Texas News & Analysis

  • Discord over foreign workers has long history, elusive solution

    The fate of foreign workers in the United States remains up in the air amid the worldwide public health crisis and political disputes related to immigration and foreign worker programs. The COVID-19 pandemic had already slowed or stopped authorization of many foreign workers when the Trump administration in June restricted visas for some classes of foreign workers. The administration's action came on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that was at least a temporary win for certain young immigrant workers already in the United States. Then President Donald Trump hinted at more change on the way for those immigrants. So, the signals are mixed, making uncertainty the key word for foreign workers and their employers.

  • Adapt or die? Looking ahead to a post-COVID workplace

    It didn't take a worldwide public health crisis to pique people's curiosity about what the workplace of the future will look like. Managers and frontline staff alike have always pondered the best designs for productivity, efficiency, and safety. But COVID-19 has changed everything. The workplaces that are reopening in many cases have a different look and feel than anyone expected prepandemic. Temperature checks at building entrances, plexiglass barriers, spaced-out desks, and occupancy limits for elevators are just a few of the changes now in place in many workplaces. Some of the modifications may be short-lived, but experts, including designers and futurists, expect others will be long-term or even permanent.

  • After discovering embezzlement, have a strategy for obtaining restitution

    Few things are as shocking to an employer as learning a trusted employee is embezzling. Often, the feeling of betrayal is as gut-wrenching as the discovery of the financial loss itself. The first instinct may be to call the police. But because embezzlement is difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to prove, local law enforcement may be reluctant to investigate and prosecute. In addition, many employers don't want their customers or the business community to know. As a result, an employer may feel it has little chance of recovering its loss and satisfy itself with merely terminating the embezzling employee.

  • Guidance for employers as 'Strike for Black Lives' unfolds

    On July 20, 2020, organizers and labor organizations across the country held a "Strike for Black Lives"—a national walkout of workers in support of "dismantling racism and white su-premacy to bring about fundamental changes in our society, economy and workplaces." To limit liability and keep their businesses running, employers must understand employees' legal rights to participate in a one-day political strike. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has inter-preted the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to provide important protections to employees who engage in such strikes, and employers should respect the analysis and respond accordingly.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Poll shows confidence in remote work. A recent edition of LinkedIn's Workforce Confidence Index released in May gives HR professionals food for thought as they consider the future. The survey shows that 55% of respondents think their industry can be effective when people work remotely. Optimism is strongest in such fields as software, finance, and media, a LinkedIn blog post said. But remote work is a "polarizing topic" in other sectors in which in-person interaction is crucial, according to the blog. Forty-eight percent of respondents in health care were optimistic about remote work, and 41% in manufacturing were keen on the idea. The most resistance was noted in retail, with just 29% of insiders thinking their industry could thrive with remote work. The poll included 5,447 LinkedIn members and covered the week of April 27 to May 3.

  • Federal Watch

    DOL offering unemployment fraud prevention resources. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued updated resources for employers, employees, and states to prevent fraud or misuse in the unemployment insurance system, including the unemployment insurance programs under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The DOL in May released resources that include lists of fraud hotlines and frequently asked questions. The agency reminded employers and employees of their obligations to report fraud, waste, or abuse. Examples of employer fraud include acting to avoid tax liability and establishing fictitious employer accounts to enable fraudulent claims, the DOL said. Claimant fraud may include knowingly submitting false information, knowingly continuing to collect benefits when ineligible, certifying for benefits under state law while not being able and available to work, or intentionally collecting full benefits while not reporting wages or income.

  • HR Technology

    Tech device sales decline even in era of remote work. Research and advisory firm Gartner, Inc., is forecasting a 13.6% decline in global shipments of computers, tablets, and mobile phones for 2020. The downturn could have been more severe, however, if businesses and schools hadnt invested in technology to facilitate more remote work during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown. Looking ahead to a postpandemic time, Gartner says 48% of employees likely will continue to work remotely at least part of the time, up from 30% before the pandemic. Employers should expect their IT departments to shift to more notebooks, tablets, and Chrome devices for remote workers, according to Gartner. This trend combined with businesses required to create flexible business continuity plans will make business notebooks displace desk-based PCs through 2021 and 2022, Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner, said.

  • Looking ahead after pandemic: Employers likely to see enduring change

    What's the world of work going to look like in the weeks and months ahead? Some workplaces in some parts of the country will be farther along the road to recovery than others, but few will go back to being just like they were before words like coronavirus, pandemic, and COVID-19 became all-consuming thoughts. The months of business shutdowns, remote work, and uncertainty have changed employee attitudes and employer practices—changes that are important for management to understand as employers move forward.

  • Racial tension coupled with COVID anxiety challenging workplaces in new ways

    It has been a long and tragic spring and summer for employers as well as society at large. The coronavirus pandemic sent legions of workers to the unemployment rolls, and others had to learn how to do their jobs remotely—all while dealing with the threat of an all-too-often deadly disease. Then, on May 25, came news of another black person dying in police custody, the latest in a string of such deaths. The viral video of George Floyd handcuffed on the ground with a white officer's knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes sparked outrage that erupted in massive protests across the country and abroad. Inequality and prejudice—not new issues in the workplace—came to the forefront, leaving many employers wondering what actions they should take.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    #RecoverStronger Initiative urges inclusive economic recovery. JFF, a nonprofit focusing on driving change to bring equitable economic advancement, in June announced its #RecoverStronger Initiative, which calls on "impact employers"—organizations focused on talent strategies that make a positive impact on workers and communities—to be leaders. The companies involved, including Microsoft, Walmart, Postmates, and other large employers, have committed to business values and practices that prioritize worker well-being and economic mobility in response to COVID-19. The members of the founding coalition also have vowed to stand against the forces of systemic racism. JFF's announcement says strategies include more inclusive hiring practices, development programs that help employees prepare for and thrive in a shifting labor market, total rewards programs that create greater job security and stability, and ethical offboarding strategies that help workers position themselves for new opportunities in growing fields.