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RETURN TO THE OFFICE

Caregiver caught between employer’s expectations and family’s needs

By Lynne Curry As managers require employees to spend more time at the office, they will encounter special circumstances that require special solutions. Consider the following situation of an employee needing to work from home to provide family care. Employee question: Since our schools no longer require masks, my husband and I decided to homeschool our youngest child. My employer initially made this easier by allowing me to work remotely. Although I needed to run into the office occasionally for an hour or two, it wasn’t a problem because my mother-in-law lives with us. Unfortunately, my employer now insists that all employees work a minimum of three full workdays in the office. I argued with my manager and he insisted it was a matter of fairness that I work onsite…. . . . read more

MANAGING THE OFFICE

7 ways to cut costs with a greener office

By Daryll Esposito The well-being of our planet is a universal concern, but it’s not always front-of-mind when we’re busy at work. The good news is that making greener choices at the office is not only better for the environment, it’s better for your budget too. With Earth Day this week on April 22, it’s time to look at some environmentally friendly improvements. Some common repurposing and recycling advice is not appropriate for a law office, where confidentiality requires paper to be properly shredded for safe disposal.  On the other hand, the move to electronic documents greatly reduces paper use. 7 simple, sustainable and cost-saving steps that any office can take: Turn off electronics at night. You don’t pay your employees while they aren’t working, so why pay for off-duty equipment?… . . . read more

INCREASING PROFITS

Corporate law departments strengthen ties with outside law firms

A new report on corporate law departments shows increasing investments in technology solutions, an expected increase in legal spend, and strengthening partnerships between corporate law departments and their external law firms. Thomson Reuters released 2022 State of Corporate Law Departments Report on March 22. The pandemic impacted all aspects of business including corporate law departments globally, which have been on the frontlines of protecting businesses during this unprecedented time. This year’s report provides key insights to aid corporate law departments and the law firms supporting them with world-class business intelligence, including benchmarks on legal spend, how to optimize for the future, and innovative ways law departments can stay a step ahead. “The impact of the pandemic and uncertainty propelled corporate legal departments to drive efficiency as a necessity,” said Sunil… . . . read more

RECRUITING

Hot lateral hiring market of 2021 notches record increase from 2020

Following a 30% decline in 2020 due in large part to hiring pauses in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, lateral hiring rebounded at an unprecedented rate in 2021, according to analyses of NALP’s Survey on 2021 Lateral Hiring. Overall, lateral hiring was up by 111% compared to 2020, the largest year-over-year increase since NALP (National Association for Law Placement) began tracking these data 23 years ago. While increases were noted across all categories of lawyers, the lateral associate market was particularly hot, increasing by nearly 149% in 2021. As a whole, lateral hiring was up across all firm sizes, regions, and cities included in the survey, although a few markets experienced declines in partner lateral hiring. NALP’s 2021 analyses cover aggregate hiring information on nearly 7,700 lateral lawyers… . . . read more

EMPLOYER ALERT

Find the CDC’s new (relaxed) masking recommendations for your county

You can find the new COVID-19 masking recommendations your area on a map just released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Recognizing that a substantial portion of the population has been vaccinated or has acquired some level of natural immunity, the agency has turned its focus to “protecting those at highest risk of severe outcomes” and minimizing the strain on healthcare systems. So on Feb. 25  the CDC released a color-coded map of all U.S. counties, with green indicating low levels of transmission, yellow indicating medium levels, and orange indicating high levels. A link to the map and related recommendations is here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/community-levels.html CDC advises that masks are no longer necessary in green counties (those with low levels of transmission). In yellow counties (medium transmission), CDC recommends that those… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW

EEOC updates guidance related to COVID-19 and ADA

By Mike O’Brien The EEOC recently released updated guidance on the intersection between COVID-19 and major federal employment laws. In particular, the agency explained that COVID-19 may be considered an ADA-protected disability in certain cases. While mild or asymptomatic cases of the illness do not constitute an ADA-protected disability, other more severe cases, including “long COVID” presentations, may be a disability and thereby trigger the accommodation, non-discrimination, and non-retaliation components of that statute. Additionally, the EEOC’s guidance addressed employers’ obligations to provide religious exemptions for vaccination and masking requirements under Title VII. Employers must provide exemptions to employees with sincerely held religious beliefs. NLRB signals possible reversal of Trump era board decisions There’s a lot going on at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency charged with enforcing… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW

Where we are on vaccines and masks in the workplace

Vaccine roundup The Biden Administration, through Executive Orders and various agencies, has adopted four separate vaccine mandates for (1) employers with 100+ employees (the OSHA ETS), (2) federal contractors, (3) federal employees and onsite contractors, and (4) healthcare employers who receive Medicaid or Medicare reimbursements (the CMS mandate).  Except for the CMS mandate, all these various vaccination mandates have either been rejected or stayed by the courts. On Jan. 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the CMS mandate. OSHA mask guidance On Aug. 23, 2021, OSHA updated its workplace safety guidelines to recommend that employers require all employees–regardless of vaccination status–to wear masks when indoors and not physically distanced.  That guidance has not changed since it was added in August 2021.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

4 ways to prioritize staff mental health

Mental distress has long been a hidden issue in the workplace. Employees are often unaware of the resources—if any—available to help them, while employers may be unaware of the effects mental distress has on safety and their bottom lines. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has brought this issue to the forefront for many employers. Over 40% of Americans report experiencing increases in mental distress due to the pandemic, and over 85% say that work impacts their mental health. Employers are now recognizing the effects of employee mental distress, including increased absenteeism, negative impacts on productivity and profits, and an increase in healthcare costs. Encouragingly, organizations see a return of $4 for every dollar invested in mental health treatment in improved health and productivity. Supporting treatment alone, however, is not enough. Employers… . . . read more

TELEWORK

What law firms have learned about working remotely

When the pandemic first hit, the professional world shifted to remote working in an instant, but many people viewed the transition as temporary. Two years later, it’s clear that working from home is here to stay. The more time we’ve spent working remotely, the more we’ve learned—and like everything else in life, our process continues to evolve. According to Cosmolex, a company which provides cloud-based management software to law practices, this is what we learned over the last year: Communication is key Working remotely means fewer opportunities for casual checking in with team members—which puts more pressure on maintaining clear communication. Every law office will have its own preferences, but it’s a good idea to have some kind of platform for quick, casual messaging. Establishing office-wide use of a designated… . . . 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


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