By: First Union
7 Things You May Want to Offer Employees Moving Forward
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Having seen a major shift in the past couple of months in terms of the workplace atmosphere and the dynamic between employer and employee, it stands to reason that we may find certain things changing in the future. Given this crisis, moving forward, some states may require employers to offer additional benefits so that should such a situation arise again, there will be more protections in place for workers. It might be a smart move on your part to start offering your staff some things now ahead of what your state may tell you to do.
The question of wages/salary is certainly one that will likely remain up to you for the most part. And in light of the pandemic, this may be a tricky one to approach given your circumstances, those of the company, and those of the individual employees. But there are other measures that we will likely see states mandate regarding protecting the country's workforce. Again, it may make sense for you to get a headstart on some of the benefits and begin offering them to those employees now returning to work.
Most probably are aware of the federal law regarding minimum wage. However, that said, it's important to note that only about half of US states adhere to the federal law when it comes to minimum wage. States tend to set a higher wage limit than the federal government and employers must abide by this accordingly. If in fact, you are in one of the states that goes by the federal law, you might think about offering a higher wage to your employees. This of course is a great way to attract new workers as well. Do some research, see where your competitors stand rather than arbitrarily pulling a number out of thin air.
There is no federal law on the books that require an employer to provide paid sick leave (or any kind of sick leave to a worker/). And yet everyone, of course, gets sick now and again. Given the events of the past few months, the government's stance on paid sick leave is likely to change. At the state level, some have a state-mandated paid sick leave law—odds are, the number of states with such a law will dramatically increase shortly. Offering this now before your state mandates it, provides a great benefit to your employees. And there is the bonus of discouraging those who do have symptoms from coming to work and thus spreading whatever it is they may have.
Very few employers it has been found in recent surveys offer their employees any sort of paid family leave. In fact, according to one such survey, less than 20% of workers in the private sector had access to paid family leave. Again, given the coronavirus experience, this will probably change at both the federal and state levels. There are a few states currently that require paid family leave and they treat it as a type of insurance plan in which both employer and employee pay into a state-run fund. This is a tremendous benefit that you could offer your employees now. You could also then pick a paid family leave program into which you consequently pay before the state forces you into one.
Paid Time Off Payouts
Many employers do now offer paid vacation time, and that of course is great. However, what you may be required to do shortly is to also offer paid time off payouts. So for any unused vacation time, the employer must pay the worker a lump sum for this time, generally at the end of the year. Some states already do require this of employers, but if yours currently does not mandate such payouts, now might be a good time to provide this as a benefit.
Jury Duty Leave
If an employee is called up for jury duty, do you offer them paid leave for this? They are after all just abiding by their civic responsibility. It wasn't their choice to have to serve jury duty. Currently, ten states do require that employers offer jury duty paid leave. If yours is not one of those ten, then you could consider expanding your employee benefits program to include paid jury duty leave. You can always stipulate that it is only for a set period, or perhaps even say that you will do partial wages for the period during which they are serving.
As of right now, thirty states require voting time off. For most, this is simply unpaid time that an employee is entitled to cast their vote. And many states cap this time at 2 hours. That said, if your state does not require you to give your workers time to vote, this is one move you might institute; you could also consider paying them during their voting time off. Your employees will probably be grateful for this as this allows them to avoid long wait times going to vote after work hours.
Time Off For Any Reason
Most states do not require this of employers. In other words, you as the business owner can mandate that employees only get time off for certain things. Maine is currently the only state enacting any sort of time off for any reason legislation during which an employee would still get paid. Of course, you do not have to offer this, and there's no telling whether or not more states will start to mandate such a law, but it certainly is an attractive benefit for existing and potentially prospective employees.
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