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Labor and Employment Policy to Watch in 2021’s Second Half

As US Congressional Democrats continue their advocacy for a pro-worker agenda, multiple bills and rules could bring about sweeping changes to the civil rights and labor protections for millions of workers. These include:

  • The Equality Act
  • The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act
  • The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
  • The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act)
  • The US Department of Labor’s Overtime Rule

According to McDermott partner Ellen Bronchetti, the PRO Act, for example, would enshrine a strict ABC test into federal law that would analyze whether workers qualify as independent contractors.

“I think that because Biden has promised to strengthen worker protections and strengthen workers’ right to organize, I think employers need to keep a real close eye on this legislation or versions of the legislation or pieces that might get pulled out and put elsewhere,” Bronchetti said in an article published in Law360.

Access the article.




New York State Department of Labor Publishes Standard for Prevention of Airborne Infectious Diseases

On July 6, 2021, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) published its Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard (Standard), as required under the New York Health and Essential Rights (HERO) Act. Under the Standard, employers with worksites located in New York are required to either adopt the NYSDOL’s model exposure prevention plan or develop their own alternative prevention plan no later than August 5, 2021, and circulate their plan to employees no later than September 4, 2021.

According to McDermott’s Lindsay DitlowChristina S. Dumitrescu and Abigail M. Kagan, employers must adopt a prevention plan but are not required to implement the plan until the New York State Commissioner of Health (Commissioner) designates an airborne disease as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.” As of the date of this alert, the Commissioner has not issued any such designation so employers need not implement their plans just yet.

Access the article.




Q&A: What Will the Future World of Work Look Like?

As governments around the world move to end lockdown restrictions, employers are examining how—and if—to bring their employees back to work. In this video, McDermott partner Carole A. Spink provides insight into the challenges facing both employers and employees.

“The issue here in the US is a pragmatic one,” Spink notes. “How do you do that and get buy-in from employees and return them in a reasonable way?”

Access the video.




Employers and Artificial Intelligence: Six Pitfalls to Watch Out For

As governments lift COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, employers are turning to artificial intelligence tools to accelerate their hiring processes.

However, these AI-based tools can open businesses up to discrimination claims if they are not careful, according to McDermott partner Brian Mead.

“[The technology] could decide that certain words [are] unlikely to [yield] successful candidates, and then it’s prescreening out members of protected classes and categories of applicants in a discriminatory way,” Mead said in a recent Law360 article.

Access the article.




California’s “Right to Recall” Law: What You Need to Know

On April 16, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 93 into law, a rehiring and retention law which requires employers in certain industries to make written job offers to employees who were laid off because of the impact of COVID-19. The law takes immediate effect and will remain in effect until December 31, 2024. Previously, some California cities adopted their own versions of local ordinances providing for a right to be recalled, including Carlsbad, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Pasadena, San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Clara.

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VIDEO: The COVID Vaccine – Understanding What’s Next

Employers have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and how to update their employment policies. In this video, McDermott partners, Chris Braham, Chris Foster and Michelle Strowhiro answer questions about vaccine requirements in the workforce, additional considerations and more.

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A Living Wage: The Latest ESG Challenge for Corporate Governance

Long considered controversial from economic and shareholder perspectives, living wage concepts are receiving more attention in the context of economic policy, social responsibility and ESG investing. As progressive perspectives concerning income equality, and executive and employee compensation, are becoming more mainstream, corporate leaders should prepare for greater engagement in this important conversation.

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New Resource Center: Navigating Change in the US Administration

Pandemic relief, taxes, income inequality, climate change, infrastructure, healthcare and civil rights: the new US administration is moving forward rapidly on President Joe Biden’s stated priorities. So how are these new policies affecting your business? We’re here to keep you informed!

McDermott Will & Emery’s multidisciplinary team of industry-leading lawyers are monitoring key legal areas to help you navigate and gain perspective on the most critical impacts of changing US policies. Access the latest updates in our new resource center.




Open for Business: How ‘Essential’ Businesses Can Keep Their Workplace Healthy and Safe

Most states have issued some form of ‘shelter in place’ or ‘stay at home’ order to flatten the curve of COVID-19. As a result, many business operations have been temporarily suspended, unless the business is engaged in essential or critical infrastructure functions or supports businesses engaged in such functions.

For businesses that are considered ‘essential’ and have employees still reporting to work, what steps can employers take to keep their workplace healthy and safe?

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COVID-19 Ate My Homework – Recent Extensions and Relief for Retirement Plans

In recognition of the difficulties faced by retirement plan sponsors, participants and beneficiaries due to the COVID-19 pandemic, new guidance extends the deadlines for notices and disclosures required by Title I of ERISA and extends deadlines for retirement plan participants and beneficiaries to submit benefit claims and benefit appeals. The new guidance also provides some welcome fiduciary relief for electronic disclosures, incomplete plan loan or distribution documentation, as well as delayed participant contributions and loan repayments.

Access the full article.




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