Employment trends expert advises employers on how to handle hesitant employees
With vaccines rolling out across the country and millions of Americans preparing for a post-COVID reality, research suggests that many people would rather continue working from home than returning to the office. A new ‘Return to Workplace Survey’ from Envoy has found that 66% of employees say that they fear for their health and safety, and nearly 48% say they would prefer a hybrid schedule in which they can continue to work from home a few days a week.
But is the desire to continue working virtually rooted in a fear of the virus or is it a preference for flexibility and the ease of working at home?
“Previous Pew research from late 2020 found that 90 percent of people said they didn’t want to return to the workplace even after it was deemed safe to do so. So, I think employers need to prepare themselves for the reality that they are going to get a lot of pushback from employees about starting to go back to work in person,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and employment trends expert. “Even with the vaccines and other COVID safety measures in place, the reality is that many WFH employees have simply become accustomed to the lifestyle and don’t want to return to long commutes, business attire, and other obligations that come with working in person.”
Employment trends expert explains why increasing the min. wage could have a negative impact on workers
With Inauguration Day upon us, many people are looking ahead at the first steps President-elect Joe Biden plans to take when he gets into office. One of his first major proposals (which Biden introduced last Thursday in his $1.9 trillion relief package) will be to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15.
However, this proposal to dramatically increase the minimum wage is receiving pushback from critics who say this could spell the end for struggling small businesses who are already struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Asking small business owners to begin paying their employees $15 an hour will be a hardship that could break many companies,” says employment trends expert Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA, an employment solutions firm with locations across the country.
Wilson says that the minimum wage hike will also lead to more job loss as business owners continue to invest in automation over workers.
Employment trends expert discusses FFCRA expiration date and employers’ obligations moving forward
On January 1, provisions for COVID-related sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act will expire. These provisions were created to help buffer the economic pain felt by people who either tested positive for coronavirus or may have come in contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus, or for parents who needed to provide childcare in cases where daycares or schools were shut down due to virus exposure. But, in just two weeks, these protections will end.
“Under FFCRA, employees received up to 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) related to COVID-19 illnesses and school closures,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and employment trends expert. “But regardless of whether an employee accessed all of these hours, they will disappear at the end of this month. There’s a small possibility that President-Elect Biden will take office and add new COVID-related EPSL protections in 2021, to make up for these expiring provisions, but that’s a big maybe for now.”
Wilson says that this means employers will no longer receive FFCRA reimbursement from the federal government for any workers’ EPSL taken after Dec. 31.
HR expert Rob Wilson comments on how employers can avoid ending up with a skeleton crew this holiday season
With the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were forced to cancel their vacations, weddings, cruises, and other planned leisure activities. As a result, workers across the country have collected many days’ worth (or even weeks’ worth) of paid time off, which will need to be used by year’s end or could be potentially lost forever.
Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and human resources expert, comments on this breaking topic below:
“The COVID-19 shutdown impeded workflow in many ways, but it also created a situation in which employees could no longer travel or engage in their planned vacations. As a result, we saw many employees simply forgo their time off, and instead work through 2020 without a designated break. But this has now led us to a serious HR quandary: All of these workers who didn’t use their PTO have an impending deadline of December 31st, by which they need to use their paid time off or possibly see it disappear.”
As a result, says Wilson, workplaces could be looking at many empty desks for the next few weeks, as employees shoehorn their PTO onto the holiday season.
On this month’s podcast Rob, Scott, and Jason discuss “The Top 5 Employment Law Changes Expected Under Joe Biden,” including: the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employee leaves of absence, labor relations, independent contractors, minimum wage, and more.
Contact us with any questions you may have, we’re here to help: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob, Scott, and Jason discuss the 2020 Kaiser Health Survey, including: renewal rate increases, employer and employee premium contribution rates, the most common plan designs (PPO, HDHP, HMO, POS) and their enrollments, higher deductibles and employee cost sharing, the uncertainties that insurers and employers have to deal with right now, and more.
Contact us with any questions you may have, we’re here to help: email@example.com
Employment expert explains how FFCRA/CARES will impact employee benefits
In order to respond to the continuing COVID-19 crisis which has left millions of people out of work and the economy on the brink of disaster, health insurance and employee benefits are being temporarily revamped to mitigate these pressing concerns.
“Through provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), company benefit plans are experiencing temporary changes geared towards a more employee-friendly offering,” says Rob Wilson, employment expert and President of Employco USA, a employment solutions firm with locations across the country.
Below, Wilson outlines new changes to health insurance plans and employee benefits which have recently been implemented due to the pandemic:
Medical Plan Coverage: “UnitedHealthcare – the nation’s largest insurance company – and other large insurers are waiving cost sharing and copays for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) treatments,” says Wilson. “While each company differs in how long the waivers will be in place and what other costs will be waived, these announcements are part of a cross-country effort to help individuals access affordable care during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
April 08, 2020 (UPDATE)
Through provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), company benefit plans are experiencing temporary changes geared towards a more employee-friendly offering.
Medical Plan Coverage: UnitedHealthcare – the nation’s largest insurance company – and other large insurers are waiving cost sharing and copays for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) treatments. While each company differs in how long the waivers will be in place and what other costs will be waived, these announcements are part of a cross-country effort to help individuals access affordable care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
HDHPs and HSAs: Allows telehealth and other remote care services to be covered under a high deductible health plan (HDHP) before the deductible is met, without affecting the HDHP’s compatibility with health savings accounts (HSAs).
OTC Eligibility: Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, along with menstrual care products, will be qualified as medical expenses that may be paid for using HSAs or other tax-advantaged arrangements, such as health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) or health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).
March 28, 2020 (UPDATE)
President Donald Trump has signed the third and largest COVID-19 piece of legislation. The following bullet points summarize the key provisions of the Act.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)
- Expanded Unemployment Benefits
- The federal government will provide an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits – this is on top of what the state will provide to the person in regular weekly unemployment benefits.
- Example: A laid off worker in Illinois who was earning $577 per week in wages, would normally have been eligible for $272 in weekly unemployment benefits. With the $600 in additional unemployment benefits under the CARES Act, the unemployment benefits could increase to $872 per week.
- Companies with less than 500 employees may be eligible to receive a forgivable loan.
- Loan maximum is lesser of (1) average monthly payroll costs during the prior year x 2.5; or (2) $10 million.
- Payments under this program exclude sick leave payments made as part of the FFCRA.
- Direct Payments to Individuals
- $1,200 for most adults earning less than $75,000 per year (or $2,400 combined for married couples earning less than $150,000).
- Potential smaller checks for individuals earning between $75,000 and $99,000; and couples earning between $150,000 and $198,000.
- Employee Retention Tax Credit
- Refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of the wages on the first $10,000 of compensation.
- This tax credit is not available to employers that receive the “paycheck protection” loans.
- Available to employers whose:
- Operations were fully or partially suspended due to a COVID-19 related “shut-down order,” or
- Gross receipts declined by more than 50% when compared to the same quarter in the previous year.
Employment expert weighs in on what companies need to communicate to their staff
With work stoppages and shelter-in-place ordinances being instituted across the country, employers have several pressing human resources issues to consider. Rob Wilson, employment expert and President of Employco USA, comments on HR concerns that have arisen as a result of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.
Wilson says that employers need to cover many points with their employees, including the below:
- Changes to benefit enrollment. “Employers need to address possible pending changes to benefit enrollment programs,” says Wilson. “Let your employees know that if they would like to make a mid-year change to their benefit elections (e.g., change a dependent care flexible spending account) as a result of a qualifying event, they should contact you to request a copy of the benefit enrollment change form.”
- Paid Sick Leave and Family Medical Leave. “For companies with less than 500 employees, if you are unable to work or telework, you may be eligible for a certain level of pay continuation, if you meet certain requirements, such as if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis, caring for an individual subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order or advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns, caring for your child if the child’s school or place of care is closed or the child’s care provider is unavailable due to public health emergency, or experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.”