Hot Topics in Total Rewards

  • 07 Jul 2020 2:03 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    The ACA PCORI Fee Deadline is Fast Approaching | The ACA Times

    ROBERT SHEEN  |  JUNE 19, 2020

    This time last year was presumed to be the last time health insurers and employers offering self-funded health insurance plans would have to pay PCORI fees, but things change.

    The PCORI fees were set to expire for plans ending before October 1, 2019 but when the Trump administration signed the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 into law, PCORI and the associated fees were extended through September 30, 2029.

    As a result, health insurers and plan sponsors offering self-funded health insurance plans will need to continue to pay the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund Fee via Form 720 by July 31 annually. The fee will need to be paid using the Electronic Federal Tax Systems (EFTPS).

    For policy and plan years that end on or after October 1, 2019 and before October 1, 2020, the applicable dollar amount per covered individual is $2.54.

    The PCORI fee is calculated off the average number of lives covered during the policy year. That means that all parties enrolled will have to be accounted for such as dependents, spouses, retirees, and COBRA beneficiaries.

    The final regulations specify that the PCORI fees also apply to short-term plans of applicable self-insured health plans; that is, plans that run shorter than 12 months in duration. The only exceptions for paying PCORI fees apply to governmental programs and programs established by federal law for providing medical care.

    The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund fee is a fee on issuers of specified health insurance policies and plan sponsors of applicable self-insured health plans that helps to fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), which was established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The institute assists, through research, patients, clinicians, purchasers and policy-makers in making informed health decisions by advancing the quality and relevance of evidence-based medicine. The institute compiles and distributes comparative clinical effectiveness research findings.

    For more information from the IRS on the PCORI fee, click here.

    If your organization is subject to the PCORI fees, make sure you get your information in before July 31 as failure to pay the fee could result in IRS penalties. Since the PCORI fee is considered an excise tax, it is calculated under IRC 6651. Some third-party organizations may include PCORI coordination as a part of their ACA compliance service at no extra charge.

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    Source: The ACA Times

    https://acatimes.com/the-aca-pcori-fee-deadline-is-fast-approaching/

  • 07 Jul 2020 12:07 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Courting controversy - The Supreme Court's term is likely to heat ...

    The Supreme Court is leaving in place a decision that employers can’t use past salary history to justify a pay disparity between male and female employees

    By: The Associated Press | July 2, 2020, 6:56 AM

    WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court is leaving in place a decision that employers can't use past salary history to justify a pay disparity between male and female employees.

    The court on Thursday declined to take up a case from the California-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judges there said the federal Equal Pay Act, which generally requires men and women to be paid equally for the same work, doesn't allow past salary history to be used as justification for a pay disparity. As is usual, the justices did not explain their decision declining to take the case.

    The case the justices turned away involved a Fresno County public school math consultant who sued after learning she made less than male colleagues. Aileen Rizo challenged the school system’s policy that based all new employees’ salaries on their prior salaries. The school system argued the policy didn’t favor men or women. California law has since changed so that employers can't use a person's salary history in determining their starting salary. A total of 18 states bar employers from using prior salary information to set a new salary.

    The case had been to the Supreme Court once before. The justices sent it back to the Ninth Circuit last year for review because a decision in the case had been written by Appeals Court Judge Stephen Reinhardt but was released 11 days after his death on March 29, 2018.

    The justices said in an unsigned opinion at the time that judges can't rule from beyond the grave. “Federal judges are appointed for life, not for eternity,” the opinion said.

    After a new judge was appointed to replace Reinhardt, the Ninth Circuit issued a new majority opinion that reached the same result.

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    Source: ABC News

    https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/supreme-court-declines-hear-equal-pay-act-case-71575533

  • 07 Jul 2020 12:02 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    AUTHOR: Katie Clarey | PUBLISHED: July 6, 2020

    Dive Brief:

    • A class of Bed Bath & Beyond workers could not prove the store underpaid overtime by calculating their compensation with the fluctuating workweek (FWW) method, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (Thomas, et al. v. Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., No. 19-1647 (2nd Cir. June 15, 2020)).
    • The workers argued that, to be paid by the FWW method, their hours needed to "both fall below and rise above the [Fair Labor Standards Act] non-overtime limit of 40 hours with some frequency," and that theirs generally did not fall below 40. The appeals court called this argument "unavailing," noting earlier U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the topic contain "no internal principle for imposing such a limitation."
    • Employers may use the FWW method to calculate overtime, the court said, so long as they satisfy two requirements: 1) Employees receive a weekly rate "that is truly fixed and guaranteed; and 2) Employers and employees "come to a clear mutual understanding regarding the FWW method."

    Dive Insight:

    Bed Bath & Beyond compensated workers involved in the lawsuit using the FWW method, regulations regarding which the U.S. Department of Labor updated late May. This method allows employers to pay non-exempt employees with fluctuating hours a fixed salary that compensates them for all work each week.

    When workers put in less than 40 hours, they're paid the fixed salary. When they put in more than 40 hours, necessitating overtime, employers determine their regular rate by "dividing the number of hours worked in the workweek into the amount of the salary." They then pay workers at least one-half of the regular rate in addition to the salary, the agency says in guidance.

    The 2nd Circuit's ruling has several clear takeaways, including that employers must communicate to employees paid by the FWW method how they are compensated, Seyfarth Shaw attorneys wrote in a blog post.

    Employers ought to explain to FWW-paid workers in writing that their fixed salary is "intended to compensate them for all hours worked in any week and that their overtime premium rate will be at half the effective hourly rate of their salary that week based on their actual hours worked." It's also important, as this case demonstrates, that employees understand that their actual hours will fluctuate based on business needs, even if their scheduled hours do not change drastically, the attorneys wrote.

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    Source: HR Dive

    https://www.hrdive.com/news/2nd-cir-workers-hours-need-not-drop-below-40-for-fluctuating-workweek/581058/

  • 02 Jul 2020 5:02 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

     

    By Mary Stringini | Published July 1, 2020 

    LOS ANGELES - New parents will have more time to care for their child thanks to Senate Bill 83, which took effect in California on Wednesday.

    Beginning July 1, 2020, benefits under Paid Family Leave will increase from six weeks to eight weeks.

    California's previous law provided employees “who take time off from work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child entering the family through birth, adoption, or foster care placement” with partial pay.

    The law that took effect Wednesday will “instead provide for wage replacement benefits for up to eight weeks to workers who take time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a minor child within one year of birth or placement, as specified.”

    California was the first state in the U.S. to implement a paid family leave program. Since then, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia have created similar programs.

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    Source: Fox 11

    https://www.foxla.com/news/californias-paid-family-leave-program-expands-from-6-to-8-weeks

  • 02 Jul 2020 4:05 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    In this file photo, a man takes a photo of a sign advising that the Employment Development Department is closed due to coronavirus concerns, in San Francisco on March 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

    By Susan Carpenter 
    PUBLISHED 3:30 PM ET Jul. 02, 2020 | UPDATED 4:57 PM ET Jul. 02, 2020


    California's Employment Development Department is making an additional 20 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits available for individuals affected by COVID-19, the EDD announced Wednesday. The additional benefits are part of something called the Federal-State Extended Duration benefits program, or FED-ED, and are available only during times of prolonged unemployment.

    In California, the unemployment rate is currently 16.3 percent, compared to 11.1 percent nationally.

    What You Need To Know

    • California is making an additional 20 weeks of unemployment insurance available to those affected by COVID-19

    • Eligible claimants will be automatically enrolled in the extension

    • Claimants must continue to fill out biweekly certifications of their eligibility

    • California's unemployment rate is 16.3 percent, compared with 11.1 percent nationally

    The additional benefits are possible because of a new budget package California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Monday, which makes the state eligible for additional unemployment funds from the federal government. 

    Individuals hoping to receive the extended benefits need to meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify, however. The EDD states “a claimant must have earnings during the base period (four-quarter period of earnings) of their regular UI claim that exceed 40 times the weekly benefit amount or 1.5 times their highest quarter of total wages during the base period.”

    Claimants must remain both able and available for work, as they do to maintain their regular unemployment benefits, according to the EDD. And they may need to accept different work options, including a position that pays less than what they have earned in the past.  

    Effective July 1, the extension is being made available at a time when claimants may be running out of their current Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation extension benefits, which already provided an additional 13 weeks of unemployment money. People are eligible for the extension if they continue to be out of work or are working reduced hours.  

    The EDD is currently looking through its system to see who is running out of the state’s pandemic benefits to automatically file a FED-ED extension on their behalf. Those individuals will be mailed a notice of eligibility and will need to continue filling out the usual bi-weekly certifications that determine their eligibility for payment.

    Those who qualify for the FED-ED extension will receive the extra $600 stimulus payment provided through the federal CARES Act through July 25, 2020.

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    Source: Spectrum News

    https://spectrumnews1.com/ca/la-west/jobs/2020/07/02/california-extends-unemployment-benefits-for-covid

  • 02 Jul 2020 8:11 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    It’s the coffee giant’s latest move in a string of efforts centered on mental health in the workplace.

    By: Kathryn Mayer | June 25, 2020


    In its latest move to address mental health in the workplace, Starbucks is making mental health training available for all U.S. assistant store managers, store managers and above, in addition to all non-retail employees.

    The coffee chain announced this week that training will be available during the next month and “is intended to provide [employees] with a resource that can help them listen for, recognize and respond to signs of mental health and substance use issues and provide resources available to their teams.”

    The training—dubbed Starbucks Mental Health Fundamentals—is inspired by the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Mental Health First Aid and includes four 30-minute modules: effective listening; providing encouragement and reassurance; providing resources and information; and the importance of self-care. It’s also inspired by Mental Health First Aid, a skills-based training course.

    The training is the latest offering the employer has added to its roster of mental health benefits, which Starbucks leaders started examining last year. In April, Starbucks added a new therapy benefit through provider Lyra Health to provide all U.S. employees—and their eligible family members—access to 20 sessions a year with a mental health therapist or coach. Sessions can be in-person or via video-chat.

    In January, the coffee chain introduced Headspace, a daily meditation and mindfulness app, as a benefit for employees. Employees can sign up for a free subscription and access hundreds of sessions and guided meditations on topics ranging from stress to anxiety to sleeplessness. Last month, Starbucks said more than 68,000 employees in the U.S. and Canada are now using Headspace.

    Those mental health benefits have been especially helpful in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic as workers deal with new stresses, the company says.

    “People have worries and fears—and it’s all normal, and we recognize that. And we want to make sure they have an outlet for it,” Starbucks regional vice president Camille Hymes said during a Starbucks and Headspace Instagram video. Hymes noted that Starbucks leaders discussed adding more mental health resources for employees back in September because it was “so important to break the stigma.”

    Mental health programs have been a growing area of commitment for employers as they witness the toll that conditions such as depression, anxiety, stress and burnout are wreaking on the workforce. But it’s been an especially big focus for companies as COVID-19 exacerbates mental health issues—and puts the onus on employers to help.

    “In our current circumstances, where we are forced into a position where we go back to the fundamentals—like taking care of each other and treating each other like human beings—we realize that the stuff that maybe used to be viewed as extra or nice-to-haves, like mental health, is absolutely necessary and foundational,” Reetu Sandhu, a manager at the Limeade Institute, which conducts research about wellbeing, recently told HRE. “Simply put, mental health and our fundamental human needs are no longer aspects of work that can be deprioritized.”

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    Source: Human Resource Executive

    https://hrexecutive.com/starbucks-begins-mental-health-training/

  • 26 Jun 2020 8:05 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    More than 35% of people searching Redfin.com for homes in Phoenix in April and May were out-of-towners.

    27% of Redfin users searched for homes outside their metro area in April and May, according to the online property portal

    BY LIZ LUCKING | JUNE 25, 2020

    Phoenix, Sacramento and Las Vegas were the most favored destinations for U.S. homebuyers looking for a major relocation in April and May, according to Thursday’s migration report from Redfin. 

    A record 27% of Redfin users searched for homes outside their metro area during the two-month window, the peak of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. 

    The figure, based on a sample of more than 1 million users, is the highest recorded since Redfin began reporting net migration data in early 2017, and was likely bolstered by more people considering moves to quieter, less crowded areas with more square footage, Redfin said. 

    While contributing to demand, buyers looking to relocate as a result of the coronavirus are not the exclusive drivers of out-of-town interest, and the “long-term impact of the pandemic on people actually moving from one part of the country to another remains to be seen,” Redfin economist Taylor Marr, said in the report. 

    “People are starting to take the plunge and move away from big, expensive cities, though most of them were probably already considering a lifestyle change,” Mr. Marr said. “The pandemic and the work-from-home opportunities that come with it [are] accelerating migration patterns that were already in place toward relatively affordable parts of the country.” 

    For many people, he said, “the lure of large homes in wide-open spaces will be a passing dream fueled by coronavirus-induced isolation." 

    In Phoenix, the net inflow of users to the city hit 7,576 during April and May.  

    The net inflow is how many more people are looking to move to the area than leave. 

    Net inflow stood at 6,419 in Sacramento and 5,718 in Las Vegas. 

    “Most of the homebuyers I meet are moving into town from other places because Sacramento gives them the best bang for their buck,” Sacramento-based Redfin agent Kellee Davis, said in the report. “In the Bay Area [of California], the size, quality and land that comes with properties don’t come close to what they can get for moving just an hour and a half away.” 

    Unsurprisingly, the most densely populated and expensive cities are facing the largest exodus. New York witnessed a net outflow of 25,099 users, and San Francisco followed right behind with a net outflow of 24,235. 

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    Source: Mansion Global

    https://www-mansionglobal-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.mansionglobal.com/amp/articles/surging-number-of-americans-looking-to-move-to-smaller-cities-report-finds-217081

  • 25 Jun 2020 8:20 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Some employees now have access to free courses as the “unemployment rate continues to soar and the future of work remains uncertain.”

    By: Kathryn Mayer | June 25, 2020 • 3 min read

    Postmates is turning to a new benefit to help some of its workers during the coronavirus pandemic: free educational assistance.

    The food-delivery company says it’s partnering with online education provider edX to provide employees with access to education certificates and virtual career guidance, for free, as part of its COVID-19 relief efforts. The benefit is being offered to Postmates Fleet, a workforce of independent contractors who deliver on behalf of Postmates, the company says.

    The benefit includes access to more than 2,800 courses on a variety of topics, as well as a list of 25 curated courses in which employees previously expressed interest, via an internal survey. The goal is to “provide them with transferable skills and preparedness needed in a time when the unemployment rate continues to soar and the future of work remains uncertain,” the company says.

    “In response to the COVID pandemic, edX is a perfect way to provide virtual opportunities for growth and learning as we navigate these uncertain times,” says Rachel Kamen, Postmates community engagement coordinator. “[The benefit] allows us to not only reach learners in all communities, but also provides access to quality courses from top-tier institutions—widening the opportunity for long-term economic security.”

    Kamen says more than 100 Fleet members currently are participating in a wide variety of edX courses, and the company is “continuing to engage our Fleet to enroll.” She says the company plans to continue to offer the benefit for free post-pandemic.

    Kamen says an internal survey found that many gig workers were interested in upward mobility and educational opportunities, but didn’t have access to them.

    “In a job landscape that was already quickly evolving, COVID-19 has now added even more pressure on Americans to future-proof their careers and attain job security as the market gets more competitive.”

    A number of employers have been turning to benefits to help employees through the pandemic. Telemedicine, mental health, one-time bonuses, financial wellbeing, paid leave and more have been a focus of employers. But education benefits, says edX co-CEO Adam Medros, are a perk employers should also consider, especially considering the fragility of the job market.

    “The economic impact of the pandemic has put Americans under enormous financial strain, with many people losing jobs, getting furloughed or facing pay cuts,” he says. “In a job landscape that was already quickly evolving, COVID-19 has now added even more pressure on Americans to future-proof their careers and attain job security as the market gets more competitive.”

    Related: 8 benefits employers should zero in on during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Medros says he’s seen an uptick in employers adding or considering education benefits for workers in light of the pandemic.

    “Companies are recognizing that the reality of social distancing and remote work is likely to stick around longer than anticipated, and they want to best set up their workforce for success,” he says. “Although learning and development budgets can be the first to go in an economic downturn, [an education benefit is] actually one of the smartest things you can do for your workforce. It keeps them engaged, learning relevant skills and can boost morale.”

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    Source: Human Resource Executive (HRE)

    https://hrexecutive.com/why-postmates-is-turning-to-education-benefit-as-part-of-covid-relief/

  • 24 Jun 2020 8:32 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Great ideas to try: A four day week - Tomorrow Trends

    Earlier this year, back before the coronavirus upended the world economy, New Zealander Andrew Barnes was promoting a book he co-authored that extols the benefits of the four-day workweek. The concept had been gathering steam after Barnes' company, Perpetual Guardian, as well as Microsoft Japan, made headlines announcing how such a schedule boosted productivity and increased employee satisfaction. Employers in a tight war for talent paid attention—until the pandemic and subsequent recession changed the conversation.

    Now the idea is back, though for very different reasons. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern suggested that a four-day workweek could boost the country's economy. She believes that if individuals use long weekends to visit local spots, the activity could compensate for the lack of foreign travelers in a country that's heavily dependent on tourism. Meanwhile, a group of economists used editorials in papers such as The New York Times to promote the idea of using the four-day workweek to reopen the economy. They proposed that after working for four days, people should quarantine for 10 days, thereby providing people with at least part-time employment and giving any coronavirus symptoms time to become apparent before they return to work. This way, individuals could earn a living while lowering the chance of transmitting the virus.

    Some employers are using the four-day workweek as a cost-saving device. In May, journalists at the Los Angeles Times agreed to such a plan, with a commensurate 20 percent reduction in pay for three months to save money for the struggling paper. Stanley Black & Decker also cut some workers' schedules to four days as part of overall cost-saving efforts, which also included salary cuts and layoffs at the New Britain, Conn.-based toolmaker.

    The pandemic will ultimately push more companies to adopt the abbreviated work schedule, according to Barnes, co-author of The 4 Day Week (Piatkus, 2020) and founder of Perpetual Guardian, which manages trusts, wills and estate planning. He notes that employers were forced to become more adaptable to keep their businesses running amid the outbreak, including allowing individuals to work from home even if company leaders didn't relish the idea. Barnes says having seen that alternative schedules didn't destroy ethics or productivity, these leaders will be more open to new ways of working.

    "It will be a progression," he says. "The four-day week is clearly the better way to go."

    Barnes decided to try a four-day week at Perpetual Guardian in 2018 after reading an article in The Economist that said office workers were only productive about two hours a day. "People aren't cognizant of how much time is wasted during the day," he says.

    Companies have been slow to adopt new schedules in the U.S., where the five-day, 40-hour workweek is a nearly century-old tradition. Some attempts have been unsuccessful, and instituting such a change could be difficult in industries such as hospitality and retail. But four-day pioneers say the system has been effective, and experts predict that more companies will jump on board to keep flexibility-loving Millennials and Generation Z employees happy.

    The Corporate Holy Grail?

    Killer Visual Strategies, a Seattle-based communications agency, put an unorthodox twist on solving the common business challenge of employee fatigue resulting from a company growth spurt. Yes, it hired extra staff, but it also cut the workweek to four days.

    "We saw people expressing signs of burnout," says Josh Miles, the agency's president and chief creative officer. "We want to make sure we're taking care of our employees mentally and physically. The four-day week gives people more time to decompress. They come back to work more refreshed."

    The change, which was introduced in 2017, had an unexpected benefit. Productivity increased by roughly 20 percent. "That wasn't our goal," says Miles, adding that retention also got a boost. "We just wanted to retain employees and minimize burnout."

    The shortened schedule also was a boon during the pandemic. "Our four-day workweek better equipped us for the abrupt shift to fully remote work as our team has years of experience with a flexible work situation and, as such, are quite capable of doing their work from home," he says. "It took our business one, maybe two days to feel fully confident in our transition to an entirely remote work environment."

    Creating work environments where employees are healthy, loyal and productive may be the ultimate corporate hat trick. Any strategy that comes even close to achieving that lofty goal is bound to attract attention. Microsoft Japan's announcement last year that employee productivity rose 40 percent during a test of a four-day week grabbed headlines around the world. Interest picked up again at the end of last year when speculation abounded that Finland's newly elected prime minister, Sanna Marin, would institute a nationwide abbreviated workweek in the Scandinavian country.

    foresight     

    An increasing understanding of how stress can negatively affect workers' health and productivity is another reason employers may be open to exploring the four-day option. Millennials' desire for more-flexible schedules is also a factor. And employers that take the plunge may find that the four-day workweek improves the bottom line. Companies that used such a schedule saved a total of 92 billion pounds ($120 billion) as operating costs dropped, absenteeism fell and productivity rose, according to a 2019 study of 500 British business leaders by the Henley Business School at the University of Reading in England.

    The Eight-Hour Myth

    Employers often bog down staff with unnecessary e-mails and meetings that keep them from accomplishing strategic goals. For example, employees spend 1 1/2 hours a day dealing with e-mails. Workers also have their own ways to drain the day. Their two biggest time-stealing activities are checking social media and reading news online, which take up about two hours per day, according to a study conducted in 2017 by Vouchercloud.com, a British discount shopping site. It found that employees are productive, on average, for two hours and 23 minutes a day. Barnes says his employees greatly reduced their time-wasting activities at work when given the option of working fewer hours, which boosted overall productivity significantly.

    Considering the two greatest time-sucking options weren't even available when the 40-hour workweek was started nearly 100 years ago, it's easy to see why some companies may abandon the practice. In 1924, automotive tycoon Henry Ford adopted a 40-hour workweek because he thought his employees would buy more cars if they had more leisure time. (Many worked 50 hours a week or more previously.) Other employers followed suit, and the eight-hours-a-day, Monday-through-Friday schedule was born.

    pathline

    Much has changed in 96 years, leading many business experts to say it's time to rethink that schedule—at least for employees in the knowledge-based economy. Professionals such as software developers, architects, engineers and physicians rely on deep thinking to carry out their jobs, and experts say it's difficult to maintain such concentration for eight hours a day.

    "Forty hours isn't some kind of a natural law," says Natalie Nagele, co-founder and chief executive officer of Wildbit, a virtual software company where employees work a four-day, 32-hour week. "I don't think 40-hour weeks are productive. Give employees space to do their work. Don't micromanage them. Don't harass them. Don't make them go to unnecessary meetings. They'll get more done in four hours than eight."

    Still, it's difficult for companies to leave behind such an ingrained part of American culture. After World War II, the economy blossomed. Purchasing power became a status symbol, and men began to identify themselves with their jobs more than before, says Benjamin Hunnicutt, a professor at the University of Iowa who studies work and leisure time. "Work became the center of male identity," says the author of the recently released The Age of Experiences: Harnessing Happiness to Build a New Economy (Temple University Press, 2020)"We went from working to live to living to work."

    As women entered the workforce in greater numbers, they also labored for long hours to prove they were as ambitious and capable as men. Both genders believed that becoming part of the office furniture would save them from layoffs when companies were forced to cut back.

    Andrew Barnes is the author of The 4 Day Week where he makes the case that businesses can shorten the traditional five day working week while maintaining peak productivity and employees’ existing rates of pay. The result, according to Andrew, is a future in which we work less, but are both more productive and satisfied. In this episode of SHRM’s All Things Work podcast, Andrew talks with host Tony Lee about the steps he took to successfully implement the four-day week at his own company and what the change has meant to his 240 employees.

    Please subscribe to All Things Work on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or wherever you listen to podcasts. Check out SHRM.org/podcasts to listen on your desktop. And be sure to rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts or on your podcatcher of choice.

    Keep up with SHRM by visiting the website, liking our Facebook page, checking us out on LinkedIn, and following us on Twitter and Instagram.

    Old Habits Die Hard

    Some companies compress the standard 40 hours of work into four days, while others simply lop off one day and require four eight-hour days, usually with no cut in pay. Only 15 percent of U.S. organizations offer four-day workweeks of 32 hours or less to all employees for all or part of the year, according to a 2019 employee benefits report by the Society for Human Resource Management.

    There are numerous reasons employers may want to consider the concept. For example, they are paying far more attention to employees' mental health than ever before and understand the importance of giving workers enough time to relax. A study of 1,500 employees by San Francisco-based nonprofit Mind Share Partners found that 60 percent of respondents said their productivity at work was affected by their mental health, and more than one-third thought their work or workplace environment contributed to their symptoms.

    Millennials, now the largest generational sector in the workforce, say a flexible schedule is very important to them. In fact, 22 percent say they want to leave their jobs soon because of a lack of work/life balance, according to a 2019 survey by Deloitte.

    "The Millennial generation seems to have a different set of values," Hunnicutt says. "We're moving to a post-material economy. People value intangible experiences more than things, and they need time for the experiences." Generation Z employees, who are just starting to enter the workplace, are equally interested in more-flexible work schedules, research shows.

    Many companies are experimenting with different kinds of flexible options, such as a condensed workday and telecommuting, to give employees more free time. Nagele says shortened days would pose challenges for her firm because employees work in different time zones and there wouldn't be enough overlap among them for collaboration. Others say the prospect of a three-day weekend is especially attractive to employees. "Giving people a day off is a massive incentive for them to be more productive," Barnes says.

    barnes'What you’re really saying to people [is] I am going to give you something that you cannot put a price on, it’s that precious. It’s more time. More time to do whatever you want. And all you have to do is rethink how you do things.' 
    – Andrew Barnes

    Taking the Risk

    That's what the co-founders of The Slumber Yard believed when they piloted a four-day, 40-hour workweek for two months in 2018. "The staff was initially super-excited," says Matt Ross, co-founder and chief operating officer of the Las Vegas-based company that reviews mattresses. "We thought we hit a home run."

    After the novelty wore off, however, employees spent the first 45 minutes of the day chatting, reading the news and eating breakfast. By the end of eight hours, Internet surfing had spiked. And to make matters worse, employees' increased time at the office pushed the business's food budget up by $450 a month—a big tab for a company of 12 people. Productivity fell, and the plan was abandoned.

    Ross says he didn't anticipate that employees would work for 10 straight hours. "We don't expect that in an eight-hour day—we have a pool table, a pingpong table, snacks," he says. "We know people need a break. There was just too much Web-surfing and coffee breaks."

    Miles, meanwhile, says having employees work four 10-hour days has been a success for Killer Visual Strategies and that the key is letting employees determine their schedules and work locations. He notes that some will work from home for a few hours in the morning and maybe put in some evening time in the office. "We leave it up to the individuals to plan out their days however they see fit, with the caveat that they need to always be reachable via in person, phone or e-mail and that no deadlines are missed," he says.

    Killer Visual Strategies is open five days a week, with some staff taking Mondays off and others taking Fridays off, so there's always someone in the office to address client needs. The three days when everyone works leave ample time for meetings and coordination among employees.

    "There's no handbook on this," Miles says. "Every company has to figure it out for themselves."

    At Wildbit, everyone takes Fridays off except for the six members of the billing and tech support team, who alternate between Mondays and Fridays. This way, someone is always on call. Two weeks every quarter are reserved for planning so employees know what's expected and when assignments are due.

    "Employees have to be more intentional on how they spend their time," Nagele says, adding that new employees can be suspect of the arrangement. "I have to be the cheerleader," she says, "and say, 'Yes you can do this.' "

    Theresa Agovino is the workplace editor for SHRM.

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    Source Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

    https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/all-things-work/Pages/four-day-workweek.aspx

  • 23 Jun 2020 8:59 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    The largest food delivery service in the US is accused of misclassifying workers

    By Andrew J. Hawkins@andyjayhawk  | Jun 16, 2020, 5:34pm EDT

    DoorDash, the high-flying food delivery startup, was sued by San Francisco’s district attorney Tuesday for alleged unfair business practices and worker misclassification. It was the latest legal challenge targeting a gig economy company in California since the passage of the state’s first-in-the-nation worker misclassification law.

    In a statement, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin accused DoorDash of “illegally” classifying its delivery workers as independent contractors when they are, in fact, employees. Boudin argues that misclassification hurts workers by contributing to rising income inequality and the shrinking of the middle class, and it hurts the public by forcing other companies that classify workers as employees to compete with DoorDash on an unfair playing field.

    “MISCLASSIFYING WORKERS DEPRIVES THEM OF THE LABOR LAW SAFEGUARDS TO WHICH THEY ARE ENTITLED”

    “Misclassifying workers deprives them of the labor law safeguards to which they are entitled, denying workers minimum wage and overtime pay, unemployment insurance and protection from discrimination, among other things,” Boudin said in a statement.

    In the lawsuit, the district attorney alleges that DoorDash has run afoul of Assembly Bill 5, a law that enshrines the so-called “ABC test” for determining whether someone is a contractor or employee. The law officially went into effect on January 1st, but gig economy companies like Uber and Lyft have continued to lobby against it. DoorDash is helping fund Uber and Lyft’s effort to carve out gig economy businesses from AB5.

    California’s attorney general recently filed a lawsuit against Uber and Lyft on similar grounds as Boudin’s suit against DoorDash. California Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez, the main sponsor of AB5, tweeted in support of Boudin’s lawsuit.

    As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced restaurants to pause their sit-down service, many have become increasingly reliant on delivery platforms like DoorDash, as well as competitors Grubhub, Postmates, and Uber Eats. Uber Eats’ recently failed effort to acquire Grubhub only seems to have solidified DoorDash’s status as market leader.

    DoorDash, the largest meal-delivery company in the US, has seen its sales increase as a result of the lockdown. The company is reportedly close to securing new funding that would value it at more than $15 billion before the infusion, according to MarketWatch. DoorDash filed to go public in February, shortly before the novel coronavirus upended the economy and financial markets, and it’s still aiming for a listing this year.

    Much like other gig economy companies, DoorDash argues that many of its couriers (which it calls “Dashers”) aren’t delivering food full time, but are actually doing it in their spare time as a way to earn extra money. Classifying them as employees would negatively affect their ability to hold multiple jobs, as well as harm restaurants’ ability to stay in business during the pandemic, the company argues.

    “Today’s action seeks to disrupt the essential services Dashers provide,” Max Rettig, DoorDash’s global head of public policy, said in a statement, “stripping hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, parents, retirees and other Californians of valuable work opportunities, depriving local restaurants of desperately needed revenue, and making it more difficult for consumers to receive prepared food, groceries, and other essentials safely and reliably.”

    DoorDash is no stranger to controversy. The company got in trouble last year when it was revealed that it was pocketing some customer tips to cover base pay for deliveries. After an uproar, DoorDash said it would change the policy so that couriers would receive 100 percent of tips.

    More recently, a viral story about a pizzeria owner buying his own inventory from DoorDashat a profit cast a negative light on the company’s business model of subsidizing some food deliveries.

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    Source; The Verge

    https://www.theverge.com/2020/6/16/21293474/doordash-sf-district-attorney-lawsuit-worker-misclassification

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