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Top Posts of 2018

Top Posts of 2018

As the year ends, we again review the most viewed New York Management Law Blog posts from this year. Did you miss any of the top posts of 2018?

These posts reflect some topics that most interested New York employers in 2018. Do they also suggest what will be top of mind in 2019?

Curious about last year? Click to see what posts made the list in 2017.

2019 New York Minimum Wage

Like last year, our post reminding employers of increases to both minimum wage and the salary threshold for overtime exemptions under state law caught readers’ eye.

Remember these changes take effect on December 31, 2018, not January 1st. If you haven’t adjusted accordingly yet, don’t delay any longer!

And there are still more increases scheduled for the years to come. This post includes charts showing those planned increases.

Sexual Harassment Draws More Attention

Well-publicized harassment allegations beginning in October 2017 put sexual harassment prevention on the top of our minds this year. Both the federal and New York state governments took deliberate action to address the unfortunate reality.

In April 2018, the New York Legislature enacted extensive legal requirements aimed at workplace sexual harassment. These included the obligation that all employers in the state adopt written sexual harassment policies and provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to all employees.

Employers were eager to learn more about what the New York Department of Labor would expect from them to meet the policy and training requirements. This made “First Look: NYS Model Sexual Harassment Policy & Training” one of our top posts of 2018. When the DOL updated its guidance closer to the October 9, 2018 effective date, we likewise offered an update.

In October, we also received telling data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). We examined this in “EEOC Releases 2018 Sexual Harassment Statistics.” The EEOC initially reported that after steadily declining over the previous decade, sexual harassment charges went up more than 12% in the fiscal year ending September 2018. In “EEOC: 2018 Sexual Harassment Data Even Worse” we discussed the final numbers showing a 13.6% increase.

The FMLA Is Always a Hot Topic

All the hype in 2017 was about the launch of New York’s Paid Family Leave Program. In 2018, the federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) turned 25 years old. But employers remain interested in learning more about what it means and how it works.

One of the most viewed posts of the year contrasted these two significant legal regimes. “New York Paid Family Leave vs. FMLA” takes a look at employer coverage, employee eligibility, qualifying circumstances, compensation, and other issues under these laws.

And after a year of learning when an employee might have rights under the New York Paid Family Leave, employers became even more interested in double checking “Who Is an FMLA Eligible Employee?

Drugs in the Workplace

Another issue that hasn’t gone away is employee drug use. Amidst a continuing national debate over the legalization of marijuana, readers were interested in what existing employment laws say about drugs generally.

What Does the Drug-Free Workplace Act Require?

This federal law doesn’t go as far as most people probably think. First, it only applies to businesses that have sufficiently large contracts with the federal government.

The Drug-Free Workplace Act requires these covered employers to adopt a drug-free workplace policy and establish a drug-free awareness program. However, it does not force these companies to fire employees who bring drugs to work or work under the influence of illegal drugs.

Drug Testing New York Employees

Employers in New York (and most other states in the U.S.) have broad rights to test employees for drug use. But many sources of law touch on the subject. That’s probably why this post was so popular with readers trying to determine their rights and obligations in various situations. (It was the #1 most viewed post on the New York Management Law Blog in 2018!)

Vacation Pay in New York

New York employers don’t have to let employees take paid vacations. But if they do offer a vacation benefit, the parameters must be clearly described in writing.

If you haven’t done so recently, now’s a good time to review your vacation pay policy. Use this post as a starting point.

What is Executive Order 11246?

You’d be surprised how many people asked that question in 2018. (I was.) This was actually our second most viewed post of the year. So, what is it?

Signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, this Executive Order imposes anti-discrimination and affirmative action requirements upon covered federal contractors. For example, companies with more than 50 employees and a contract with the U.S. government for at least $50,000 must maintain written affirmative action plans.

Although the Executive Order remains in place, the federal Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP), which oversees Executive Order 11246, has occasionally made the news over the past year or so. It recently announced several new policies on November 30, 2018.

What Are Employees Up To?

Two other top posts of 2018 addressed the reality that your employees don’t always want to be working (at least, for you).

Should You Let Employees Watch the World Cup?

Though less popular in the United States, the 2018 FIFA World Cup was one of the biggest global events of the year. For one month this summer, fans around the world cheered their favorite soccer nations. Before the contest began, we considered some pros and cons of letting employees watch the matches during work time.

Your Employee Has a Side Hustle

Many employees with regular full- or part-time jobs are also working on a personal business venture on the side. This is not necessarily good or bad in itself. Situations vary. But this post raised many legal considerations for employers ranging from conflicts of interests to federal leave laws.

Don’t Stop at the Top Posts of 2018!

I hope you find it helpful to look back at what happened last year, but you should also look forward. Please continue to follow the New York Management Law Blog in 2019.

The best way (in my opinion) to stay informed of the hottest topics in New York labor and employment law is to subscribe to our monthly email newsletter. It not only recaps our recent blog posts, but also announces upcoming free webinars that help you stay in compliance.

See you in 2019!

The Law of Telecommuting

The Law of Telecommuting (Webinar Recap)

On December 13, 2018, I presented a complimentary webinar called “The Law of Telecommuting.” For those who couldn’t attend the live webinar, I’m happy to make it available for you to watch at your convenience.

Click here for the webinar replay.

In the webinar, I discuss:

  • Telecommuting Trends and Statistics
  • Legal Concerns Related to Telecommuting
  • Telecommuting Policies and Agreements

The webinar goes over 10 different legal areas ranging from timekeeping and overtime to safety, security, and union issues.

Don’t have time to watch the whole webinar right now? Click here to download the slides from the webinar.

Why You Should Watch “The Law of Telecommuting”

Telecommuting continues to grow in the United States. Many employees prefer the flexibility working from home affords. And some employers recognize cost savings by having employees work remotely.

This webinar describes some workforce trends related to telecommuting and then points out a number of legal issues that can arise. These include:

  • Timekeeping
  • Meal Periods
  • Overtime
  • Time Off
  • Disability Accommodations
  • Discrimination
  • Confidentiality
  • Security
  • Safety
  • Unions

If you already have employees who work from home, this webinar will help you improve your compliance. And if you are considering whether to allow employees to telecommute, you’re in the right place too!

Don’t Miss Our Future Webinars!

Click here to sign up for my email newsletter to be among the first to know when registration is open for upcoming programs!

Telecommuting Trends

Telecommuting Trends & Statistics

Maybe you call it working from home, mobile work, remote work, or even telework. Technically, experts define “telecommuting” as the substitution of technology for commuter travel. In other words, rather than drive, carpool, or take public transportation to a facility controlled by their employer, employees use telephones, computers, the Internet, etc. to work offsite (often at home or perhaps at a coffee shop). We’ve already posted a quick checklist of legal concerns for employers on this topic. Here we’re focusing more on the bigger picture to share some telecommuting trends and statistics that employers should keep in mind.

[Want to learn more? Click for our FREE webinar on “The Law of Telecommuting”.]

Telecommuting Demographics

Let’s start with some overall numbers (for the United States).

According to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce report by Global Workplace Analytics  and FlexJobs: “Regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 140% since 2005, nearly 10x faster than the rest of the workforce or the self-employed.”

From 2015 to 2016, the number of telecommuters increased by almost 12%.

Larger companies are more likely to permit employees to telecommute than smaller ones, but only 7% of U.S. employers offer flexible workplace options.

While men and women are about equally likely to work remotely, telecommuting is more common among employees over 35 years old. Perhaps surprisingly, it is most prevalent among Baby Boomers. For a number of reasons, not having to travel to work on a regular basis allows people to remain in the workforce longer.

Workers with higher levels of formal education (those with bachelor’s or graduate degrees) are more likely to telecommute.

On average, telecommuters earn about $4,000 more per year than non-telecommuters (among workers making $100,000 or less annually). And a majority of them work more than 40 hours per week.

Geographic Factors

Per the 2017 State of Telecommuting report: “In more than half of the top U.S. metros, telecommuting exceeds public transportation as the commute option of choice. It has grown far faster than any other commute mode.”

Overall, small and mid-sized cities appear to utilize more telecommuting than larger cities.

Interestingly, the top 5 telecommuting metro areas all feature prominent public universities:

  1. Boulder, Colorado – 8.5% of workforce telecommutes (University of Colorado)
  2. Corvallis, OR – 6.9% (Oregon State University)
  3. Raleigh, NC – 6.2% (North Carolina State University)
  4. Charlottesville, VA – 5.5% (University of Virginia)
  5. Austin-Round Rock, TX – 5.4% (University of Texas)

Other large metro areas with a relatively high percentage of telecommuters are Denver (5.1%), Tampa-St. Petersburg (4.8%), Atlanta (4.6%), and San Diego (4.5%).

Telecommuting has grown the most in the Northeast and very little in the Southeast. Located between those regions, Chattanooga, Tennessee experienced the highest percentage growth of telecommuting from 2005-2015 at 325%.

Telecommuting Trends by Industry

Telecommuting is not limited to information-based industries. The largest share of telecommuters (17%) occurs in the professional services industry, followed by healthcare and social assistance (11.6%) and finance and insurance (9.7%). But manufacturing has the fourth highest percentage of telecommuters (8.5%).

Looking Ahead

It does not look like these telecommuting trends (i.e., gradual growth across industries) will significantly reverse themselves any time soon.

There are some anecdotal reports of companies bringing telecommuters back into the workplace. And data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a small drop in the percentage of U.S. workers who worked at home from 2015 to 2016. But that number rebounded in 2017.

There are some relatively extreme growth projections out there. Here’s one predicting that 30% of U.S. private sector workers will telecommute by 2019! Here’s another claiming that 50% of the U.S. workforce will work remotely by 2020!

In sum, the American workplace will continue to change dramatically (as it always has). Many jobs no longer need to be performed on-site. Some people are great employees but logistically can’t make it to work every day. At the same time, some businesses can accommodate telecommuting and others can’t. And there indeed are valid concerns, tradeoffs, and obstacles in many situations.

If these telecommuting trends intrigue you regarding your business, make sure to learn more through our free webinar: “The Law of Telecommuting”.