Alaska News & Analysis

  • After the pandemic: returning employees to work

    If we have learned anything from the current pandemic, it is this ― we don't yet have a universal, comprehensive understanding of COVID-19. As both federal and state governments begin to discuss reopening the economy, this presents a quandary for businesses, which are caught between calling back their workforces and fulfilling their obligation under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) to provide a safe work environment free from recognized hazards.

  • FFCRA: DOL nonenforcement period doesn't mean you need not comply

    The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was passed on March 18, 2020, with an effective date of April 1. Subsequent (and sometimes conflicting) guidance left employers and employment lawyers scrambling to ensure compliance while navigating the unprecedented and uncertain times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Soon thereafter, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) notified employers that "violations of the Act occurring within 30 days of the enactment" (through April 17) would not result in enforcement actions.

  • 9th Circuit: After-acquired evidence may preclude ADA claims

    In an opinion likely to have wide-ranging impact, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (which has jurisdiction over Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington employers) recently decided after-acquired evidence barred an employee's employment discrimination claim filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). Let's briefly look at the case and its significance.

  • Workers' comp and COVID-19: What WA's essential businesses should know

    With Washington businesses continuing to operate under Governor Jay Inslee's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, workers' compensation may not be of primary concern. As we all play our part to try to "bend the curve," however, it's inevitable some employees may face increased exposure risk as part of the essential workforce still operating throughout the state, meaning essential businesses could find themselves dealing with an unexpected avalanche of COVID-related workers' comp claims. By planning ahead and taking some relatively straightforward precautions, essential businesses can minimize their risk of contending with successful claims, all while protecting their vital workforce from the disease.

  • A refresher on Nevada personnel file rules in wake of COVID-19

    With COVID-19 plaguing businesses throughout the first half of 2020, employee health information is being transmitted with increased frequency. In addition, with HR professionals increasingly performing work remotely, proper recordkeeping may begin to take a backseat to other pressing business needs. Although we remain in uncertain times, federal and state laws ― including those pertaining to personnel files and medical records ― remain in effect, and the possibility of penalties for noncompliance continues to loom. For that reason, a brief refresher on Nevada's personnel file rules follows.

  • State employee disciplinary records are confidential, Alaska Supreme Court rules

    State employee disciplinary reports qualify as confidential personnel records exempt from disclosure under the Alaska Public Records Act, the state supreme court recently ruled.

  • Cybersecurity takes on even more importance during pandemic

    As COVID spring turns to COVID summer, many employees are growing accustomed to working from home. Thank goodness the technology exists to work remotely, but it's not as simple as just making sure employees have access to a computer and Internet connection at home. Cybersecurity must be a priority as well. The office is likely a more secure environment than an employee's home, so it's crucial employees know how to work safely in the new business "normal."

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    How to help employees working remotely. With the COVID-19 pandemic sending many people home to work, employees are facing new challenges. What can managers do to help? A blog post from The Workforce Institute at Kronos suggests three ways to help workers adjust. Set clear expectations: Make sure everyone is on the same page, Workforce Institute board member Chris Mullen writes in the post. Have an open dialog about what's expected, and be empathetic to employees during the adjustment. Keep communication channels open: There is no such thing as overcommunicating at this time, Mullen says. Communication will help avoid misunderstandings, build trust, and increase effectiveness. Check in with employees: Remote work can lead to feelings of isolation. Mullen suggests setting up a 30-minute weekly meeting with each team member to understand the employee's needs.

  • 500-day journey to the new normal at work

    I hope all of you are safe and secure, wherever you are working or sheltering. With our persistent joint efforts and with all the help we can get, we will get through the coronavirus crisis. When will America's workplaces return to normal? My short answer is, we will never return to the normal we remember, but with a lot of effort, we should reach a new stasis in 2022. One thing is certain: The workplace in 2022 will look far different than it did two months ago.

  • Federal Watch

    New DOL rule requires more union financial reporting. The U.S. Department of Labors (DOL) Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) announced a final rule in March requiring unions to file annual financial reports concerning their trusts. The rule requires all labor organizations with total annual receipts of $250,000 or more to file a Form T-1, under certain circumstances, for each trust of the type defined by the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. Such labor organizations trigger the Form T-1 reporting requirements if, during the reporting period, theyeither alone or in combination with other labor organizationsselect or appoint the majority of the members of the trusts governing board or contribute more than 50% of the trusts receipts. Any contributions in accord with a collective bargaining agreement are considered the labor organizations contributions. The rule allows a union to voluntarily file the Form T-1 on behalf of one or more other unions if each of the unions otherwise would be obligated to individually file for the same trust.