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Staffing News Online

NJSA's Staffing News Online is a monthly e-newsletter that is available to the staffing industry.  The content for Staffing News Online comes directly from our industry partners.  If you are an NJSA industry partner and would like to submit content for Staffing News Online, please email office@njsa.com with your article.

  • Friday, February 26, 2021 9:42 AM | Denise Downing (Administrator)

    Submitted by Peckar & Abramson, P.C.

    The H-1B nonimmigrant visa program, which allows employers to bring in foreign professionals to work in “specialty occupations,” has been an important tool of the staffing industry for many years. As winter thaws, our thoughts turn to our spring gardens, but staffing companies know that spring also means H-1B cap season is around the corner. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) rolled out its new H-1B registration system last year, and for the most part it has been regarded as a positive change, reducing costs for employers not selected in the lottery. With a year of experience under the new registration system, and after a year where many changes were proposed to the H-1B visa program, what can staffing industry employers expect for the fiscal year 2022 (“FY2022”) H-1B cap season?

    The Basics

    The cost of each H-1B registration remains $10. The registration period will open at noon (EST) on March 9, 2021, and remain open until noon (EST) on March 25, 2021 (note: this is a change from last year when the registration period ran from March 1st until March 20th). Employers seeking to create new myUSCIS accounts for registration purposes can do so beginning on March 2, 2021, at noon (EST). If your organization has more than one legal entity (meaning, a company with a different employer identification number) that desires to sponsor an H-1B employee, each entity will need to set up a myUSCIS employer account. If you previously set up an employer account for the FY2021 registration period, you may use that existing account again this year. However, if your H-1B “point person” has changed (i.e., the authorized representative who typically signs your work visa petitions), then the new representative will need to set up their own myUSCIS account, since USCIS does not allow sharing of individual’s registration accounts.

    USCIS intends to run the lottery after the registration period has closed and then notify selected registrants by March 31, 2021. The first phase of the lottery will pick from a pool containing all registrations, while the second will be limited to only individuals that qualify for the advance degree cap. April 1, 2021, is the first date on which selected registrants can file their Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, with USCIS. Selected employers will have at least 90 days to submit the H-1B petition to USCIS. It is unclear, at this time, whether USCIS will allow Premium Processing for cap-subject FY2022 petitions.

    The information needed to complete each registration remains the same:

    • The employee’s full name, as it appears on their passport, and gender;
    • The employee’s passport number and country of citizenship;
    • The employee’s date/country of birth; and
    • Confirmation regarding whether the beneficiary is eligible for the U.S. advanced degree cap (note: a beneficiary is eligible for the advanced degree cap if she will obtain the degree by the time her H-1B petition is filed with USCIS).

    The sponsoring employer may only submit one registration for the same beneficiary. Duplicate registrations will be cancelled by USCIS and cannot be re-filed. Multiple related entities can each submit a single registration for a specific beneficiary, but only if each entity can show a legitimate business need. These potential duplicates will be closely scrutinized by USCIS before the cap lottery is run.

    Is the lottery still random?

    Yes. On January 8, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) published a final rule seeking to replace the current system, which randomly selects H-1B registrations for the lottery, with a prioritization system that would favor petitioners offering higher wages to their employee based on the Occupational Employment Statistics (“OEC”) four-level wage system. This was slated to go into effect on March 9, 2021, just in time for the FY2022 cap season. However, on February 4, 2021, DHS posted the final rule for public inspection, delaying its effective date for cap-subject H-1B petitions until December 31, 2021. The practical effect is that FY2022’s cap season will be unaffected, and the lottery will be chosen through random selection.

    Will prevailing wages be significantly higher than last year?

    No. On October 8, 2020, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued an interim final regulation that significantly raised the prevailing wage minimums for foreign professional workers, including H-1B employees. On December 14, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia struck down the rule because, among other reasons, the DOL bypassed the mandated public notice and comment period. On January 14, 2021, a new version of this rule was published, which still contains significant increases to the prevailing wage levels, but nothing close to what was attempted in late 2020. This new rule, however, is not slated to go into effect until July 1, 2021, so it should not affect cap-subject FY2022 petitions filed within the initial 90-day window.

    Has the definition of a specialty occupation changed?

    No. On October 8, 2020, DHS published a rule in the Federal Register seeking to tighten certain H-1B definitions and regulations. For instance, employers would no longer be permitted to argue that a bachelor’s degree was common to the industry and would have, instead, had to show it was a minimum requirement for entry into parallel positions at similar organizations. Critical for staffing companies, the proposed rule sought to add definitions to distinguish the “worksite” from a “third-party worksite,” the latter being a place “other than the beneficiary’s residence in the United States” that is not owned, leased or operated by the petitioning employer. The rule also sought to define whether an employer-employee relationship exists between the petitioner and a beneficiary working at a third-party worksite, and to limit H-1B employment at third-party worksites to a maximum of one year. This rule was struck down by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on December 1, 2020, along with the prior version of the increased prevailing wage rule. These new definitions and requirements will, therefore, not affect the FY2022 H-1B cap season.

    In Conclusion

    The H-1B registration period will be open from March 9th until March 25th of 2021. As H-1B visas registered are expected to greatly exceed the allotted 85,000 available, employers seeking to bring in foreign workers for the FY2022 cycle will need to have their H-1Bs registered within that window. Late registrations will not be allowed. Employers should be in contact with immigration counsel as soon as possible to make sure all accounts are set up and that a plan is in place for the registration period.

  • Friday, February 26, 2021 9:09 AM | Denise Downing (Administrator)

    Submitted by Becker LLC

    As staffing firms are familiar with by now, as a condition of entering the workplace, staffing firms and their clients may require COVID-19 testing of employees and temporary workers. However, until recently, the CDC had not fully developed and laid out what consents and disclosures were required to be provided to employees and temporary workers before a business could institute such a program. Well, now the CDC has.

    The below outlines what the CDC expects of such testing programs. Therefore, when a client requires COVID-19 testing, staffing firms, as the employer of record, will want to ensure that both the staffing firm and the client are complying with the CDC guidance, especially if the client is the one conducting the testing. Ensuring a client’s compliance may require an amendment to the master services agreement as well as visual oversight.

    According to the CDC, all testing should only be conducted with an employee’s or temporary worker’s informed consent which must consist of (1) disclosure, (2) understanding, and (3) free choice. The CDC recommends the following steps be taken when creating a testing program:

    • Ensure safeguards are in place to protect an employee’s privacy and confidentiality.
    • Provide complete and understandable information about how the employer’s testing program may impact employees’ lives, such as if a positive test result or declination to participate in testing may mean exclusion from work.
    • Explain any parts of the testing program an employee would consider especially important when deciding whether to participate. This involves explaining the key reasons that may guide their decision.
    • Provide information about the testing program in the employee’s preferred language using nontechnical terms. Consider obtaining employee input on the readability of the information. Employers can use this tool to create clear messages.
    • Encourage supervisors and co-workers to avoid pressuring employees to participate in testing. 
    • Encourage and answer questions during the consent process. The consent process is active information sharing between an employer or their representative and an employee, in which the employer discloses the information, answers questions to facilitate understanding, and promotes the employee’s free choice.

    Further, the guidance states disclosures should include those addressed in the FDA’s emergency use authorization patient fact sheet, including:

    • The manufacturer and name of the test.
    • The test’s purpose.
    • The type of test.
    • How the test will be performed.
    • Known and potential risks of harm, discomforts, and benefits of the test.
    • What it means to have a positive or negative test result, including:
      • Test reliability and limitations
      • Public health guidance to isolate or quarantine at home, if applicable

    Finally, the CDC lists a host of questions that employers should be ready to answer, including, but not limited to:

    • Why is the employer offering to test employees?
    • Will the employer pay for the employee’s time and travel?
    • Are there any available accommodations or alternatives for an employee who declines to take the test?
    • Who pays for the test?
    • Who will be administering the test and what are their qualifications?
    • When will the results be provided to employees, and in what confidential manner?
    • Who will interpret the test and what are their qualifications?
    • What is the test provider’s obligation to report a positive result to the public health authority.
    • What personal information does the employee need to provide (e.g., name, date of birth) to the test provider?
    • How will personal information be kept confidential and secure (i.e., restricted from unauthorized access or disclosure)?
    • Who to contact to explain an employee’s rights?
    • Who to contact if assistance is needed (e.g., language translation or transportation to and from the testing site)?

    Based on the above, it is imperative that all staffing firms who decide to move forward with COVID-19 testing have a well-documented and prepared testing plan; and in the case of staffing firm clients, staffing firms must ensure the applicable client’s plan adheres to the guidance as well. While the CDC guidance is helpful in developing such a plan, it is highly recommended that all plans be run by your legal counsel prior to implementation

    About Becker LLC: Becker LLC is a premiere mid-market firm recognized as a leader in the staffing industry. With offices in New York, California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, the firm provides forward thinking, mission-critical advice to staffing industry entrepreneurs and management on high stakes, complex legal matters as well as day-to-day matters and long-term plans. The firm are proud to be members of the following Staffing Associations: SIA, ASA, ASG, TempNet, CSP, MSA, NJSA, NYSA and serves as general counsel to the Mid Atlantic Staffing Association.

  • Friday, February 26, 2021 9:08 AM | Denise Downing (Administrator)

    Submitted by Peapack Private Investment Banking

    Our team is pleased to present its 4Q20 quarterly human capital solutions industry update from our Senior Advisor, Jim Janesky, who oversees client coverage and leads the vertical.

    Through this industry update, we will share with you our impressions on the market, track the leading macroeconomic indicators, report relevant transactions, public market valuations and highlight current trends. We also encourage you to set up a meet and greet with Jim Janesky and obtain a complimentary evaluation of your business.

    Click here to download the report.

  • Friday, February 26, 2021 9:06 AM | Denise Downing (Administrator)

    Submitted by Two River Benefits

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently added nine new answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) to its existing guidance on how employers should comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other fair employment laws while also observing all applicable emergency workplace safety guidelines during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

    Guidance for Employers

    The new FAQs address mandatory workplace vaccination programs and the restrictions that federal fair employment laws place on them. In general, employers may require employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations as long as they provide reasonable accommodations for employees who refuse to take the vaccine for medical or religious reasons.

    The EEOC’s new FAQs generally clarify, among other things, that:

    • Employers may require employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations;
    • Employers that require vaccinations may need to provide accommodations, or show that an unvaccinated employee would pose a direct threat;
    • Vaccination-related questions from employers must be job-related and consistent with business necessity; and
    • Any medical information obtained in the course of a vaccination program must be kept confidential.

    Employers with 15 or more employees should become familiar with and follow the guidance provided in all of the EEOC’s FAQs about ADA compliance, and employers should ensure that they comply with state and local anti-discrimination laws as well.

    While the COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available to the general public, employers should begin to plan for when there is broader access.

  • Friday, February 26, 2021 9:03 AM | Denise Downing (Administrator)

    Submitted by Becker LLC

    Healthcare Staffing companies, in particular, routinely provide base pay as well as per diem expenses  (i.e. food and lodging) as part of their total compensation package when recruiting and hiring travel nurses. In fact, for many travel nurses, the payment of the per diem expenses is part of the allure, as per diem payments are typically tax-free. Likewise, employers may benefit from such an arrangement (if done within the constraints of the law) as it permits payment to travel nurses that may otherwise be taxable and subject to various wage and hour restrictions, including, overtime.

    However, in the recent 9th Circuit decision of Clarke v. AMN Services LLC, the Court, in reversing a lower court’s decision in favor of the employer, stated not so fast, the per diem payments there should have been classified as compensation and not tax-free benefits because the payments were compensation for work rather than as reimbursement for expenses incurred by the travel clinicians. The Court, in reaching its decision, relied on, amongst other guidance and case law, 29 C.F.R. §778.224(a), which states that payments excludable from wages “do not depend on the hours worked, services rendered . . . or other criteria that depend on the quality or quantity of the employee’s work.”

    The employer in Clarke v. AMN Services LLC, had two different policies regarding its per diems: (1) pre-2014: “the per diem payments were prorated based on hours missed: for each hour a clinician failed to work, [the employer] would deduct $18 from the weekly per diem benefits”; and (2) post-2014: generally, “if a clinician contracted to work three shifts per week misses a shift, “the per diem allowance . . .advanced to her the week before [is] adjusted by one-third.”

    While the Court noted, that “[r]eimbursing traveling clinicians for seven days of expenses even though most clinicians only work three days a week is justifiable because the clinicians are scheduled to work away from home for a prolonged period and are not expected to travel back and forth to their home base each week”, the Court found that the employer’s policy of taking “pro rata deductions from its per diem payments [were] unconnected to whether the employee remains away from home incurring expenses for [the employer’s] benefit. Instead, the deductions connect the amount paid to the hours worked while still away from home, thereby functioning as work compensation rather than expense reimbursement.” Thus, the Court reclassified the per diem payments as wages, subjecting such payments to taxes and increases to the applicable travel clinicians’ overtime wages.

    While, this case was based on a specific set of facts, the Court, undoubtedly, dealt a significant blow to per diem payments and the Healthcare Staffing Industry. All Healthcare Staffing companies should immediately review and update their contracts and policies in accordance with this case.

    About Becker LLC: Becker LLC is a premiere mid-market firm recognized as a leader in the staffing industry. With offices in New York, California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, the firm provides forward thinking, mission-critical advice to staffing industry entrepreneurs and management on high stakes, complex legal matters as well as day-to-day matters and long-term plans. The firm are proud to be members of the following Staffing Associations: SIA, ASA, ASG, TempNet, CSP, MSA, NJSA, NYSA and serves as general counsel to the Mid Atlantic Staffing Association.

  • Friday, February 26, 2021 9:02 AM | Denise Downing (Administrator)

    Submitted by Haley Marketing

    The cornerstone of a successful email marketing program is a solid list. And whether you're planning to send emails to clients, candidates or both, you need to make sure your email list is clean.

    What Does a "Clean" Email Marketing List Mean?

    Having a clean list means no emails that are:

    • Out of date
    • Irrelevant
    • Misspelled
    • Opted Out

    Maintaining a list that's both robust and accurate (i.e., it targets current and relevant decision-makers) is critical to the success of your marketing and overall business success. Not only will cleaning up your list make for better internal records, but it will also make sure you are sending intentional content that answers the questions people on your lists are asking.

    How Can You Clean up Your List?

    To start cleaning up your list, go through it to search for typos or misspellings. An email won't go through if you spell Outlook as Outlok by accident. Then, check to see if anyone you know has moved on to another company or asked to be removed from your mailing list. Make sure they are not still receiving your emails, as they could file a SPAM complaint if they opt-out and their request is not honored.

    Can't You Just Purchase a List and Be Done with It?

    You can…but we don't recommend it. Using a purchased list may be quick and convenient, but it's also highly likely the list will contain addresses that are not compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act (violations of which could cost you up to $43,792 – PER EMAIL).

    As an alternative, consider partnering with email and content marketing experts like Haley Marketing. By working with a reputable and qualified agency, you have access to a mailing system with filters that work to clean your email list for you. Not only does our system keep track of opt-outs, it also filters out bad/misspelled and invalid email addresses and sends you a report so you can fix just the emails with those issues instead of hunting them down on your own time.

    Remember, your email marketing campaign's success depends on the quality of your list. Make a habit of regularly reviewing, updating and growing your marketing list – so your marketing delivers the results you need.

  • Monday, February 01, 2021 1:55 PM | Denise Downing (Administrator)

    Submitted by Assurance

    How to Survive A Hard Liability Market

    The insurance marketplace is recurrent in nature. When the market is soft, insurance carriers are competing for business; therefore, rates are lower, underwriting criteria may be more flexible, and coverages are broadened. When the market is hard, there’s a reduced supply of insurance causing coverages to be narrowed and rates to be generally increased.

    What Contributes to a Hard Market:

    1. Adverse loss trends/catastrophic losses – both the frequency and severity of claims is on the rise. Specific to the staffing industry, Auto Liability and Employment Practices Liability have been loss leaders and carriers are not collecting enough premium to cover the cost of claims. Litigation trends and increased medical costs have also led to higher payouts.
    2. Decreased carrier capacity – as carriers take on poor loss experience, they respond by restricting the classes of business and lines of coverage they want to insure.
    3. Decrease in carrier investment returns – typically the bulk of carriers’ profits are from investment returns even if they have an unprofitable underwriting year. Reduced returns are causing carriers to restrict their underwriting appetite.
    4. Lack of Reinsurance – as reinsurance becomes more costly or difficult to obtain, underlying carriers will increase rates as they are forced to take on more of the primary exposure or they will exit classes of business entirely.

    What to Expect in a Hard Market:

    1. Premium increases/lack of affordable coverage
    2. Increased scrutiny on submissions – requests for additional applications, historical data, detail on losses, controls, and exposures
    3. Restrictions in coverage – via policy forms or requirements for increased retentions
    4. Unavailability of higher limits or coverage enhancements
    5. Conditional or non-renewal notices
    6. The need to change carriers, work with more carriers, or obtain coverage through the excess/surplus lines marketplace

    How to Survive a Hard Market:

    • Stay ahead of the renewal process and communicate early with your broker to identify how you will be impacted.
    • Be prepared to provide much more detail at the time of renewal.
    • With shrinking capacity, carriers will be decreasing the number of brokers and wholesalers they work with. Be sure to partner with a broker with strong carrier relationships and knowledge of your industry.
    • Work with your broker to review your policies and procedures to understand where improvements can be made to secure more favorable quotes or reduce your liability to uninsured losses where coverage restrictions are imposed.

  • Monday, February 01, 2021 1:51 PM | Denise Downing (Administrator)

    Submitted by Two River Benefits Consultants, LLC

    Enacted on Dec. 27, 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) includes a $900 billion coronavirus relief package that provides funding to individuals and businesses.  

    The CAA also includes benefits and tax provisions affecting employers, group health plan sponsors, health benefits brokers and health insurance issuers.  Some provisions are currently effective, while others begin on future dates.

    Click here to download the article.

  • Monday, February 01, 2021 1:48 PM | Denise Downing (Administrator)

    Submitted by Haley Marketing

    One of the best ways to boost traffic to your staffing website is to publish more (and more useful) content. However, part of your content strategy should include a content refresh. Most companies rarely think about refreshing what they already have, but it can be an effective way to gain more traction in search engines.

    Why Refresh Old Content?

    You know the value of working smarter rather than working harder. A content refresh is faster than planning, developing and optimizing new content. It is also a great way to:

    • Improve click-through rate (CTR): You could be losing clicks because your headlines or meta descriptions are outdated or don’t quite align with search queries.
    • More efficiently create long-form content: Dig into your data to find out which pages and blog posts once generated a lot of traffic but have slowed. You can merge content to create long-form content or expound on existing content to make it more robust. Long-form content can help you improve your bounce rate because you become a definitive source for answering questions.
    • It helps you meet Google’s demands: Google likes to serve up content that is relevant, authoritative, and fresh. Updating old content helps you check off these boxes.

    How to Assess and Choose the Best Content to Refresh

    You never want to approach a content refresh willy-nilly. Lean on your website data to know where to focus your efforts. You want to spend time on the pages and posts that have the potential for generating qualified traffic.

    Use your analytics to locate your oldest pages. Then, identify pages that have experienced a dip in traffic. Don’t limit yourself to only pages that performed well in organic search. Include social media shares and clicks, as well. Choose content to refresh by picking out those that have outdated content that should be updated or content that is still relevant today.

    How to Get More From Existing Pages

    Remember, the key is to work smarter, not harder. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when refreshing your content. You can:

    • Update title tags and metadata: If your title tags and meta descriptions don’t include keywords, update them so that they do. The inclusion of keywords in tags is not a ranking factor; however, it helps users judge whether your content is relevant. Click-through rate IS a ranking factor, so using keywords is wise to help boost clicks
    • Update outdated portions of pages: Staffing and recruiting are in a constant state of evolution. Update old content that may offer outdated advice or content that doesn’t align with current industry best practices. You may also want to update blog posts that contain outdated screenshots, stats or data, as well.
    • Add video: Adding a video to a post can instantly boost its effectiveness.
    • Improve readability: If you use the Yoast SEO plugin for your WordPress website, it will generate a readability score for each page and post. If you identify pages that have poor readability, go through and make them more concise and direct.
    • Make copy user-focused: Odds are high that some of your older pages were written with search engines in mind rather than users. Pages that have keywords stuffed in them or don’t have a singular purpose and focus should be updated.
    • Make short posts more robust: Blog posts don’t need to be lengthy, but if you find some that are less than 350 words, expound on the concepts in the post to make them more useful and robust.

    Remember, a content refresh should be conducted in tandem with new content creation and ongoing SEO improvements to your website. If you want to improve your website’s visibility and organic traffic, contact Haley Marketing Group to help develop an SEO strategy today

  • Monday, February 01, 2021 1:47 PM | Denise Downing (Administrator)

    Submitted by TempWorks Software

    The COVID-19 pandemic has forced staffing agencies to get creative and adapt to the many restrictions that have now been in place for close to a year. Many have found the hardest hurdles to overcome are the confusion over school closures, the difficulty of distance learning, and the lack of childcare. But some organizations have devised brilliant solutions to adapt to these restrictions. One such company is our client Graham Personnel Services, who have implemented in-office education and childcare, complete with a teacher to help employees’ children with their digital learning.

    “We have a large lobby, and we converted it into a classroom for our recruiters so that they could bring their children in. We knew childcare and home schooling would be a significant issue for people,” says Will Graham, COO and co-owner of Graham Personnel Services.

    Graham Personnel Services opened their in-office school in August. Employees’ children (as well as nieces and nephews) have been attending Monday through Friday, accommodating a variety of schedules and modes of distance learning. To top it all off, Graham Personnel Services has also hired a teacher to help the younger children. “One of the moms came to us and said her children are doing the best they ever had. The classroom is smaller and they are getting more one on one time,” says Graham. “That shook me up, that was a pretty special day.”

    The atmosphere of an office changes when kids are nearby. Art projects and books decorate the hallways, laughter is always in the background, and there are costumes on Halloween—creating an environment that is enjoyable not only to children, but to employees as well. The result is a winning balance between work and home life. “We’ve been voted best company to work for, for 4 consecutive years,” says Graham. “We try to really take care of our people, to walk the walk instead of talking the talk.”

    Times of crisis often foster innovation, and Graham Personnel Services has illustrated that perfectly in their adoption of in-office childcare and schooling. They have also shown that such innovations often improve work life in the long run, even when they sprang from something as difficult as a pandemic

Click on the dates below for Staffing Online News archives from 2017 and 2018.  

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