Emerging from the Cocoon

Who could have imagined in January how much would change this year?  We’re in our seventh month of the covid pandemic which has killed over 180,000 Americans.  Our workplaces are splitting between those who can work from home (generally higher paid) and those who can’t.  

Employers and employees are working through the financial strains caused by the economic fallout from the pandemic.  At the same time, there is a renewed focus on issues of diversity and racial equality as we struggle with the demographic changes in our country.  Overlaying all of these challenges is the most polarizing political election in decades.

It’s time to emerge from our cocoon and accept that we’re not going back to our old routine.  The new “normal” routine is that many people will be working from home permanently.  The new normal also means acknowledging and adapting to the demands for racial equality, gender equality, and sexual orientation protections.

HR policies need to be adapted to the new normal and Q4 is a great time to take a look at what should change.

Paid sick leave

Employers with less than 50 employees were introduced to an FMLA-lite model of paid leave for covid-related illnesses.   Employers with 51 – 499 employees adapted to a two-track FMLA model with unpaid leave for traditional FMLA and paid leave for covid-related illnesses.  Now employers need to prepare for the day when all employers are required to offer paid sick leave for any illness.  Several bills are currently pending in Congress and it’s a safe bet that at least one of them will become law.


Despite the economic slowdown, some companies may now be understaffed as employees (mostly women) have cut back on hours or quit to devote more time to looking after their children who are learning remotely.  To avoid the talent drain, companies may need to offer modified work schedules and job-sharing.  Another option is to hire more workers from the pool of talented people who are currently unemployed.

Demands for equality

Meeting the minimum legal requirements of Title VII may not be sufficient to keep up with the demographic changes in the workforce.  America is becoming more blended and brown. LGBTQ individuals are now protected under Title VII.  HR managers should urge employers to adapt their corporate culture to become a more inclusive workplace or risk losing out in the race for top talent.

Our new normal will temporarily feature a short-tempered, disillusioned workforce that is struggling fear of covid and financial stresses. Layoffs, terminations and business closures will continue until the economy fully recovers.   

But longer term, our new normal will require adapting HR practices in the workplace.  Q4 is a great time to create a strategy for living in the new normal so that your company can start 2021 ahead of the competition.

If your company is struggling with the new “normal”, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you.  We can create or update HR policies that adapt to the new normal and then serve as a resource after the policies are implemented.

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