Texas News & Analysis

  • Changing laws, attitudes pushing employers to explore alternatives to drug tests

    Nobody wants an impaired person on the job, especially in a safety-sensitive position. But how can a supervisor know if an employee who seems a little off is high? And ― perhaps more important ― how can an employer screen applicants to reduce the chance of hiring someone who is likely to come to work impaired? The first thought may be to use drug testing, but that option isn't as simple as it once was.

  • Looking to add an innovative benefit? Student loan assistance an option

    On a quest to recruit top talent, many employers are getting creative with perks and benefits. Free food and ping-pong tables are nice. So is a generous employer match on a 401(k). But many employees may not get too excited about perks and retirement benefits when they're struggling with student loan debt. And it's that financial burden that is leading employers to explore ways to ease the pain for their debt-ridden workers.

  • Context matters when firing for insubordination

    If your state is an at-will-employment state, doesn't it stand to reason that employers may fire someone "at will"? Not necessarily. Increasingly, state laws seem to be chipping away at the at-will employment concept.

  • Yes, employees 'waiting to be engaged' should be paid

    Q If a company asks employees to punch in every day 15 minutes before their shift starts, it totals 41.25 hours for a 40-hour workweek. Can it not pay them the 1.25 hours they give the company every week? Is this legal?

  • Workplace Trends

    Growing skills gap called serious drag on business. A new survey of HR leaders shows the skills gap grew by 12% since last year. According to the study "Closing the Skills Gap 2019" from Wiley Education Services and Future Workplace, 64% of the 600 HR leaders surveyed said there is a skills gap in their company, up from 52% in the 2018 report. This year, 44% of HR leaders reported it was more difficult to fill their skills gap than it was last year, and 42% said the skills gap was making their company less efficient. The report also found that 40% of employers estimate that a skill is usable for four years or less and that fast-paced obsolescence escalates the need to hire or train workers.

  • Preparation, training help employers cope with unsettling ICE news

    The thought of immigration enforcement agents surrounding a workplace, seizing business records, questioning employees, and even making arrests is worrisome to say the least. But it has been and likely will continue to be a reality for many employers since audits and raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are on the upswing. Plus, the Social Security Administration has once again begun sending "no-match letters" to employers that have W-2 forms with mismatched names and Social Security numbers. Now referred to as educational correspondence (EDCOR) or an employer correction request (ECR), the letters require employers to take action to resolve the problem. So the signals are clear: Employers with undocumented workers are on notice that they face serious consequences.

  • New OT rule sparks questions beyond where to set salary threshold for 'exempt' status

    It has taken several years, but the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has finally issued its new final rule determining which employees can be exempt from the law requiring overtime pay. The new rule, slated to take effect January 1, 2020, is far more moderate than the Obama administration's effort to update the salary threshold for the overtime exemption. A federal judge struck down that rule shortly before it was to go into effect in December 2016.

  • Workplace Trends

    Report details persistent wage gap affecting black women. Black women who work full time year-round typically are paid 61 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, according to a fact sheet from the National Women's Law Center released in August. The wage gap also contributes to the wealth gap, the fact sheet says, and is an obstacle to black women's economic security over their lifetimes. The report says that in 1967, a black woman working full time year-round typically made 43 cents for every dollar a white man made. In 2017, the most recent year for which figures are available, the gap had narrowed by just 18 cents. The wage gap is wider in certain areas. The report lists the 10 worst states for black women's wage equality: Louisiana, a wage gap of 53 cents; Washington, D.C., a gap of 49 cents; Utah, 47 cents; South Dakota, 47 cents; New Jersey, 44 cents; Mississippi, 44 cents; Connecticut, 43 cents; South Carolina, 43 cents; Alabama, 41 cents; and Texas, 41 cents. The gap for the United States as a whole is 39 cents.

  • Association retirement plans may not be ready for prime time

    The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently finalized regulations allowing multiple employers to offer a retirement plan to their employees through a combined association retirement plan (ARP). In what is becoming a common theme for the agency under President Donald Trump, the new rules are intended to make it easier for small to mid-sized employers to offer such plans to their employees. While they are similar to rules finalized last year that established a new type of association health plan, they go even further by establishing guidelines for professional employer organizations (PEOs) to sponsor retirement plans for their members' employees. Unfortunately, they also may face some of the same problems as those rules, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

  • Workplace Trends

    Texting gaining popularity in hiring process. More employers and job candidates are using texting as a communication method, according to research from Robert Half Technology. More than two-thirds (67%) of IT decision makers surveyed said their organization uses texting as one way of coordinating interviews with job candidates. Nearly half (48%) of U.S. workers polled in a similar survey said they've received a text message from a potential employer. When asked about the greatest advantage of texting during the hiring process, quick communication was the top response among IT managers and workers. They also acknowledged the greatest drawback was the possibility of miscommunication.