Food For Thought Friday: Employee Retention and Attracting New Talent

Our hopes with this Friday post is to tantalize a different aspect of our business brains! We’re pulling together a few interesting pointers on employee retention and attracting new talent.

Small businesses continue struggling to retain and attract team members. Did COVID really unleash a population of, “I don’t really want to work!”? Quite possibly, but here are some thoughts on how to incentivize your assets, your work force.

One size NEVER fits all, tailor benefits offerings in a way that attracts and retains the best employees. Start this process is by surveying existing and potential employees. Ask your team what types of benefits would interest them the most. Use this data to make better benefits decisions. Business owners put substantial energy and time into these plans, why not create Boutique Style and customize a plan that excites your employees!

While each workforce will have unique needs and interests, there are some commonalities seen among small business employees. Here are six of the most popular benefits that small businesses are using to attract and retain employees.

First Up is the dreaded but, “Oh So Necessary” Health Care Coverage. Good health coverage is important but also expensive! This will likely be an important benefit to your employees with families or those further along in their years of experience. Some employees need a plan to cover same sex spouses. Consider doubling down on health coverage rather than picking up expenses for ancillary benefits that may not be of interest to the majority of your team. Going to work every day knowing that your employer cares about your health and the health of those important to you could be a game changer in the candidate pool.

Leave benefits vary by workplace, but typically include paid time off (PTO), vacation days and sick time. These types of leave usually come with specific use requirements. For employers looking to attract and retain employees, expanding these benefits could be a great leverage tool. This may include allowing faster PTO accrual, providing more sick days or allowing for flexible scheduling. Implement a remote work policy for those employees that can handle it. Let them know that they have earned your trust and are valued enough to allow them to work efficiently and effectively at home.

The third incentive on our list is the always exciting, Performance Bonus. Employees want to be recognized for their hard work. Failing to do so can lower morale and affect retention. Introducing performance bonuses as an employee benefit can be a way to combat this. Performance bonuses will vary, but the general idea is to compensate employees in some way for a job well done. How this looks in practice will depend on the employer. For instance, employees might receive incentives such as gift cards, cash, additional PTO or other perks, depending on their achievement. However, before implementing such bonuses, employers should ensure compliance with any applicable workplace laws regarding employee compensation.

Financial security is very important to employees, and that sentiment grows as employees near retirement age. It’s also top of mind for those struggling financially thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees invest their time and energy into their work. As a tradeoff, many employees want their employers to invest in their retirements in return for years of service. Offering a 401(k) with contribution matching can be a powerful attraction and retention tool, as it demonstrates an employer’s investment in their workers in the long term. 

Surveys suggest employees have been putting off job changes during the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning a wave of turnover may be coming soon. Employers may want to think proactively about ways to keep employees around. In other words, when it comes to top performers, employers should be reluctant to let these employees go. That’s where professional development comes in. YES! Some employees are driven by more than just compensation! Generally, this involves cross-training employees on other positions or otherwise preparing them to take on additional responsibilities. This helps provide the employee with more growth opportunities while still keeping them within the business. Offering such development opportunities also signals to prospective employees that a workplace has upward mobility and is willing to help workers along with their career goals—two factors that can weigh heavily in recruiting conversations. This one will actually work well for your business; cross-training provides security in your foundation and non reliance on any one individual for any one function.

Last up! Wellness is a hot topic these days, and employees are looking more and more for employers who take wellness seriously. This can be especially true in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, where health consequences are interwoven with everyday decisions. In fact, through the lens of the pandemic, ignoring wellness initiatives may be interpreted as ignoring overall health—something employers obviously want to avoid.  

Different workplaces will offer different wellness benefits, but the purpose of any of them is generally to increase employees’ overall well-being. For instance, benefits may include mental health counseling, healthy breakroom snacks, gym memberships, fitness trackers, yoga sessions or other perks. When it comes down to it, employees want to feel like their employers care about them as individuals. This means prioritizing well-being.

Remember, you do not need to implement all of these suggestions. Survey your team, understand what is important to them, contact your benefits provider or PEO and start customizing your benefits package.

Thinking about a PEO and how your small business can benefit, Libertate Insurance can help.

White House Issues Ransomware Prevention Guidance to Businesses

In a recent letter addressed to corporate executives and business leaders, the White House emphasized that
bolstering the nation’s resilience against cyberattacks is a main priority for President Joe Biden’s administration.
Specifically, as ransomware attacks continue to rise in both cost and frequency throughout the country, the
federal government is urging businesses to take this evolving cyber threat seriously.

These attacks—which entail a cybercriminal deploying malicious software to compromise a business’s network or
sensitive data and demand a large payment be made before restoring this technology or information—have
quickly become a growing concern across industry lines. In fact, the latest research provides that ransomware
attacks have increased by nearly 150% in the past year alone, with the median ransom payment demand
totaling $178,000 and the average overall loss from such an attack exceeding $1 million.

While the White House has begun working with both domestic and international partners on various strategies to
prevent ransomware attacks, the Biden administration is also encouraging businesses to play their part in
minimizing this rising cyber concern. Rather than viewing ransomware attacks as a minor cyber risk, the federal
government is instructing businesses to view these attacks as a significant exposure—one with the potential to
wreak havoc on their key operations.

As such, the Biden administration is recommending that businesses convene with their senior leadership teams
to review their ransomware exposures and implement these top cybersecurity measures:


  • Utilize the federal government’s best practices. Businesses should be sure to incorporate the best
    practices outlined in the Biden administration’s Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity. This
    includes the following practices:
    o Implementing multi-factor (MFT) authentication on all workplace technology
    o Leveraging endpoint detection and response tools to identify and deter suspicious network activity
    o Encrypting sensitive data to make it less accessible to cybercriminals
    o Developing a trusted and skilled workplace cybersecurity team
  • Ensure an effective incident response plan. All businesses should have cyber incident response plans in
    place. These plans outline proper response protocols and offer steps for minimizing potential damages during
    cyberattacks. Businesses should make sure to include several ransomware attack scenarios within their
    response plans and routinely test these scenarios with their cybersecurity teams. Based on test results,
    businesses should revise their response plans accordingly.
  • Conduct frequent data backups. In addition to the federal government’s best practices, businesses should
    also prioritize securely backing up all sensitive data, images and other important files on a regular basis.
    Conducting such backups can help businesses remain operational and continue to access crucial data in the
    event that any workplace technology is compromised in a ransomware attack. Data backups should remain
    offline (not connected to key business networks) and be routinely tested.
  • Keep critical networks separated. In order to keep ransomware attacks from fully disrupting their operations, businesses should attempt to segment their various workplace networks (e.g., sales production, and corporate) from one another rather than having a unified network. Access to each network should be restricted to those who use them to conduct their job tasks. Networks should only allow internet access as needed. That way, businesses can avoid becoming completely compromised by single-network ransomware attacks and continue performing critical functions.

  • Maintain updated security software. To help safeguard workplace technology from ransomware threats,
    businesses should equip their systems and devices with adequate security software—such as antivirus
    programs, firmware protections and firewalls. Further, this software must be regularly updated to remain
    effective. That being said, businesses should also consider utilizing centralized patch management systems to
    keep security software on a consistent update schedule.
  • Review workplace cyber security protocols. Apart from testing their response plans, businesses should
    also regularly assess whether their existing workplace cybersecurity policies, procedures and software are
    sufficient in protecting against current risks—such as ransomware threats. In particular, businesses should
    consider using a third-party penetration tester to review their ransomware defense tactics and overall
    cybersecurity capabilities. Businesses should work with their trusted cybersecurity teams and IT experts to
    make workplace adjustments as needed (e.g., updating policies or purchasing new security software).

For additional risk management guidance and insurance solutions email me James Buscarini, PCA at jbuscarini@libertateins.com or call me at 813.367.7574.

The Week in Review

We hope you had time this week to review some great posts by Paul Hughes and James Buscarini. 

On Tuesday, James shared with us some great tips on how smaller employers can attract and retain talent when competing with larger firms.  Check out his post on 6 Benefits to Attract and Retain Small Business Employees.    

On Thursday, Paul reminded us of the ongoing trends which are playing out in the realm of cyber Insurance.  According to content sourced from AM Best, we are witnessing an increase in both frequency of events as well as average cost per event in the cyber space.  This trend will, no doubt, bring about not only marked increases in cyber insurance premiums, but more rigorous requirements in cyber security by carriers willing to continue offering products in this space.  For full details, check out his post Annual Growth of Cyber Claims is Double Growth of Cyber Premiums.  

On this day, June 11th in 1776 the Continental Congress created a committee to draft a Declaration of Independence with Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston as members.  Thomas Jefferson primarily penned the original draft which was dived into five sections, including an introduction, a preamble, a body (divided into two sections) and a conclusion.  While the body of the document outlined a list of grievances against the British crown, the preamble includes its most famous passage: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

The Continental Congress reconvened on July 1.  The process of consideration and revision of Jefferson’s declaration continued on July 3 and into the late morning of July 4, during which Congress deleted and revised some one-fifth of its text. The delegates made no changes to that key preamble, however, and the basic document remained Jefferson’s words. Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence later on the Fourth of July (though most historians now accept that the document was not signed until August 2).

What would Thomas Jefferson think of our cyber insurance woes of today?

Happy Friday everyone!! 

Annual Growth of Cyber Claims is Double Growth of Cyber Premiums

Time For Insurers to Reassess ‘Grim’ Cyber Insurance Market: AM Best

It comes as no secret that there has been an increase in both cyber events as well as the average cost per event. This escalation seems to be fueled by the ever-increasing volume of ransomware attacks. A few fun facts from the below article from our friends at Carrier Management, citing AM Best as a source.

  • Year over year loss ratio went up 551% from 44.8% to 67.8%. 15 of the top 20 cyber insurers saw deteriorating results (9 of top 10)
  • Industry stalwarts CNA, AIG, XL and Travelers got hit especially hard on this line
  • Defense and cost containment costs (the cost to contain claims like attorneys and forensic experts) are going to be substantial due to nature and sophistication of claims; prediction of costs uncertain based on lack of historical data to support it
  • Cyber claims number of claims is up 18%, strictly due the surge in first party ransomware. Ransomware was up 35% and now accounts for 75% of all cyber claims

Needless to say, pay attention to the market if you already buy this coverage as it is quickly shifting. Critical focus should be given on ransomware limits, deductibles and responsiveness due to significant amount of overall exposure this type of attack can bring.

___________________________

With the cyber risk hazard environment—ransomware, business interruption and aggregation—worsening significantly, “prospects for the U.S. cyber insurance market are grim,” according to a report from AM Best.

According to the global rating agency’s analysts, insurers “urgently need to reassess all aspects of their cyber risk, including their appetite, risk controls, modeling, stress testing and pricing, to remain a viable long-term partner dealing with cyber risk.”

The reassessment is needed because cyber insurance, which began as a diversifying, secondary line and another endorsement on policies, is now a “primary component of a corporation’s risk management and insurance purchasing decisions,” notes Best’s in its report, “Ransomware and Aggregation Issues Call for New Approaches to Cyber Risk.”

The loss ratio for cyber insurance rose dramatically in 2020, to 67.8 percent from 44.8 percent in 2019. However, the increase was not limited to just a few insurers—the loss ratio rose for 15 of the 20 largest cyber insurers, AM Best reports.

“The rate increases for cyber insurance outpaced that of the broader property/casualty industry, but the increase in cyber losses outstripped the rate hikes, which suggests more trouble for 2021 as ransom demands continue to grow,” said Sridhar Manyem, director, industry research and analytics.

Of special note, defense and cost containment (DCC) expenses are rising and “could become a significant issue because of potentially significant costs to defend claims as a result of either ambiguous coverage language or regulatory investigations that may involve defense costs,” the report adds.

According to the report, the challenges the cyber insurance market are facing include:

  • Rapid growth in exposure without adequate underwriting controls;
  • The growing sophistication of cyber criminals that have exploited malware and cyber vulnerabilities faster than companies that may have been late in protecting themselves; and
  • The far-reaching implications of the cascading effects of cyber risks and the lack of geographic or commercial boundaries.

See related article, “Federal Lawmakers Probe CNA, Cyber Insurance Payouts,” for a loss ratio ranking of the top 10 U.S. cyber insurers.

Direct written premiums for cyber insurance grew 22 percent in 2020, to $2.7 billion, which AM Best attributes to increases in both rates and demand for cyber insurance in the wake of well-known firms such as SolarWinds, Facebook and Capital One becoming victims. The average annual growth rate in premium has been 20 percent the past four years , while the average growth in claims has been 39.2 percent.

“Rapid growth is viewed with a healthy skepticism, as it comes with underwriting and reserving risks,” the authors comment.

Standalone cyber insurance policies, up 28 percent in 2020, have seen a higher rate of growth compared with packaged policies, which the report indicates signal organizations’ escalating concerns about cyber risk. Frequency on standalone policies also has increased faster than for packaged policies the last three years.

Hackers are becoming more sophisticated in their attacks and moving toward larger targets. The report also notes that hackers’ motives also appear to be changing as well, from stealing identities (third-party claims) to shutting down systems for ransom (first-party claims).

Total claims rose 18 percent in 2020 owing strictly to first-party ransomware claims, which were up 35 percent in 2020 and now account for 75 percent of cyber claims.

“The recent Colonial Pipeline hack—for a multi-million dollar ransom—is an example of first-party claims that have become so prevalent,” said Christopher Graham, senior industry analyst, AM Best.

Although AM Best said it views the industry as being well-capitalized, it also warns that individual insurers that venture into cyber risk without a thorough understanding of the market can find themselves in a vulnerable situation.

Noting that the industry has not yet faced a systemic event that challenges traditional underwriting categories of region, industry, size, the authors urge insurers to hire experts to help with mitigation and to take steps to improve their abilities to quantify their exposure and define their risk appetites.

“An insurer whose risk management approach is deficient can find itself subject to accumulation risk beyond its tolerance and could face ratings pressure,” said Fred Eslami, associate director, AM Best.

SourceRansomware and Aggregation Issues Call for New Approaches to Cyber Risk – AM Best

Disciplining or Terminating Employees With Open Workers’ Compensation Claims

Can an employer discipline or terminate an employee who has an open workers’ compensation claim? This is a common question that many employers ask. The answer depends on which state the company is located in, why the employee is being disciplined or terminated and the nature of the workers’ compensation claim. Let’s look at an example.

Say an employee is insubordinate to their supervisor, and this issue has occurred more than once. While the employee has been reprimanded, they continue to disobey company policies or procedures. However, the employee has an open workers’ compensation claim from an occupational injury. As a result, the employer may question whether they can continue to discipline or terminate the employee due to poor behavior.

Review this article to learn more about when an employer can discipline or terminate employees with open workers’ compensation claims.

What Is an Open Workers’ Compensation Claim?

In general, an open workers’ compensation claim can mean that an occupational injury or illness is currently being treated, benefits are still being paid, rehabilitation is in process or the employee has not yet reached maximum medical improvement.

Workers’ compensation claims can stay open for several years, depending on how severe the injury or illness was and what the treatment for that ailment entails.  

If an employee’s claim is still open, this generally means that the claim is still active in the workers’ compensation system.

When Can an Employer Discipline or Terminate?

While employers cannot retaliate against their employees for filing workers’ compensation claims, this does not mean that they are unable to discipline or terminate an employee who has an open claim. There are various reasons as to why an employer could discipline or terminate an employee. For example, an employer could potentially be permitted to discipline or terminate an employee with an open workers’ compensation claim in these circumstances:

  • After obtaining permanent restrictions, the employee can no longer complete the job tasks that were initially assigned to them.
  • Company-wide layoffs are necessary.
  • Leading up to their injury or illness, the employee had poor work performance, and this issue was properly documented.

However, it’s important to remember that employers must have detailed documentation and be consistent in their practices with all employees. In addition, employers must ensure that they are not violating any other laws when disciplining or terminating an employee. After all, just because there is no issue with workers’ compensation laws, does not mean there won’t be any compliance concerns related to disability regulations or other fair employment standards.

Documentation Is Key

In most states, it’s illegal to discipline or terminate an employee because the employee filed a workers’ compensation claim. This is considered retaliation, and employees are protected from this practice under workers’ compensation laws. By terminating an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim, an employer could open themselves up to serious litigation issues. Employers can end up paying significant compensatory and punitive damages for retaliation claims.

But what happens when an employee’s behavior or attitude creates work performance issues? For example, an employee may fail to complete assigned work within the required time, be insubordinate to a supervisor or show up late to work—thus showcasing a poor work performance. As soon as these issues occur, the employer should start documenting them. This provides a foundation for the employer, helping them justify disciplinary action or termination—even if the employee has an open workers’ compensation claim.

However, suppose an employer only starts documenting issues after an employee makes a workers’ compensation claim, even though the behavior had already been occurring before the claim happened. In that case, it could seem as though the behavior became a problem only because of the workers’ compensation claim.

If an employee’s performance issues began after an injury or illness and during the open workers’ compensation claim, it should be noted in the employee’s personnel file with detailed notes. From there, the employer should complete a full investigation into what occurred. This way, the employer will have sufficient documentation in the event that the employee files a lawsuit against them for being disciplined or terminated during the course of an open claim.

Employers should also be consistent in their disciplinary and termination practices. If there’s no consistency, discrimination or wrongful termination claims could arise against the employer. It’s important that—when an employer is considering whether to discipline or terminate an employee—they follow these measures:

  • Document the employee’s misconduct.
  • Thoroughly investigate the misconduct.
  • Obtain witness statements (if applicable).
  • Record any disciplinary actions that the employee received, or provide reasons as to why no discipline was required.
  • Record the reason for the employee’s termination (including any documentation regarding a probationary period).

Documenting the situation with very detailed notes could help an employer defend themselves against any wrongful termination or discrimination claims that may occur.

Is it Retaliation?

Employer actions that could potentially be deemed unlawful retaliation when made against an employee with an open workers’ compensation claim include:

  • Changing the employee’s job tasks, even though the employee is still able to perform them
  • Changing the employee’s work schedule
  • Demoting the employee
  • Reducing the employee’s hours

If an employer is deemed to have wrongfully retaliated against an employee, they can be liable for various penalties, such as fines or—in severe cases—jail time.

What Happens to the Workers’ Compensation Claim if the Employee Is Terminated?

If an employee who has an open workers’ compensation claim is terminated, the claim will continue to stay open. The employer will still be responsible for the coverage of the employee’s occupational injury or illness—unless the insurance carrier, a state agency or a court determines otherwise.

It is usually in an employer’s best interest to keep an employee who has an open claim working. Doing so allows the employer to directly communicate with the employee, closely monitor the employee’s medical treatment progress and have more input as to what the employee is doing in recovery.

Employees who have been terminated, on the other hand, tend to be very hard to reach—which makes the employer’s task of following up with them that much more complicated. What’s more, an employer does not have the same kind of direct access to a terminated employee as they would have to an employee who continues working. This access can be helpful for monitoring the employee’s healing process and holding the employee accountable for following proper medical restrictions. If an employee is terminated and then hired by another company, it will become extremely difficult to make sure the employee follows their restrictions.

In any case, employers need to weigh the pros and cons of termination versus keeping an employee working. For instance, not terminating an insubordinate employee simply because they have an open workers’ compensation claim may end up being costlier than any potential retaliation claim that the employer could otherwise face for the termination itself. Each situation is different, but employers should always keep in mind that consistency is key when determining what kind of circumstances or employee actions may warrant termination.

Contact us today with any questions about workers’ compensation insurance.

BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Brought to you by the insurance professionals at Libertate Insurance Services



6 Benefits to Attract and Retain Small Business Employees

Attracting and retaining employees is a constant struggle for organizations of any size, but it’s particularly so for small businesses. With smaller teams, employers need to hold onto talent whenever possible. And that can be a challenge, especially when resources are scarce as they are currently amid the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s why it’s critical for small employers to tailor their benefits offerings in a way that attracts and retains the most employees. One of the best ways to start this process is by surveying existing and potential employees. Employers can ask workers what types of benefits would interest them the most, then use that data to inform benefits decisions.

While each workforce will have unique needs and interests, there are some commonalities seen among small business employees. This article outlines six of the most popular benefits that small businesses are using to attract and retain employees.

1. Health Insurance

2. Leave Benefits

3. Performance Bonuses

4. Retirement Planning

5. Professional Development

6. Wellness Benefits

Health insurance – is consistently one of the most desired benefits among small business employees. That may be because healthcare is so expensive and is unaffordable without employer-sponsored insurance. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, having good health coverage is more critical than ever. This provides employers with an opportunity. By offering generous health benefits, employers can compete for top talent. In fact, doubling down on health insurance might be a better option for some employers than adding other ancillary benefits that employees don’t need or want.

2. Leave Benefits – The ability to take time away from work is an important consideration for employees. And, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees may have more caregiving responsibilities than they had before—making scheduling flexibility all the more important. Leave benefits will vary by workplace, but they typically include paid time off (PTO), vacation days and sick time. These types of leave usually come with specific use requirements. For employers looking to attract and retain employees, expanding these benefits could be a great leverage tool. This may include allowing faster PTO accrual, providing more sick days or allowing for flexible scheduling.

3. Performance Bonuses – Employees want to be recognized for their hard work. Failing to do so can lower morale and affect retention. Introducing performance bonuses as an employee benefit can be a way to combat this. Performance bonuses will vary, but the general idea is to compensate employees in some way for a job well done. How this looks in practice will depend on the employer. For instance, employees might receive incentives such as gift cards, cash, additional PTO or other perks, depending on their achievement. However, before implementing such bonuses, employers should ensure compliance with any applicable workplace laws regarding employee compensation.

4. Retirement Planning – Financial security is very important to employees, and that sentiment grows as employees near retirement age. It’s also top of mind for those struggling financially thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees invest their time and energy into their work. As a tradeoff, many employees want their employers to invest in their retirements in return for years of service. Offering a 401(k) with contribution matching can be a powerful attraction and retention tool, as it demonstrates an employer’s investment in their workers in the long term. 

5. Professional Development – Employees may leave a workplace simply because they want other opportunities or need more of a challenge, rather than being driven solely by compensation. Additionally, surveys suggest employees have been putting off job changes during the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning a wave of turnover may be coming soon. Employers may want to think proactively about ways to keep employees around.

In other words, when it comes to top performers, employers should be reluctant to let these employees go. That’s where professional development comes in. Generally, this involves cross-training employees on other positions or otherwise preparing them to take on additional responsibilities. This helps provide the employee with more growth opportunities while still keeping them within the business. Offering such development opportunities also signals to prospective employees that a workplace has upward mobility and is willing to help workers along with their career pathing goals—two factors that can weigh heavily in recruiting conversations.

6. Wellness Benefits – Wellness is a hot topic these days, and employees are looking more and more for employers who take wellness seriously. This can be especially true in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, where health consequences are interwoven with everyday decisions. In fact, through the lens of the pandemic, ignoring wellness initiatives may be interpreted as ignoring overall health—something employers obviously want to avoid.  

Different workplaces will offer different wellness benefits, but the purpose of any of them is generally to increase employees’ overall well-being. For instance, benefits may include mental health counseling, health breakroom snacks, gym memberships, fitness trackers, yoga sessions or other perks. When it comes down to it, employees want to feel like their employers care about them as individuals. This means prioritizing well-being.

“Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first.”

– Angela Ahrendts (Senior Vice President, Apple)

Conclusion

Knowing which employee benefits to offer as attraction and retention tools isn’t always easy. One of the best places to start is by surveying current and prospective employees, as the offerings are meant for them. Beyond that, the perks listed in this article have been shown to be popular among employees—making them a viable option to try as well.

However, these benefits aren’t employers’ only option to help attract and retain employees. Reach out to Libertate Insurance today to learn more about these perks and other potential incentives.

California Senate Rejects Workers’ Compensation Proposal

Close one!

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The California Senate on Thursday rejected a bill aimed at making it easier for health care employees to have hospitals pay their medical bills related to COVID-19 and other diseases that may have been contracted on the job — a move business groups said would have cost them too much money.

Companies pay their workers’ medical bills if they get sick or injured while on the job. In some cases, workers must prove their injury or illness is work-related to get the benefits. Last year, the California Legislature passed a law that assumed COVID-19 was work-related, shifting the burden to employers to prove it wasn’t.

Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

That law is scheduled to expire in 2023. A bill by Sen. Dave Cortese, a Democrat from San Jose, would have made it permanent. It would have also added other presumptions to the workers’ compensation law for hospital workers, including cancer under some circumstances, post traumatic stress disorder, certain respiratory diseases and muscle or ligament injuries.

The bill had to pass the Senate by Friday to have a chance at becoming law this year. But it fell short on Thursday before the Senate adjourned for the week. Lawmakers are not meeting Friday.

Cortese on Thursday agreed to change the bill to remove respiratory illnesses such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But it wasn’t enough to get the bill passed.

Cortese said his goal was to give hospital workers, of whom he says 90% are women, the same protections as other medical professions, including emergency medical technicians.

“It really comes down to equal work, equal compensation,” he said.

Business groups, led by the California Chamber of Commerce, opposed the bill, labeling it a “job killer.”

“Such a drastic shift in the law will create an astronomical financial burden on healthcare employers and the system, creating an appreciable pact on the cost of healthcare at a time when we are trying to make healthcare more affordable,” Ashley Hoffman, policy advocate for the California Chamber of Commerce, wrote in a letter to lawmakers that was signed by 35 other groups.

The bill is part of a broader discussion in California about which coronavirus modifications should continue. Gov. Gavin Newsom said he will lift most of the state’s coronavirus rules on June 15.

The state Senate passed a bill earlier this week that would let restaurants continue to serve alcohol outside. The state Assembly passed a bill that would require local governments to keep letting people comment during their meetings by telephone or the internet. Both bills still must pass the other legislative chamber and be signed by the governor before becoming law.

Written by Adam Beam, Associated Press (June 3, 2021)

https://www.westport-news.com/news/article/California-Senate-rejects-workers-compensation-16223712.php

The history of Memorial Day

Another dawn rises to find it is Friday and the weekend calls.  In honor of the Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to share the history of this commemorative celebration from history.com. 

The original post can be found by clicking here. 

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2021 will occur on Monday, May 31. 

Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.

Early Observances of Memorial Day

The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries.

By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

It is unclear where exactly this tradition originated; numerous different communities may have independently initiated the memorial gatherings. And some records show that one of the earliest Memorial Day commemorations was organized by a group of formerly enslaved people in Charleston, South Carolina less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865. Nevertheless, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. https://e4a31b8e175db654932bfe3647c497f8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html Waterloo—which first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

Decoration Day

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.

The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Civil War soldiers buried there.

Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years; by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor the dead on separate days until after World War I.

History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars, including World War IIThe Vietnam WarThe Korean War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date General Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. The change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

Memorial Day Traditions

Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades each year, often incorporating military personnel and members of veterans’ organizations. Some of the largest parades take place in ChicagoNew York and Washington, D.C.

Americans also observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. Some people wear a red poppy in remembrance of those fallen in war—a tradition that began with a World War I poem. On a less somber note, many people take weekend trips or throw parties and barbecues on the holiday, perhaps because Memorial Day weekend—the long weekend comprising the Saturday and Sunday before Memorial Day and Memorial Day itself—unofficially marks the beginning of summer.

Citation Information

Article Title

Memorial Day

Author

History.com Editors

Website Name

HISTORY

URL

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/memorial-day-history

Access Date

May 28, 2021

Publisher

A&E Television Networks

Last Updated

May 24, 2021

Original Published Date

October 27, 2009