Employers apprehensive over divided government News added by Benefits Pro on July 17, 2014
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By Alan Goforth

A sharply divided government is creating concern among employers, according to Littler's 2014 Executive Employer Survey.

More than half (56 percent) of the 500 in-house counsel, HR professionals and executives surveyed identify rulemaking and enhanced enforcement from federal agencies as the most troubling outcomes of a divided government.

“With Congress deadlocked and the ongoing divisions in government, employers are feeling the impact of President Obama’s focus on the federal agencies to bring about changes to workplace policy,” said Michael Lotito, co-chair of Littler’s Workplace Policy Institute. “As employers grapple with more-aggressive enforcement and workplace reforms from several federal agencies, the Department of Labor’s pursuit of President Obama’s ‘income inequality’ agenda was a particular area of concern for employers.

"Twenty-nine percent indicated concern with measures to raise the minimum wage and expand overtime pay, both of which will have a significant impact on employers’ bottom line.”

The regulatory issue that respondents expect to have the most impact on their workplace during the next 12 months is still the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, the number who believe it will have a significant impact dropped 16 percentage points, from 57 percent in the 2013 survey to 41 percent in 2014.

“It’s not to say that employers are no longer concerned about the ACA – they are, and health-care reform continues to be one of the most pressing issues on the minds of all employers,” said Steven Friedman, co-chair of Littler’s Employee Benefits Practice. “However uncertainty surrounding the ACA, as well as delays in its implementation, has created confusion among employers. In response, 58 percent said they have engaged employee benefits attorneys or consultants to help track changing deadlines and upcoming compliance obligations.”

Employers appear to be increasingly comfortable with the size of their current workforce. The percentage of respondents indicating no plans to make changes to their workforce has increased steadily over the past three years, from 13 percent in 2012 to 26 percent in 2014. However, employers still remain relatively bullish in their hiring plans, with the majority (53 percent) planning to hire workers in the coming year.

Employers identified several challenges in managing their workforces:
  • Forty-eight percent report that current economic conditions are leading disgruntled employees to bring more lawsuits or claims against their employers — up 25 percentage points since last year.
  • Discrimination and harassment are the areas in which respondents noted that their organization has seen the most employee lawsuits or class actions during the past year (40 percent), followed closely by wrongful termination claims, or wage and hour lawsuits (36 percent).
  • Respondents believe worker retention presents the most difficulty in managing their workforce, with 88 percent having some level of concern.
  • Employers also express concern with social media and employee privacy (86 percent); preventing abuse of leaves under the Family and Medical Leave Act and similar laws (69 percent); and managing generational differences between younger and older employees (68 percent).
Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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