Employers’ Strategies for Opioid Abuse

The nation’s opioid epidemic is not only making it very difficult for employers to fill job vacancies in a tight labor market, but it’s also costing them billions in health care costs and lost productivity. Unfortunately, there’s still much confusion among employers about these painkillers, how they affect worker safety and recovery and what to do about them.

In some parts of the country, up to one-third of job applicants are failing pre-employment drug screening. Industries that addiction hits hardest include construction, food service, entertainment, hospitality and transportation. Opioid misuse is linked to a 20% decline in workforce participation, despite the booming economy.

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Federal, State Response to Opioid Crisis Lacking

America’s opioid epidemic is the country’s worst public health crisis in a generation. A deadly combination of prescription pills and various black-market drugs, including heroin, is killing more than 100 people per day. Public health experts expect that number to rise, potentially claiming an additional 650,000 lives over the next decade.

The bottom line: Things will get worse before they get better. The United States remains awash in opioids, despite nascent efforts to clamp down on the problem. The main culprit is overprescription.
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Finding and Keeping the Workers You Need

While labor shortages have been most severe for technology and health care businesses, they are cropping up in more and more industries, now that the U.S. unemployment rate has fallen. A recent survey of small businesses found that half of them can’t find enough qualified job applicants. The question: What can businesses do to make sure they have the workers they need? The answer, human resources professionals say, comes down to a three-part strategy: Recruit, retain and train.

With good workers increasingly scarce, employers are having to get creative about recruiting. A job ad posted on the company website might not cut it anymore. Companies may need to hire recruiters in order to find the social media websites or career niche websites where folks with desired skills tend to hang out. Recruiters can make sure that want ads are mobile-friendly for the millennials who never use desktop PCs, for example. They can arrange for quick interviews using Skype or Facetime. Some also offer applicant tracking systems. Continue reading “Finding and Keeping the Workers You Need”

Trump Administration Will Dial Back Workplace Gains

The pro-labor regulatory agenda of the Labor Department will grind to a halt under President-elect Trump. Executive orders issued during the Obama Administration will be undone and enforcement actions against employers are likely to fall off dramatically.

At the top of the list of rules the Trump Administration will revisit is one on overtime. The rule was set to go into effect on Dec. 1, but a federal judge in Texas temporarily halted implementation. The matter is not expected to be resolved before the new administration takes office, which means that the rule can be pulled back and revised, or shelved. Odds are it will be modified, rather than scrapped, with the salary threshold in the new rule set at about $35,000, from $47,476 in the Obama rule. Continue reading “Trump Administration Will Dial Back Workplace Gains”

What now after a Texas judge has blocked DOL’s overtime rule?

Now that a federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked implementation of the Department of Labor’s new overtime rule, what’s likely to happen next and what should employers do in the meantime?

Don’t be surprised if the contentious overtime rule is dead. With just over a week before the Dec. 1, 2016, effective date, the injunction from U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant in Texas ruled that the department had overstepped “its delegated authority.”

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Are you prepared for the Dec. 1 deadline that could disrupt your workforce?

In just two months, sweeping changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act will make 4.2 million currently exempt employees eligible for overtime. Employers must either increase the salary of currently exempt employees or reclassify them as hourly wage earners, which will make them eligible for the overtime pay.

As an employer, are you prepared to make such moves?

Effective December 1, the salary threshold for “exempt” status under the Fair Labor Standards Act will jump to $47,476 a year from the current $23,660, allowing more workers to qualify for time-and-a-half pay if they work more than 40 hours a week. And, for the first time, the salary threshold will be indexed once every three years. So the next update will be on January 1, 2020, when the new level is expected to be more than $51,000 (based on salary growth in the lowest region of the country).

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