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PRODUCTIVITY

Technical issues and too many participants are biggest virtual meeting pet peeves

Have you had about enough of video meetings? If so, you’re not alone. A new study by global staffing firm Robert Half shows video calls may be wearing on workers. Almost three-quarters of professionals surveyed (72 per cent) said they participate in virtual meetings. Those respondents reported spending about a quarter of their workday (24 per cent) on camera with business contacts or colleagues. In addition: 44 per cent said they’ve experienced video call fatigue since the start of the pandemic. 59 per cent said video calls can be helpful but are not always necessary. 22 per cent noted that the practicality and novelty of video conferencing has worn off over the past eight months. 15 per cent confirmed they find virtual meetings inefficient and exhausting and prefer to communicate via… . . . read more

MANAGING THE OFFICE

Renting out extra space? Set up protective walls to avoid risk

With more law firm employees working from home during the pandemic, a firm may find itself living in too much space—and paying too much rent. One solution is to bring in a tenant. Usually the renter is a solo practitioner or a small firm, and the arrangement is good for everybody, because the firm collects the rent and the renter gets the amenities as well as the appearance of an association with the larger group. From a risk perspective, however, it’s a cause for concern. The firm has to look past the financial benefits to the danger spots. It has to think like a landlord and get signed documents and insurance policies. And more, it has to set up protections against the disasters specific to a law firm/law firm lease… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

How to Create a Legally Sound Substance Abuse Policy

Make it all about fitness for duty, rather than zero tolerance Although it may sound good, zero tolerance may not be the best foundation on which to build a legally enforceable workplace substance abuse policy. This is especially true in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. The reason drug and alcohol use and impairment in the workplace cannot be tolerated isn’t so much that it’s illegal, but because it renders employees unfit to do their job. In addition to undermining the productivity you’re entitled to expect from your employees, this unfitness for duty may pose a health and safety dangers to not only the employee who’s high but others in the office. Here are 14 things to include in your Substance Abuse and Fitness for Duty Policy, along with a… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

Using waivers to avoid getting sued for COVID-19 infections

In these times of pandemic, signs and forms like this purporting to shield the owner of a facility against liability have become a fixture in workplaces and other facilities. You might even be using them at your own office. The idea is to notify clients, vendors and other visitors (which, for simplicity’s sake, we’ll refer to collectively as “visitors”) that they’re entering the facility at their own risk and in so doing, waiving their rights to sue the owner for any illness or injury they suffer while on the premises. Of course, that includes COVID-19 infection. It seems like a simple, cost-effective way to limit liability risks to visitors who may claim they got infected while they were at your office. But will it work? The answer may depend, in… . . . read more

Quiz

Office’s duty to protect returning employees from COVID-19 discrimination and harassment

SITUATION Fully recovered from his bout with COVID-19, Max is thrilled and excited to return to his custodian job after 14 days of mandatory home isolation. But almost immediately, he senses that something is wrong. His co-workers shun him and leave the room the moment he enters. And, while hygiene and handwashing are de rigueur for all maintenance staff, Max alone is required douse his hands in germicide and don rubber gloves each time he touches a piece of equipment. Worse, his supervisor harasses him and calls him “virus boy.” After weeks of putting up with it, Max complains to office management. But his complaints fall on deaf ears and he continues to be ostracized and made to take extraordinary safety and hygiene measures not required of anybody else. So,… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

What, if anything, does OSHA require you to do to protect telecommuters?

While telecommuting is nothing new, the imperative for using it has never been greater. In addition to all the cost-saving, work-life balance, recruiting and hiring advantages, letting employees work from home during a pandemic has become a vital infection control measure. But it also poses significant compliance challenges, particularly in the realm of OSHA. After all, how are you supposed to meet your duty to protect the health and safety of office employees if they work from home at a location beyond your physical control? This article will provide the answer. Spoiler alert: OSHA requirements don’t generally extend to employees working from home; but you still can and should take some basic steps to ensure their health and safety. OSHA & telecommuters The Occupational Safety and Health Act (Section 4(a))… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE QUIZ

Can racial discrimination be proven with circumstantial evidence alone? 

SITUATION An equipment repair technician who also happens to be the office’s only African American employee endures racial abuse at the hands of his supervisor and co-workers. He complains to management and is warned to “stay in his lane.” Shortly thereafter, somebody leaves a noose on his desk. It’s the last straw. The technician claims he was subject to systemic racial discrimination and files an EEOC complaint. The office closes ranks and vehemently denies the charges and nobody is willing to testify on the technician’s behalf. Without witnesses to corroborate his story, the technician is left to rely on the following evidence: Pictures of the noose on his desk; His own testimony, which is credible and reliable; and The fact that the manager and supervisor’s denials lack credibility and consistency…. . . . read more

JOB PLACEMENT REPORT

Class of 2019 is the most employed since the Great Recession

The Class of 2019 experienced the highest employment rate in the dozen years since the start of the Great Recession, according to the National Association for Law Placement, Inc. NALP has released its Employment for the Class of 2019 — Selected Findings, a synopsis of key findings from the upcoming annual Jobs & JDs: Employment and Salaries of New Law School Graduates. The release of the full Jobs & JDs report is anticipated in October 2020. This year’s Selected Findings show that the Class of 2019 experienced the highest employment rate in 12 years. The overall employment rate for the Class of 2019 was up 0.9 percentage points to 90.3% of graduates for whom employment status was known, compared to 89.4% for the Class of 2018. This marks the highest… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

How to create and implement a mandatory face mask policy at your law office

What began as a CDC guideline is evolving into a legal duty with more than 20 states and countless municipalities across the country adopting laws requiring individuals to wear masks or face coverings in enclosed indoor public spaces. As a result, law offices must adopt and enforce mandatory mask policies at their facilities. While mask requirements vary slightly by jurisdiction, here are the 10 basic elements they should include. Defining our terms  This analysis is about non-medical face masks that people at medium at low risk levels are required to wear, as opposed to N95 particulate respirators and more elaborate respiratory equipment, eye and face shields other personal protection equipment (PPE) required for health workers and others with a higher risk of infection. Policy statement Start by stating that all… . . . read more

PANDEMIC

Employment offers pulled and start dates for law grads uncertain

Law schools are reporting rescinded employment offers and law firms report uncertainty about associate start dates. These are key findings from a second round of pulse surveys conducted by the National Association for Law Placement, Inc. (NALP) about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. legal employers, law schools, and JD students. In May 2020, NALP began conducting a series of short “pulse” surveys, releasing the first round of results in June. The surveys are designed to quantify the rapidly evolving changes in the industry. Key findings from the second round of surveys, conducted from June 18-30, 2020, are included in the report. In total, 356 offices completed the legal employers survey, of which 264 held summer programs in 2020, and 167 schools completed the law schools survey. A… . . . read more


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