Iowa News & Analysis

  • Economic reality check: Is your independent contractor an employee in disguise?

    The traditional lines between contractors and employees are fading fast as outsourcing continues to gain popularity. The "gig" economy leads people to pursue freelance careers, working several jobs or maintaining a "side hustle." Technological advancements allow more flexibility in where, when, and how jobs are completed, further blurring traditional distinctions between contractors and employees. Yet the risk associated with misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor can be catastrophic for an organization.

  • Off-duty misconduct can disqualify employees from receiving unemployment

    On October 21, 2019, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld an unemployment law judge's (ULJ) decision to deny unemployment benefits to an employee who used and distributed marijuana while he was off duty.

  • Proposed Title IX rule changes provide clarity, support, due process rights

    More than a year ago, in November 2018, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) released its proposal for improving schools' responses to sexual harassment and sexual assaults. A proposed Title IX regulation—Title IX is the civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education programs or activities that receive federal funding—has been in the works over the past year with input from students, sexual assault advocates, school administrators, and other stakeholders and strong support from DOE Secretary Betsy DeVos. The rule, which still isn't final, takes important, and controversial, steps toward defining sexual harassment under Title IX and clarifying how it should be reported and investigated, while ensuring due process protections are in place for all students.

  • Handling office romance in #MeToo era: Know your options

    As Valentine's Day nears, love is in the air—and oftentimes in the workplace. Although workplace romance is common, it can make HR professionals fret about all the what-ifs. What if a relationship is between a supervisor and a direct report? What if rumors of favoritism poison the workplace environment? What if one or both participants is married to someone else? What if a couple's public displays of affection make coworkers uncomfortable? What if a relationship goes sour and the breakup affects morale? And perhaps the most important question to consider: What if a relationship is one-sided and is more accurately described as sexual harassment instead of consensual?

  • When 'regular rate' isn't so regular: 4 common mistakes in calculating overtime pay

    Many employers make the mistake of assuming an employee's overtime pay rate is simply the person's hourly rate multiplied by 1.5 ― paying "time and a half" the hourly pay rate for overtime hours. In reality, the correct overtime rate is determined by dividing the employee's "total remuneration" for employment in a workweek (subject to a few specific exclusions) by the total number of hours actually worked by the individual in that time period. To compensate overtime-eligible (nonexempt) employees properly and dodge costly wage and hour lawsuits, you should avoid the following common mistakes when it comes to calculating the regular rate for overtime pay.

  • When 'regular rate' isn't so regular: 4 common mistakes in calculating overtime pay

    Many employers make the mistake of assuming an employee's overtime pay rate is simply the person's hourly rate multiplied by 1.5—paying "time and a half" the hourly pay rate for overtime hours. In reality, the correct overtime rate is determined by dividing the employee's "total remuneration" for employment in a workweek (subject to a few specific exclusions) by the total number of hours actually worked by the individual in that time period. To compensate overtime-eligible (nonexempt) employees properly and dodge costly wage and hour lawsuits, you should avoid the following common mistakes when it comes to calculating the regular rate for overtime pay.

  • Parental leave policies: what to know and what to consider

    As American tech companies continue to offer generous parental leave policies, the pressure increases on employers in other industries to consider and implement policies that allow employees time to bond with a new child. Although current federal law doesn't require employers to offer paid parental leave, the trend is edging that way. Ivanka Trump and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez both recently tweeted about paid parental leave being a priority. Given the rise in popularity of such leave and the political interest in the issue, employers must be ready to adopt appropriate parental leave policies.

  • Something lacking in your workplace? Boosting employees' soft skills can help

    Anyone involved in recruiting and hiring knows the importance of assessing a candidate's skills. Does the candidate have the right training, experience, and credentials to do the job? But anyone in charge of hiring (or maybe even rehabilitating already-employed workers who aren't quite measuring up) knows that merely evaluating a candidate's hard skills isn't enough. More and more, employers are finding "soft skills" are essential in the workplace.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Report identifies most important skills for recruiters. LinkedIn's new Future of Recruiting report identifies the number one priority for recruiting organizations during the next five years will be keeping pace with rapidly changing hiring needs. The report finds that talent analytics roles have grown by 111% since 2014. The data also show that the three skills that will become more important over the next five years are the ability to engage passive candidates, the ability to analyze talent data to drive decisions, and the ability to advise business leaders and hiring managers. Among the other findings, the report notes that demand for recruiting professionals is at an all-time high, the career path to becoming a recruiter is evolving, and deeper investments in technology will be required to find quality candidates.

  • Federal Watch

    NLRB releases 2019 case-processing data. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has announced progress in case processing in three of its divisions for fiscal year (FY) 2019. The Office of Appeals, which reviews appeals by employers, unions, and individuals who believe their unfair labor practice allegations have been wrongly dismissed by an NLRB regional office, reduced its backlog of cases from 294 in FY 2018 to 98 in FY 2019. The Division of Advice, which provides guidance to the regional offices on difficult and novel issues arising in the processing of unfair labor practice charges, reduced the average age of closed cases for FY 2019 to 38.6 days, a 9.8% reduction from FY 2018. The Board's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Branch processes all FOIA requests made to the agency. In FY 2019, the branch reported that it responded within 20 working days to 67.5% of FOIA requests and 90% of FOIA appeals.