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TECHNOLOGY

Clocked out or connected: What you need to know about after-hours group chats

By Paul Edwards “Quick question…” Those two words have become increasingly popular as our near-constant attachment to communication devices blurs the line between work and personal time. Whether by phone, laptop, or tablet—via Slack, WhatsApp, or Google Chat—it’s easier than ever for teams to stay in contact after the workday is done. But employers need to be cautious about how they approach group conversations outside of the workplace. Not only will you need to ensure that your employees are clear on the standards for professional conduct within a group chat or text, but whether or not you have to pay employees for the time they spend messaging will depend on several factors, including the content of the messages, how much time is spent messaging, and whether the employees are classified… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Harassment continues in era of remote work

By Mike O’Brien  In the early days of the pandemic, there was speculation that workplace harassment would decrease when so many workers shifted to remote work. Some recent surveys indicate that hasn’t been the case, and that incidents of harassment have been increasing. Possible reasons for this spike include the stress of the pandemic, the fact that remote workers may lack the kind of personal connections with colleagues that might otherwise hinder poor behavior and a more casual approach to conversations due to working in a more relaxed environment. Zoom meetings have also provided a whole new forum for trouble, with employees behaving badly (sometimes while thinking they are off-camera). The quick and unexpected shift to remote workforces may also have left many employers unprepared for the challenge. To combat… . . . read more

TRAINING

Target top 5 compliance and HR topics this year

By Doug Striker It has been incredibly challenging to keep up with changes in compliance laws for law firms and corporate legal departments over the past couple of years. COVID-19, social justice movements, consumer legislation, and employee expectations and attitudes have all contributed to a fraught compliance landscape. Consider these compliance priorities—identified by training companies Savvy and Traliant—for 2022. 1 Attracting & retaining talent The impact of “The Great Resignation of 2021” is being felt by many organizations, and the labor shortage will remain a business disruptor in 2022. As a result, CEOs say that attracting and recruiting talent is their biggest challenge (57%), followed by retaining talent (51%), according to a joint study by Fortune and Deloitte. HR departments will be under pressure to lure multi-generational candidates who have… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Are your remote employees moonlighting?

By Mike O’Brien A movement trending among some remote workers advocates holding multiple remote jobs at the same time, while concealing the other jobs from the involved employers. This approach is sometimes referred to as “over employment,” a term coined by the website www.overemployed.com, which provides tips and sells coaching services for workers who want to try their hand at holding multiple remote jobs simultaneously. Proponents say that they work fewer than 40 hours total per week, for all jobs held. Employers should determine what limitations on outside employment are appropriate for their organization, and craft corresponding policies. Possible considerations include whether outside employment is for a competitor, creates a conflict of interest, uses company time or affects the worker’s ability to do the job during their expected work hours, uses… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

6 things to do when remote workers want to move to another state

By Mike O’Brien Is it a problem for a law office suddenly to have an unplanned, unexpected, and perhaps undesired branch office when an employee moves to another state? Yes! The United States has a national government, state governments, and local governments. They each have powers over employers and make laws that typically apply to and protect people subject to the various jurisdictions. And these laws are not always uniform! There is a lot of variation in state laws related to COVID-19, masks, vaccines, etc. Arizona law requires paid leave, Utah does not. Montana law prohibits age discrimination against any age, not just 40 and above, and also prohibits termination without “good cause” as defined by the statute. Utah does not do either of these things. Nevada law requires daily… . . . read more

AUTOMATION

Technology levels the playing field for your rural law office

By Maddy Martin Compared with their counterparts in urban and suburban regions, rural attorneys often have less reliable access to critical skill sets and tools to support their practice. For example, there may be a scarcity of local IT professionals to help them troubleshoot technology problems. They may also have trouble finding qualified personnel to help with practice management and paralegal tasks. Even if they can find talented people with the right skills, small firms and solo practitioners in rural areas may not be able to afford the cost of recruiting and retaining them. Two solutions Two trends in the legal market provide an answer: automation and utilization of legal automation and service providers. First, now is the time for rural practices to embrace automation. A host of highly practical,… . . . read more

MANAGING STAFF

A manager tries to hold it all together during Omnicron surge

By Lynne Curry “I’m overwhelmed,” the manager said when he called. “Senior management pressures us to maintain high levels of productivity, but nearly a fourth of our employees call in sick every morning. On our last all-manager Zoom call, our CEO said our productivity is down and made it clear we’re expected to handle our employees’ anxiety and get them refocused on their work.” “What about my stress? Every time an employee pokes his head in my door, I know I’ll hear a complaint or get handed a resignation. Omicron sent us all into a tailspin. I supervise employees who fear they risk infection every day they come to work. And I’m supposed to convince them to work harder? Do you have a magic bullet?” Supervisors in the vise You’re… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Supreme court blocks OSHA vaccine mandate

By Mike O’Brien In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued its opinion blocking OSHA’s vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more employees. The majority ruled on Jan. 13 that OSHA had exceeded its authority when it issued the vaccine mandate, concluding that OSHA has authority only “to set workplace safety standards, not broad public health measures.” The court found that COVID presents a “universal risk” not limited to the workplace that is “no different from day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of communicable diseases. Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life—simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock—would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.” Note: This decision addresses only the stay decisions… . . . read more

BENEFITS BRIEFING

Better primary care relationships save healthcare dollars

By David Fortosis The law office manager has always worn multiple hats. From administrative oversight of payroll, talent acquisition, performance reviews, finance and human resource management to providing guidance to firm leadership regarding employee benefits—the office manager looks after it all. This briefing will address one of those topics—how to support and encourage employees to build even better relationships with primary care providers. Primary care has always been the gateway into the healthcare system. Internists, general and family practice, pediatrics and, in some cases, gynecology have been a patient/consumer’s first stop if they have an illness, medical concern, or the presence of physical or mental health symptoms that need attention. The primary care physician 1) shares co-responsibility for her/his patient’s health, and 2) is highly skilled at providing the first and… . . . read more

RECRUITING

Winning the talent war

By Lynne Curry “We’re not getting any qualified applicants for our manager position,” the practice manager told me. “We’ve posted it on all the standard job sites. Should we offer a signing bonus?” “Is your pay competitive?” “We’re paying as much as we can.” “Do you have an employee you can promote into management?” “Not one strong enough. If we can’t find a suitable candidate, we’ll have to reduce the hours we’re open.” In the last three months, several dozen employers and HR managers have called me with similar stories about good jobs remaining vacant without enough solid candidates to fill them. The problem At the end of summer 2021, the number of employees in the labor force, 4.2 million, was less than before the pandemic started. At the time… . . . read more


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