Employers are experiencing “an unprecedented level of uncertainty” due to awide variety of factors, according to The Littler® Annual Employer Survey, 2017.

|

“Employers aren’t yet counting on a near-term impact from thepromise of deregulation at the federal level, confounding thedifficulties they face in complying with the constantly evolving --and often conflicting -- patchwork of state and local employmentlaws and regulations,” the report’s authors say.

|

“They also continue to encounter new challenges in managingtheir workforces brought on by technological advances, globalizationand changes in how work is performed.”

|

Littler, a global employment and labor law firm representingmanagement, conducted a survey of 1,229 in-house counsel, humanresources professionals and C-suite executives to gauge how a broadrange of trends both inside and outside of government are affectingtheir organizations.

|

The survey shows respondents do not expect a near-term impact ontheir workplace from any federal government actions on theAffordable Care Act -- both legislatively and administratively.

|

Even if they are eventually relieved of the ACA’s employer mandate, only 4 percent ofemployers anticipate dropping coverage for some full-timeemployees, though 18 percent say they would allow more employees towork more than 30 hours a week.

|

Employers also do not expect any material changes this year inenforcement policies by the Equal Employment OpportunityCommission, the National Labor Relations Board and the Departmentof Labor.

|

However, about half expect that EEOC’s enforcement prioritieswill continue to be around LGBTQ rights and equal pay, as well as hiringpractices, including the consideration of criminal or credithistories in the hiring process and pre-employment testing orscreening practices.

|

The one area of probable change: More employers (63 percent)this year expect immigration reform to have an impact on theirworkplaces over the next 12 months, up from 40 percent in the 2016survey.

|

“While employers are eyeing several labor and employment changesfrom the Obama administration to be rolled back under the Trumpadministration, they do not expect to see much regulatory relief inthe coming year,” the authors write. “And as states andmunicipalities continue to enact employment regulations to fill aperceived void at the federal level, employers expect ongoingchallenges in complying with varying rules across the country.”

|

The majority (79 percent) of employers say the “shifting,fragmented patchwork” of state and local labor and employmentrequirements has created compliance challenges for them. To keepup, 85 percent of employers are updating policies, handbooks and HRprocedures, while 54 percent are providing additional employeetraining and 50 percent are conducting internal audits.

|

Among the changes at the state and local levels, respondentshave been most impacted by paid leave mandates (59 percent), backgroundcheck restrictions (48 percent) and minimum wage increases (47percent).

|

“Even outside of politics, the uncertainty of today’s world isvexing employers on multiple levels,” the authors say.“Accommodating unpredictable, intermittent leave is increasingly amajor challenge for employers. And shifting requirementsoverseas for handling workers’ personal data, as well as managingdata breaches originating with employees, are creating additionaldifficulties.”

|

Managing leaves of absences under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) wasidentified as the greatest challenge in providing reasonableaccommodation to employees. The majority of respondents indicateddifficulty with managing intermittent FMLA leave (65 percent) andleaves that extend beyond FMLA requirements (55 percent).

|

Employers appear to be increasing their use of contingentworkers, with nearly half of respondents using independentcontractors, freelancers or temporary workers to staff up forshort-term needs like contracts or seasonal demand (35 percent) oras part of their business model (10 percent).

|

Forty-three percent of respondents say lack of sufficientresources for collecting, managing and analyzing data was a concernin using big data to improve workplace management. Another 31percent are concerned about the risk of violating discriminationlaws and 23 percent about legal risk associated with dataprivacy.

|

A majority of respondents (63 percent) say their HR and ITdepartments are collaborating on information security policies toreduce data breaches that originate with employees. However, therestill appears to be work to be done in guarding against andpreparing for employee-initiated data breaches, as only 29 percenthad updated cyber-incident response plans, and just over half (51percent) are providing additional training on cybersecurity risksand information security policies.

|

Global data privacy issues are a significant concern for 56percent of employers doing business outside of the U.S.respondents also express concern with varying standards for hiringand firing (39 percent), conducting multi-country investigations(25 percent) and uncertainty stemming from Brexit and the U.S.elections (25 percent).

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.

Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience, with particular expertise in employee benefits and other human resource topics.