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ASA: Staffing Employment Up 18.3% Since the Start of 2012

Staffing employment in March is up 4.5% from March 2011, according to the ASA Staffing Index.

The index for March is 89, up two points from the 87 reported for February. Since the beginning of 2012, temporary and contract employment has grown 18.3%, according to the index.

To view weekly index data, visit

Bernanke: Unemployment Insurance May Encourage People to Stay in Labor Force

Dow Jones Newswires (03/26/12) Kristina Peterson

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke told attendees at the annual conference of the National Association for Business Economics that unemployment insurance may help encourage workers to stay in the labor force. “I would not attribute the extent of long-term unemployment or the very high level of unemployment to unemployment insurance,” Bernanke said. Lawmakers have debated how long the federal government should provide unemployment insurance to laid-off workers, with some claiming it could lessen unemployed workers’ motivation to find another job.

Bernanke said that the slow rate of wage growth is likely consistent with his view that the high rate of long-term unemployment is due to cyclical factors, rather than structural reasons. He also noted that wages are not pushing up inflation. “Wages themselves are not a major concern for inflation,” he said. “We still need to be concerned about commodity prices and other factors.”

Kelly Services Finds Workers in Demand

Minneapolis Star Tribune (03/26/12) Dee DePass

Kelly Services released a report on March 26 indicating positive news on the labor front. “The outlook for college graduates shows demand for health care, information technology, and engineering degrees since those sectors have continuing growth,” the report said. There is still a shortage of qualified engineers, which bodes well for degreed job seekers, according to the report.

In its recent Global Workforce Survey, Kelly Services found that online job boards have become the primary way job seekers look for work. It also found that self-employment is growing in popularity because it helps job seekers gain “greater control” over their career path and may improve work-life balance.

Staffing Law Conference Hotel Group Rate—Through Tomorrow

The ASA group rate at the Hotel Helix has been extended to tomorrow, March 28
; this hotel is about a 10-minute walk from the Westin City Center Hotel—the location for the 2012 ASA Staffing Law Conference, April 17–18, Washington, DC. The Westin is sold out, but ASA has secured a block of rooms at the Hotel Helix for conference attendees.

Make reservations by calling the Hotel Helix at 800-706-1202 and asking for the 2012 ASA Staffing Law Conference group rate.

Among the valuable content presented at the upcoming ASA Staffing Law Conference is a can’t-miss session—”
The Regulators Speak: Enforcement Agendas of DOL, EEOC, and DOJ
.” Senior-level agency representatives discuss wage and hour, immigration, and antidiscrimination enforcement agendas and efforts, and what those mean for staffing firms. Register today.

Master Complex Work Force Management Tools With Best Practices From ASA

The evolution of vendor management systems (VMSs) and managed service providers (MSPs) has changed the way the staffing industry does business. ASA created best practices for vendor management systems and managed service providers to help staffing firms master complex work force management tools and better serve their clients. The best practices comprise four documents that address a broad range of topics such as implementation, order and requisition management, candidate submittal, financial management, and staffing firm engagement.

For example, “Protecting the Financial Interests of Staffing Firms and Buyers in VMS and MSP Arrangements” outlines practical steps that staffing firms and buyers can take to mitigate the financial and business risks associated with work force management services.

The VMS and MSP Best Practices page on includes several resources to help alleviate ASA members’ confusion about work force management solutions.

Keep Your Ears Peeled: Employment Law Update on the FLSA’s ‘Antiretaliation’ Provision

JDSupra (03/21/2012)

The Fair Labor Standards Act regulates, among other things, the payment of overtime. It includes an “antiretaliation” provision that prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee “because such employee has filed any complaint or instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or related to this chapter.” In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp. that an oral complaint could fall within the purview of FLSA’s antiretaliation provision, though it declined to address the issue of whether the oral complaint had to be made to a government agency or whether an internal, intracompany complaint would be covered under the antiretaliation provision.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently joined the majority of other circuits by holding, in the case of Minor v. Bostwick Laboratories, that an internal complaint can be protected under the FLSA’s antiretaliation provision. The Fourth Circuit’s opinion emphasizes the importance for employers to be on the lookout and “keep their ears peeled” for internal complaints. Given the potential consequences of failing to identify or otherwise mishandling such complaints, employers should review their internal grievance policies—including checking for antiretaliation language—and update them as needed. Once a complaint has been processed through a company’s grievance policy, it is of paramount importance that it be directed to and administered by appropriate members of company management.

W-2 Reporting Requirements for Health Plan Costs Will Apply Soon

Lexology (03/19/12) Todd M. Cleary; Sven E. Skillrud

Companies soon will be required to report the aggregate cost of employee health plan coverage on Forms W-2 issued for 2012 (i.e., W-2s given to employees in January 2013). Unless an exemption applies, employers will be required to report the aggregate cost of all “applicable employer-sponsored” health plan coverage given to (1) the employee, and (2) anyone covered by the plan because of his or her relationship to the employee. Reportable costs include both the company’s and employee’s contributions.

According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, the following benefits are generally excluded from health plan cost reporting: long-term care, accident or disability income insurance or supplemental liability insurance, health reimbursement arrangement benefits, stand-alone dental and vision plan coverage, and money contributed to a health savings account or medical savings account.

Unhappy Employee? Carefully Track Complaints

Business Management Daily (03/18/12)

In the case Atkinson v. North Jersey Developmental, et al., a retired worker sued her former employer for alleged race discrimination, insisting that a reduction in her workload constituted an adverse employment action. However, her case was dismissed because the employer was able to document that she had requested the lighter workload herself. The employer also had documented every complaint made by the worker and how each of her requests was accommodated. Experts say the case emphasizes the importance of employers carefully documenting worker complaints.

Title VII Protects Both Current and Former Employees From Discriminatory Adverse Employment Actions

Lexology (03/19/12) Maria Greco Danaher

In Gerner v. County of Chesterfield, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reiterated that both current and former employees can bring an action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The case involved a woman whose position as human resources director for Chesterfield County, VA, was eliminated as part of a reorganization in 2009 and who was terminated for allegedly refusing to collect three months of pay and benefits as a severance in exchange for resigning and signing a waiver of legal claims against the county. The employee filed a lawsuit that accused the county of giving male former directors of county departments deals of up to six months of pay and benefits or putting them in positions with less responsibility for the same pay to “enhance their retirement benefits.”

The Fourth Circuit pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Hishon v. King & Spalding, in which benefits may provide the basis for a Title VII claim if it is “part and parcel of the employee relationship.” Additionally, the Fourth Circuit said Title VII language protects “any individual.”

Work Force Mobility Is Now at an All-Time Low

Business Insider (03/26/12) Matt Ferguson

A survey by CareerBuilder, an ASA corporate partner, suggests that the skills gap explains in part why some positions remain open for months when more than 12 million people are unemployed. Ferguson says the downward trend in work force mobility also has played a role, citing U.S. Census Bureau data indicating that Americans changing residences fell to a more than 60-year low in 2011.

However, a survey by CareerBuilder and found that 44% of workers would relocate to take advantage of a job opportunity. Some 20% of workers laid off in 2011 who found new jobs relocated to a new city or state. Research indicates that employers looking for workers in engineering, information technology, business development, sales, finance, marketing, and legal services are more likely to cover relocation expenses.

Financial Regulations Bring New Challenges: Hiring Compliance Officers

Wanted Analytics (03/26/12) Abby Lombardi

Around 1,200 job ads for Compliance Officers have been placed by more than 300 financial services firms nationwide over the past 60 days, up 49% from the same period last year in response to new regulations tied to the Dodd-Frank Act and the pending Volcker Rule. Wanted Analytics says demand for compliance officers is high in New York, Dallas, and Chicago, where recruiters will find it difficult to fill job openings. Job ads stay online in New York City, for instance, for 6.5 weeks, compared with the 5.5 week national average.