Posted in drug testing
The number of positive drug tests in the U.S. workforce has reached a ten-year high, according to an analysis of nearly 11 million workforce drug test results released by Quest Diagnostics.
The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) examines illicit drug use by America’s workforce based on an analysis of de-identified results of more than 9.5 million urine, 900,000 oral fluid, and 200,000 hair laboratory-based tests performed nationally by the company for employers in 2015.
This 2015 positivity rate reflects an increase of 14 percent over the 10-year low of 3.5 percent observed in both 2010 and 2011.
The DTI found the rate of amphetamine positive drug tests increased by 44 percent, marijuana increased by 26 percent, and heroin increased 146 percent, since 2011.
The last year that the positivity rate for urine drug tests in the combined U.S. workforce was at or above four percent was 2005, when it reached 4.1 percent.
Particularly disturbing is the increase in heroin use by those employed in the workforce. While disturbing, one could argue that it’s not surprising. It’s well reported that heroin use in the US has been on the rise, with TIME Magazine calling it an “epidemic” in a 2015 article.
“Our nationally representative analysis clearly shows that drug use by the American workforce is on the rise, and this trend extends to several different classes of drugs and categories of drug tests,” said Barry Sample, Ph.D., senior director, science and technology, Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions. ”The 2015 findings related to post-accident testing results should also be of concern to employers, especially those with safety-sensitive employees.”
Ultimately, it’s more important now than at any other time in the last decade to ensure your workplace is safe and free from drugs. If you’d like to implement a drug testing program – or expand an existing program – our team would be happy to help.
Posted in workplace management
Amazon recently announced the development of specific technical teams, including managers, within the organization that will work 30-hour salaried weeks.
They will receive the same benefits as full-time employees and a salary at a 75% rate of what they would make at 40-hours per week. Their hours will be from 10 AM to 2 PM daily, with additional flex hours.
The stated goal of the program is “to create a work environment that is tailored to a reduced schedule and still fosters success and career growth.” Many also believe that this will help Amazon recruit and retain skilled technology employees, and diversify the firm’s workforce.
It’s a move that will no doubt resonate with millennials – a target demographic for large tech companies such as Amazon.
In fact, in 2015, FlexJobs found that 40% of millennials would ideally like to work part-time for one employer. The main reason for this is so that they have time to pursue other interests and projects.
“Research has shown that young adults aren’t necessarily interested in the traditional workplace environment and that their work-life balance is crucial to them,” said Jacqueline Breslin, Director of Human Capital Services at TriNet, an HR solutions company. “We’ve also seen that younger workers who are still in school for a master’s degree want the ability to balance their education with their work lives and this is a great compromise.”
The response, however, has been mixed.
Some believe this is simply a PR angle for Amazon, following the terrible publicity they received from an article in New York Times towards the end of last year. The story portrayed Amazon as an unforgiving environment where 60-hour plus work schedules and employees “crying at their desks” was the norm.
Others think this is a move in the right direction and the clearest indicator yet that the world of work is evolving.
Posted in Fair Credit Reporting Act, pre-employment background checks
Dish Network has reached a $1.75 million settlement with a group of contractor technicians who allege the satellite television company violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The contractors suggest that Dish Network did not provide them with proper consent and disclosure forms needed to run their background checks.
Top Class Actions reports Plaintiff Scott Ernst filed the lawsuit against Dish Network and the company performing the background checks in 2012, claiming that both companies used information in consumer reports to conduct background checks which is subject to strict requirements under the FCRA.
The complaint also alleges that Dish Network used this information as a basis for adverse employment actions, such as prohibiting technicians from performing work installing and maintaining Dish Network services by rating them as “high risk.”
The company purportedly took adverse employment action on technicians based on the information.
Under the terms of the Dish Network FCRA settlement, the “adverse action class” which consists of about 9,000 contractor technicians who were regarded as “high risk,” will receive approximately $480 each.
Dish Network maintains it did not intentionally violate the FCRA’s requirements, and that their alleged violation was not willful.
Posted in employment, workplace management
To gain a better understanding about exit feedback and turnover, Quantum Workplace sent a survey to 1,848 employees across the country to gain their perspectives.
One of the most overwhelming learnings? Exit feedback matters.
In addition, 73 percent of respondents believe it’s important for employees to be able to offer input as to why former coworkers left.
According to Quantum Workplace, “These four numbers offer evidence that a substantial portion of employees believe exit feedback is important, valuable, and can make a difference, regardless of whether that feedback comes from the employee who is leaving or from that employee’s (former) co-workers.”
What to consider for an exit survey?
Employee exit interviews should focus on retention by identifying the reason the employee is leaving. Further, employers ought to try and determine if the company’s level of performance or the employees’ unfulfilled expectations are an issue in this departure.
Ideas for inclusion may be:
- Job responsibilities
- Job performance
- Job orientation and training
- Working conditions
- Opportunities for career advancement
- Training and development programs
- Supervision and management
- Work satisfaction
- Organizational culture
- Organizational communication
Failing environments with low levels of employee retention reflect low levels of job satisfaction and come at a great cost to the organization. It’s incredibly expensive to continue to hire and then train new employees over and over again, and turnover can have a negative impact on productivity and morale.
Consider: what’s your current rate of turnover and what can you implement to reduce it?
You can see more about these survey results here.
Posted in employment
According to ‘The Employment Situation‘ news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added 151,000 jobs in August 2016. Both the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons remained unchanged at 4.9 percent and 7.8 million respectively.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.5 percent), adult women (4.5 percent), teenagers (15.7 percent), Whites (4.4 percent), Blacks (8.1 percent), Asians (4.2 percent), and Hispanics (5.6 percent) showed little change in August.
Employment in other major industries such as construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, temporary help services, and government showed little or no change during the month.
The change in employment for June 2016 was revised from 292,000 jobs added to 271,000 jobs added while the change for July 2016 was revised from 255,000 jobs added to 275,000 jobs added. With these revisions, employment gains in June and July combined were 1,000 less than previously reported.
Posted in employment
Last month, Governor Charlie Baker signed Senate Bill 2119 – “An Act to Establish Pay Equity” – that made Massachusetts the first state to prohibit employers from asking for applicants’ salary histories during the hiring process. Its goal is to help ensure equal pay between men and women.
Women are currently paid on average about 82 percent of what their male counterparts make for comparable work in Massachusetts. Supporters say that the practice of asking for salary history can perpetuate a cycle of lower salaries for women.
Under Chapter 149 Section 105A(c), it is an unlawful practice for employers to:
- Screen job applicants based on their wage, including benefits or other compensation or salary histories, including by requiring that an applicant’s prior wages, including benefits or other compensation or salary history satisfy minimum or maximum criteria; or request or require as a condition of being interviewed, or as a condition of continuing to be considered for an offer of employment, that an applicant disclose prior wages or salary history; or
- Seek the salary history of any prospective employee from any current or former employer; but a prospective employee may provide written authorization to a prospective employer to confirm prior wages, including benefits or other compensation or salary history only after any offer of employment with compensation has been made to the prospective employee.
Employers will have to wait until after they extend an offer of employment with compensation in order to ask about an applicant’s salary history, or the applicants can voluntarily disclose their salary information to the employer. Prospective employees could voluntarily offer salary information.
The new law takes effect July 1, 2018.
Posted in background screening
As of August 1, 2016, fines related to immigration for employers have been increased.
The minimum penalty imposed by the Justice Department for the unlawful employment of immigrant workers will rise from $375 to $539, while the maximum fine will go from $3,200 to $4,313. Violators facing multiple charges will be subject to a new maximum penalty of $21,563.
The most significant increase is for mistakes or omissions on the Form I-9, said Mitch Wexler, an immigration attorney and a partner at Fragomen Worldwide, based in Los Angeles, who noted that “fines in this category go up 96 percent.” The new rules raise paperwork violations related to I-9 verification from a maximum of $1,100 to $2,156. The minimum penalty per violation increases from $110 to $216.
“It is more important now than ever for companies big and small to make sure they have effective policies and procedures in place for properly ‘I-9ing’ employees during the onboarding process,” Wexler said. “This includes a regular review of existing I-9s and training staff that touch this critical function.”
An initial violation for discriminating against immigrant workers can bring a new top penalty of $3,563 per charge, up from $3,200. The minimum penalty increases from $375 to $445.
Employers, take note. Just a few mistakes can really add up.
In order to avoid mistakes, it’s critical to have a clear understanding of due process and the legalities around hiring immigrant workers. Take a look at some of our other blog resources around this topic and connect with our team if you have any further questions. It’s more important than ever before to get these processes right – we’d love to help.
Posted in employment
According to the SHRM Study, The New Talent Landscape, HR professionals across industries are reporting a more challenging market for talent in 2016 compared with recent years.
A low number of applicants, lack of the needed work experience among candidates, competition from other employers, candidates’ lack of technical skills, and the local market not producing enough qualified candidates.
The study surveyed HR professionals on a range of recruiting and skills issues to get a better understanding of what the current talent market looked like across a range of industries. The responses indicate a clearly challenging time for HR professionals.
Here are a few of the key findings:
- 68% of HR professionals report challenging recruiting conditions (an 18% increase from 2013)
- It is not uncommon for HR professionals to work without a training budget. Whereas 69% of HR professionals surveyed said their organization had a training budget over the last 12 months, almost one-third (31%) reported that their organization did not.
- One-half of HR professionals reported that over the past 12 months their training budgets had remained the same. Meanwhile, 39% said training budgets had increased and 11% said they had decreased.
- Employees receive their training most often through conferences, seminars, workshops and professional organizations; via on-the-job training; or through webinars or other online training applications
- Whereas few organizations reported that they provide registered apprenticeship programs in their organizations, larger organizations (those with 2,500 or more employees) were more likely to have them compared with smaller organizations
- The most commonly reported applied skills shortage are critical thinking/problem-solving, professionalism/work ethic, leadership, written communications and teamwork/collaboration
One of the most significant takeaways from the report is how replacing retiring Baby Boomers will continue to be a key staffing challenge in the years ahead. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts a decreasing overall labor force where replacement needs will exceed new job growth vacancies in four out of five occupations.
Are you ready?
Posted in ban the box
Earlier this year, the White House launched the Fair Chance Business Pledge. This move set out to encourage companies to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to succeed, including individuals who have had contact with the criminal justice system.
The pledge represents a call-to-action for all members of the private sector to improve their communities by eliminating barriers for those with a criminal record and creating a pathway for a second chance.
Last week, a round of new signatories was announced. These signatories included Walmart – the largest private employer in the world with 2.2 million employees – and brought the total number of organizations pledging to ‘ban the box‘ and help job candidates with criminal histories to return to the workforce to 185 employers.
You can see the full list of recent signatories here.
According to the Fact Sheet published by the White House, by signing the Fair Chance Business Pledge these companies are:
- Voicing strong support for economic opportunity for all, including the approximately 70 million Americans who have some form of a criminal record.
- Demonstrating an ongoing commitment to take action to reduce barriers to a fair shot at a second chance, including practices such as “banning the box” by delaying criminal history questions until later in the hiring process; ensuring that information regarding an applicant’s criminal record is considered in proper context; and engaging in hiring practices that do not unnecessarily place jobs out of reach for those with criminal records.
The White House will continue to announce new rounds of signatories over the coming months. Companies and organizations interested in learning more about, or joining, the Fair Chance Business Pledge can do so here.
Posted in pre-employment background checks
Research published recently by Jennifer Doleac, an assistant professor of public policy and economics at the University of Virginia, found that ban the box policies actually lowered the probability of employment by 5.1 percent for young, low-skilled black men and 2.9 percent for young, low-skilled Hispanic men.
According to Doleac, who conducted the study with the University of Oregon’s Benjamin Hansen, the lowered chance for employment comes from the unwillingness by employers to take chances on hiring someone without knowledge of their potential criminal history.
“Simply taking away information about whether someone has a record doesn’t stop employers from caring about someone’s criminal background,” Doleac said. “It just leaves them to guess based on the remaining information they do have.”
The results of the study did not surprise Doleac. “I’ve done work on discrimination in the past and the first thing that jumped into my mind when I heard about ‘ban the box’ was, ‘This is going to backfire. This is just going to result in statistical discrimination against groups that are more likely to have criminal records’”.
The report was published in July and NELP has been quick to respond, providing an analysis of such studies that criticize ban the box policies.
This analysis led to these conclusions:
- The core problem raised by the studies is not ban-the-box but entrenched racism in the hiring process, which manifests as racial profiling of African Americans as “criminals.”
- Ban-the-box is working, both by increasing employment opportunities for people with records and by changing employer attitudes toward hiring people with records.
- When closely scrutinized, the new studies do not support the conclusion that ban-the-box policies are responsible for the depressed hiring of African Americans.
- The studies highlight the need for a more robust policy response to both boost job opportunities for people with records and tackle race discrimination in the hiring process—not a repeal of ban-the-box laws.
Ultimately, they claim that the problem isn’t the policy, but the racism that the policy uncovers.
According to Doleac, the best form of government intervention for helping ex-cons may be a focus on re-entry and job training. “That’s something that’s just going to take a real investment of time and resources, but it’s something that we’re really going to need to do if we’re serious about helping these groups build stable lives.”
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