This Week in HR Policy

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Once installed, President-elect Biden’s cabinet will shift the direction of policy development and enforcement practices in areas important to HR Policy Members. The Association has provided an overview of the names being floated for the roles that have implications for the HR functions of large companies, and their status in the confirmation process. Labor weighing in: The labor movement hopes to establish influence in the Department of Labor with several candidates with union backgrounds, including Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. Another name often mentioned is Harvard Law Professor Sharon Block, who will be speaking at ...
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"When people get to some position of prominence, they ought to remember to send the elevator back down," noted Barry Lawson Williams, founder of Williams Pacific Ventures and past director on 14 corporate boards. Williams was joined on an HR Policy webinar by Association Director and Freddie Mac CHRO Jacqueline M. Welch in a provocative and insightful conversation on increasing board diversity. Board diversity has gained particular importance as companies continue to engage employees and investors on their efforts to increase diversity and create cultures of inclusion. Noting that diversity needs to “start at the top,” stakeholders such as ISS and the ...
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SEC Chairman Jay Clayton (I) confirmed that he will step down from his role on the Commission, clearing the way for a Democratic majority at the agency in the coming year. Previously, he had publicly acknowledged plans to leave the Commission following the 2020 election irrespective of the outcome. Immediate implications for the SEC? In the near term, the SEC will function with four commissioners, two from each party. That likely means that any rulemaking or guidance viewed as partisan is unlikely to be approved. Additionally, as the Democrats are unlikely to have full control of both the Senate and the House, the most recently completed rulemakings ...
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The first rapid coronavirus test that can be taken at home and deliver results in 30 minutes was cleared for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, paving the way for employers to consider its use. Clinical trials showed patients were able to perform the Lucira self-test in about two minutes and have results within 30 minutes. The test will cost about $50. High accuracy important: According to Lucira, the test accurately detected 94% of the infections found by a well-established PCR test. It also correctly identified 98% of the healthy, uninfected people. Availability questions: It remains unclear how quickly Lucira can ramp ...
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In the latest example of a global attack against subcontracting, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador unveiled a draft bill generally banning the practice in Mexico. Under the law, companies would only be allowed to subcontract government-approved roles that provide “specialized services or carry out specialized projects that are not part of a company’s line of business.” In Mexico, the outsourcing of certain roles or seasonal hiring through temporary agencies is a relatively common practice. In these situations, the worker remains the employee of the agency, which helps reduce the labor cost for employers. This would change if the draft bill ...
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The newest " Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition " shows that the negative impact of COVID-19 on men’s mental health is rising. The risk of depression and general anxiety disorder in men is up 69% and 55%, respectively, since the end of August. COVID-19 is a source of stress that cannot be eliminated. Research suggests there are gender differences in coping styles, with men more likely to focus on fixing the source of a problem and women more likely to focus on changing their response to the problem. Men’s increased risk to mental health issues may be explained by the fact that the impact of COVID-19 spreads beyond an individual’s control. ...
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Loneliness is not just a quality of life issue but impacts an individual’s productivity and performance in the workplace, panelists noted during an American Health Policy Institute webinar on the impact of COVID-19 on loneliness and employee wellness. Significant health risks accompany loneliness: Dr. Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH, who is on the Harvard Medical School faculty and President, Foundation for Art & Healing, presented ways employers can help employees struggling with loneliness during these times. He referenced an employer case study evaluating Health Risk Assessment questionnaires which found employees that were identified as lonely had roughly ...
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After many delays, Trump is expected to issue the “most-favored nations” interim final rule on drug pricing. The move would link government payments for medicines to lower prices paid by other developed nations. He is also expected to introduce a separate interim final rule on eliminating drug rebates as the House passed 10 bills on drug pricing this week. The rule could significantly increase the prices employer plans pay for drugs. While the interim final most-favored nations (MFN) rule does not directly impact commercial drug prices, the pharmacy supply chain may increase costs on private payers as it seeks to offset the lower prices paid by ...
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California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board has approved an “aggressive” emergency COVID-19 workplace rule that will take effect in December and could become the federal OSHA standard under a Biden administration. The rule requires employers to implement effective COVID prevention programs, which can be part of an employer’s existing injury and illness prevention program, and must include, among other things: A system for communicating with employees; The identification and evaluation of COVID hazards; A process for investigating and responding to COVID cases in the workplace; Procedures for correcting COVID hazards; and ...
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The EU Parliament will soon decide whether to draft legislation establishing “minimum requirements to enable workers who use digital tools…for work purposes to exercise their right to disconnect and to ensure that employers respect workers’ right to disconnect.” Employers would be required to “implement the right to disconnect in a fair, lawful and transparent manner,” and “record individual working times in an objective, reliable and accessible way.” To the final point, the directive states that “any worker shall be allowed at any time to request and obtain the record of their working times.” The draft report by MEP Alex Agius Saliba calling ...
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Reports of Pfizer’s successful COVID-19 vaccine trial raise the possibility that a vaccine could soon be ready for widespread distribution, generating a host of logistical and legal questions for employers. HR Policy has developed a brief outlining several of these issues . Can employers require employees to get vaccinated? While the short answer is yes, there are myriad legal questions associated with implementing a mandatory vaccine policy under several different federal and state labor and employment laws. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act both present exemption and accommodation issues for employers. ...
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With a Biden administration expected to quickly beef up enforcement and publish an emergency workplace safety standard for COVID-19, employers can expect greater scrutiny of their efforts to protect employees during the pandemic. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued $2,496,768 in workplace safety fines related to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. To date, nearly all the establishments cited for violations have been nursing homes and medical facilities, but that list is expected to significantly expand after January 20, 2021. New Jersey remained the state with the most violators. Six other states were also named: ...
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HR Policy joined several groups in filing comments that outline significant flaws in DOL’s Interim Final Rule on prevailing wages for H-1B workers, including its considerable disconnect from actual wages earned by similarly employed U.S. workers. Background: Before filing a petition for an H-1B worker, a company must certify with DOL that the foreign worker’s wages will meet or exceed the “prevailing wage” for an occupational classification within a particular area. DOL organizes the prevailing wage in four levels: Level I (entry), Level II (experienced), Level III (qualified), and Level IV (fully competent). The Interim Final Rule (IFR), which ...
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The National Academy of Human Resources installed three HR Policy Board Members as Fellows in its 29th class: Stephen Fry, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Diversity at Eli Lilly and Company, Timothy Richmond, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer at AbbVie, and Carol Surface, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Medtronic. Since its founding in 1992, only 180 individuals have been elected Fellows of the National Academy of Human Resources. HR Policy is among the 13 organizations to have been inducted as Honored Organizations for their contributions to the HR profession. “By election to the ...
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Acknowledging employers’ reliance on a “diverse hiring pool,” a two-judge panel of the First Circuit rejected a challenge to Harvard’s race-conscious admission process, setting up a likely review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Students for Fair Admissions claimed the process unlawfully discriminates against Asian Americans. The claim had previously been rejected by a federal district court. Plaintiffs immediately indicated their intention to seek Supreme Court review. The makeup of the Supreme Court has changed considerable since previous rulings, which have generally been permissive of race-conscious procedures. The law has been developed through a ...
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Anticipating a significant shift toward working from home after the pandemic, Deutsche Bank researchers proposed taxing employees five percent of their salary if they opt to work from home. The levy would subsidize lower-income workers who cannot do the same. Only 5.4% of U.S. workers worked from home before the pandemic. Now, 50% of U.S. workers have worked from home. Relying on survey data of worker preferences, Deutsche Bank projects that the workforce will not return to pre-pandemic levels. “Our survey shows that three quarters want to work from home to some degree post-Covid with 16% wanting one day a week, 33% two days, 19% three days, 4% four ...
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HR Policy emphasized pursuing conciliation over litigation and greater transparency in the conciliation process in comments filed with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission regarding its Proposed Rule on conciliation procedures. Under Title VII, the EEOC is obligated to engage in good faith conciliation efforts before bringing suit against a party alleged to have engaged in a discriminatory practice. The EEOC’s Proposed Rule provides some clarification on what constitutes “good faith conciliation” and provides procedural guidelines that the EEOC must follow when engaging in conciliation. The Association highlighted the benefits of conciliation ...
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The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has codified its procedures and evidentiary standards, relying less on pure statistical evidence to determine job discrimination by federal contractors. Under the final rule , both statistical data and qualitative evidence, ( e.g., documents and testimony), are needed to support findings in disparate treatment cases—those in which an employee alleges she or he was treated differently than other similarly situated employees due to a protected trait. The final rule also clarifies “there is no set quantum of qualitative evidence; rather, the required strength of the qualitative evidence depends on ...
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International law firm CMS examined the global impact of the #MeToo movement on workplace regulation and company policies, finding raised awareness of sexual harassment without a noticeable rise in harassment claims against employers in many countries. The CMS Expert Guide on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace includes contributions from 27 countries and unique insights for employers on tackling sexual harassment, highlighting how different countries responded to the #MeToo movement. According to Dr. Gerlind Wisskirchen, Partner at CMS, major findings include: A high level of variation in the impact of the #MeToo movement in the workplaces ...
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Amid ongoing legal battles over whether Australian Uber and Deliveroo drivers are employees, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued a class exemption permitting gig workers to engage in collective bargaining without fear of violating competition laws. Like many countries, Australia is currently wrestling with how to handle gig and platform workers who are increasingly seeking more social and employee benefits. As in the U.S., gig workers in Australia are considered independent contractors and thus are not eligible for benefits such as minimum wage, sick leave, etc. The new exemption will cover more than 98% of Australian ...
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