New Hampshire News & Analysis

  • Employment laws fail to keep up with legalization of marijuana and CBD

    When I stand in the checkout line at our local Whole Foods, CBD products are within easy reach. If I buy the CBD ointment, could I run into any problems at work?

  • IRS announces 2020 benefits limits

    The IRS has announced cost-of-living adjustments for various limits on retirement plans and other benefits limits for 2020. The key limits listed below are found in IRS Notice 2019-19 and Revenue Procedures 2019-25 and 2019-44:

  • The thin hair line: SJC rules hair follicle drug tests are unreliable

    In a recent case, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), the highest state court in Massachusetts, determined that hair follicle drug tests do not provide sufficiently reliable evidence that an individual has ingested illegal drugs. The case, which arose from a drug test conducted on a potential recruit by the Boston Police Department (BPD), highlights the unreliability and the potential pitfalls of this drug-testing method.

  • CT Appellate Court affirms dismissal of disgruntled former employee's creative claims

    We've written a number of times about disgruntled former employees suing after employers are forced to fire them. Lawsuits by former employees are invariably time-consuming, distracting, and frustrating. And as one employer recently learned in a unique case, that's under the best of circumstances. Sometimes, disgruntled employees throw everything into their lawsuit but the kitchen sink. They don't just sue for discrimination, for example; they assert every possible claim and drag the case out for years.

  • 'It's expensive to be wrong': Boston pays big for supervisor's actions

    The city of Boston is no stranger to writing big checks. It has lots of expenses. It pays for all sorts of daily necessities. But when mistakes happen, it can be forced to pay extra. Lost a few too many orange cones this year? OK, that's manageable. Found out one of your employees was discriminating against another employee for years based on race, and now you've been ordered to pay a judgment of more than $10 million dollars . . . wait, WHAT?! So is this article a cautionary tale to warn employers about how bad behavior by staff can cost them millions of dollars? Absolutely.

  • Handling office romance in #MeToo era: Know your options

    As Valentine's Day nears, love is in the air—and oftentimes in the workplace. Although workplace romance is common, it can make HR professionals fret about all the what-ifs. What if a relationship is between a supervisor and a direct report? What if rumors of favoritism poison the workplace environment? What if one or both participants is married to someone else? What if a couple's public displays of affection make coworkers uncomfortable? What if a relationship goes sour and the breakup affects morale? And perhaps the most important question to consider: What if a relationship is one-sided and is more accurately described as sexual harassment instead of consensual?

  • Something lacking in your workplace? Boosting soft skills can help

    Anyone involved in recruiting and hiring knows the importance of assessing a candidate's skills. Does the candidate have the right training, experience, and credentials to do the job? But anyone in charge of hiring (or maybe even rehabilitating already-employed workers who aren't quite measuring up) knows that merely evaluating a candidate's hard skills isn't enough. More and more, employers are finding "soft skills" are essential in the workplace.

  • Q - A: Firing without conviction: the uncertainty of handling an employee arrest

    Q One of our employees has been arrested but not convicted. It doesn't appear he's going to be released in the near future. Is it better to put him in an unpaid "leave" status or fire him?

  • Q - A: Make your 2020 ‘New Year’s resolution’ to prepare for 2021’s paid leave changes

    Q As an HR pro, I like to set goals for myself. If you could recommend one such "New Year's resolution" for 2020, what would it be?

    We always recommend that HR professionals use the New Year as an opportunity to review and revise their employee handbooks. But this year is slightly different because you need to get ready for Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML).

    On January 1, 2021, all private Massachusetts employees will gain the right to take paid time off (PTO) for their own serious health conditions, to have a baby or welcome an adopted or foster child, and to spend time with family members who are servicemembers for various types of "exigencies." As of July 1, 2021, that right will become even broader and allow employees to take PTO to care for family members who have serious health conditions. These benefits won't replace 100 percent of employee income, but they are substantial. Further, this new leave, which falls under the new PFML statute in Massachusetts, comes with job protection, a right to be free from retaliation, and a presumption that any adverse action taken by an employer within six months of an employee's return from leave is retaliatory.

    The new law represents a sea change for Massachusetts employers. It will affect how businesses plan for and maintain appropriate levels of staffing, how they manage employee time and attendance, and how they address performance problems and disciplinary issues. It will also require you to work with the new Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) during the claims process.

    So, this year, we recommend Massachusetts businesses make it their New Year's resolution to prepare for the changes that will come with this new law by revising existing policies and procedures, including:

    • Conducting an annual handbook review;
    • Implementing a process for responding to DFML inquiries; and
    • Providing important training to supervisors about how to handle employee absences and avoid allegations of unlawful retaliation.

    Taking the year to really prepare for these changes will ensure a much smoother transition when the leave requests start to roll in come 2021. You may think you don't need a year to plan for this transition, but, in all honesty, you probably need more than a year.

    Erica Flores is an attorney with Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C., in Springfield, Massachusetts. You can contact her at eflores@skoler-abbott.com.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Report identifies most important skills for recruiters. LinkedIn's new Future of Recruiting report identifies the number one priority for recruiting organizations during the next five years will be keeping pace with rapidly changing hiring needs. The report finds that talent analytics roles have grown by 111% since 2014. The data also show that the three skills that will become more important over the next five years are the ability to engage passive candidates, the ability to analyze talent data to drive decisions, and the ability to advise business leaders and hiring managers. Among the other findings, the report notes that demand for recruiting professionals is at an all-time high, the career path to becoming a recruiter is evolving, and deeper investments in technology will be required to find quality candidates.