What impact will unionization have on your hiring strategy?

Labor unions are nothing new. Efforts at unionization date back centuries but became popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s when workers were forced to work more than 8 hours a day, over 40 hours a week for little pay, no benefits, and zero time off. Despite improvements in working conditions, fewer workers (just 10.7%) today are represented by labor unions, down from its peak of 34% in 1954. 

Only now, talks of unionizing are beginning to spread, and employers are starting to take notice. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to unions and how they can impact hiring, wages, and more. 

Where Workers are Unionizing

Talks of unionizing are beginning to spread, and employers are starting to take notice.

In certain industries and professions like education, transportation, and nursing, unions have been—and still are—quite common. But as behemoths like Amazon and Starbucks swat off workers’ unions’ demands for better pay and protections, employers may be wondering if they, too, are at risk of seeing similar requests among their own workers. 

Monster’s economist, Giacomo Santangelo, says we won’t see unions formed in every industry or at every company. In these instances where talks of organizing are occurring, he says it’s largely among freelancers, independent contractors, and part-time workers.  

The reason why unionization was necessary at one point in history was that workers demanded that they be treated well,” Santangelo says. “But in the gig economy, people can actually volunteer to be exploited by their employer. They can voluntarily give up their labor rights. Now, those people who tend to unionize in the gig economy are the ones who have been in the gig economy for a number of years and have realized that this was a choice they made. Now they’re older and they’re going to need healthcare, they’re going to need to start thinking about their future, and this job is not offering them that..” 

How Labor Unions May Affect Wages and Hiring 

Workers’ rights are important, but unionizing may come at a cost that can have adverse effects on the labor market. Santangelo says, “The belief is that unionization is going to raise the cost of production because an organized labor force is going to force a firm to pay benefits and to increase costs above what they should be. Therefore, firms are then going to have to turn around and increase the prices of goods that they’re offering to consumers.” 

This presents a serious issue in today’s economic climate where inflation is already sky high, and wages are rising at their fastest pace in 20 years. Should workers organize, Santangelo says companies will either have to raise prices even further or find ways to cut costs. He says, “Unionization will raise wages above a level that is appropriate and efficient, and it will lead to increases in unemployment.” 

Understand Worker Demands 

No employer wants to see a slowdown in production or be forced to lay off workers as a result of union activity. “It’s important to remember that the only reason why workers want to unionize is that they’re unhappy,” Santangelo says. “They’re unhappy because they’re being asked to do something that they don’t want to do. It’s the definition of exploitation. So, if employers are giving benefits and all the things that workers want, then the workers don’t have to organize.” 

So, what do workers want? Monster’s Future of Work report found that today’s workforce is looking for: 

  • Salary protection/fair compensation (up 6% compared to last year)
  • Financial compensation beyond salary
  • Healthcare benefits
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Paid time off

Finding balance may be key for employers to maintain production and profits while also keeping workers happy. After all, unions don’t just happen overnight. 

Stay on Top of Labor Market Trends 

Monster aims to provide employers with the insight needed to move forward, whether it involves unionization, recruitment, or management. As you plan your hiring strategy over the next month, check out Monster Intelligence for a deeper dive into data and labor market trends and what they mean for your business. 

Employer Vaccine Mandates: What You Need to Know

With about 35% of working-age Americans not fully vaccinated, health concerns are growing within the workforce amid the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. In a sweeping attempt to contain this latest surge and get workers back into the office, President Joe Biden recently announced a vaccine mandate for employers of large companies, as well as for federal workers and contractors.

Given the unprecedented nature of this employer vaccine mandate, we consulted Keith Wilkes, a labor and employment shareholder at the national law firm Hall Estill, who has been fielding calls from employers about the recent announcement, to understand the legal nuances for large companies and their workers. Here’s what employers need to know.

What does the COVID-19 employer vaccine mandate entail?

On September 9, 2021, Biden announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will create a rule for private sector businesses with 100 or more employees to require all workers to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. This includes employees who have already contracted the virus as well as people working from home. OSHA will also require these employers to offer paid time off for vaccination or to recover if they experience symptoms post-vaccination.

“The emergency OSHA rule, which will require all private sector employers with at least 100 employees to mandate vaccinations in their workforce or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis, is expected to impact over 80 million private sector workers,” Wilkes says.

Additionally, all federal workers and contractors must be fully vaccinated, with no option for weekly testing. Biden also said 300,000 educators in federal Head Start programs must be vaccinated and called on governors to require vaccinations for teachers and staff. The vaccine mandate was also expanded to about 50,000 hospitals, home care facilities, and dialysis centers, requiring the 17 million health care workers at those facilities receiving funds from Medicare and Medicaid to be fully vaccinated.

Who is excluded from the employer vaccine mandate?

Businesses with fewer than 100 employees are excluded from the vaccine mandate. (If you’re a small business owner, see below for guidelines on legally mandating COVID-19 vaccines at your company.)

Additionally, certain workers who are employed at companies where the vaccine is mandated may also seek exemption. “The employer vaccine mandate allows for an employee to seek an exemption and reasonable accommodation from their employers based upon a sincerely held religious belief, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, or based upon a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),” Wilkes says.

Employers must offer reasonable accommodations

Before an employer fires an employee for not getting a vaccine, the employer needs to ensure they are not violating ADA or Title VII or possibly any of their state laws that require providing reasonable accommodations based on medical reasons or religious beliefs, like allowing remote work.

Additionally, Wilkes says, “Some low-cost solutions or accommodations may be to reduce contact between the employee and others by designating one-way aisles, using plexiglass barriers, or other means to ensure minimum distances between customers and coworkers. Employers may also consider modifying a work schedule or shift assignment to allow the exempt person to safely perform the essential functions of their job while reducing exposure to others in the workplace.”

Implementing the employer vaccine mandate

Federal workers and contractors will have about 75 days to become fully vaccinated. Employees are considered fully vaccinated two weeks or more after they have received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Meanwhile, large companies will likely want to get the ball rolling on getting shots in employees’ arms. “OSHA, which falls under the U.S. Department of Labor, will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to implement the new rule,” Wilkes says. “Although the timing of when the ETS requirement will go into effect is not clear, it will likely not be a long wait.”

The cost of noncompliance

The penalty for noncompliance is substantial and can become even more severe if left unchecked. “A ‘willful or repeated violation’ can result in a minimum penalty of just under $10,000, while the maximum penalty for a willful or repeated violation can be as high as $136,532 per violation,” Wilkes says. “How OSHA is going to view and apply a violation remains unknown at this time. An ongoing willful or repeated violation, however, is not going to result in only a one-time penalty if the employer does not comply.”

The vaccine mandate may impact hiring

While many large white-collar employers, including Google, Facebook, and Johnson & Johnson, have already implemented vaccine mandates, this new rule will take the pressure off companies that have encouraged, but not required vaccination. It can also help ensure that vaccinated employees and candidates feel safe in their work environment.

According to the Boston Globe, the new federal mandate will likely have the most impact on massive retailers and other low-wage employers that have not yet required vaccinations for all of their workers. However, with many retailers, restaurants, and even transportation companies struggling to find and keep workers, some fear they could lose valuable workers or won’t be able to find new ones amid the ongoing labor shortages and the Great Resignation. A recent Monster poll conducted a few weeks before Biden’s announcement found that a resounding 79% of workers said they do not want their employer to mandate vaccines. Monster will be monitoring how the new vaccine mandate may impact hiring and retention in the months ahead.

Stay tuned: additional vaccines mandates may be coming

The employer vaccine mandate is part of Biden’s six-part strategy that he will continue to work to implement in the months ahead. In her daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden will be “building on the steps that we’ve already announced, the steps we’ve taken over the last few months, requiring more vaccinations, boosting important testing measures and more.”

Small business owners have a right to mandate vaccines

As a general rule, any employer can require employees to get vaccinated—not just those that fall under Biden’s vaccine mandate. Small businesses, for example, will want to take certain precautions if choosing to require employee vaccination. Employees can legally object for several reasons, including medical reasons, religious objections, or in some states for philosophical reasons.

To help employers understand their rights and their responsibilities, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new guidance on employers’ federal rights during the pandemic, suggesting employers have a right to create a policy that mandates vaccines. However, if an employer mandates vaccines, it must allow exceptions for an employee’s sincerely held religious belief or for an employee’s health issue that make it dangerous or not medically recommended for an employee to get the vaccine.

Getting America back to work

Navigating work and hiring post-COVID-19 will be an ongoing challenge for 2021. For more insights like this that can help you manage this new way of working in 2021 and beyond, download our Fall 2021 Hiring Report.

 

Staffing firms: moving forward from crisis

By: Tim Robbins, Monster Vice President and General Manager, Staffing and Recruiting

I don’t think anyone could have predicted where we’d be as a country—or as a staffing industry—just a few months ago. We went from unemployment rates as low as 3.8% to job losses exceeding 10 million. Although it’s too soon to know what the real long-term impact of COVID-19 will be, there are some clear signs of change that I’m seeing on the landscape. Here are just some of my thoughts on the staffing industry outlook:

One of the most dramatic examples of the pandemic’s impact has been on permanent placement. Permanent placement has long been a major segment of staffing firms, but has seen steep declines with the onset of COVID-19. There is some good news here, though. In recent weeks, we’ve begun to see recovery, especially in the higher skilled segments.

As expected, some staffing companies saw declines in job orders and had to make the painful decision to reduce staff. Monster is stepping in to help these reduced size staffing teams operate efficiently when new orders start coming in. At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, we worked closely with some staffing firms  to help triage at that very critical time. We’re thrilled to hear customers sharing early signs of recovery, with some segments rebounding faster than others.

The healthcare surprise

As surprising as it sounds, there were some areas of healthcare that experienced layoffs. For example: elective surgeries stopped during the pandemic, and furloughs and layoffs ensued. Now, however, elective surgeries are beginning again, and we can expect to see an uptick in hiring for the positions that support these medical procedures. Staffing organizations were expected to find this talent—and quickly. To help these healthcare sectors ramp up hiring as regions re-open, video interviewing, texting, and social media will figure prominently in recruiting strategies now and going forward.

Not so surprisingly, there is a nursing shortage and it’s particularly prevalent in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. But what’s noteworthy about this is that state-contracted staffing agencies responding to the COVID-19 surge are luring nurses from hospitals with wages that are almost four times higher than what they’d normally be paid. It would be interesting to see if other areas of Texas, or even other states, follow suit.

Increased activity in some areas

There are pockets of business – like tech and certain areas of healthcare – that have been less impacted by COVID. For instance, there continues to be a critical shortage of nurses, senior resident care workers, and nursing assistants, which may continue through the end of the year. This is another area where we’ve been able to help our staffing partners, and we’ve formed partnerships with agencies and vendors to deliver solutions addressing these high-volume hiring needs.

Mental health care hiring

Mental health issues have been an unfortunate effect of the pandemic, and we’ve seen a corresponding increase in demand for mental health care workers as a result. Monster data bear this out as we see more and more job postings for psychologists, therapists, social workers, and other professionals in the field, and an increase in candidates searching for these jobs.

Upskilling and retraining

We can expect to see more companies retraining talent for jobs that didn’t exist prior to the pandemic. Temperature taker and contact tracer are two of the top-most searched job titles, yet most of us have never heard of these positions. Monster solutions – like SearchMonster – enable staffing companies to match candidate skills to jobs that didn’t exist prior to COVID.

New opportunities

As previously mentioned, hiring in some areas has been less impacted by COVID and in some instances we’re actually seeing new opportunities come to light. Let’s take technology for example. In addition to enabling virtual recruitment through virtual open houses and job fairs, video, and more, it’s giving many people who previously couldn’t work from home (e.g. therapist), the opportunity to work remotely.

The pandemic has also pushed staffing companies to become more creative when filling their candidate pipelines. Whether it’s reaching out to unemployment offices to engage the newly unemployed, or filling jobs quickly by fast-tracking background checks, new ways of recruiting continue to present themselves.

Monster as the bridge

Now, more than ever, I see the future of Monster as the bridge between staffing firms and candidates. Staffing firms are upskilling people into new jobs – like tech and healthcare – and Monster is helping them reach and connect to that talent. Monster brings recruiters and candidates together by finding the right fit for both. Through our solutions and services, recruiters get a broad view of the person behind the resume and can make an accurate assessment of their match potential. And candidates get an inside look at the job, culture, and company, and can determine if their experience and goals are in sync.

It’s our belief that the world would be a much happier place if there was a better fit between people and their jobs, and we’re committed to making that happen…in these uncertain times and beyond. Check out Monster’s staffing solutions, where you can explore our offerings and connect with a rep.

Temporary work visa suspensions: what employers need to know

In the latest government response to COVID-19, an executive order went into effect on June 22, extending the existing green card ban and issuing temporary work visa suspensions through the end 2020. The order applies to H-1B visas, H-2B visas, L-1 visas, and certain J-1 visas.

This work visa suspension doesn’t impact every industry, but there are many employers who will need to take these new restrictions into consideration as they plan their hiring over the second half of the year.

Here’s what employers need to know:

Who is included in the work visa restrictions?

The order builds on restrictions that were implemented earlier this year in April, which temporarily halted visas for certain family members of green card holders for 60 days. In addition to extending those earlier restrictions through Dec. 31, 2020, the latest proclamation also includes freezing new work visas for:

  • H-1B speciality workers: Those with a bachelor’s degree or higher who work in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in fields, such as information technology, engineering, finance, accounting, mathematics, science, medical etc.
  • H-2B non-agricultural workers: Temporary workers at any skill level not working in the agricultural field who fill seasonal, intermittent, supplemental, or one-time roles.
  • Non-physician J-1 visas: Exchange visitors who take part in work-and-study-based programs, excluding high school students and those in the medical field.
  • L-1 intracompany transfers: Executives, managers, and employees with specialized skills who transfer from a foreign company to a U.S. office, subsidiary, or affiliated company to perform a temporary service.

Dependent family members are also included in the above restrictions.

Who is exempt from the work visa restrictions?

Healthcare workers and researchers combating COVID-19, university professors, and food processing workers in the agriculture and seafood industries are exempt from these suspensions. These exemptions “should cover people involved in meatpacking and processing plants, as well as all aspects of the food supply chain from production to transportation and logistics,” says Rebecca Bernhard, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney. Additionally, she says, “Most physicians, nurses, and other medical personnel should still be able to obtain visas.”

Along with those exemptions, Bernhard says that those who won this year’s H-1B lottery and who are waiting for their H-1B status to take effect on October 1 can breathe a sigh of relief.  “The vast majority of these people are not affected by the new executive order, since most people in this situation are already in the United States and will not need to travel abroad to obtain a visa,” she says.

What these restrictions mean for employers

The work visa restrictions will likely affect every employer differently. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that these restrictions are for visas and do not affect the status of foreign workers currently in the U.S.

“One thing that is often lost in these discussions is the distinction between a visa and a status,” Bernhard says. “A visa is merely an entry document that is stamped into a passport – often called the visa stamp. A visa status is a legal right to be and work in the United States. This executive order stops the Department of State from issuing certain new work visas (to enter the U.S.), but it does not cancel or affect the status of foreign workers already in the United States.”

However, under these restrictions, many employers looking to hire will have to limit their search to American workers. This means that H1-B visas won’t be issued for foreign coders or engineers. Hotels and amusement parks can’t hire seasonal workers from abroad this summer. International companies won’t be allowed to transfer employees into their U.S. offices, and foreigners wishing to work as camp counselors or interns won’t be granted J-1 visas.

Those in favor of the restrictions believe these suspensions will help unemployed U.S. workers find jobs. In total, the White House projects that 525,000 American jobs will be saved or created by the executive order.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that these restrictions are “fiercely opposed by business leaders, who say it will block their ability to recruit critically needed workers from countries overseas for jobs that Americans are not willing to do or are not capable of performing.” A number of CEOs, including Tesla’s Elon Musk and Google’s Sundar Pichai, took to Twitter to express these concerns that the talent pool may be much more shallow compared to what they might normally experience in a global economy.

Further immigration restrictions to be expected

 While the effects of these temporary work visa suspensions have yet to be felt at its onset, it will be important to monitor as the situation evolves in the months to come. Looking ahead to the not-so-distant future, employers can expect to see even more restrictions implemented.

“The order hints at more immigration restrictions to come, although additional restrictions will not likely be issued through an executive order,” Bernhard says. “Further policy is likely to be issued through the federal rulemaking process which could take several months. President Trump has made it clear that he sees restricting immigration as a key campaign issue, so it is likely that as the election draws closer we will see further action on these issues.”

Looking for more workplace and hiring advice? Get Monster hiring updates and learn the latest insights as this situation evolves.

NLRB social media policy guidelines for employers

You may think you’re ahead of the game if you’ve already drafted a policy that regulates social media use by your employees. After all, you’re just protecting your investment and your business’s good name if you forbid employees from bad-mouthing their jobs on their Facebook pages or posting about their latest compensation plan on Instagram, right?

Not so fast.

According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), employers’ attempts to control or limit what employees post on social media websites and their personal accounts often violate the employees’ rights to engage in “protected activity” under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Make sure you understand the NLRB’s social media policy guidance (and consult an attorney) before drafting or enforcing your company’s policy. Read on to get started.

A short history lesson

Way back in 2010, the NLRB began receiving complaints from employees regarding their employers’ social media policies or enforcement actions based on those policies. The so-called “Facebook Firings” caused particular concern to the NLRB, which immediately stepped in to warn employers that in many cases, workers had the right to say negative things about their jobs in public forums without risk.

While some policies and enforcement actions were found to be valid, others were not. These decisions were based on the NLRA which protects employees who band together to try to make changes to their employment conditions, even if all they wish to do is complain as a group.

NLRB social media policy guidelines

As a result of these complaints, the NLRB issued a series of guidelines urging employers to use specificity and provide examples when instructing employees about appropriate social media use. It’s important to note that it’s not just a question of being able to discipline employees for their postings — employers’ written policies can get them in trouble even if they have not yet been applied.

For instance, an NLRB ruling said that Costco’s employee handbook contained a number of policies that were too broad and had the potential to stifle employees’ rights to free speech and restrict their rights under the NLRA. The board ruled that the policies could be seen as prohibiting protected activity like taking part in grievances, on-the job protests, picketing, and strikes.

NLRB social media policy tips

So, what do the NLRB guidelines and its decisions have to say about social media? Take a look at your employee handbook and talk to an employment lawyer to ensure that you follow these recommendations:

  • Avoid general, blanket prohibitions on any employee actions with respect to social media. This includes banning employees from talking about their job, complaining about their boss or co-workers, or disparaging company policies, among others.
  • Instead of generally banning employees from revealing confidential company information or trade secrets, be specific about what employees may not reveal. While it may be okay to protect trade secrets, formulas, customer lists and technological data, the NLRB has found that employees may have the right to discuss certain aspects of their confidential employment situation (such as salaries or bonuses) via social media.
  • Give employees specific examples of inappropriate postings. Acceptable limits include prohibitions on bullying, discrimination, and retaliation. Talk to a lawyer before disciplining an employee for defaming or otherwise lying about the company via social media.
  • Do not restrict employees’ ability to “friend” co-workers on their personal social media pages.
  • Unless you have a legitimate and defensible business purpose as part of your social media guidelines, do not ask employees (or worse, applicants) for their social media account information or passwords.
  • Be consistent in how and when you review the social media accounts for prospective employees.

While it is important to have a social media policy in place, you don’t want to have one that violates your employees’ rights. Take another look at your policy, and have it checked by an attorney to be sure you’re on solid ground.

Protecting your business starts with better recruiting

Building a strong employer brand and protecting your reputation are critical goals for any business. Adhering to the NLRB social media policy guidelines will help, but it’s also crucial to hire employees who share your values and goals for the company. Assemble your team with help from Monster Hiring Solutions where you’ll receive expert recruiting advice and the latest in hiring trends.