Recent presidential executive orders, opinion letters and guidance manual updates are impacting area employers regarding religious discrimination, unemployment claims due to COVID-19, Occupational Safety and Health Administration concerns regarding COVID-19, and wage and hour opinion letters issued and withdrawn.
Here are some changes businesses must be aware of in order to modify policies and procedures to ensure compliance and conduct management training.
A Jan. 22-signed executive order requests the Department of Labor to consider addressing whether a worker will still qualify for unemployment benefits if they decline employment that will endanger their health or the health of a family member at heightened risk if they contract COVID-19.
The Jan. 21 order directed OSHA to issue stronger guidance regarding COVID-19. It calls for companies to include face covering information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, consider offering a vaccine at no cost to staff members and ensure vaccinated employees continue to follow all CDC and OSHA guidelines, since at this time, “there is not evidence that COVID-19 vaccines prevent transmission of the virus from person-to-person,” according to the order.
The Jan. 19 opinion letter addressed whether the Fair Labor Standards Act retail or service establishment exemption applied to staffing firms that recruit, hire and place associates on temporary assignment or in temp-to-hire positions with clients. The FLSA exempts certain laborers of retail or service establishments from overtime pay requirements.
The DOL withdrew three opinion letters FLSA2021-4, FLSA2021-8 and FLSA2021-9. The letters addressed restaurant tip pools, independent contractor status for distributors of manufactured food products and independent contractor status of tractor-trailer truck drivers required by motor carriers to implement legally mandated safety measures, respectively.
The revisions to the Compliance Manual Section of Religious Discrimination on Jan. 15 were the first since 2008. The manual provides insight into the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commision’s enforcement priorities, but it does not have the force of law or regulations.
The manual addresses reasonable accommodation, which includes flexible scheduling, voluntary swaps of shifts, lateral transfers and modifying workplace practices, policies or procedures. It also clarifies the definition of undue hardship, which differs from the use of the phrase in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Factors to now consider when analyzing undue hardship include if the accommodation reduces productivity in other positions, infringes on other employees’ job rights or benefits, undermines workplace safety or results in co-workers performing the accommodated person’s portion of potentially hazardous or difficult work. Another factor includes proselytizing. Conduct that is disruptive to the workplace, even if it does not rise to the level of harassment under Title VII, may still cause an undue hardship on the operation of the organization.
Employers should permit religious expression among staff members at least identical to the degree they allow other types of personal expression that are not harassing or disturbing to business operations.
A journalist whose job duties satisfy the primary duties test is now considered an exempt creative professional. Their primary duty must be conducting investigative interviews; analyzing or interpreting public events; acting as a narrator or commentator; writing editorials, opinion columns or other commentary; or performing on the air in radio, television or other electronic media. Accordingly, the employer does not have to pay them at least minimum wage for every hour worked or overtime for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The employer is irrelevant, whether a small-town or rural newspaper, major metropolitan daily newspaper or local broadcast station. On the other hand, their position is not exempt if the journalist does not contribute a unique interpretation or analysis to a news product and only collects, organizes and records routine or already public information.
Lynne Haggerman holds a master of science in industrial organizational psychology and is president/owner of Lynne Haggerman & Associates LLC, specializing in management training, retained search, outplacement and human resource consulting. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A health care worker became a first-time business owner; a home baker decided to pursue a longtime dream of starting her own business; and Springfield-based Premier Choice Tax and Accounting Solutions LLC expanded its reach in Greene County.
Aaron Elliott never imagined he would get into medical device or create a self-defense fitness-based business. Now the co-owner of F8 Fitness and Self-Defense at the age of 46, he says Dr. Seuss nailed it on the head with “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.” He says as long as you have the passion for it, you can do anything.
Senior Vice President and Commercial Loan Manager of Arvest Bank Steve Kelly says now is the time to start looking at your financial situation—such as where you can cut back or prepare yourself for economic recovery.
John Lopez, managing member at Old Route 66 Dispensary, talks through the Dispensary’s decisions to manufacture and transport its own goods. Lopez says the ultimate goal is to cut the cost of their product by around 30-50%. John Lopez is a Springfield Business Journal 2020 12 People You Need to Know.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a variety of impacts on the labor force, with some businesses doing well and others taking a hit. Elizabeth Hurts, business development manager at HR Advantage, says as much as we look forward to moving on, the effects of the pandemic aren’t over.
Mackenzie Scherer, small business technology consultant and owner of Mackenzie Scherer, LLC, discusses how scheduling software can help you keep ahead of your to-do list. Technology like chatbots and email templates...
Molly McCleary, owner and farmer of Maypop Flower Farm, says she’s seen edible flowers used many ways in different areas of the country. McCleary was initially contacted by several bakers, but says …
Carley Joy, sales and marketing director of SafeSpace Company says she and her father, CEO Rick Williams, have an honest and open communication style. Williams says the key is never to take things …
Brad Noble, co-founder of Art of Everyone, says art is the one thing that remains open to expression. He says art goes beyond the activity and helps build connections between people. Springfield …
Carol Taylor, former president of Evangel University, tells features editor Christine Temple about the new challenges she faced leading students, staff and faculty through a year of learning in a …
Michelle Romero, owner of PKD Venue, says because of her busy schedule, using social media has helped her marketing efforts. Incorporating your journey, including struggles as well as victories, can …