According to a recent study released in late October, younger members of the workforce or “millennials” place a great deal of weight on flexibility and constructive manager feedback. The study, called “Millennials Speak: A New Generation Seeks Focus, Flexibility and Feedback”, by Rupert & Company, a consulting firm was conducted on focus groups with 205 employees in the 23-33 age range at nine employers.
The study’s findings are quite different from current opinion that sees the millennial worker as self-indulgent, difficult to manage and more preoccupied with social media than their job assignments. In general, however, the study portrays the millennial worker as a focused individual with clear goals and less tolerance for slow change than their predecessors. Furthermore, millenials want managers who set precise work expectations, give ongoing feedback and encourage flexibility.
Based on study results and their extensive experience in the field, Rupert & Company concluded their report with the following recommendations to employers: (1) Make the commitment to fully equip managers to manage flexibly – The decades-old mantra “flex depends on my manager” has run its course; (2) Companies should require clear work definitions and quality feedback – Millennials will not endure 60-hour weeks for no reason or stale annual feedback; (3) Study your millennials thoroughly and let positive needs push change – Avoid the tendency to assume that this cohort just needs assimilation; (4) Redesign your flexibility system around key principles rather than menus – Use the millennial anchor of “as long as the work gets done” for many forms of flex; and (5) Embrace flexibility as a better way of working and engaging staff - As newcomers to the workplace, millennials should partner in work redesign. 10.31.2011.
On October 27, the House Judiciary Committee Oct. 27 passed The Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, a bill that would eliminate the per-country numerical limitation for employment-based visas and create a fairer system that is “first come, first serve.”
Under the current Immigration and Nationality Act the number of employment-based green cards available to natives of any one country cannot exceed 7% of the total number of green cards available each year. The new legislation, however, would eliminate the employment-based per-country cap over a three-year period and would raise the family-sponsored per-country cap from 7 percent to 15 percent.
The new legislation has gained support because of strong feelings that some countries have more of the skilled workers that are sought by American employers. However, natives of these countries must quite often wait several years longer for green cards than natives of other countries. As an example, in the employment-based second preference category for professionals with advanced degrees and aliens of exceptional ability, green cards are immediately available to approved applicants from most countries. However, workers from India and China must wait four years to obtain a green card, he said. 10.28.2011.
The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on October 25 that it has redesigned employment authorization documents (EADs) and Form N-560 certificates of citizenship with new features to strengthen security and deter fraud.
The redesign is part of USCIS’s ongoing efforts to enhance the integrity of the immigration system, the agency said. The new documents will feature state of the art technology to “deter counterfeiting, obstruct tampering, and facilitate quick and accurate authentication,” USCIS said.
The agency said it began issuing the new EADs Oct. 25 and will begin issuing redesigned certificates of citizenship Oct. 30. USCIS said more than 1 million people will receive the new documents over the next year.
According to USCIS, the new EADs will “better equip workers, employers and law enforcement officials to recognize the card as definitive proof of authorization to work in the United States.”
The agency said it worked closely with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s forensic document laboratory to incorporate features in the new documents that deter fraud.
The new EAD features optically variable ink, a holographic image, a laser-engraved tamper-resistant photograph and fingerprint, and a unique background design.
According to USCIS, fine-line artwork and complex, multilayered card components are difficult to fraudulently reproduce.
In addition, the card number and case number now are listed on the front of the card.
USCIS said it will replace EADs already in circulation as individuals apply for their renewal or replacement. All previously issued EADs remain valid until their expiration date. Previously issued certificates of citizenship remain valid indefinitely, the agency said. 10-27-2011.
California drivers and installers who transported and installed home appliances cannot pursue state law allegations that Penske Logistics LLC denied them meal and rest breaks because the claims are preempted by federal transportation law, a federal court in California held Oct. 19 (Dilts v. Penske Logistics LLC, S.D. Cal., No. 08-cv-318, 10/19/11).
Granting partial summary judgment to the employer in a class action covering about 350 drivers and installers of Whirlpool appliances, Judge Janis L. Sammartino of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California held that the meal and rest break claims under state law are preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, which includes language preempting some state law regulation of motor carrier operations.
Sammartino found that although the Penske employees performed all of their work inside California, the California Labor Code provisions they cited relate to “a price, route, or service” of a motor carrier and are therefore preempted by federal transportation law.
According to the decision and court records, Mickey Lee Dilts and other employees worked for Penske, which provided transportation and warehouse management services to Whirlpool Corp. in California.
Penske employees received customer orders and arranged for the required appliances to be manufactured at various locations and then had them delivered to Whirlpool’s California regional distribution centers by third-party motor carriers.
After the appliances arrived in California, Penske workers inventoried the appliances and loaded them on trucks for shipment to local distribution centers or directly to customers. Penske driver/installers, accompanied by nondriving installers, drove the appliances to their final destinations and installed them for customers.
In January 2008, Dilts and several other employees filed a state court action asserting that Penske failed to compensate them in accordance with the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the California Labor Code. The employees also alleged that the company routinely deducted 30 minutes from their payroll records to account for meal periods, but failed to insure they were actually relieved from duty and able to eat without interruption.
The employees also complained that the company violated state law by not affording employees a rest period of 10 minutes for every four hours worked, which was required by a state Industrial Welfare Commission order. The employees’ complaint also included an allegation that by conducting its business in violation of the Labor Code, Penske engaged in unfair business practices prohibited by the California Business and Professions Code.
Penske filed a motion for partial summary judgment, and Sammartino said the issue before her was not the merit of the California Labor Code allegations but whether the state claims were preempted by federal law.
The court said the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 regulates several modes of transportation, and one provision, found at 49 U.S.C. § 14501(c)(1), provides that with certain exceptions a state “may not enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier … or any motor private carrier, broker, or freight forwarder with respect to the transportation of property.”
Sammartino acknowledged that the language of the statutory provision “does not, on its face, explicitly encompass state regulation of meal and rest breaks,” but she said Congress intended for the FAAA Act to eliminate nonuniform state regulation of motor carriers that was considered to have caused inefficiencies and other problems in the transportation industry.
The court said Congress used preemption language in the FAAA Act that was “copied” from the Airline Deregulation Act, a statute the U.S. Supreme Court held preempted the authority of states to apply consumer protection laws to regulated air carriers.
The preemptive scope of the airline deregulation legislation and the FAAA Act has “never been fully resolved,” Sammartino wrote, calling the preemption of the California Labor Code provisions “a close question.”
The court found that by imposing requirements for the meal and rest breaks of Penske employees, the state labor laws “directly and significantly related to such things as the frequency and scheduling of transportation.”
Penske did not show that the meal and rest break laws would prevent the company from serving particular markets, but Sammartino said “the laws bind Penske to a schedule and frequency of routes that ensures many off-duty breaks at specific times throughout the workday.” Such restrictions would interfere with market forces in the industry, she said.
Sammartino said complying with the California statutes would also have a “significant impact on prices.” Penske produced evidence that it would have to add drivers, helpers, tractors, and trailers in order to maintain the same level of service to Whirlpool while providing the required meal and rest breaks for all of the Penske employees.
The employees argued that the California statutes are “wage laws” that are not preempted by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Finding them preempted by the FAAA Act would create an “unnecessary conflict” between federal law, according to the employees.
But Sammartino said it is a mischaracterization to call the California statutes “wage laws.” In order to comply with the state laws, the court observed, Penske could not simply pay higher wages; the company would have to provide the required breaks. One of the penalties for failing to give an employee a required break is to compensate the employee with additional wages, but Sammartino said that does not make the California statutes “wage laws” or save them from preemption.
“A wage law, which essentially increases the price of labor, impacts a motor carrier’s prices, routes, or services in a tenuous way,” Sammartino said. “If the cost of labor goes up, then prices, routes, and services are more expensive.”
But she said, “In the instant case, however, the impact is not derived from the increased cost of labor and is not tenuous. Rather, the impact is derived from the imposition of substantive restrictions upon the breaks taken by motor carrier drivers and drivers’ helpers, which binds the motor carriers to a set of routes, services, schedules, origins, and destinations that it otherwise would not be bound to—thereby interfering with the competitive market forces in the industry.”
Finding that Congress intended to avoid such state interference, Sammartino wrote “the Court finds these laws are ‘related to the motor carrier’s prices, routes, or services,’ and thus preempted by the FAAA Act.”
Section 14501(c)(2)(A) of the federal law provides that the preemption clause does not “restrict the safety regulatory authority of a State.” The Penske employees argued that the state meal and rest period laws have a direct connection to the health and safety of workers. Their effort to remedy meal and rest period violations should not be blocked by federal law, the drivers and installers argued.
Sammartino agreed that “[t]he safety of employees working long hours without breaks is an issue of unquestionable importance to employees operating dangerous motor vehicles.” But she said the state laws address “public health concerns” that “are not directly connected to motor vehicle safety.”
The judge said if she held the meal and rest break legislation is directly related to motor vehicle safety, “then any law impacting the health and safety of an employee would fall within the motor vehicle safety exception simply because the employee is the driver of a potentially dangerous motor vehicle.”
Finding “the motor vehicle safety exception to the FAAA Act’s preemptive scope does not apply here,” Sammartino granted Penske’s request for partial summary judgment on the meal and rest break claims. 10.27.2011.
Participants in Section 401(k) plans will have greater access to investment advice as the result of a final rule published Oct. 25 by the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration. According to a DOL fact sheet on the rule, millions of workers direct at least a portion of the investments in their retirement plans, but fiduciary rules restrict investment advice where the advisers would receive compensation from the investment vehicles they recommend. To address the increasing need for quality investment advice, the rule permits advisers to receive fees when recommending investments to plan participants, but it includes “safeguards and conditions” aimed at preventing advice that is skewed toward investment products that pay higher fees to advisers. 10.27.2011
With yesterday’s approval by Chrysler Group and its union workers for a new four year labor contract, it marked the successful completion of labor negotiations between the “Big Three” automobile companies (General Motors (GM), Ford & Chrysler) and the United Automobile Workers (U.A.W.) union. This contract is very significant because it sets the pay for not only the more than 100,000 union workers at the Big Three, but also workers at auto parts suppliers and non-union workers at U.S. plants owned by foreign automakers.
To many industry analysts, this also marks the comeback of the American car industry which was on the brink of collapse only a few years ago. After going through falling sales, bankruptcies and a government bailout, the industry is now in hopes of a new era where productivity and competitiveness may be improving as well as jobs returning to the United States.
Overall, the new contract helps with controlling fixed costs. Although the Big Three automobile company’s wages and benefits are still higher than their foreign-owned competitors with factories in the U.S., the new contracts do begin to close the wide gap that has existed for the last three decades. Base wages will be very much under control for the next four years with a majority of workers receiving no base wage increases. In addition, the old programs of uncapped cost-of-living adjustments and profit sharing were replaced by much more realistic and sober-minded programs that match our current tough economic times.
The following are some of the main highlights of the contract negotiations:
- Four Year Agreement. G.M. was the first company to conclude the new four-year agreement with its 48,000 union membership during late September. This was followed by Ford’s 41,000 members by mid-October and finally by Chrysler’s 23,000 members on October 26.
- Continuation of Two Tier Wage System. The biggest feature of the new contract is the continuation of what is called the two tier wage system which began in 2007. This has created a Tier 1 or “older” worker who makes $28.00 per hour in wages without benefits included and a Tier 2 or “entry” worker who, before the new contract was making between $14-16 per hour. Note: Although it’s been reported in the last few years that the average union auto worker makes roughly $70/hour with base pay and benefits combined, a more realistic number of between $56-58 per hour is currently reported.
- Base Wage Increases. All three contracts provide for no wage increases for the Tier 1 workers. However, the Tier 2 workers in all three contracts get wage increases. In general, the Tier 2 workers will be moved up to between $16-19 per hour in wages.
- Bonuses. All three contracts provide signing bonuses to all workers upon ratification of the contract. Ford is providing the highest signing bonus of $6,000 per worker, and GM providing $5,000 per worker. Chrysler’s new contract gives the smallest signing bonus of the three to its workers with it giving $1,750 to each worker upon contract certification and another $1,750 to be given in 2012.
- Inflation Protectors & Quality Awards. Gone are the old days of the old cost-of-living increases that were pegged to inflation. With the new contracts, both GM and Ford are providing something called “inflation protectors.” At GM, all workers receive a flat $1,000 inflation protection payment during June 2012, 2013, & 2014, and a $250 per worker quality award paid each December if quality targets are met. At Ford, all workers will receive $1,500 for inflation protection each for 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015 plus a $250 per worker competitive award paid out in December each year. Chrysler’s new agreement will not provide any inflation protection payment to its workers. However, it will provide an annual bonus of $1,000 to each worker for meeting performance and quality goals along with up to $1,000 for meeting metrics associated with Fiat’s manufacturing system.
- Profit Sharing. Also gone are the old days of uncapped profit sharing. At GM, all workers will receive $1,250 if GM earns profits of $1.25-1.5 billion dollars in the North American region. After that, workers receive $250 for every $250 million the Company earns up to a maximum of $12,500. At Ford, the average profit sharing payment to workers is estimated to be $3,700 for 2011 based on Ford’s Q1 and Q2 financial reports. Chrysler currently is not profitable.
- Buyout Packages. Both GM and Ford have announced buyout packages. At GM, the Company is offering buyout packages worth as much as $75,000 to its almost 10,000 skilled trades workers and $10,000 to other workers to stop working within two years. Ford is offering $50,000 buyouts to production workers and $100,000 buyouts to skilled-trade employees, who are the highest paid hourly employees.
- Investments into Industry & New Jobs. All three companies have made promises to invest in new plants and add jobs. Ford has agreed to create 12,000 jobs and invest $6.2 billion in factory upgrades. GM will add 6,400 new jobs as well re-open its Spring Hill, TN plant and add new programs in Warren, Romulus and Saginaw, MI, Wentzville, MO, and Fort Wayne, IN. Chrysler has agreed to add 2,100 new jobs and make $4.5 billion in industry investments. 10.27.2011.
It’s generally easy to determine how to pay non-exempt workers and any employer normally has little problem with this. That is when they are on the employer’s worksite, are on duty and subject to the employer’s control. However, questions frequently come up about how to pay a non-exempt worker when they travel for work. Here are some basic points to remember under federal law for non-exempt travel time.
Overnight Travel. When employees are required to take a trip by car, plane, train or any public transportation that keeps them away from home overnight, the Department of Labor considers that all time spent traveling during the hours corresponding to an employee’s normal working hours must be counted as time worked. Travel hours on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays that match up to an employee’s normal working hours on other days of the week also must be counted as time worked. However, meal periods may be excluded. The Department of Labor’s Wage-Hour Division says that, as an enforcement policy, it will not treat as compensable hours the time that an employee spends traveling “away from home outside of regular working hours as a passenger on an airplane, train, boat, bus, etc. Also, when an employee travels between two or more time zones, the time zone associated with the point of departure should be used to determine whether the travel falls within the normal work hours.
Day Trips. What about when an employee is given a one-day work assignment that requires the employee to travel to another city. Basically, all the travel time involved with a day trip counts as time worked. The only amounts of time that can be excluded are meal periods and the time spent traveling between the employee’s home and the point of departure (e.g., airport).
Travel Between Work Locations. Once employees start their workday, all time spent traveling as part of their main activities must be counted as hours worked. Where an employee’s job involves traveling from one workplace to another after reporting for the day’s work, the travel time must be counted as hours worked.
Travel Between Home & Work. Travel from home to work and returning home at the end of a work day generally does not count as hours worked. However, activities such as work-related phone calls and picking up supplies are compensable.
Driving on Behalf of the Employer. With the exception of commuting between home and work, driving a vehicle on behalf of an employer is compensable regardless of whether the travel takes place within or outside normal work hours. The act of driving is considered a manual labor activity which needs to be counted as hours worked.
Attending Social Events & Meetings for Employer. If an employee is required to attend meals or social events for an employer, the time is counted as hours worked.
Performing Work While in Travel Mode. Any time that an employee spends working while traveling such as answering emails, taking business phone calls, etc. is counted as hours worked. In addition, if an employee is required to ride as an assistant or helper in an automobile, the travel time counts as hours worked.
Non-Compensable Periods. The following do not count toward hours worked: (a) regular meal periods; (b) riding as a passenger outside normal work hours, via airplane, train, boat, bus, automobile, etc.; (c) time spent sleeping; (d) time spent waiting at the airport outside of normal work hours; (e) travel between home and work or between hotel and worksite, and (f) The extra time it takes to travel when an employee decides to drive a car versus when flying is authorized and available. The authorized and available flying mode, however, is counted.
California Rule for Non-Exempt Travel. Whereas under federal law, an employer is not obligated to pay for a non-exempt employee’s hours spent traveling outside of regular work hours, in California the situation is quite different which causes a great deal of confusion.
According to theCaliforniaDivision of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE),Californialaw does not make a distinction based on what time the travel occurs. If the employer requires the travel, the time must be paid. However, according to the DLSE, an employer can establish a separate rate of pay for travel time, provided that it does not fall below the state minimum wage rate.
An employer inCaliforniais allowed to establish a special travel time rate that can be less than an employee’s regular rate of pay. The travel time pay rate can be as little as the State minimum wage. However, travel time is counted as work time and thus overtime may be due for travel. Also, travel time pay, if less than an employee’s normal earning, must be clearly outlined to all employees in advance, preferably in the Company’s employee handbook. In the case where travel time in either direction or travel time and work time exceeds eight hours in a workday, the employee must receive travel pay at one and one-half times the weighted average of the employee’s regular pay rate and the travel time rate. 10.24.2011.
The Department of Labor (DOL) announced at an October 20 press conference that it and three non-profit employment-related groups have formed a partnership with the Facebook social networking site and launched a Facebook page designed to help job seekers find jobs.
The page, titled “ “Social Jobs Partnership,” may be accessed at http: facebook.com/socialjobs. It will link job seekers to information on job training and job openings in their geographical area. It also will help users to see how the skills they learned in their previous job can be used in a different line of work.
The partnership page also will link to the Facebook pages of the Labor Department and its partners—the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, and DirectEmployers, an employer association.
The partner organizations also plan to conduct research about the ways in which job seekers, college career centers, and workforce recruiters are using online social media sites.
“Landing on this page can help Americans land a good job,” Labor Secretary Hilda Solis told the audience. She said the partnership will work because “at DOL, we have the content,” but “at Facebook, they have the audience.” Currently, there are 132 million Facebook users in the United States, Solis said.
Marne Levine, Facebook’s vice president of global public policy, said the partnership’s Facebook page will be like a round-the-clock “free online job fair.” Even in times of high unemployment, some jobs remain unfilled for months because companies cannot find the right person to hire, Levine said, but Facebook can help because “we’re in the business of connecting” people with each other.
Facebook will try to drive people to the page by posting public service announcements publicizing it to users who log on to Facebook from regions with high unemployment, Levine added.
“This initiative is going to make the recruiting process easier and more efficient,” Bill Warren, executive director of the DirectEmployers Association, said. “The social web is changing the way employers search for talent.”
Employers’ use of Facebook to recruit employees has doubled since 2008, according to Marilyn Mackes, executive director of the National Association of Colleges and Employers. 10.24.2011