This Week in HR Policy

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U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Hughes dismissed a lawsuit brought by hospital workers in Texas that challenged their employer’s vaccine mandate, giving employers a measure of confidence that workplace vaccine mandates can survive legal challenge. The case marks the first time a federal judge has ruled on the issue. The facts: The employer, Houston Methodist Hospital, gave its employees a June 7 deadline to become vaccinated (at the employer’s cost). 117 employees refused and brought suit against the hospital to invalidate the vaccination requirement, arguing wrongful termination and that the mandate was in violation of federal law. Judge Hughes summarily ...
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In a speech at the CFO Network Summit , SEC Chairman Gary Gensler highlighted his concerns with 10b5-1 stock trading plans used by executives and questioned whether they are effective in preventing insider trading. His comments indicate that 10b5-1 reform will be a priority for the SEC moving forward. Background: 10b5-1 plans, which are passive investment vehicles established by executives to set predetermined dates for corporate insiders to buy and sell shares of company stock, are designed to protect companies against charges of insider trading. However, the SEC rules governing them were implemented approximately 20 years ago and have not been updated ...
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HR Policy Association’s Council on Inclusion and Diversity hosted its inaugural webinar, which featured chief human resources officers and general counsels who candidly discussed the importance of senior leadership taking on diversity as a business objective, building broad support internally, and working closely with the general counsel and legal team. Cheryl Johnson, Chief Human Resources Officer, Caterpillar, Inc., started the session by noting that the presenting companies “come at this issue influenced by our different business motives, stakeholders, talent needs, and concerns about possible legal and culture challenges.” Yet, she remarked, some ...
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President Biden signed into law legislation passed by Congress this week after objections were lifted that makes Juneteenth a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The national recognition gives employers another opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of their Diversity and Inclusion efforts. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day the Union army arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced that all African American slaves were free in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation (which had been issued more than two years earlier). The Proclamation was not recognized in Texas until the Union army arrived to enforce ...
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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Charlotte A. Burrows issued guidance stating employers cannot bar workers from bathrooms or locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity, referencing the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County . The guidance was issued without seeking a vote by the full Commission, which has a Republican majority until August 2022. In Bostock v. Clayton County , the Court ruled that Title VII workplace discrimination prohibitions extend to sexual orientation and transgender status. Although the new guidance states that its stance on bathroom policies “is not new policy,” it nevertheless ...
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Building on last week's inaugural webinar on “Launching a Flexible Model" (see comprehensive recap here ), the launch of HR Policy Association's Evolving Workplace Initiative continues this week with the debut of the Evolving Workplace Library . The Library will help HR professionals sort through the vast array of articles and resources dealing with the transformational changes accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially on how, when, and where work gets done. HR Policy Association staff will select and organize the most relevant and timely resources on this broad topic and post them in the Library. Each entry will be accompanied by a short ...
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Forty House Democrats sent a letter to the White House urging President Biden to prohibit federal contractors from using mandatory arbitration clauses in employment contracts. “Forced arbitration clauses leave millions of private-sector, non-unionized workers without fair means to seek justice when they have been subjected to workplace discrimination, making all Americans less safe at work,” the letter states. It was written by Marie Newman (D-IL), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Lucy McBath (D-GA), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and signed by 36 other House Democrats. Mandatory arbitration has been a target of Democratic legislators for much of the past decade. ...
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The House passed the ESG Disclosure Simplification Act of 2021 (H.R. 1187), which would create a host of new reporting requirements implemented by the SEC, including ESG metrics and how they affect long-term growth. As passed by the House, the bill will require the disclosure of: Pay raise ratio (a ratio of the increase in executive to employee pay), Board and executive diversity (race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and veteran status), Workforce disclosures, including information about health and safety, pay, diversity, turnover and promotion rates, training, and the use of contractors and outsourcing. The bill will now go to the ...
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California lifted its mask requirements for most vaccinated workers and eased mandates for those who have not received a COVID vaccination, but employers will face new responsibilities. Gov. Gavin Newsom quickly enacted the updates via executive order after the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted the revisions in a 5–1 decision. Biggest rule changes end the mask requirement for fully vaccinated workers in most situations. Unvaccinated workers are now allowed to go maskless outdoors but are still required to wear face coverings indoors. The changes apply to most workers in California, except for health-care workers, ...
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The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) requires employers to provide short-term paid military leave if they provide paid leave for comparable non-military absences, such as for jury duty or bereavement leave. Background: USERRA is a federal law designed to encourage military service by reducing the negative impacts such service can have on civilian careers. USERRA requires that employees on military leave receive the same non-seniority-based “rights and benefits” as similarly situated employees on comparable forms of leave. Prior to the Seventh Circuit decision, ...
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The May Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition shows a significant decline in employee focus driven by a rising risk of PTSD—55% higher than before the pandemic began—suggesting employers should focus on employee well-being as workers return to physical worksites. Lack of concentration is a top symptom of PTSD. As worksites reopen with relaxed mask mandates and social distancing requirements, many are struggling with changing the routine they have grown comfortable with over the last 15 months. To ease anxiety, employers should continue to educate managers on how to identify mental health challenges among employees as well as provide tools that ...
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Global employers operating in Australia have until September 27 to implement changes to comply with new " casual employment" regulations . HR Policy Global will facilitate a July call on this topic to discuss how employers plan to review current arrangements and make decisions on their conversion plan for casual workers prior to the deadline. New definition of casual workers and casual conversion: The new definition added into the Fair Work Act last year states that a casual worker is someone who "accepts a job offer, knowing that there is no firm advance commitment to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work." However, many long-term casual workers ...
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HR Policy Association is pleased to welcome to its team Chatrane Birbal, who started this week as our Vice President of Government Relations. Chatrane brings nearly two decades of experience and expertise in workplace policy and is responsible for leading HR Policy’s government relations strategy. Chatrane will spearhead the Association's efforts in building relationships with Members of Congress, Biden administration officials, and regulators that oversee policy matters related to large employers and their workforces, including benefits, diversity and inclusion, labor, safety, immigration, and compensation. Most recently, Chatrane was Vice President, ...
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After a three-month delay, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) with workplace safety requirements applicable only to certain health care settings. For all other industries, OSHA merely updated existing, nonbinding guidance to account for newly vaccinated employees, as had been strongly urged by HR Policy and other business groups as an alternative to regulatory mandates. Health care only: Despite enormous pressure from organized labor to create an expansive, prescriptive standard encompassing all workplaces, OSHA instead elected to limit the new standard to health care settings only. ...
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HR Policy Association kicked off its Evolving Workplace initiative with a webinar exploring how employers are approaching the flexible workplace. The session, which consisted of panel discussions and breakout groups, highlighted the continued uncertainty in how organizations will return workers to physical worksites—and to what extent the workplace will look like it did before the pandemic. In an April 2021 survey , HR Policy Association asked employers to share their plans for reopening their workplaces and found that almost all respondents (91%) anticipate returning to a “flexible” or “hybrid” model of work. Certain about uncertainty: Tracy ...
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President Biden’s “ White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment ,” created in April, is reportedly readying a slew of executive actions aimed at increasing union membership and bargaining power. “Our principal focus is on finding as long a list as possible of recommendations to the President for executive action using existing authority within existing programs, policies, and practices, that would facilitate worker organizing," said Seth Harris, Deputy Assistant on Labor and the Economy to President Biden, and one of the primary drivers of the task force. Further, as first reported by Bloomberg , Harris and other staffers have been ...
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Connecticut became the latest state to prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their salary histories, while the Senate failed to move forward on a bill that would have created similar prohibitions at the federal level. The Connecticut law, H.B. 6380 , prohibits employers from asking prospective employees about their previous wages unless the individual has voluntarily disclosed such information. Additionally, the law specifically allows employees to discuss wages with other employees and prohibits employers from restricting such discussions. Finally, the law requires employers to provide a prospective employee the expected pay range for ...
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As high-profile cybersecurity breaches create real world disruptions for millions of Americans, HR Policy Privacy Council Harriet Pearson of Hogan Lovells published a new guide for employers on regulations surrounding technology monitoring systems deployed to address cybersecurity concerns. Protecting the Workforce and Information in a Global Landscape : Harriet Pearson and Hogan Lovells Counsel W. James Denvil’s new compliance resource offers guidance for employers seeking to increase cybersecurity protections through user activity monitoring solutions, which record and analyze user interactions with applications, databases, and other information resources. ...
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Under a new law, all Massachusetts employers must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave for COVID-related reasons, including obtaining a vaccination, and retroactive to May 28, 2021 may be reimbursed up to $850 per employee per week until September 30, 2021 or the $75 million state fund runs out, whichever comes later. The new law, which applies to large employers, follows a similar model to the federal FFCRA program enacted at the beginning of the COVID crisis that applied to small employers. Every full-time employee must be provided up to 40 hours (pro-rated for part-time employees) of additional job-protected, emergency paid sick leave for ...
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Job openings in April soared to a record 9.3 million, well above the dot.com bubble in 2000, while ManpowerGroup reports strong third-quarter hiring intentions and severe talent shortages in Europe. This amounts to almost one job opening for each of the 9.3 million unemployed in the U.S. in May. The job opening rate is 50% higher than its previous record. Quits, which are seen as a gauge of worker confidence that they can find other employment, are also at a record high , while layoffs and discharges are at record lows. Record high third-quarter U.S. employment outlook: The latest ManpowerGroup report for the third-quarter 2021 finds the strongest ...
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