We are often contacted by our clients that today’s employees seem disinterested and unenthusiastic, often lacking the “work ethic” that business owners and managers themselves possess and value. Many times our clients are quick to blame Gen Z’ers, but we have found a phenomenon in our post-pandemic workplace and that is today’s labor market as a whole (and not just those of Gen Z age) values time for themselves and their families and work flexibility more than how they work and how they progress.  There is no better indication of this trend than the persistent shortage of workers.  We will often assist client’s in employee searches at al levels, and our most consistent experience is the consistent “hit and miss” nature of our searches – sometimes a plethora of candidates and at other times we literally have none!  Workers clearly want less benefits, more benefits and a nice place to work! So do I!

So what’s an employer to do?!?!? We are not sure we have the answer but foundational change is never easy to address.  Our guidance in these situations is to stay grounded and understand – the employee seeking these transformational changes can still be your best employee and productive. Superior HR is always about meeting an employee where they are – today’s employee may not be “old school” in his or her approach to work, but today’s employee can still be a productive team member.  If you ever want to discuss today’s employee or any employment issue, don’t hesitate to contact our offices.

As the 2023 calendar year comes to a close, we look forward to 2024 and the trends that are emerging.

Clearly, one of the emerging trends is the transition of leadership from the Baby Boomer generation to Generation Z and Millennials. As Generation Z (those born in 1997 or later) continue to ascend to leadership positions in place of Baby Boomers (who will all be over 65 by 2030) we will see companies continue to reach out on issues such as the environment and diversity, equity and inclusion. As HR consultants we will continue to help our clients deal with these hot-button issues as Gen Z and Millennials will continue to place a priority on being authentically recognized at work.

We continue to see a disconnect between managers who are comfortable with a ten to twelve hour work day and younger workers who prefer fewer hours. Thus, the focus will be continually toward productivity and not hours worked.

In 2024 digital training will become an even bigger necessity. Many of our clients report a skill and knowledge gap in new applicants and in their existing workforce. Nearly every department (not just IT) will need workers who know “big data” and artificial intelligence.

Finally, we see teamwork and a people friendly environment making a return to the workplace. The pandemic created many “disconnects” among employer-employee and even “employee-employee” relationships and we see a return to employers encouraging the creation of teams, teamwork and re-instituting a culture the fits the company’s goals and missions.

As always, we are here to assist any HR concerns you encounter and we wish you the best this Holiday season and a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year.”

Social media has been ablaze since the October 7 terror attacks by Hamas on Israel creating friction between employers and employees.

We have been asked several questions recently and wanted to offer some general thoughts and advice.  Typically, we are asked whether an employer can lawfully terminate an employee based on social media posts.  While the answer is generally yes, there are exceptions to the “employment at will” rule, and while private employers may have wide latitude in disciplining and terminating employees for social media activity, there are exceptions to the “employment at will” rule particularly in New York and California.  These exceptions include the statutory protections of political speech (see NY and CA), some state laws protecting the off duty conduct of employees and collective bargaining agreements protection of members.

As always, we advise avoiding acting impulsively and investigate any claim of an offensive or violent post.  It is also the time to review your social media policy.  We are happy to help in that regard.

We send our colleagues and clients a “client alert” each month on a topical change impacting HR policy. While we sent a client alert just a week ago, we have received a number of inquiries regarding the proposed increase by the Labor Department in the overtime threshold.  Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, “covered employees” must be paid time-and-a-half when they work more than 40 hours per week.  However, workers are exempt from this mandate if they work “in a bona fide executive, administrative or professional capacity.”  The Labor Department has proposed a new rule that would increase the level at which salaried workers are considered exempt from overtime pay to $1,059 per week or $55,068 annually (current threshold is $684/wk. and $35,568 annually) . Under this proposal, the threshold would also be indexed for inflation.   

Our clients are rightfully concerned this increase in the threshold will increase labor costs.  The rule proposal, if enacted, would also prompt employers to reclassify more than a million and a half currently exempt workers to nonexempt status and raise pay for others above the proposed new threshold.  The increase labor costs could be devastating to some employers and there is concern across commerce about this proposed change.  That said, the Courts struck down the last proposed change by the Labor Department during the Obama Administration because any change to the Fair Labor Standards Act must be by Congress not the Labor Department and we expect the same fight will ensue any attempted enactment of the proposed rule change.  We will continue to monitor the proposal to the FLSA and keep you posted.

As you know we provide client alerts for all significant changes and updates in laws that impact your business.  Beginning tomorrow, there are changes in the requirements that New Jersey employers need to deal with claims for Unemployment Insurance benefits. In fact, employers will be obligated to submit termination information even if the employee does not apply for benefits. Yes, that’s right even if the employee doesn’t apply for benefits. So here’s how it works.

You know even before the new law, anytime an employee leaves, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, you must give them a Form BC-10 describing how they can apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. In addition to continuing that process, the new law requires employers to submit electronically, to the Department of Labor, the BC-10, immediately and simultaneously with the separation. Any minute now, DOL is also supposed to provide employers with a new form to be used for explaining the reason for separation and that form must also be submitted to DOL immediately and simultaneously. As is typical, although employers must rush to submit these forms, the state hasn’t quite gotten around to publishing the new separation information form.

Here’s our real concern: the law also requires the DOL to give your former employees copies of the separation information that you write, and an opportunity to respond, before the initial determination. The law changes the deadlines for DOL too. After receipt of the BC-10 and the new form with separation information, DOL has 7 days to request additional separation information. The legislation now gives DOL 3 weeks, up from 2, to make initial determinations.  And  . . . . your former employees will now have 21 days to appeal Unemployment benefit determinations while employers will have only 7 days to appeal.

Here’s what makes this law even more of a problem. We know how some employers just ignore the request for separation information because they know that if they tell the truth the former employee may fight back and/or get a lawyer. And that might lead to a hearing and maybe a lawsuit because the former employee is being squeezed financially and hasn’t gotten around to looking for a new job. We of course would never advise our clients to ignore any such inquiry from a state agency, but now it can cost you big if you sit back and do nothing.

Failure to provide separation information will result in a fine of $500 or 25% of the amount the former employee should have received in benefits for each offense. And guess what? Every day that you fail to disclose the separation information is a separate offense. Yup, that means $500 a day!

If you have any upcoming terminations, please don’t hesitate to ask us for help.  The new law is confusing and concerning.

The new version of   Form I9, Employment Eligibility Verification  (see attached) is now available for use. This version contains changes to the form and instructions, including shortening the Form I9 to one page and reducing the instructions to eight pages. Employers may begin using the new Form I9 immediately. The Form I9 dated “10/19/2019” may continue to be used through Oct. 31, 2023. The version date can be found at the lower left corner of the form.

Beginning Nov. 1, 2023, only the new Form I9 dated “08/01/23” may be used. A revised Spanish Form I9 dated “08/01/23” is available for use in Puerto Rico only.

We are often asked whether an employee’s allegation of sexual harassment that occurs outside the workplace needs to be investigated by an employer – simply put, an employer should investigate the sexual harassment complaint even if it occurs off-duty and/or outside employment hours.

If a job connection exists, Human Resources should investigate a complaint as some Courts have already held that employers may face liability if they were aware of the complaint and failed to address it.  In addition, off-duty sexual harassment often spills over into the workplace.  A quick review of the many forms sexual harassment in the workplace can manifest:

We review any harassment claim in multiple policies rather than just sexual harassment, and endorse mandatory training for sexual harassment to help ensure compliance.  As always, if you have any HR questions or concerns, please feel free to call our hotline at 201-400-2283.

Bolivar HR Consulting conducts numerous training sessions including Sexual Harassment. Sexual Harassment training is mandatory for private employers in New York, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia and Illinois. Many States require State employees to complete sexual harassment training either every year or every two years.