The Labor Department finalized a new rule today that aims to make it easier for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors – but the rule faces a very uncertain future given that the Biden administration will take the reins of the federal government before it is scheduled to take effect and the incoming administration has signaled its opposition to this change. Businesses that use independent contractors to carry out critical work roles – especially gig economy companies and those using gig-economy-like strategies for components of their workforce – have long awaited this rule in the hopes that it would lend certainty to modern business models and reduce litigation brought by workers claiming to be misclassified as employees. But celebrations need to be put on hold for now, as we expect President-elect Biden to at least temporarily stall implementation past its planned March 8 effective date while worker advocacy groups and state attorneys general line up to file legal challenges in the hopes of permanently killing the rule.

After much heated negotiation in passing Stimulus 2.0, Congress reached a compromise on employee COVID-19 leave, allowing the leave requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to expire on December 31, 2020, but continuing tax credits through March 31, 2021 for employers who choose to voluntarily provide paid leave after that date. Now that employers with fewer than 500 employees are no longer obligated to provide FFRCA leave, many are left wondering whether they should continue to provide leave for their employees who are impacted by COVID-19. This article aims to provide an overview of the state of the law and provide employers with the pros and cons of continuing to provide FFCRA leave to make the best decision for their workplace.

Terminating an employee within hours after she reported concerns about alleged gender discrimination amounted to significant evidence that the employer’s stated reasons for firing her might have been pretext for retaliation, according to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The majority of U.S. organizations (61 percent) that intend to encourage, but not require, their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccination, according to research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted in December. Many employers won’t need to do much arm-twisting in terms of vaccinations, though: SHRM’s research indicates nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of American workers say they’re likely to get the COVID-19 vaccination once it becomes available.

Effective Jan. 1, the Minneapolis Freelance Worker Protection Ordinance expands wage-theft protections to independent contractors who perform services in the city.

Recruiting and hiring while the nation struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic is HR professionals’ top concern going into 2021, according to new research.

As the new year begins, HR leaders are focusing on enhancing technology systems that improve the productivity of remote workers, upgrading workforce management, utilizing recruiting and learning platforms to meet changing needs, and deploying digital tools such as apps or videos to help employees manage mental health issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employers in the manufacturing industry have emerged as a prime target of COVID-19 workplace litigation. In fact, according to the Fisher Phillips COVID-19 Employment Litigation Tracker, manufacturing is the second-hardest hit sector in the country, facing 9.1% of all COVID-19 workplace claims filed (trailing only the healthcare industry which, for obvious reasons, dominates the field at 22.3%). Given recent trends, manufacturing employers everywhere should be aware of the lawsuits that may be coming in the states where they operate – and should adopt our five-step recommended plan to avoid facing litigation in the new year.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, includes provisions to increase transparency in employee health benefit plans regarding price and quality information, compensation to brokers and consultants, mental health parity and prescription drug costs.

The U.S. Department of Labor just confirmed that employees who seek medical treatment via telemedicine visits could qualify for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) into the new year – and perhaps beyond. While there may have previously been confusion or uncertainty about whether remote visits to a healthcare provider should be considered as valid “treatment” that would render an employee eligible for protected time off under federal law, the agency’s December 29 guidance offers the first definitive word from federal authorities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that this temporary policy will be extended for the foreseeable future. The agency also released an update on how employers can satisfy federal posting requirements via electronic communication methods. What do employers need to know about these latest developments?