You may be concerned about when your next raise is coming, or if your job is in jeopardy from creeping automation. But have you ever thought about what keeps your employer up at night? It’s an entirely different slew of issues, as you might suspect. In constantly shifting regulatory, legal, and social frameworks, there is a lot to be worried about as a business owner, or as a member of management.
XpertHR, a legal and HR resource for professionals, has just released its annual report, the Top Ten Scariest Employment Challenges of 2016. Essentially, XpertHR looked at the variety of issues facing employers headed into the coming year, and compiled those that were the most pressing.
“From providing paid sick leave to extending equal rights and benefits to same-sex partners, an employer must comply with new obligations,” Beth Zoller, a Legal Editor for XpertHR said in a press release. “An employer who is not prepared stands to face increased costs, including civil fines and fees, criminal penalties, administrative complaints, potential litigation and harm to its business reputation.”
Clearly, there are plenty of things to be worried about from an employer’s standpoint – most of which you probably haven’t even considered.
Telecommuting and flexible work arrangements are becoming more common, but it’s still a scary concept for many employers. Employees, away from supervisors and watchful eyes, can waste resources, and productivity may go down. So, there’s plenty of reasons for concern – though the evidence seems to point in the other direction.
“Telecommuting has increased by more than 80% since 2005 and approximately 30 to 45% of the US workforce now telecommutes on some basis,” the XpertHR report says.
2. Revising the joint employer standard
“Shifting economic realities are causing federal agencies to reassess who can be considered an employer, especially in the context of a joint employer relationship which has become widespread in today’s economy.”
Think back to rulings concerning fast food franchises and their parent companies, for example. Who or what an employer is has entered the discussion, and for a lot of employers, the discussion can have big ramifications.
3. Expanding rights for independent contractors
Hiring contractors in lieu of full-time employees has become fairly widespread among big businesses. By hiring contractors, companies are able to get a workforce that is on a per-project basis, and doesn’t require additional investment, like insurance and benefits. But some employers abuse the relationship, which leads to problems.
“Independent contractors may compromise as much as 10% of the entire U.S. workforce and includes agency temps, direct-hire temps, on-call workers and day laborers, contract company workers, independent contractors, self-employed workers and standard part time workers,” the report says.
If some big legal changes are implemented, it may throw the economy into chaos as companies scramble to hire (or fire) the employees they need.
4. Overtime and minimum wage raises
Minimum wage issues have been in no short supply nationwide over the past couple of years. And workers seem to be winning, with $15 wage floors being instituted in several large cities. Overtime is another big issue that regulators are looking at, and all of this can mean a big jump in labor costs for businesses.
5. Workplace wearables
Technology is ubiquitous, and now you simply can’t escape it. Employees being strapped with cameras, microphones, and all kinds of other crazy new tech can be worrisome for many employers for a variety of reasons – trade secrets could be leaked, for example.
“Whether it is an Apple Watch an employee uses to review work-related emails or a Fitbit an employee is wearing as part of an employer-sponsored wellness plan to monitor health and fitness, wearables create many challenging issues for the employer, because while there are significant benefits to them, there are also substantial drawbacks,” XpertHR says.
6. Paid sick leave
Like raises in the minimum wage and overtime, paid sick leave is another area where employers may be facing big cost increases. There is a lot of debate about paid sick leave, with many workers choosing to work sick – risking infecting others, and impacting their productivity – because they won’t (or can’t) take time off. Regulatory measures may force the costs of paid sick leave onto employers, which means additional expenses.
7. NLRB pursuit of workplace policies
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an organization that works on behalf of employees, both union and nonunion. With the influx of new issues in recent years (minimum wage, wearable technology, social media), the NLRB has had its hands full, and that can mean big changes for employers if the NLRB is able to get laws changed.
8. Meeting diversity standards
“Reasonable accommodation issues continue to be in the forefront on both the federal and the state level as the courts, legislators and government agencies aim to make diverse workplaces more inclusive,” the report says. “Under federal law, employees have a right to accommodations based on such characteristics as religion, disability and pregnancy.”
Instituting changes, which come fast after court rulings, can be expensive and time consuming. In an era of social change, it’s no wonder employers are on their toes regarding the prospect of unforeseen expenses.
9. Adopting LGBT workplace protections
“Although sexual orientation and gender identity is not explicitly recognized under Title VII, in 2015 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) definitively pronounced that that sexual orientation discrimination necessarily entails treating a worker less favorably based on that person’s sex and it could also be viewed as treating a worker differently based on their association with a person of the same sex,” XpertHR says. “Further, the EEOC stated that sexual orientation involves unlawful discrimination based on gender stereotypes which is prohibited under Title VII.”
Navigating these laws, and avoiding lawsuits can be difficult – and that has employers nervous. With time, however, these things should get sorted out.
10. Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage isn’t really something that directly impacts employers, but is still a big social change that creates some friction. When it comes to businesses specifically, same-sex marriage really changes the way benefits and marital-status benefits and protections apply.
“Married same-sex couples residing in states where same-sex marriage was legal became eligible for the same benefits and protections as opposite-sex spouses, such as protection under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), immigration law and Social Security.”
For more information, and to check out the report in full, visit XpertHR.
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