Massachusetts News & Analysis

  • New COVID-19 law requires paid sick, family leave

    On March 18, President Donald Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 90-8 earlier that day. The new law requires covered employers to provide emergency paid sick leave and emergency paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) until December 31, 2020. Some of the key requirements are summarized below.

  • Vermont minimum wage to rise after override of governor's veto

    Vermont's minimum wage will increase—eventually to $12.55 per hour in 2022—after lawmakers recently voted to override Republican Governor Phil Scott's veto.

  • Tackle coronavirus fears with practical, legal knowledge

    With news of spreading disease, travel restrictions and bans, and quarantines dominating the news, it's no surprise that employees have questions about the coronavirus/COVID-19 and whether they risk exposure at work. So, an understanding of how to respond is critical. The issues fall into two basic categories: practical considerations and how an employer can be legally compliant while keeping employees safe.

  • Security checks in workplace: Does California Supreme Court case apply in Maine?

    Whether it's a lunchbox, laptop case, or briefcase, most people bring a personal bag to work. To deter theft, some brick-and-mortar retailers and warehouses require employees to go through security checks of their personal belongings before leaving for the day. The California Supreme Court recently ruled that employees must be paid for time they spend undergoing such security checks. Although the ruling applies only to companies doing business in California, the court's reasoning may have ramifications for Maine employers. Moreover, the case has attracted widespread attention, and the issues it implicates are on the radar of both government agencies and attorneys.

  • Healthcare providers urged to plan for the worst as coronavirus spreads

    As the number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continues to grow in the United States, healthcare employers are urged to review and update their policies and procedures relating to public health emergencies and infectious disease outbreaks. Providers should be prepared to execute protocols if a suspected or confirmed case is identified within their organization or community. Read on to learn about precautions providers can take now to prepare.

  • 2nd Circuit rules on FLSA 'professional exemption' for consulting nurse

    The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides some narrow exemptions that keep employers from paying overtime to certain employees who work more than 40 hours per week, including work in a bona fide "executive, administrative, or professional capacity." Although registered nurses (RNs) working in a clinical setting are normally considered exempt professionals, what about an RN who works in a nonclinical setting but still in health care? The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals (whose decisions apply to all Connecticut and Vermont employers) recently held nonclinical RNs are professionals, too.

  • Political talk heating up at work? You have options

    In case you haven't noticed, it's an election year. And it's not just candidates sounding off on the campaign trail. Passionate ― even angry ― political talk also can spill into the workplace, leaving hurt feelings and lost productivity in its wake. You may feel wedged between the proverbial rock and a hard place as you try to keep the peace while striving to be respectful of employees who feel compelled to share their views. While no perfect strategy exists, you aren't helpless. Here are some ideas.

  • Legislative efforts taking on hairstyle discrimination

    Workplace discrimination based on hair? It may not be the first type of discrimination to come to mind, but it's beginning to get more attention. African Americans have noted that workplace appearance codes often insist on Eurocentric hairstyles. Styles that better conform to the natural hair texture of black people are often looked down on in the workplace. But that is starting to change, and the change includes legislation. California and New York have passed state laws prohibiting discrimination based on natural or protective hairstyles, and more states and local governments are considering similar measures.

  • Federal Watch

    Bill gives paid parental leave to 2 million federal workers. A bill including a provision to grant federal workers up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave has passed as part of a larger defense bill backed by President Donald Trump. The bill passed the Senate on December 17 and had previously passed the House. Its expected to provide paid parental leave for more than 2 million federal workers and was backed by Ivanka Trump, the presidents daughter and a key adviser. The parental leave part of the bill was supported by many Democrats and opposed by many Republicans. It was one of the legislative compromises reached during the runup to the impeachment fight.

  • HR Technology

    Hiring platform releases code of ethics for using AI. Modern Hire, a platform aimed at enabling organizations to improve hiring experiences, has released a code of ethics regarding the ethical development and adoption of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in hiring. The code incorporates the following tenets: Modern Hire evaluates only information candidates knowingly provide, it will provide candidates with feedback whenever permitted by clients, it discloses to candidates how their data is being evaluated and used, and it rigorously develops and tests all scoring methodologies for its AI-powered hiring assessments and interviews. The company said its approach and code of ethics reflect a candidate-first, job-relevant approach to the use of technology.