Goldman Sachs made employees tell them their vaccination status, and your employer could too. Labor lawyers explain what rights employees have.

pregnant covid vaccine
A health worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine to a pregnant woman at Clalit Health Services, in Tel Aviv on January 23, 2021.

  • The EEOC says employers can require employees get a COVID-19 vaccine or ban them from the office.
  • Goldman Sachs is one of the few companies requiring workers to disclose if they are vaccinated.
  • California healthcare workers must either provide proof of vaccination or agree to testing.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

California will require state healthcare workers to get vaccinated or tested, the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to require the shot, and Goldman Sachs will require US employees to report their COVID-19 vaccination status. Other bosses could do the same thing.

Employers can legally require employees get a COVID-19 vaccine or ban them from the office, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said in a recent guidance.

As just over 50% of people in the US have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, workers are asking: Can my boss legally require that I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

California healthcare workers must provide proof of vaccination by August, or mask up and undergo COVID-19 testing. Goldman Sachs previously gave workers the option to disclose if they’d been vaccinated, allowing them to work maskless in offices if they reported that they were vaccinated. The disclosure is no longer optional. All employees must tell the company what date they were vaccinated and what brand, though they don’t need to provide proof.

Read more: Employers are flooding labor lawyers’ inboxes to ask if they can make a coronavirus vaccine mandatory in the workplace. Here’s the advice 6 lawyers are giving clients.

Business Insider spoke with six labor and employment lawyers about whether workplaces can make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for their employees.

Can bosses make a coronavirus vaccination mandatory at the workplace?

Workers likely first want to know what exactly their employers can require of them. In short, yes, employers can make vaccines mandatory, Jimmy Robinson, managing shareholder at the L&E firm Ogletree Deakins’s Richmond office, told Business Insider. He also mentioned that there would need to be religious and medical accommodations, with specific requirements varying by state and locale.

Karla Grossenbacher, chair of Seyfarth Shaw’s L&E practice in Washington, DC, said that employers would have to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA says that employers can require medical exams and vaccinations of employees under certain, specific conditions, like for healthcare workers, or if it poses a “direct threat” to the person if they are exempted, Grossenbacher said.

The EEOC, which enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination, has categorized COVID-19 as a direct threat. This designation allows employers to require temperature takes, masks, and social distancing. The federal agency has clarified that employers can mandate vaccination for employees, saying, “If a vaccine is administered to an employee by an employer for protection against contracting COVID-19, the employer is not seeking information about an individual’s impairments or current health status and, therefore, it is not a medical examination.” Medical examinations, including COVID-19 antibody testing, are not limited by the EEOC.

There are still many questions lawyers don’t yet know how to answer.

Workers have other questions about what employers can ask of them, too.

Nathaniel Glasser, a partner at Epstein Becker Green, said his clients are asking if they can restrict employees from attending large gatherings, or if employees can be required to come into work if they feel it is unsafe. Thomas Wassel, a partner at the law firm Cullen and Dykman on Long Island, said that in many cases employees do have to come to work, but it depends on specific circumstances.

The Biden administration just released new COVID-19 workplace safety regulations, though they will be limited to the healthcare sector, Politico reported.

“OSHA has tailored a rule that focuses on health care, that science tells us that health care workers, particularly those who have come into regular contact with people either suspected of having or being treated for Covid-19 are most at risk,” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said. “We also expect to release some updated guidance for general industry which also reflects the CDC’s latest guidance and tells employers how to protect workers who have not yet been vaccinated.”

Unions and worker advocacy groups are largely disappointed by the limited rules, which were expected to apply to all workplaces. Key parts of the plan require that workspaces under its jurisdiction designate workplace safety coordinators, carry out hazard assessments, mandate and provide PPE, and other typical COVID safety protocols.

Federal and state regulations conflict

The EEOC and federal law say that employers can require employees to get vaccinated, but some states are attempting to find ways around these laws.

Arkansas, Florida, and Texas all have laws specifically prohibiting businesses and government agencies from requiring vaccinations. A Texas hospital is being sued by more than 100 employees after saying that vaccines would be required for continued employment. With federal and state laws in direct conflict, it’s unclear how things will shake out in Texas.

This legal gray area is likely why few companies have outright required vaccines for employees, though many are encouraging them with perks like bonus payments.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A Japanese homebuilder’s stock fell 10% after the boss banned staff from getting vaccinated – and said those who do would be punished

A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government office.
A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government office.

  • Japan homebuilder Tama Home’s stock fell 10% on a report its boss threatened vaccinated employees.
  • The president said those who get jabbed would die five years later, a weekly magazine reported.
  • The company denied the report, saying the decision to get vaccinated is an individual choice.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Shares in Japanese homebuilder Tama Home fell 10% on Wednesday, marking their biggest one-day fall in over three years, after a report said the company’s president warned employees they’d be punished if they get vaccinated for coronavirus.

Company president Shinya Tamaki told managers he was against vaccination, and warned that people who took the vaccine would die five years later, according to weekly Japanese magazine Shukan Bunshun.

Tamaki added employees who choose to get vaccinated would be ordered to stay at home indefinitely, without being allowed to work. That would be treated as absenteeism, which meant they would be unpaid, the report said.

Internal e-mails also warned employees of the dangers associated with 5G phones. The report didn’t specify what risks were associated with the cellular network, but a conspiracy theory linking 5G with coronavirus had been circulating social media since January 2020.

Tama Home’s shares closed 10% lower on Wednesday, declining the most in more than three years. It was the biggest fall on Japan’s Topix index, which was overall up 0.8%.

The company denied it had pressurized workers about the vaccination, or threatened to put jobs in danger if employees decide to get immunized, the report said.

“Regarding the inoculation of the new corona vaccine, it is left to individual judgment,” a spokesperson said, according to a translation from the Japanese report.

Tokyo seems to be going through a third wave of coronavirus infections ahead of the Tokyo Olympics opening on Friday. The city reported 727 new cases on Monday, falling just below the 1,000 level it posted across five straight days. About 22% of the population is fully vaccinated so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.

Read More: Morgan Stanley’s Mike Wilson called the last 2 sell-offs. He outlines sharply deteriorating market signals that suggest the S&P 500 is vulnerable – and shares 10 stocks to buy in this turbulent environment.

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UBS CEO says working remotely is good for bank’s clients as well as staff work-life balance

Ralph Hamers, new CEO of Swiss Bank UBS, gestures during a press conference in Zurich, Switzerland, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. Dutchman Ralph Hamers will replace Sergio Ermotti, who is still UBS boss, on Nov. 1, 2020. (Walter Bieri/Keystone via AP)
Ralph Hamers, new CEO of Swiss Bank UBS, gestures during a press conference in Zurich, Switzerland, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.

  • UBS CEO Ralph Hamers told Bloomberg that hybrid working is good for clients and employees.
  • He confirmed two-thirds of UBS staff would work hybrid in the future, though traders may be excepted.
  • The bank is also ‘reviewing’ its office footprint, Hamers said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

UBS Group CEO Ralph Hamers has said that hybrid working is good for clients, as well as staff.

The Dutch-born banker was speaking to Bloomberg’s Manus Cranny in Zurich about the Swiss bank’s recent strong second quarter growth and its immediate strategy. He also outlined the bank’s plan for hybrid working.

Two-thirds of the bank’s 73,000 staff will work hybrid roles in some way in the future, confirmed Hamers, adding this would benefit both staff and clients.

“Our clients like it, [they] have also experienced that they don’t always want to come to the office in order to meet our people. They don’t mind online advice,” he said.

“It’s a new way of working. It is here to stay. And I think it is also better in the end for work-life balance.”

When pressed whether these hybrid roles will extend to the traders in its investment bank, Hamers admitted that traders make up part of “the 25% to one-third of the roles for which it is really difficult to work from home.”

Hamers also hinted that the bank was planning to “review” office footprint, but did not provide specifics. He said the bank was experimenting, but ultimately teams would need time to find out what is the best mix between being in the office and working from home.

He won’t however be following HSBC’s Noel Quinn in ditching his personal office.

“For CEOs not to have their own room, I think we’ve done that in the past already so I don’t think that is about saving real estate square metres,” he said.

Speaking more generally about the bank’s performance since he took charge in November 2020, Hamers outlined that America and Asia would be a main focus of growth, and threw cold water on the craze around crypto currency, saying that he has “no FOMO” when he hears of other banks exploring the asset class.

But it’s tougher for traders to WFH

Hamers is the latest senior banker to talk publicly about his organization’s return to work plans, although his approach is more flexible than some of his counterparts.

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, and JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon have both been vocal about the importance of staff – particularly investment bankers – returning to the office.

Conversations about hybrid work are rarely straightforward, Nick Bloom, William D. Eberle professor of economics at Stanford University and co-director of the Productivity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, told Insider.

The extent to which a person will be able to organize their time depends on their job role and the needs of the organization.

“It’s extremely expensive capital equipment that can’t be replicated at home,” said Bloom of the banking sector. “It’s also sensitive so it’s no surprise these folks have been told they’re going to come in.”

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Leaders from Paycom and The Kraft Group explain how they use technology to improve the employee experience

Speakers at our Insider event, Transforming HR in the Digital Era
Insider’s Aman Kidwai speaks to Miranda Blaiklock (c) from Kraft, and Holly Faurot from Paycom

  • Employers have a responsibility to hollistically support employees.
  • Executives from Paycom and The Kraft Group shared their thoughts on the role of technology in improving the employee experience.
  • The conversation took place at the Insider event “Transforming HR in the Digital Era” on June 15, 2021.
  • Click here to watch a recording of the event.

Miranda Blaiklock knows HR teams didn’t have a playbook for handling the people and business challenges during the pandemic.

Chief among those challenges is the responsibility to holistically support employees, said Blaiklock who is the director of benefits, compensation, and HR information systems (HRIS) at The Kraft Group.

“The blur between working nine-to-five has really changed in this new model,” Blaiklock said, speaking at an Insider event on Tuesday.

This goal of holistically supporting workers taught HR teams to invest in technology that can help make employee’s lives easier. For example, Blaiklock said the company recently added a tool that allows employees to clock in for work or log PTO from their phones. It works just like consumer technology, she added.

Holly Faurot, chief sales officer at Paycom, noted this trend as well. Over the course of the pandemic, she said “employees had an increased amount of interaction with consumer technology. We were utilizing apps more than ever last year.”

This increased use of technology in their personal life may be changing expectations for the tech they use at work.

“Employees are coming back into the workplace now with that same type of expectation,” Faurot said. “They want to have the same type of experience that they’ve had with Amazon or maybe their local pizza place. That’s something that companies need to realize. There’s a very, very low tolerance of complexity for employees.”

Using data and feedback to make decisions

Another way The Kraft Group monitors employee satisfaction with technology is through a digital experience score provided through Paycom. The experience score is a measure of how their HRIS are performing, she explained.

“It is a little bit like a game, so just after each month we just take it just like the Patriots just won a game,” she said, referring to the NFL team whose operations are run by the Kraft Group. “We go and look at our game film and the DDX score and see how we could do it better next month, so it’s been a great tool for us and from a process improvement standpoint. It’s really been a game changer.”

Blaiklock also uses HRIS data to make the business case for different employee decisions, such as changing schedules or offering more flexibility. Data helps Blaiklock make the case to finance when they insitute a new workplace policy.

“I think that most HR teams really have to straddle that line of being both the employee, advocate, but also wearing the business hat and I think the challenge with that is being able to speak the same language,” she said.

From Faurot’s perspective, employee data provides plenty of feedback for business leaders to act on. She recommends employers take the time to look closely at how employees are using the technology and even run focus groups.

“Make it easy, lower the complexity and you’re going to see a huge return on that investment,” Faurot said.

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PwC announces a $12 billion plan to recruit 100,000 people and train 25,000 Black and Latinx students over 5 years

bob moritz pwc davos 2020
Bob Moritz, global chair of PwC

  • PwC announced a $12 billion plan to hire an extra 100,000 people between 2021 and 2026.
  • About 10,000 of these hires will be Black and Latinx students, it said Tuesday.
  • The firm said it wanted to focus more on environmental, social, and governance advice to clients.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

PwC is spending $12 billion on a new plan to hire 100,000 people over the next five years.

“The New Equation” plan, announced on Tuesday, is set to pump money into recruitment, training, and technology at the firm, and focus PwC on giving clients more environmental, social, and governance advice, the company said. The professional services firm said it wanted to grow its 284,000-person global workforce by more than a third between 2021 and 2026.

PwC US is committing $125 million to prepare 25,000 Black and Latinx students for business careers as part of the plan, Tim Ryan, PwC’s US chairman and senior partner, said in a LinkedIn blog post on Tuesday.

PwC plans to hire 10,000 of these students over the next five years, he said.

“We’re going to get them ready for the workforce, to create internships, and training opportunities,” Ryan told Fast Company on Tuesday.

“Ten thousand will come to us, which is important, but we will be equally proud of the [other] 15,000 we’re going to help because that then gets to solving the broader societal problem.”

PwC currently has around 55,000 US employees and hires up to 8,000 Americans a year, the Financial Times reported.

The infrastructure plan also includes a $3 billion drive to double its business in the Asia-Pacific region, PwC said. Bob Moritz, global chair of PwC, said the firm was “going to massively invest to redefine itself and rebrand itself to make sure we’re valuable for what our clients need and what the world needs.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

We visited a pop-up vaccine clinic in a New York neighborhood that was once a COVID-19 hotspot. Some residents say they’re having trouble taking off work to get the shot, while others still don’t trust the city’s commitment to the community.

sunnyside pop up vaccine clinic
Jackie Lopez, who leads the COVID Free Queens Coalition at Sunnyside Community Services

  • Here’s what it was like inside a one-day pop-up vaccine site at Sunnyside Community Services in NYC.
  • Walk-in vaccine recipients preferred the Pfizer vaccine over the Johnson & Johnson shot.
  • Workers are providing information on vaccines through town halls and text messages.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Leaders at Sunnyside Community Services, a non-profit center that serves neighborhoods in Queens, New York City, are well aware of the devastating toll COVID-19 has had on their community.

The coronavirus disease had killed more Queens residents than any other borough as of March 2020, when New York City became an epicenter of the pandemic. Queens has the second-highest death rate from COVID-19 among the five boroughs, according to the most recent city data.

In the area of Queens that encompasses Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, and Woodside, 1 in 12 people have had COVID-19 and 1 in 137 have died, according to The New York Times.

At a one-day pop-up vaccine clinic in New York City’s Sunnyside Community Services, workers said community members coming in to get a shot gave them hope about the COVID-19 pandemic’s end, but they will still work hard to ensure no vulnerable member gets left behind.

Jackie Lopez, who leads the COVID Free Queens Coalition at Sunnyside Community Services, told Insider though she feels hopeful about entering a new post-COVID era, she urged federal and state agencies to keep in mind how vulnerable communities have low vaccination rates.

Read more: From guaranteeing full-time work to giving out gas cards, the shorthanded home-care industry is pulling out all the stops to hire more caregivers

Lopez said she’s heard community members say they can’t get a vaccine because they can’t take days off work if they have side effects. Black and Latino adults have a lower rate of vaccination than the average, according to the University of Minnesota. A volunteer team with the Association of American Medical Colleges said low-income neighborhoods have less access to vaccines, and these residents struggle with navigating the online sign-up processes.

“Our Black and brown communities, our immigrant communities were hit the hardest by the pandemic and we still have work to do to provide accessibility and continue to provide information,” Lopez said.

Inside a pop-up vaccine clinic in one of the hardest hit areas of COVID-19

pop up vaccine covid queens
A check-in station at the pop-up vaccine clinic at Sunnyside Community Services on May 17.

On May 27, VIP StarNetwork, an on-demand health services company primarily for entertainment industry workers, hosted a one-day pop-up vaccine clinic at Sunnyside Community Services for one day. The May 27 pop-up vaccine site was Sunnyside Community Services’ first, and the organization has scheduled second-dose appointments for June 17.

Johonniuss Chemweno, the CEO of VIP StarNetwork, said the group has been working with the state government to bring pop-up clinics to diverse and low-income communities. VIP StarNetwork, which had been approved as a mass vaccination provider by a federal agency in February, had previously enforced COVID-19 safety protocols for Netflix and Amazon studios.

The pop-up vaccine clinic had a team of more than a dozen nurses ready to help walk-in visitors get a vaccine. The site allowed all adults and people aged 12 to 18 to get a Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Chemweno told Insider he’s seen an uptick in people under 18 coming into pop-up vaccine sites. The US began inoculating teenagers with the Pfizer vaccine in May.

Recipients were allowed to choose which vaccine they got depending on availability, Chemweno said.

check in pop up vaccine clinic covid-19 sunnyside queens
Valentina Valencia, an emergency medical technician, and Sofia Mejia, a registered nurse check-in community members for their vaccine jabs.

Nada Elrakaivy, a COVID Free Queens Coalition outreach specialist, told Insider many community members have been hesitant about receiving a Johnson & Johnson vaccine after the CDC reported a rare blood clot had been linked to six vaccine recipients. The welcome sign outside the vaccine clinic noted noted that the site had Pfizer vaccines, and two community members asked specifically for the Pfizer vaccine when entering the pop-up site.

Community members entered Sunnyside Community Services and checked-in with Valentina Valencia, an emergency medical technician, and Sofia Mejia, a registered nurse. The two said they had enjoyed “giving back to the community that needs it” through working at with Sunnyside Community services.

After checking in, a nurse administered the vaccine to community members, and recipients had to wait about 15 minutes for observation before leaving.

Elrakaivy said her group has been giving out free masks to Queens residents on the streets, and providing them with information on how to get a COVID-19 test and vaccine. The COVID Free Queens Coalition took down the names of food vendors, who Elrakaivy said are high-risk due to interacting with many different people daily, and made vaccine appointments for those who were interested.

vaccines pop up clinic sunnyside queens
Nada Elrakaivy, a COVID Free Queens Coalition outreach specialist, told Insider many community members have been hesitant about receiving a Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The team always has a Spanish-speaking person with them to communicate with the area’s Latino community.

“For the most part, every time we ask someone if they got the vaccine, they responded with a yes,” Elrakaivy said. “So Queens is doing pretty well. Better than we expected.”

How Sunnyside Community Services workers are dealing with vaccine hesitancy

Jonah Gensler, the associate executive director of Community Services, told Insider he had been engaging with the community throughout the pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, Sunnyside Community Services held services for senior citizens, English classes for immigrant residents, and other programs for vulnerable people across Queens. Gensler said the non-profit reached with homebound seniors using their phone numbers gathered at previous Sunnyside Community Services events.

Read more: Well-funded healthcare startups are snatching up smaller companies to keep growing. It’s the start of a consolidation tsunami.

The group set up a food pantry when the pandemic hit to help struggling community members. Community Services has also hosted online town halls to get the word out about COVID-19 safety, Gensler said.

Gensler said a roadblock to getting community members vaccinated has been the hesitancy around getting a vaccine and distrust in the government, especially after wealthier areas got better access to vaccines than communities that had suffered during the height of the pandemic.

“We have heard that some community members say, ‘You know, at the height of this pandemic, when the communities in Elmhurst and Corona and Jackson Heights were suffering the most, we didn’t get all the support we needed,'” Gensler said. “And that does lead to hesitancy.”

IMG_0684
Nurses wait to administer vaccine jabs to recipients at Sunnyside Community Services

But Lopez, the lead organizer of COVID Free Queens Coalition, said Sunnyside Community Services is uniquely positioned to increase interest in vaccines due to its active members.

She said when one community member said they were hesitant about the vaccine at a recent town hall, other community members chimed in to explain why they got the shot. One person took the vaccine to make sure a senior citizen they care for is safe, Lopez said, and one mother said they want to make sure their child is cared for.

“For us, the biggest goal is kind of bringing up those voices and those stories of why people decided to take the vaccine so that other people who are so a little bit more hesitant will be able to make those connections as well,” Lopez said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon is sending employees into the trenches on Twitter as it battles its first union vote and reports about workers peeing in bottles

amazon warehouse
  • Amazon’s paid army of employee Twitter users is at it again, this time criticizing unionization.
  • The employee accounts follow a standard format, and popped up previously amid negative press coverage.
  • A major union drive and reports of delivery drivers peeing in bottles are the primary target.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

As new reports surface of Amazon warehouse and delivery staff still having to pee in bottlesor, in some cases, defecate in bags – the company’s employee-powered Twitter army has resurfaced.

“So glad to be on Twitter! Feel free to ask my anything about my experiences as a member of the Amazon family, I’m an open book!” an account tied to an employee named Darla tweeted last week. The account, like several others reviewed by Insider, was started in March 2021.

Back in 2018, Amazon admitted to paying a small army of employees to tweet positive things about the company.

The move was in response to the first revelations that some Amazon warehouse and delivery staff were peeing in bottles to save time due to the demands of their job. The employees paid by Amazon were easy to identify, as they all shared the same “Amazon FC” naming convention on their profiles (FC for “fulfillment center,” the name of Amazon’s shipping warehouses).

After Darla’s cheerful intro written in late March, the second tweet on the account reflects the grim reality of being an Amazon FC ambassador. “One thing that’s become obvious to me in my short time on Twitter is how willing people are to shout down and be cruel to a fellow member of the working class who disagrees with them, even when they think that person is ‘brainwashed.’ The cruelty I’ve had directed at me!!!” she tweeted.

Darla’s only other tweets reflect her anti-union position – a tweet that was published the same day that employees of an Amazon fulfillment center were scheduled to vote on the company’s first major union.

“What bothers me most about unions is there’s no ability to opt out of dues!” she said on Monday. “As a single mother with two boys I’m barely scraping by as it is, and now unions want to come to Amazon and make pay them a piece of my salary. No thanks!”

Several other Amazon FC ambassadors kept their main tweets to a minimum, choosing instead to reply to ongoing Twitter threads about working at the company. The majority of those responses are specifically regarding bathroom breaks, per the reports of employees peeing in bottles.

Amazon driver thumb pee bottle
An Amazon driver shared this photo with Insider of a bottle of pee inside a delivery van.

“My [fulfillment center] lets me to take (2) 20min breaks and (1) 30min lunch. On overtime days, we get three 20min breaks, which is also pretty nice as well,” one such response from an employee identified at Gary reads. “Before the pandemic, our breaks used to be only 15min. Being an essential worker is dignifying for me.”

Another such response to a thread, from an employee named Yola, also addresses the repeated reports of employees peeing in bottles to save work time.

“Although the facility is big, there are numerous bathrooms to use,” she wrote on March 28. “My building has 12. Each bathroom can have 3-6 toilets. That’ plenty. Plus with 20-30 [minute] breaks that’s more than enough time.”

Like Gary and Darla, Yola’s account was also started in March 2021 and didn’t become active until late in the month – just as Amazon began publicly pushing back on unionization at its Bessemer, Alabama fulfillment center and reports of workers peeing in bottles resurfaced once again.

A Twitter account run by the company, Amazon News, recently got into public arguments with several politicians. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, as well as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Mark Pocan, have all gotten into public spats with the account.

The tone of the account became combative enough that an Amazon engineer reportedly flagged the tweets as potentially suspicious behavior.

And Amazon consumer chief Dave Clark also got involved in those public spats, even going after Sen. Sanders’ record directly. “I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers,” he said, “but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace for our constituents: a $15 minimum wage, health care from day one, career progression, and a safe and inclusive work environment.”

According to a report from Vox, Amazon cofounder and CEO Jeff Bezos specifically directed executives to push back harder on critics of the company. Amazon representatives did not respond to a request for comment as of publishing.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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5 ways remote work is changing the economy for the better

remote work
Remote work has been good in many ways.

Now that vaccines and a massive stimulus package are here, the US economy is uniquely positioned for a great new era in the 2020s.

A major factor underlying the great economic potential of reopening lies with how the pandemic ushered in an era of remote work, which is likely here to stay to some extent in a post-pandemic world.

More than two-thirds of professionals were working remotely during the peak of the pandemic, according to a new report by work marketplace Upwork, and over the next five years, 20% to 25% of professionals will likely be working remotely.

Remote working has caused employees to rethink and better accommodate their priorities in life and employers to rethink operations regarding how they can best work with professionals and create teams, the report stated. But it also hasn’t been without some downsides, such as blurring the lines between work-life balance and causing increased stress.

Overall, though, Upwork found the shift to remote work in the past year has ultimately benefited the economy in five key ways.

(1) Remote workers are more productive

Remote and and online collaboration technology are proving to be helpful with hidden benefits like making teams work better together, reported Douglas Quenqua for Insider. Higher meeting attendance rates, more attentive managers, simplified communication, and more breaks are just a few of the positive changes.

It’s made many more productive. Sixty-one percent of workers said their productivity increased from working remotely, according to an Upwork survey. And an Upwork survey of hiring managers found 32.2% of them said they saw overall productivity rise as of late April, compared to 22.5% that felt it decreased.

These productive effects will only further develop as people adapt more to remote work, new technology is invented, and people will start remote businesses, wrote the report’s author, Adam Ozimek.

(2) Remote work has freed up relocation opportunities

Remote work will redistribute opportunity across the US, Ozimek wrote. Upwork estimated that up to 23 million people plan to relocate.

Richard Florida, urban studies theorist and economics professor at the University of Toronto, has a similar mindset. He previously told Insider remote work will accelerate the movement of families out of superstar cities into suburbs and the 1% who are seeking lower taxes.

“I have long said that we will see the rise of the rest, given the incredible expensiveness and affordability of existing superstar cities,” he said. “But it’s not going to be the rise of everywhere. It’s going to be the rise of a dozen or two dozen places.” These places will consequently attract new talent, changing economic development.

Florida predicted that bigger cities will see a resurgence, though, as the US inches closer to widespread vaccination, reshaped by a newfound focus on interpersonal interaction that facilitates creativity and spontaneity.

(3) Employers are hiring more independent talent

Employers have become more inclined to build hybrid teams made up of both full-time employees and freelance workers, Ozimek wrote. A November Upwork survey that asked about plans for hiring freelancers in the next six months found that 36% of hiring managers plan to hire out more independent talent.

Fortune 1000 companies in particular have been tapping into more diverse talent regardless of matter location, found a recent report by Business Talent Group, a marketplace for independent consultants. Independent talent has especially increased in the C-Suite. There has been a 67% increase over the past year in executives seeking independent talent needs, per the report.

This increases the talent pool and opportunities for workers.

(4) Remote workers are saving time and money

Without daily commutes, workers have more hours and bigger bank accounts.

One year of working remotely has saved people on average nine days from commuting, per Upwork’s research. And car commuters saved around $4,350, including costs to public from their driving.

The time and money saved could boost economic growth and productivity, Robert Gordon, economics professor at Northwestern University, said in a recent UCLA Anderson Forecast interview. The labor force has restructured, with high-paid people working from home and making the same income, he said.

“This shift to remote working has got to improve productivity because we’re getting the same amount of output without commuting, without office buildings, and without all the goods and services associated with that,” Gordon said. “We can produce output at home and transmit it to the rest of the economy electronically.”

(5) Pandemic remote work is different from remote work

“Remote work and remote work during a global pandemic are not the same,” Ozimek wrote.

Many of the struggles with remote work were due to pandemic circumstances – like balancing remote work with child care while schools were closed. In a post-pandemic world, these things won’t be a hindrance and remote employees will be able to revel in fewer interruptions, which Upwork found to be one of the most cited benefits of remote work.

Remote work also won’t always be done from home. Florida thinks neighborhoods will reshape as offices.

“Even as offices decline, the community or the neighborhood or the city itself will take on more of the functions of an office,” he said. “People will gravitate to places where they can meet and interact with others outside of the home and outside of the office.”

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I’m a freelancer who could lose out on income, flexibility, and being the primary caregiver to my child if the PRO Act passes

Mary Kearl
Mary Kearl.

  • Mary Kearl is a professional freelance writer and marketing consultant.
  • As a freelancer, she enjoys being able to make more money, choose her own hours, and be an active caregiver to her toddler.
  • If the PRO Act in its current form passes in the Senate, Kearl says she could potentially most of her clients and income.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Professionally, I’ve never been happier since becoming a freelancer. Sure, there are the occasional stresses of chasing down payments and the ongoing uncertainty of not knowing exactly how much I’ll earn, but as someone who thrives when I’m learning and being challenged, the pros outweigh the cons.

For me and my husband, who is also a freelancer, the pros include earning more per hour than when we worked full time, setting our own schedules, sharing in being the primary caregivers to our toddler, deciding the companies we work with and projects we take on, and the flexibility to work from and live anywhere – even traveling through South America for six months.

As a freelancer, I earn about three times more per hour than when I had a full-time six-figure job.

I’m not alone. A new survey from the freelancing platform Upwork found that most freelancers (75%) earn the same as or more than what they took home from their former full-time jobs.

Freelancing has been life-changing for my family, but now all of that is potentially on the line for me and millions of other freelancers because of a new bill the House of Representatives just passed called the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021, or PRO Act for short.

Certain goals of the bill are concepts I support – like making updates to US labor laws to advance workers’ rights to organize and strengthen unions and aiming to prevent gig-economy companies like Uber and Lyft from designating workers such as drivers as independent contractors rather than full-time employees who would be eligible for benefits.

But there’s a fear that the PRO Act could potentially sideline the self-employed careers of individuals like me who do not want to be classified as employees and would prefer to retain our independence.

As other writers have spoken out about, the main issue for freelancers comes down to the inclusion of the ABC test within the bill, which states:

“An individual performing any service shall be considered an employee (except as provided in the previous sentence) and not an independent contractor, unless-

“(A) the individual is free from control and direction in connection with the performance of the service, both under the contract for the performance of service and in fact;

“(B) the service is performed outside the usual course of the business of the employer; and

“(C) the individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business of the same nature as that involved in the service performed.”.

Self-employed contractors may “fail” to qualify as independent for any one of these reasons. For the publications I write for, publishing articles will likely be considered part of the “usual course of business” for the company. The same goes for the social media strategy, copywriting, editing, and content marketing support I’ve provided to marketing agencies.

If the PRO Act passes in the Senate without any changes to its language and the ABC test becomes the standard used to classify employees, the fallout for my career and family could be considerable.

I know because I’ve already once had to make major life changes due to the ABC test.

Last year, a California law AB5 that adopted the ABC test and impacted hundreds of types of professionals into effect and threatened to bring my new career to an end. Ultimately AB5 factored into my decision to move out of the state to a small town in Maine where I wouldn’t be impacted.

Already three of the companies I’ve worked for in a marketing capacity have worked with me through third-party companies that set up contracts with me directly to absorb the risk of working with self-employed individuals like me. Contracting freelancers through third parties is something major companies may be able to do, but that’s not likely for smaller companies.

If enough of my clients can no longer work with me as a freelancer as a result of this new law, I’ll most likely have to get a full-time job, take a pay cut, work longer hours than my current 25 hours a week, lose my flexible schedule and autonomy, and miss out on being a primary caregiver to my child.

And, unless I can find something that’s remote, I’ll likely have to move again.

This time, I’d have to go to a major city where there are more openings for writers and marketers like me. That means a higher cost of living, and, unless one or both of us can find something truly flexible, we’ll either have to start paying for childcare (which costs about $9,000 a year in Los Angeles, for instance) or one of us will have to take a break from being part of the workforce, something more parents and, moms especially, have already had to do during the pandemic.

As I write this article at night as my child sleeps, I’ve just spent the morning at the beach with my family.I choose when I work and when I’m off the clock. Over the past two years, I’ve had the chance to work with over 30 different brands and publications, and during that time no single company I’ve worked with has made up more than about one-fourth of my income, let alone 100% of it.

I’m certainly not a misclassified employee. I’m happily self employed, and that’s how I hope things can stay.

I’m in favor of advancing workers’ rights, and hope the PRO Act can be updated to ensure freelancers who want to remain autonomous can do so.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Big banks, including Deutsche Bank and Bank of America, are testing employees for COVID-19 before they step into the office. Insider took a closer look at their plans.

Arizona covid-19 testing coronavirus
Physician John Jones, D.O. tests administrative assistant Morgan Bassin for COVID-19 at One Medical in Scottsdale, Arizona.

  • As COVID-19 continues to spread, big banks worldwide are monitoring staff that come into the office.
  • Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, and BoA are all testing employees for COVID-19, sources told Insider.
  • JPMorgan and Wells Fargo said they require employees to complete a health check before they arrive.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Major banks worldwide have launched COVID-19 testing programs in order to enable a return to work for some employees during the pandemic.

Some banks are offering their staff lab-based PCR tests, which are considered the most accurate way of detecting coronavirus, but they can cost around $100 to process, per The New York Times. Results of PCR tests usually come back within a couple of days.

Other banks are providing antigen tests, also known as lateral flow tests, which give results in about 15 to 30 minutes. Both antigen and PCR tests require swabbing the nose or throat.

“I have been back at work since the start of the year and have been asked to produce three negative test results every week,” a source who works in a bank in London told Insider on the condition of anonymity. “It’s a bit stressful but the antigen tests are quick and I have got into a nice routine now. It’s also nice to be able to go back to work, although I miss the pre-COVID office environment,” they said.

However, a number of other banks are asking employees to fill out questionnaires about possible symptoms and exposure to the virus before they come into the workplace.

Insider spoke with sources working in banks across the world to get a sense of return-to-work plans. 

Deutsche Bank

Twice a week, Deutsche Bank is testing UK employees considered key workers that work on the busiest floors in the office, sources familiar with the system said. They are being tested with PCR tests. It’s unclear whether staff working on other floors are being also tested.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment to Insider.

Bank of America

Bank of America is testing employees on a weekly basis if they’re coming into the office, according to sources familiar with the matter. The testing is currently targeted at UK offices, and there are plans to roll out the tests to the rest of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa region. 

Bank of America declined to comment.

Read more: Bank of America has promoted 86 managing directors in its sales and trading, research, and operations groups – here are all the names

JPMorgan

JPMorgan told Insider that employees coming into the workplace in all locations are required to take a daily health check before entering an office. The health check is a survey that can be completed via mobile or laptop, and asks if you’ve been exposed or in close contact with someone who is infected with COVID-19 or showing related symptoms.

The bank said the daily health checks had been in place since the pandemic began in March.

On top of this, JPMorgan is also sending at-home testing kits to staff, if they want one. Employees are also able to book a PCR COVID-19 test at one of the bank’s on-site health and wellness centers.

Wells Fargo

A Wells Fargo spokesperson confirmed to Insider that all workers who go into the bank are required to complete a self-screening assessment, which involves filling out a questionnaire about whether they have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19. They must complete this every day before entering the workplace, the spokesperson said.

In its largest US locations, the bank has an on-site nurse to check staff for COVID-19 symptoms and refer them for testing.

Credit Suisse

Sources familiar with the situation at Swiss bank Credit Suisse said it is offering its staff in London weekly testing, despite only a small number of them coming into the workplace. Credit Suisse declined to comment.

Citibank and Barclays could not be reached for comment. HSBC didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Are you an employee in the banking sector being tested for COVID-19 on a daily basis? Get in touch with this reporter via email: kduffy@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider