solutions.

Co-working Space: What Is It?

A co-working space is a flexible workspace solution that offers a range of workspace options. From private co-working spaces like standard private offices, office suites, and custom buildouts, to open co-working spaces like hot desks, dedicated desks, lab desks, and event spaces, co-working spaces can offer temporary to permanent flexible workspace solutions.

Benefits of Co-working Spaces

Co-working spaces can be a great alternative to work-from-home challenges and return-to-office obstacles many employers may be facing post-COVID.

For example, some common work-from-home challenges include at-home distractions or interruptions and social isolation. A co-working space can offer quieter, dedicated office space for employees to complete their work uninterrupted. It also provides an opportunity to connect with other business professionals utilizing the space alleviating some of the social isolation working from home causes.

Co-working spaces can also offer remedies for return-to-work obstacles. To assist employees returning to work, offering a co-working space can provide employees:

  • A shorter commute to a co-working office than the designated employer office
  • Reduce facility needs, such as desks, office space, and supplies
  • Alternative workspaces for business travel (i.e., instead of working out of a hotel room or makeshift space in a busy office)
  • A designated place outside of their house and away from distractions for presentations or special occasions and events

Learn more about VensureHR’s continued efforts to offer clients valuable, affordable, and effective business solutions and benefits. Contact VensureHR today!


GCUC (as provided by smallbizgenius)

Encouraging Employees to Use PTO

Young happy family relaxing together at home as both parents take PTO

In the wake of COVID-19, navigating a new “normal,” and coping with the ripple effect both have had on the general mental health across the globe, now is a great time to encourage employees to use paid time off (PTO). There are many benefits to not only providing, but also encouraging employees to utilize PTO, including increased engagement and productivity, boost employee morale and retention, and improve overall employee health.

Refreshed. According to a 2013 study, 75% of HR professionals witnessed improved employee performance from employees who utilized more vacation days than those who used fewer. Additionally, 78% of HR directors reported employees who used vacation days experienced higher job satisfaction.

Stronger. In urging employees to utilize PTO, teams may better evaluate each member’s role and strengthen team building between coworkers. Teams can learn to navigate the ebbs and flows in the absence of a member and develop stronger processes.

Time away from the office can stimulate employee innovation. Distinguished business innovators like Bill Gates, Kevin Systrom (Instagram), and Drew Houston (Dropbox) used their time off to come up with their trending platforms.

Overall Health. Did you know that lack of relaxation periods, neural functions that control calm and peacefulness weaken resulting in an inability to destress. Additionally, not investing in general health can lead to weakened immune systems due to exhaustion, malnutrition, and other illnesses and health conditions. These health concerns can lead to increased absences and more serious health issues like heart disease and depression.

Savings. Not only do unused vacation days impact employee health, it also can be funds wasted. For example, companies who do not rollover at year-end or pay out benefits upon separation causes employees to lose out on paid time off. Additionally, U.S. employees lose nearly $52 billion in group health benefits annually.

While paying employees for time off they did not take affects your bottom line, unused paid time off can also negatively impact employers’ budgets. Billions of dollars in unused vacation time can be a liability for business balance sheets.

Tips to Encourage Employees to Use PTO

Oftentimes, unused PTO results from fear, guilt, and workplace pressures, such as:

  • Fear that the workload is overwhelming, no one else can do the work, and will fall behind
  • Fear being laid off and bank PTO to cash out should job security change
  • Fear of being perceived as less dedicated or replaceable
  • Feeling guilty using PTO as they don’t want to burden their team
  • Feeling as if company doesn’t want them to use PTO
  • Feeling the expectation to be responsive during PTO (i.e., check and reply to messages, attend meetings, answer and check phone messages)

The best way to encourage employees to utilize PTO is to incorporate well-being in your company culture. To effectively integrate well-being into the core of your culture, employers should:

Practice clear and concise communication.

Just under half (39%) of managers reported their organization encouraging employees to use PTO once a year or less or not at all. One way to promote well-being through PTO utilization is breaking the silence. Silence oftentimes leaves employees anxious and filling in the blanks. A 2018 study showed that 78% of managers believe PTO improves employees’ productivity and 81% believe it reduces burnout. With that being said, ensuring employees understand company policies regarding PTO, such as proper request processes, available channels to communicate concerns, questions, or complaints, and deterring unacceptable behavior (i.e., vacation shaming) through no-tolerance policy enforcement.

Incorporating reminders into leadership discussions, employee-facing communications, and other forms of company-wide communications can ensure consistent communication regarding PTO use is being implemented across all levels of your organization.

 Develop and enforce policies.

Developing PTO policies that comply with local, state, and federal regulations is integral to effectuating employee well-being and overall cultural changes in the workplace. One way to encourage employees to use PTO is to incorporate a set deadline for using PTO. For example, stating that December 31 of the respective year is the last day to utilize PTO. Limiting rollover PTO is also a great way to encourage employees to use it throughout the year. As stated above, losing accrued PTO can be detrimental to both employer and employees. Setting a definitive deadline and limiting rollover can certainly encourage employees to use PTO.

Another policy to consider is a no tolerance for inappropriate behavior, such as vacation shaming. Though a majority (67%) of employees report hearing nothing, mixed messages, or negative messages regarding use of PTO, oftentimes employees are quick to speculate and tend to lean towards negative behavioral responses, such as vacation shaming.

Leaders should encourage PTO and deter inappropriate behaviors by enforcing policies outlining proper warnings and consequences for such conduct.

Lead by example.

Leading by example can also deter such conduct. Company culture is typically constructed from the top down, so managers should lead the work-life balance they desire for their employees. If a leader takes PTO, but still responds to emails might be portraying the expectation for employees to do the same when they opt to use PTO. If leaders do not value time outside of the office, why would an employee feel comfortable taking time off?

Find creative ways to motivate employees.

There are creative ways to motivate employees to take PTO. Look at other companies to explore unique ways to promote PTO. For example, Crisis Text Line offers fairly standard paid time off, but also provides employees the opportunity to take a sabbatical after two years of employment.

Another example is Webflow, who provides paid time off, plus birthdays, a company retreat (“working vacation”), $1,000 bonus for first vacation that is five-plus days long, four hours a week for passion projects that help company, as well as wellness, commuter, office, and education coverages.

If you’re looking to boost your suite of benefits, or need to revamp your employee handbook, VensureHR’s team of HR specialists can provide industry best practices, tools and resources, and support for you every step of the way. Our employee benefits and HR services can be tailored to your business and employee needs. Contact us today to learn more.

 

Sources:

Business Insider

AZ Big Media

Business.com

Forbes

Ziprecruiter


, Society for Human Resource Management

, RISE

Project: Time Off

Society for Human Resource Management

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