Benefits & Compensation

We are pleased to share a recent Life Annuity Specialist article, “Why Insurers May Worry About New York’s Salary Transparency Law,” with quotes from Robin Samuel. This article discusses the likely impact of New York City’s new salary transparency law on insurers, other employers and job postings in New York City.

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With special thanks to our colleagues in Mexico: Javiera Medina-RezaLiliana Hernandez-Salgado and Salvador Pasquel-Villegas.

In May, employers in Mexico will encounter new rules regarding compulsory company profit sharing entitlements for employees. This labor reform requires the immediate attention of companies doing business in Mexico.

In this video, Baker McKenzie’s Labor and Employment

On March 30, Governor Jay Inslee signed SB 5761, amending the Washington Equal Pay and Opportunity Act, to require all employers with 15 or more employees to disclose the wage scale or salary range along with a general description of all benefits and other compensation in every job posting. Beginning January 1, 2023

On March 15, 2022, the US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued a new directive putting federal contractors on notice that it will more closely scrutinize their pay equity audits. Making headlines, the directive states that federal contractors are expected to hand over information about their internal pay analyses when being audited by the office, including documents that are protected by the attorney-client privilege and/or work product doctrine.

Background

Executive Order 11246 requires affirmative action and prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin. Contractors also are prohibited from discriminating against applicants or employees because they inquire about, discuss, or disclose their compensation or that of others.

As part of their affirmative action obligations, supply and service contractors are required to perform an in-depth analysis of their total employment practices to determine whether and where impediments to equal employment opportunity exist. This includes conducting an in-depth analysis of their compensation systems to determine whether there are gender-, race-, or ethnicity-based disparities, as provided in 41 CFR 60-2.17(b)(3).3.

To comply with the regulations, most companies doing business with the federal government  conduct an evaluation of their pay practices for potential gender, race, or ethnicity-based disparities.  Oftentimes, these analyses are performed with the help of outside counsel who provides legal advice regarding, among other things, compliance with the requirements enforced by OFCCP. And, until now, these pay audits have been considered privileged and confidential.

Impact of the new directive

During a compliance evaluation, a supply and service contractor is required to provide OFCCP with compensation data. In addition to requesting additional compensation data, interviews, and employment records, the OFCCP is now making explicit that it may also seek the contractor’s evaluation under § 60-2.17(b)(3), which the OFCCP calls the “pay equity audit.”

Continue Reading OFCCP Emboldened To Demand Contractors’ Internal Pay Analyses

Beyond chocolate and conversation hearts, many employers are looking to seriously woo employees this Valentine’s Day, and throughout the year. In fact, for most companies, retaining and attracting the best talent in today’s fierce labor market is a top priority in 2022.

The Great Resignation (aka the “Big Quit”) is in full effect. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report released January 4, 2022, a record 4.5 million Americans left their jobs in November, with the number of private sector quits (not government or farm employees) hitting 4.3 million-and approximately 20 million people quit their jobs in the second half of 2021. And, there are just 0.62 unemployed job seekers for each available job, according to another BLS report. The forecast: employees are likely to continue to have substantial bargaining power in 2022. So employers who want to hold onto the great employees they have-and perhaps take their shot at hiring more- may need to look for creative ways to up the ante this year.

Here are five things employers are doing to retain and hire the best of the best talent in 2022.

  1. Embracing remote workbecause it allows for the flexibility some employees are demanding

Remote work was indispensable for many in the early pandemic. Now, having the option to work remotely-at least some of the time-is becoming an expectation. According to a survey of 209,000 people in 190 countries by BCG, 89% of people expect their jobs to be partly remote after the pandemic ends. Hybrid work is now a norm for many employers as they pivot to navigate the ebb and flow of COVID variants, allowing for the flexibility required by the pandemic and meeting employee desires. According to Forbes, in a recent survey of US workers who can work remotely, 74% would prefer to spend at least one day in an office environment post-COVID-19, with 30% looking to work from a space outside the home two or three days per week. Digital nomad visas-which allow employees to work in a different country after an application and a fee-are another lure for some employees who can successfully work away from the office.

What does this mean for employers? In industries and for positions where working remotely is a viable option, employers who don’t offer employees the ability to work remotely-at least part of the week-may see employees jump ship to employers who do. In one report published by Owl Labs, companies that provide the option for remote work have 25% lower turnover than companies that don’t.

But remote work isn’t as easy as just telling employees they can work from home-or wherever they want.

Employers must consider a myriad of employment law issues before crafting any type of remote work policy, including:

  • How employers will define “remote” for their workforce–i.e. temporary “short stints,” permanent remote work, hybrid work (working some days from home and others in the office), or some combination of these. And, employers must decide whether employees will be permitted to work remotely only from home, or remotely from anywhere.
  • “Guardrails” or boundaries for the workforce. Often, this is based on factors such as whether the company already has a legal presence in the subject jurisdiction and ensuring employees can remain subject to company rules and expectations in the jurisdiction from which the employee is requesting to remotely work. Other factors, such as head count triggers for application of paid sick leave laws, must also be taken into consideration.
  • Designing an application process with established criteria. Where used, an application process should cover details such as which job positions can be performed remotely, eligible locations, whether a justification is required, and the objective criteria for accepting / rejecting applications. Decision-makers must be trained on applying the criteria objectively.
  • Developing policies to support the remote model, including salary/cost of living adjustments, how necessary equipment will be provided and whether certain costs will be reimbursed, how the company will track hours/overtime/mandatory rest breaks, necessary steps to mitigate increased risks of misappropriation of confidential information and trade secrets, and revising the business travel policy as necessary to apply to remote workers.
  • Providing employees with individualized remote work agreements, setting forth important information such as the effective date of the arrangement, expected hours of work, use of equipment, reimbursement/stipends, insurance requirements, and compensation. Agreements should also confirm the work location (to document the employee’s representation of the jurisdiction in which they are working and paying taxes) and protect the company’s right to recall employees to an onsite location.
  • Training managers and supervisors on the importance of treating all employees equally, whether they are in the office daily with substantial “face time,” or almost never in the office with only remote meeting “face time,” to avoid discrimination claims.

However employers decide, any type of remote work program raises a plethora of compliance issues-including employment law as mentioned above, as well as benefits and compensation, tax, privacy, and corporate law issues-all of which change from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. As employers design and implement remote work programs, they should work with counsel to stay compliant.

Continue Reading This Valentine’s Day Embrace 5 Strategies to Show Employees Some Love in a Competitive Talent Market

We are pleased to share a recent Bloomberg Law article, “Gig Economy Companies Brace for Crucial Year as Challenges Mount,” with commentary from Mike Brewer. The article discusses the gig economy facing another year of upheaval as the Biden administration eyes actions to address worker rights, court battles continuing to play out across the country,

We identified and mapped out our most relevant blog posts, articles and video chats to serve as a quick and handy roadmap to recovery and renewal for your company.

Our 2022 Employment & Compensation Resource Navigator provides US multinational companies organized links to Baker McKenzie’s most helpful, relevant thought leadership in one brief document. Arranged

Special thanks to guest contributor, Christopher Guldberg

The Internal Revenue Service has issued welcome guidance related to the COBRA subsidy provisions under the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) in the form of IRS Notice 2021-31 (the “Notice”).

As background, for the period from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021, ARPA requires employers to

Special thanks to guest contributors Christopher Guldberg and Janel Brynda.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the “ARPA”), was signed into law on March 11, 2021, and creates a temporary COBRA premium subsidy for certain qualifying individuals. This COBRA premium subsidy applies to all group health plans subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.  Thus, most employers will be impacted by the new COBRA subsidy.

Employers will need to evaluate the impact of the ARPA not only with respect to COBRA administration, but equally important,  employers may need to make changes to their severance arrangements to take into account the temporary COBRA subsidy.

The ARPA provides that an assistance eligible individual who elects COBRA coverage will be deemed to have paid 100% of any applicable COBRA premium (including the 2% administrative charge) during the period April 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021. In this respect, ARPA differs from the premium assistance under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that only provided for a partial premium subsidy for eligible individuals.

Continue Reading The American Rescue Plan of 2021 Requires Employer Action and Potential Updates to Severance Arrangements