Iowa News & Analysis

  • Rethinking your employee benefits for post-COVID-19 world

    COVID-19 had an immediate impact on the workplace by shifting employees from the office to the home. We're beginning to see the pandemic may have a lasting effect on the workplace and how, where, and when people work. The crisis also has opened up new opportunities for employees to work remotely. With current labor shortages in mind, you may want to revisit your benefit plans and decide whether to expand them in the post-COVID-19 world to retain and attract new talent. Here are some benefits you may be thinking about or may want to consider.

  • CDC updates mask guidance for fully vaccinated individuals

    In response to the spread of the delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revised its masking guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. Specifically, the agency now encourages them to wear masks if they live in an area of "substantial" or "high" COVID-19 transmission.

  • No recovery for alleged demotion of returning servicemember

    A former Union Pacific employee wasn't entitled to judgment as a matter of law (i.e., a ruling in his favor) or attorneys' fees after a job change following his return from military deployment, the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota employers) recently decided, reversing the lower court's opinion.

  • OSHA's new COVID-19 standard for healthcare entities offers guidance for others

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently adopted a COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) for healthcare workplaces (https://bit.ly/3xg42Io). The standard makes a requirement out of what most healthcare providers are already doing—e.g., physical distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitization, and patient screening.

  • NLRB to hear dispute over worker's signature in mail-in union election

    A hearing must be held to resolve legitimate questions about the authenticity of a worker's signature on what could be the deciding vote in a mail-ballot union election, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently decided. The ruling highlights the Board's concerns with maintaining the integrity of its mail-in voting system.

  • MN Legislature expands nursing-mother breaks, pregnancy accommodations

    The Minnesota Legislature recently passed amendments to the state's nursing mothers statute (Minn. Stat. § 181.939) and the Women's Economic Security Act (WESA) pregnancy accommodations statute (Minn. Stat. § 181.9414). Although the changes were small, the amendments clarify and expand the protections afforded to pregnant and nursing mothers in the state. Governor Tim Walz signed the measures, which will take effect on January 1, 2022.

  • Supreme Court delivers victory for property rights, defeat for union organizers

    A California regulation allowed labor organizations to access an agricultural employer's property to solicit support for unionization, but the U.S. Supreme Court recently decided the rule amounted to a per se physical taking requiring compensation.

  • Biden targets noncompetes in Executive Order promoting competition

    In a recent Executive Order (EO) on promoting competition in the American economy, President Joe Biden encouraged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ban or limit noncompete agreements. In doing so, he continues (and potentially accelerates) what to date has been a piecemeal effort conducted almost exclusively at the state level to limit and, in some cases, prohibit the use of noncompetes, particularly for low-wage workers.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Survey finds enhancing employee experience a priority. More than nine in 10 employers (94%) say enhancing the employee experience will be an important priority at their organization over the next three years. That compares with just 54% that indicated it was important to their organization before the pandemic, according to a survey from advisory firm Willis Towers Watson. The 2021 Employee Experience Survey also shows that adapting to the new reality of work will take time and require a hybrid work model, and many employers are not ready to meet that challenge. The survey also shows most respondents believe a positive employee experience is a key driver of engagement, employee well-being, productivity, and ability to attract and retain talent. The survey also shows that while employers expect the proportion of their employees working primarily remotely will drop in three years, they expect one in four will be working a mix of on-site and remotely in three years, triple the current number.

  • Federal Watch

    NLRB says solicitation of mail ballots is objectionable election conduct. In a unanimous decision on June 9, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held that the solicitation of mail ballots constitutes objectionable conduct in a Board union representation election. In Professional Transportation, Inc., the NLRB held that an election would be set aside based on such conduct if the evidence showed that ballot solicitation affected a determinative number of votes. Dissenting in part, member William Emanuel favored setting aside elections whenever a party is shown to have solicited mail ballots, regardless of how many voters are affected. Applying the new rule retroactively, the Board declined to set aside the election. It found that although the employer may be able to show the union solicited the mail ballot of at least one employee, at most it would be able to establish that the solicitation affected two voters. Therefore, the solicitation could not have affected the outcome of the election.