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4 Ways to Promote Inclusion in the Workplace

Without a commitment to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, businesses will struggle to grow. Research shows that diverse and inclusive organizations are 87% more likely to make better decisions and bring products to market 75% faster compared to organizations that don’t focus on DEI.

A report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows that while 65% of organizations say DEI is a high strategic priority, 67% say they are only somewhat successful at creating a workplace that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

A separate study conducted by Glassdoor polled 5,200 employees in four different countries to learn how inclusion in the workplace is currently measured. The poll showed one-third of the employees said they have witnessed or experienced ageism, 33% have faced gender discrimination, 30% have seen or experienced racism, and 24% reported LGBTQ discrimination.

However, businesses are making a greater effort at creating a more inclusive workplace. According to Gartner’s research, the number of HR leaders identifying DEI efforts as a top priority was 1.8 times higher in 2020 than in 2019. Gartner’s analysis reveals an almost 800% increase in job postings for dedicated diversity recruiters.

If you haven’t begun your planning to promote inclusion in the workplace, it’s time to start. Here are a few tips to get you on your way.

Provide Culture Training During Onboarding

The onboarding process is the ideal time for a new hire to learn about the company’s history, foundation, and policies. Within these policies should be an outline of what superiors deem culturally appropriate.

Whatever these policies may be, they must be uniform for all employees other than religious or cultural exemption. This might include certain articles of clothing that must be worn or culturally connected hairstyles, to name a few.

An onboarding checklist is the simplest solution to help stay on track with the onboarding process without missing any steps.

Be Open and Honest about Your DEI Efforts

It’s always easy to say you’ll make impactful change, but what is going to hold you accountable? The easiest way to be accountable is to just be honest about the progress you’re making.

More than 1,600 CEOs have signed onto the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion Pledge, and 40% of companies discussed diversity and inclusion in their Q2 2020 earnings calls versus only 4% the same quarter a year prior.

While DEI doesn’t necessarily connect to all of these company’s earnings, it does show that C-level executives are taking a greater initiative to highlight inclusion in the workplace.

Allow for Open Communication

DEI can be a sensitive topic to discuss, especially if it’s being discussed with a superior. In fact, a survey by InHerSight found only 49% of women say they are able to be completely honest in an employer review if the employer is the one collecting the feedback, while 81% can be completely honest if a third party is collecting that feedback. 

Managers, supervisors, and business owners need to maintain an open-door policy when it comes to DEI. Employees need to be aware that they can discuss issues with a manager if a negative situation presents itself.

Superiors within a company should also make it possible for employees to make anonymous complaints, which is a method that often makes employees more comfortable in reporting incidents.

Consider using employee evaluation forms to help document any potential complaints that may arise during an employee review.

Change Your Policies

The path to an inclusive workplace starts with policy change. If you want your employees to feel heard and noticed, you need to provide them with the necessary resources that make their days more manageable.

For example, offering your employees floating holidays gives them the freedom to observe days of cultural and religious importance. You may also consider giving employees transportation stipends for those who have a disability that requires specific means of transportation to and from your workplace.

Offering remote work opportunities is an alternative to stipends that will help keep costs down. The policy change will depend on what policies your business already has in place. It’s important that you make time to work with your HR team to review all of your policies and make the decisions as to how these can be altered. If further assistance is needed, work with a professional employer organization (PEO) to help get your DEI efforts moving in the right direction.

January 2022: Minimum Wage Rate Increases

Effective January 1, 2022, 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. Click here to view the new minimum wage requirements,

To help manage this challenge, we are providing you with a rates-only update that details scheduled state and local level wage increases that will occur on January 1, 2022 (as well as additional increases taking place after January, but before July 2022) so employers can determine the minimum amount they must pay non-exempt, tipped, and certain exempt employees.

November 2021: Puerto Rico Issues New Executive Order Providing for New Vaccination Mandates

Update Applicable to:
All employers in Puerto Rico with 50 or more employees.

What happened?
On November 15, 2021, Governor Pierluisi issued Executive Order No. 2021-075 (EO 2021-075), which integrates prior COVID-19-related orders still in effect and, notably, includes vaccine/testing requirements for employers with 50 or more employees.

What are the details?

Taking effect immediately, employers must require their employees to provide:

  • Proof of vaccination
  • A negative test result at least every seven days; or
  • Certified proof of recovery within the last three months of COVID-19

Employers with less than 50 employees are not required to comply to the requirements above for now.

Employees who work for employers with 50 or more employees must provide proof that, by November 30, 2021, they have initiated the vaccination process. They must then certify to the employer that they have received the second dose of the vaccine if the type of vaccine that was administered requires it.

Employees will have until December 30, 2021, to complete the vaccination process.

Employees who do not provide proof of vaccination and who are not vaccinated must submit a COVID-19 negative test result at least every seven days or a positive COVID-19 result within the last three months and proof of recovery.

Employees who fail to comply with the mandatory vaccination requirements or provide the required results will not be allowed to be physically present in the work area. For such an employee, the employer can implement applicable pertinent measures, including allowing the employee to use the relevant leave of absence or unpaid leave, if applicable.

The Executive Order eliminates the religious and medical exemptions provided in prior executive orders. Further, employees who are not vaccinated (for any reason) must present a negative COVID-19 test results at least every seven days or submit certified proof of recovery within the last three months from COVID-19. Prior executive orders required test results on the first day of the workweek.

Failure to comply with the Executive Order may result in fines of up to $5,000, six months in jail, or both, at the discretion of a court.

For more information, please see the links below:

Puerto Rico Executive Orders Website

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What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links and immediately make adjustments to their COVID-19 vaccination policies.

November 2021: New Tennessee Law Restricts Workplace Vaccine Requirements

Update Applicable to:
All employers in Tennessee.

What happened?
On November 12, 2021, Governor Lee signed Senate Bill 9014 (SB 9014) into law creating Title 14 of the Tennessee Code, prohibiting vaccination requirements, and allowing former employees to collect unemployment benefits.

What are the details?
Effective November 18, 2021, private employers who employ one or more employees within Tennessee, governmental entities, and schools are prohibited from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or taking adverse action against an employee or applicant for refusing to provide proof of vaccination if the employee or applicant objects to vaccination for any reason.

Additionally, the new law– creating Title 14 of the Tennessee Code–provides that employees may collect unemployment benefits if they are separated from employment as a result of refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 

An employer may be sued if they violate Title 14. Title 14 creates a private right of action, allowing employees and members of the public to sue for injunctive relief, compensatory damages, and attorney’s fees if they believe they have been injured.

For more information, please see the links below:

House Bill 9077 (HB 9077)


What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above and make adjustments to their COVID-19 vaccination policies.

November 2021: Florida Bans Vaccine Mandate

Update Applicable to:
All employers in Florida.

What happened?
On November 18, 2021, the Florida legislature passed House Bill 1-B (HB 1-B), banning private employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccines unless several exemptions are offered to employees.

What are the details?
Effective immediately, an employer must allow employees to opt-out of the vaccine mandate if the employee makes a statement for refusing the vaccine for the following reasons below:

  • Medical Reasons.
    This includes reasons of pregnancy or anticipated pregnancy. To receive a medical exemption, an employee must submit a signed statement by a physician or physician assistant that vaccination is not in the best interest of the employee. While not addressed in the legislation, we suspect that this exemption will function similarly to those provided for disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Religious Reasons.
    An employee must present a statement that they decline the vaccine because of a “sincerely held religious belief.” Although that term is undefined, it likely refers to sincerely held religious beliefs as understood under federal law.
  • COVID-19 “Immunity.”
    An employee must show “competent medical evidence” that they have immunity to COVID-19, which is documented by the results of laboratory testing on the employee. The law does not state what “immunity” is but directs the Department of Health to establish a standard for determining that immunity.
  • Periodic Testing.
    An employee must provide a statement indicating that they will comply with the employer’s requirement to submit to regular testing. Although “regular testing” is not defined, the law directs the Department of Health to adopt emergency rules specifying requirements for frequency of testing. Importantly, any testing must be at no cost to the employee.
  • Agreement to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
    An employee must present a statement that they agree to comply with the employer’s reasonable written requirement to use employer-provided personal protective equipment when around others. “Personal protective equipment” is not defined. It is unclear whether the use of the term would implicate Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations or Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance on “personal protective equipment.”

This law will be enforced by the Department of Legal Affairs in the Attorney General’s office. Employees can file complaints that an exemption was not offered or was improperly applied or denied, which will then be investigated.

If the Department finds that an employee was improperly terminated and the employer does not restore the employee to their position with back pay, then the Department may fine the employer up to $50,000, depending on employer size and other factors. Employees who are wrongfully terminated may also be entitled to unemployment benefits.

For more information, please see the links below:

House Bill (HB 1-B)

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What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above and make adjustments to their COVID-19 vaccination policies.

November 2021: Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment Issues New Rules for Paid Sick Leave In 2022

Update Applicable to:
All employers in Colorado.

What happened?
On November 10, 2021, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) has adopted new Paid Sick Leave (PSL) rules for employees per 7 CCR 1103-7.

What are the details?
Effective January 1, 2022, employers will be required to provide PSL for all employees, accrued at one hour of PSL for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours. If the employee does not use all the hours accrued, it will be carried forward to and may be used in a subsequent year, except that an employer is not required to allow the employee to use more than 48 hours of PSL in a year.

Employees may use accrued PSL to be absent from work for the following purposes:

  • The employee has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; needs a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment related to such illness, injury, or condition; or needs to obtain preventive medical care;
  • The employee needs to care for a family member who has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; needs a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment related to such illness, injury, or condition; or needs to obtain preventive medical care;
  • The employee or family member has been the victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or harassment and needs to be absent from work for purposes related to such crime; or
  • A public official has ordered the closure of the school or place of care of the employee’s child or of the employee’s place of business due to a public health emergency, necessitating the employee’s absence from work.

In addition to the paid sick leave accrued by an employee, the act requires an employer, regardless of size, to provide its employees an additional amount of paid sick leave during a Public Health Emergency (PHE) in an amount based on the number of hours the employee works.

The PHE leave is to be made immediately available, up to 80 hours or a 14-day average, and can only be used once during the entire PHE. Just as PSL, there is no cash value.

Per CDLE on PHE: Colorado’s 80-hour COVID-19-related leave continues if a COVID-19-related emergency remains “declared by a federal, state, or local public health agency,” and the federal COVID-19 emergency is ongoing.

The latest declaration extends through January 16, 2022.

The Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) continues the right to COVID-19-related leave “until four weeks after” all applicable public health emergencies end or are suspended. For Colorado, this means the earliest end date is February 13, 2022.

The new rules also clarify that per HFWA’s recordkeeping requirements, employers must maintain and provide, upon an employee’s request, the current amount of paid leave the employee (1) has available and (2) has already used during the year, including paid sick and safe leave and any supplemental public health emergency leave. In other words, employers need to keep detailed records of the type of leave each employee has available and has used.

For more information, please see the links below:

7 CCR 1103-7

Senate Bill 20-205

Colorado Adopted Rules to be Effective in 2022

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What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links above, prepare to adjust their PSL policies, and keep detailed records of all types of leave each employee has available and used.

November 2021: West Hollywood California to Implement Citywide Minimum Wage and New Paid and Unpaid Leave Requirements

Update Applicable to:
All employers in West Hollywood, California.

What happened?
On November 15, 2021, the city council of West Hollywood passed Ordinance No. 21-1168 that implemented an increase in the minimum wage and new leave requirements for employees in the city.

What are the details?
Effective January 1, 2022, the minimum wage in West Hollywood will be increasing twice a year until July 1, 2023.

Below is a table showing what the wage increases will look like until July 1, 2023.

Hotel Employers$17.64$18.31*No change$18.77*
Employers with 50 Employees or more$15.50$16.50$17.50$18.77*
Employers with Less than 50 Employees$15.00$16.00$17.00$18.77*
*This is an estimate. The actual wage will be determined by the cost-of-living adjustment for that year.

For paid leave, the ordinance requires a hybrid leave that both full and part-time employees are provided paid time off for sick leave, vacation, or personal necessity. Employees must be eligible to use accrued paid time off after the first six months of employment or consistent with company policies, whichever is sooner.

Full-time employees, defined as working at least 40 hours a week or as defined by the employer, shall be provided 96 compensated hours.  Full-time employees shall accrue at least 96 compensated time off hours per year.

A part-time employee, defined as an employee who works less than 40 hours per week, shall accrue compensated time off in increments proportional to that accrued by someone who works 40 hours in a week.

After the employee reaches the maximum accrued time off, the employer shall provide a cash payment once every 30 days for accrued compensated time off over the maximum. An employer may give an employee the option of cashing out any portion of the accrued compensated time off under the maximum, but the employer may not require the employee to cash out any accrued time off.

For unpaid leave, the new ordinance requires employers must permit full-time employees to take at least 90 additional hours per year of uncompensated time to be used for sick leave for the illness of the employee, or a member of the employee’s immediate family, when the employee has exhausted their compensated time off for the year.

These provisions become operative on January 1, 2022, for “hotel employers” and “hotel workers,” whereas, for other entities, July 1, 2022, will be the start date.

For more information, please see the links below:

Ordinance No. 21-1168


Council Meeting

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What do employers need to do?

Employers should review the links provided above and prepare to make changes to their payroll system to abide by the city’s new law.

November 2021 Federal Update

OSHA Begins Process of Creating Standard to Protect Workers from Hazardous Heat (WORK IN PROGRESS)

Update Applicable to:
All businesses with indoor and outdoor worksites.

What happened?
On October 27, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a notice that will begin the process to consider a heat-specific workplace rule for indoor and outdoor worksites with possible heat-hazards.

What are the details?
The notice, titled “Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings,” is the beginning of an enhanced effort to publish a new enforcement initiative to prioritize heat-related inspections and interventions at worksites.

The enforcement initiative applies to indoor and outdoor worksites where potential heat-related hazards exist, such as construction operations, and prioritizes heat-related interventions and inspections of work activities on days when the heat index exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

On these “heat priority days,” the enforcement initiative directs OSHA Area Offices to increase enforcement efforts for specific industries, including construction. The initiative provides enforcement guidance to OSHA Area Offices, including:

  • Prioritizing inspections of heat-related complaints, referrals, and employer-reported illnesses;
  • Instructing compliance officers to be vigilant during job site visits of circumstances where employees may be performing work in hot conditions such as in direct sunlight; and
  • Expanding the scope of other inspections to address heat-related hazards where worksite conditions or other evidence indicates that such hazards may be present.

For more information, please see the links below:

OSHA’s Public Notice

OSHA National News Release

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5 Tips to Increase Restaurant Employee Retention

Historically, the restaurant industry has had concerning turnover rates of nearly 75%. This statistic became even more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. The May 2021 quit rate for the overall economy hovered around 2.5%—the quit rate for the hospitality and food service sector was more than double (5.7%). These turnover rates don’t even scratch the surface with how hard of a hit the industry took during the pandemic.

In December 2020 the overall U.S. workforce was down 6.5%, and the restaurant industry was down approximately 20%. Restaurants accounted for on in four of the 10 million jobs lost in the overall economy.

Being a fast-paced industry, turnover is expected—but what can be done to increase the percentage of restaurant employee retention?

Here are five tips to improve restaurant employee retention.

Recruit All-Star Employees for Positions They’ll Thrive In.

Front of the house (FOH) positions (i.e., servers, hosts, managers) receive over three times the number of applicants than back of the house (BOH) positions (i.e., chefs, dish washers, cleaning staff), despite the BOH having more jobs.

While FOH is more desirable for applicants, it’s important you have the right people in the right roles. If you need more servers, hire people who are experienced in these positions. If you need a chef, hire someone with vast knowledge of the cuisine you serve. Without BOH employees, a restaurant can’t produce the quality food they are selling.

If you need assistance hiring top talent, consider using a recruiting guide to help navigate your efforts.

Training Starts with Onboarding

When it comes to the hospitality and food service industry, training is everything; and training needs to begin right away. There are many moving parts for every role in a restaurant and if each individual employee isn’t trained properly, you are not setting them up for success.

All employees should be trained on technology, customer service, company policies, and product knowledge. The most effective way to ensure a seamless onboarding process is with a hiring/onboarding checklist that is uniform for all new hires.

Conduct Employee Evaluations or Stay Interviews

Many businesses conduct exit interviews when an employee is leaving the company for other opportunities, but not many businesses conduct a stay interview.

Like an evaluation, a stay interview is a check-in with employees (typically veteran members of your staff) to get insight on their current perspective of the job they are working. Both employee evaluations and stay interviews are critical for restaurant employee retention as they will both provide insight into what needs to be changed to the policies you have in place.

An employee can provide valuable information on what will make them want to continue working for your business longer. Consider using an employee evaluation form for all your evaluations and stay interviews.

Offer Flexible Scheduling

Flexible scheduling can often be difficult in the restaurant industry, which is a main reason turnover is so high. Restaurant work schedules change often and last-minute, resulting in employees working long hours or consecutive shifts.

This can be a burden for employees, especially when work is continuously interfering with their personal lives. It’s important that the scheduling manager works with employees to be sure they aren’t over-worked and have a general idea of what their schedule will be like week-to-week.

By doing so, it will keep employees from getting burnt out, which is a problem in any workplace setting.

Get Human Resources Assistance

With so much going on around you day in and day out, it’s important for you to focus on front-end, consumer facing items. Human resources involves a wide range of back-end tasks that you may not have time for. This is the reason you need to lean on your HR department or a professional employer organization (PEO) to handle HR tasks such as payroll, benefits, compliance, and workers’ compensation. A PEO will provide a wide range of resources to help with your HR efforts.

November 2021: New Jersey Employers Now Required to Give Job Preference to Certain Employees

Update Applicable to:

All employers in New Jersey.

What happened?

On September 24, 2021, Governor Murphy signed Assembly Bill 2617 (AB2617) amending New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Act.

What are the details?

Effective immediately, the bill amends New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Act to require employers with 50 or more employees to provide a hiring preference. This will be to employees following a work-related injury, who have reached maximum medical improvement but are unable to return to the positions where they were previously employed.

For more information, please see the links below:

AB 2617


What do employers need to do?

Employers should review the bill and their applicable policies for injured employees to comply with the bill.