With the rise of inflation and other negative economic indicators, most news reports are suggesting that the U.S. economy is facing uncertain times. Some economists predict that the economy is headed for a recession or that the United States has already entered one, while others are more optimistic.
On September 29 and 30, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed more than one hundred new pieces of legislation, several of which directly affect California employers.
Employment laws in every country have anomalies that can catch employers off-guard because they do not seem to make sense—until you look under the surface. Three examples of this are from Italy, the Netherlands, and Australia, involving rules governing voluntary employment resignations in Italy to vacation leave accruals in the Netherlands to surprising redundancy pay entitlements in Australia. Here is a quick look at some fascinating features of these countries’ laws.
Employers may be able to alleviate some of the stress and burden associated with economic downturns by working with state unemployment agencies and using workshare programs. Workshare programs allow employers to enter into agreements with state unemployment agencies to reduce employee hours without laying off employees or disqualifying them from state unemployment compensation benefits to supplement their reduced wages.
In the first ruling from a federal appellate court examining COVID-19–related layoffs and the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held in Easom v. US Well Services, Inc., No. 21-20202 (June 15, 2022), that a mass layoff resulting in part from the economic impact of COVID-19 did not qualify for the “natural disaster” exemption to the WARN Act’s sixty-day notice requirement for mass layoffs. The court also held that for an employer to rely on the exemption, the mass layoff (or plant closing) must be the “direct result” of the natural disaster. This is an important ruling for employers in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.
Remote work has exploded since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with some employers hiring employees to work remotely anywhere in the United States. With the recent economic downturn, layoffs are beginning to occur, and for the first time a significant number of remote employees may be included in layoffs. Layoffs of remote employees present unique legal hazards for employers.
To say that COVID-19 has presented numerous challenges to employers would certainly be an understatement. One of the changes and challenges that has entered the workforce is the proliferation of work-from-home arrangements. With remote workers, employers have had to alter the ways they recruit, pay, manage, and even discharge employees.
There is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel for New Jersey employers, as the state’s COVID-19 numbers continue to decline and Governor Philip Murphy continues to ease restrictions on businesses. But this good news comes with a dose of serious bad news for New Jersey employers too. The state previously adopted amendments to the New Jersey Act (officially known as the Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act), which require employers to provide 90 days’ notice before the first employee is discharged as part of a mass layoff, termination of operations, or transfer of operations.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), which became law on March 11, 2021, provides a 100 percent subsidy of premiums under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) beginning on April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021, with employers to recoup the missing premiums through Medicare tax credits.
Over 1,500 COVID-19–related employment lawsuits were filed in the United States in 2020. Ogletree Deakins’ Interactive COVID-19 Litigation Tracker highlights the industries impacted, locations, and types of claims in these matters.
Employers in all industries have faced unprecedented business challenges during 2020, and responding to those challenges has often entailed adjustments to the size and composition of workforces through targeted or broader-based reductions in force. As we finally face the end of this seemingly interminable year, it is important to consider some of the less-obvious consequences of reductions in force on tax-qualified retirement plans. In particular, a frequent “gotcha” for employers that have made significant workforce reductions during a year (or, in some cases, over a period of years) is the so-called “partial plan termination.” Failing to spot a partial plan termination can lead to costly and time-consuming plan repair work, but if an employer is alert to the circumstances in which one can occur, the potential pain of a partial plan termination can be readily avoided.
On August 7, 2020, the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) published guidance regarding the City of San Francisco’s “Temporary Right to Reemployment Following Layoff Due to COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Ordinance.” Also known as the “Back to Work” emergency ordinance, the ordinance took effect on July 3, 2020, requiring San Francisco employers with 100 or more employees to offer reemployment to eligible employees laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic when the employers rehire for the same or similar job classifications.
Conducting business in the U.S. Virgin Islands poses unique challenges not often encountered in the states, but also unique opportunities. This 20-part series offers tips for doing business in the U.S. Virgin Islands, covering a broad array of topics affecting employers. Part seven of this series addresses several provisions of U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan, Jr.’s July 1, 2020, ninth supplemental executive order extending the state of emergency due to COVID-19 that he initially declared on March 13, 2020.
Employers considering reductions in force in Puerto Rico should be aware that the rules on the taxation of severance pay in the United States and Puerto Rico are different.
Oregon employers feeling the financial strain of economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are bracing themselves for another impact. On July 1, 2020, Oregon’s minimum wage increase will take effect.
In a move that could impact many Maryland employers, the Maryland General Assembly has made a major change to the state’s version of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act or its “mini-WARN” law.
On May 4, 2020, Mayor Eric Garcetti signed two new ordinances governing employee right of recall and worker retention in the City of Los Angeles. The ordinances provide certain rights and preferences to various workers whose employment has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
For the last several months, employers have been forced to learn how COVID-19 spreads, how to maintain or resume safe work environments, and how to navigate a complex web of new and existing laws and regulations implicated by the pandemic. Employers have also had to contend with a growing wave of COVID-19–related employment litigation.
Employers across the country are making difficult decisions due to the COVID-19 crisis. The economic downturn has affected current employees in a number of ways, including reduced pay, reduced work hours, furloughs, and even permanent reductions in force. To help keep their businesses afloat, employers also must make the difficult decision to withdraw job offers that have been extended to future employees, such as summer interns, coop students, and college graduates.
On March 23, 2020, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) issued “Guidance on [the] Conditional Suspension of California WARN Act Notice Requirements under Executive Order N-31-20.” The DIR provided guidance to further clarify Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-31-20 (March 17, 2020), which temporarily suspended Cal-WARN’s typical 60-day notice requirement for layoffs or business closures. The guidance may assist employers in understanding their Cal-WARN obligations when faced with making temporary or permanent staffing reductions (or relocations) as a result of COVID-19 prevention and mitigation efforts.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health and economic cataclysm, and few employers have been able to escape its impact on their business operations and employees. In their efforts to better manage their workforces during this period of extreme economic instability, many employers are turning to unpaid leaves of absences and furloughs as a way to scale back on costs temporarily while maintaining a connection to employees whose help will be critical to restarting normal business operations (whenever that may be). However, at a time when access to health care and financial support for impacted employees is more important than ever, indefinite unpaid leaves or absence and furloughs can present complex administrative issues for many common employee benefit plans. In the discussion that follows, we highlight some of the more important employee benefits issues to consider when employees are placed on unpaid leaves of absence or furloughs.
During this season of COVID-19, in which the duration of the crisis is unknown, employers across the country are seeking to implement cost-cutting measures which avoid full-blown reductions in force (RIFs). Many employers are opting instead for cost-saving measures that are designed to be temporary and reversible placeholders in the event the economy snaps back sooner rather than later. Employers have several tools in their toolkits.
It was a busy January 2020 in Trenton, with the state enacting several new employment laws, with more apparently on the way. This is in addition to the slew of new laws adopted in 2019 impacting New Jersey employers. Here’s a summary of recent employment law developments in New Jersey just one month into 2020, a look at what may be on the way, and a recap of 2019’s changes.
On January 21, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law Senate Bill 3170, which expands New Jersey’s Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act (New Jersey WARN Act) well beyond the requirements of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988. The law is scheduled to go into effect on July 19, 2020, and will make New Jersey the first state to guarantee payment of severance to employees affected by mass layoffs.