Metropolitan minimum wage increases continue

spaceneedleAt the end of last year, we wrote a blog post about California raising its minimum wage from $8 an hour to $10 an hour, and discussed the pros and cons of raising minimum wage.

This month, Seattle passed a bill that increases the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, the highest in the country at almost double the national minimum wage.

The interesting difference between Seattle raising its minimum wage, as opposed to when California raised its minimum wage is that this law is only relevant to those working directly within the city limits. This means that there will be almost a five-dollar difference in pay between neighboring cities.

The impact of this situation is unknown, but people are paying attention. Some of the results economists are watching for include:
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Will healthcare reform change the way you hire?

Top 5 things your human resources department wants you to knowWhen it comes to healthcare reform, for many employers the magic number is 50.

Employers with 50 or more full-time workers are classified by the government as a “large employer” and will be required to provide healthcare coverage that meets government standards to employees. However, if you’re an employer near or over that threshold you were granted a reprieve by the U.S. Department of Treasury – complying with the requirement was delayed one year from Jan. 1, 2014 to Jan. 1, 2015.

Regardless of when the law will take effect, the looming regulations are shining the spotlight on independent contractors, and the role they play in businesses and organizations. Because independent contractors do not qualify as employees, some businesses are considering various steps to increase use of their services, or redefine current employee’s status to avoid the requirements of a large employer.

A Wall Street Journal article, A Health Scare for Small Businesses, provides a good overview of the challenges and concerns that are motivating some employers to consider increasing their use of independent contractors or taking other steps to ensure they comply with the requirements.

Yet businesses need to walk a fine line when it comes to how they define and classify employees. Experts and analysts have been weighing in with advice for businesses that could be affected by the new rules. For instance, a June 2013 article posted by the Associated General Contractors of America warned that employers should use “extreme caution” before attempting to manipulate its number of employees by reclassifying them as independent contractors.
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SHRM 2013 Day 3 Coverage – Part 1 | Leadership and the ACA

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We kicked off day three of our SHRM 2013 coverage with gusto.  With 117 sessions including, workshops, mega sessions, keynotes, roundtables and lunches, it was difficult to choose what we thought would be the right sessions to bring your way. From Auditing Policies to Immigration Law, HRCI Certification to building the best Employee Handbook; we feel the sessions outlined and summarized below, push the gambit of thought leadership you’d need to build your business and become a successful leader.
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Job growth continued to rise in October

Private sector hiring remained robust in October, as more than 100,000 new jobs were added to the national economy for the fourth consecutive month, providing further evidence that economic recovery is continuing at a steady pace.

According to the BLS’ “The Employment Situation – October 2012” report, 171,000 jobs were generated last month, once again exceeding economists’ projections. Prior to the release of the report, many economists expected 125,000 new jobs would be created.
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Corporate Health and Wellness

Two weeks ago the biggest sporting event of the year began in London bringing in people from all over the world. Thousands of athletes have been training intensely for this global competition. However, they’re not the only ones who have been dedicating time and resources to fitness; as part of Corporate Social Responsibility practices, many companies have started wellness programs to promote better health among their employees and communities.

Under Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, businesses hold themselves accountable for their impact on employees, consumers, communities, and the world. CSR has been spreading since the second half of the twentieth century, and corporations have pursued this philosophy through increased employee benefits and training, community service, charitable donations, safer or more energy-efficient products, and environmentalism. It is typically seen as an important part of a sustainable business model; whether by limiting pollution and use of natural resources, developing the communities in which a business operates, or improving employee health and morale, CSR can help corporations conserve resources and maintain production levels and sales.
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A Growing Problem: Prescription Drug Abuse in the Workplace

Nearly every employer drug tests for illegal drugs. However, if an employee has a prescription for a drug, they will still pass the drug test. With this loophole, prescription drug abuse in the workplace is on the rise.

The problem tends to start on college campuses, where students seek out medications either for recreational use or to keep up with the hectic pace and multiple demands of college life. Once a habit is formed, it easily translates to the workplace. Adderall is the new coffee (from 2002 to 2005, there was a 90% increase in American adults taking ADHD medication); Vicodin the new Tylenol (prescription drug abuse of opiates has increased 40% since 2005). Rather than have a drink (or better yet, go for a run), more and more workers turn to anti-anxiety medications like Xanax or Valium. Some even tempt fate by mixing these drugs together, causing potentially dangerous or even deadly interactions. Not to mention, prescription drugs have rapid tolerance, and workers soon need more to produce the original effect.

In a society that pushes workers to do more with less, work longer hours and keep up in a fast paced world, many turn to these drugs as a way to cope.  In 2008, a study suggested that a greater percentage of workers test positive for prescription drugs than cocaine and methamphetamines combined. To make matters worse, many are not even taking their own prescriptions: According to Glamour magazine, “nearly 30 percent of young women say they’ve borrowed prescription drugs from a friend.” Due to the different reactions the same drug can invoke in different individuals, this is even more dangerous.

What does this mean for employers?
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