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  • Thu, March 11, 2021 3:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Congress just passed the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021” (ARPA), and have sent it on to the President for his expected signature. The bill includes significant employee benefits related provisions including a federal subsidy that will cover 100% of the cost of COBRA continuation coverage for up to 6 months for individuals who have had an involuntary termination of employment or reduction in hours. The bill also includes an increase in the amount an employee can elect to contribute tax-free to a Section §129 Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP).

    [For details: Read the full RCM&D alert here]. 

  • Mon, March 01, 2021 1:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    According to a new survey conducted by Oasis, a Human Resources (HR) services provider, ensuring a safe work environment amid COVID-19 is the top priority among business leaders/CEOs. The emphasized on “workplace safety” has overtaken other critical business considerations such as: talent acquisition and professional development. Oasis, a Paychex® Company, conducted its national survey of 300 business leaders who employed 5 to 99 employees from a broad cross-section of industries. The results are now available in its white paper 2021 Priorities for Business Leaders: A U.S. Survey.

    The shifting of priorities appears to be due to COVID-19, thus pushing “talent acquisition” from the top of the list—a spot it has held for the past 2 years. The new top five priorities as identified by CEOs are:

    • Ensuring a safe workplace in light of COVID-19: 36%
    • Offering competitive compensation and benefits (including employee assistance programs): 31%
    • Developing employees and future leaders for succession: 29%
    • Attracting strong, competent management and dedicated, capable staff: 28%
    • Maintaining ongoing regulatory compliance: 28%
    According to Oasis president, Teresa Carroll, “No matter the industry they serve, all businesses have had to adapt to new regulations and local and state mandates as the pandemic evolves. Likewise, whether employees have faced cutbacks or mental health challenges brought on by the pandemic, all workers have been impacted. In turn, this has brought workforce management and overall physical, financial, mental, and social employee wellness front and center among business leaders’ list of priorities.”
    [SEE, Oasis
    press release for more details].
  • Mon, March 01, 2021 1:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued guidance titled “Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace.”  The new guidance, which is advisory, addresses not only some of the more commonplace safety practices (such as mask wearing, etc.) but also other employment policies and practices not as readily associated with workplace safety. HR legal experts are advising employers when you are updating or implementing new policies related to topics such as vaccines, COVID-19-related leave, and antiretaliation policies, you should include in your analysis the impact of the guidance on your policies and their potential impact on workplace safety.

    Much of OSHA’s recent COVID-19 guidance involves practices that are now commonplace: maintaining social distance, wearing face coverings, practicing good hygiene, and disinfecting regularly. However, the new guidance also recommends additional practices to help maximize the effectiveness of employers’ current procedures. For example, the new guidance focuses on:

    • Hazard assessments to pinpoint employees’ specific safety needs;
    • Ensuring employee input into needed procedures because they are often in the best place to point out hazards specific to their own working conditions;
    • Ensuring safety procedures are communicated effectively—meaning they are widely available in formats employees understand (i.e., American Sign Language, non-English spoken languages);
    • Appointment of an individual “point-person” to be responsible for COVID-19 on the employer’s behalf;
    • Adoption of policies that reduce negative impacts on employees missing work due to COVID-19; and
    • Implementation of protections that reassure employees they won’t be retaliated against if they raise questions or concerns with workplace safety procedures.
    [For details see, Sara T. Quinn’s, Esq., Butler Snow LLP, article: OSHA Guidance Touches on More Than Masks, Distancing - HR Daily Advisor (blr.com)]

  • Mon, March 01, 2021 1:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Biden Administration is calling on businesses big and small to help bring the pandemic to an end. In an advisor sent out by the Director of Private Sector Engagement, the Administration is encouraging employers to follow a few steps or reminders in their workplaces and establishments.  Andy Slavitt, White House Senior Advisor for the COVID Response Team, has indicated the important role the business community can play in supporting recovery efforts through key actions, including the promotion of mask wearing, vaccine accessibility, and more.

    [SEE, Attached Flyer for use by companies]

  • Fri, January 29, 2021 1:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As widely reported, President Biden has used an unprecedented number of Executive Orders (E.O.’s, now put at approximately 30) and other directives in the first week of his Administration to cover a wide range of policy areas.  Among the matters addressed two are of particular interest to the design and construction community:  suspension of permits for the Keystone XL Pipeline project and halting of any further construction of the fence/wall along the U.S. southern border.  Given the fact both of these infrastructure projects were underway, after extended debate and consideration, the stoppage has directly impacted jobs in our industry.

    (1) The Keystone project will likely layoff over a 1,000 workers, with anywhere from another 10-40,000 never being hired or employed on the pipeline; and 

    (2) With the work being halted on the border fence/wall, former Customs & Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan estimates it will cost approximately 5,000 construction jobs being lost. [NOTE: After obtaining billions of dollars in funding for construction of the border fence/wall over the last four years, the Trump Administration had completed about 450 miles before leaving office].

  • Fri, August 28, 2020 3:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    During the closing evening at the GOP Convention, workforce issues took center stage with a presentation by Stacia Brightmon, a Marine Corps veteran and single mom that found her calling and career path through an apprenticeship program championed by the Trump Administration spearheaded by the President’s daughter Ivanka. Specifically, Ms. Brightmon a Safety Document Specialist at S & B Engineers and Constructors, Ltd. referenced her company’s “Women in Construction Earn While You Learn” apprentice program.  Initiatives like this, and others, have been the center piece of the National Council for the American Worker and the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board programs launched by the Trump Administration; that also partner with FindSomethingNew.org which provides a portal to new workforce opportunities.  

    CIRT has been reporting on various aspects of the current Administration’s focus on alternative job paths, including apprenticeships, for some time (See e.g., CIRT stories dated 02/12/20, 02/11/20, etc.).  This extraordinary emphasis seems to reflect the President’s background in the building industry. 

  • Tue, June 30, 2020 2:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Re-imagining community colleges and their role in the post-pandemic period is the subject of a new report entitled: “The Indispensable Institution.”  The focus is on upskilling, retraining and providing new training approaches to millions of potential employees in the future.  By stepping forward to fills this gap, the community colleges will play a vital role for a host of industries, including those in the design/construction community.  [Read report for details].

  • Fri, May 01, 2020 1:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Relaunching America's Workforce Act” (RAWA), was introduced on Friday, May 1st, by the House Education and Labor Committee Chairman, Bobby Scott along with a co-led effort in the Senate by Tim Kaine. RAWA seeks to provide both immediate and long-term supports to the U.S. workforce. The proposed funding structure mirrors “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” the stimulus bill passed in 2009 to address the Great Recession. Funding for the workforce system will be funneled through existing channels, to get resources to the local level as quickly as possible. RAWA aims to keep people on the job now, while also putting people back to work when necessary. The bill focuses on maintaining core elements of WIOA and Perkins CTE legislation by concentrating on the most vulnerable populations, while recognizing the definition of “vulnerable” will change due to the COVID-19 crisis, ensuring support will be provided to those most effected. The act increases flexibility so more funding can be used for training, supportive services, and career services.  It is unclear how far this proposed bill will go, given the White House and the Republican majority in the Senate has yet to come onboard or offer any support/changes to the proposal.

    Summary of Bill’s Key Provisions:

    • Provides eligibility flexibility and maintaining eligibility for use. This legislation expands on increased eligibility offered in the CARES Act, ensuring that all individuals in need of WIOA services are able to access them.
    • Expands eligibility so anyone can access individualized career services.
    • This eligibility extends to all in the labor force, including the "gig" or independent contract worker.
    • Expands the allowable amount of funds used on incumbent workers to 40%.
    • Makes allowable 40% of funds for transitional jobs, including public sector jobs.
    • Allows 75% of employee wages eligible to be reimbursed for on the job training.
    • Allows for an additional 10% of allocated funds for governor's reserve to be used for COVID-19 response.
    • Requires states to deliver a COVID-19 recovery plan within 60 days of funds being distributed.
    • Requires that at least 50% of dislocated worker grants to be distributed in 60 days.
    • Makes allowable 1/3 of adult education funds to be used on incumbent worker training and employer supports.
    • Native American Grants expanded eligibility to individuals at up to 150% of poverty line.
    • No funds for this act may be used for IRAPs or SREs.

  • Wed, April 08, 2020 1:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Leading Your People and Organization Through COVID-19

    Part 1:  Leadership Communication During a Crisis

    The challenge of making quick, tough decisions with limited information should not be foreign to any leader, but the stakes are raised in times of great uncertainty. In addition to simply disseminating critical information throughout your organization, the right communication builds employee confidence and trust in leadership. This article explores five key components of strong communication that will help leadership navigate the uncertainty and ensure a more well-positioned organization on the other side of the crisis.

    Part 2:  Critical Project Restart Strategies

    With the goal of preventing COVID-19 transmission by adhering to quarantine rules and dealing with “stay at home” guidelines, construction projects nationwide are currently being shuttered. According to AGC’s most recent industry snapshot, almost 30% of companies surveyed have been directed by an owner, government agency or official to halt or delay work on any projects that are either active or expected to start within the next 30 days.

    Provided by FMI Corporation

  • Wed, April 01, 2020 4:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Among the steps taken by Congress, beyond the $2.0 trillion-plus economic package, is “The Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (FFCRA) which provides for paid sick leave from April 1, 2020 -- December 31, 2020.  Under the Act, full-time employees are entitled to two weeks (80 hours) and part-time employees are entitled to the typical number of hours they work in a two-week period.

    Paid sick leave can be used for the following reasons:

    1.      The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to the coronavirus;

    2.      The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to the coronavirus;

    3.      The employee is experiencing coronavirus symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;

    4.      The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in reason (1) or has been advised as described in reason (2).

    5.      The employee is caring for their child if the child's school or place of care has been closed, or the child's childcare provider is unavailable due to the coronavirus.

    6.      The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

    Employees who go on paid sick leave for reasons (1), (2), or (3) will be paid at their regular rate of pay. Employees who use their leave for reasons (4), (5), or (6) will be paid at two-thirds of their regular rate of pay. In no event, however, shall the paid sick leave exceed $511.00 per day or $5,110.00 in the aggregate for reasons (1), (2), or (3), or $200.00 per day or $2,000.00 in the aggregate for reasons (4), (5), or (6).

    Attached is a SAMPLE template for possible use by your firm’s employees to apply for leave under the FFCRA; and the DOL’s FFCRA Notice which should be posted in a conspicuous place on your premises or emailed to employees working remotely. 

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