Rhode Island News & Analysis

  • 10 things that keep HR pros awake at night (COVID-19 edition), pt. 1 of 2

    HR pros wear many hats. Since March 2020, they have been at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to their many other tasks, they have needed to coordinate furloughs and layoffs, stay up to date with the latest health guidance, understand and implement coronavirus-related federal and state laws and regulations, introduce COVID-19 screening and workplace policies and procedures, and develop vaccination and other safety procedures. They are also the sounding board for questions and complaints. And there were lots of each over the last year or so.

  • What MA employers can learn from state police overtime scandal

    In 2017, news broke that several Massachusetts State Police officers had collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime pay for work they never actually performed. Since then, several have faced criminal charges and pleaded guilty, and others have settled civil lawsuits agreeing to pay significant restitution. In fact, in July, six more officers agreed to pay damages in the amount of $94,000 to settle a civil lawsuit. While the episode is an egregious example of wage theft, it serves as an important reminder for employers about overtime and three questions they often ask.

  • New Hampshire adopts first-in-the-nation voluntary paid leave

    The COVID-19 pandemic foisted paid leave into the public conversation. Federal programs such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) mandated periods of paid leave (short and long) for qualifying employees and offset the employer's expense with a payroll tax credit. Ever since the FFCRA expired in December 2020, many states have debated enacting permanent, obligatory paid leave programs. In an attempt to balance the benefits of paid leave programs with New Hampshire's more laissez-faire policy instincts, the state has adopted a first-in-the-nation voluntary paid leave program for companies and individuals alike.

  • Country club pocketing 'service' charge violates MA Tips Act

    The Supreme Judicial Court recently came down on the side of a group of employees working functions at a country club over whether disputed charges were moneys that should have been given to the employees. The court found the country club violated the Massachusetts Tips Act when it kept money described as a "service" charge on invoices given to its patrons for payment.

  • Are mandatory vaccinations on horizon? President Biden moves the needle

    On September 9, 2021, President Joseph Biden issued an Executive Order mandating COVID-19 vaccines for all federal workers and won't allow a testing-out option for those who refuse. They will have 75 days to get the shots or face adverse administrative action. Moreover, the mandate is expected to affect all private-sector entities with federal contracts.

  • New NLRB General Counsel identifies possible changes

    Those of you who have watched the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)—the nation's primary enforcer of labor law—over the years no doubt expect it to reshuffle its priorities when the White House changes parties. The Board swore in Jennifer Abruzzo as its new general counsel (GC) on July 22, 2021, and three weeks later, she released an internal memorandum blueprint for changes to the law she would like to see the agency implement.

  • Workplace primer on attracting, retaining neurodiverse talent

    Neurodiversity represents the inherent differences in neurological structure and function. The term encompasses neurocognitive differences such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, Tourette's syndrome, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, intellectual disability, and schizophrenia. Most governments don't provide neurodiverse individuals with the support necessary to enter and remain in the workforce, but many multinational employers are becoming aware of the benefits of having a neurodiverse workplace.

  • It's time to think about the holidays: To party or not to party?

    As fall settles in, it's time to think about the upcoming holiday season. But the continuing pandemic makes it hard to plan. Will it be safe to party in person this year? Is it OK for vaccinated coworkers to gather for food, drink, and other merriment? Perhaps an alternative activity such as the Zoom parties some organizations threw last year are more appropriate. Or maybe a nice gift basket delivered to employees' homes would be a better option.

  • Both friends and foes of unions stepping up their efforts

    The union movement has seen declining numbers for decades, but with a staunchly prounion advocate in the White House, union supporters are hoping to soon see progress for their cause. But union foes are hoping to thwart efforts aimed at easing the way for unionization.

  • 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.