The Hottest Perk of the Pandemic? Financial Wellness Tools

In the midst of the Great Resignation, with employers scrambling for ways to hang on to experienced staff, financial wellness programs might be an attractive addition to the benefits bag.

That was a key finding from PwC’s annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey, which was conducted in January 2021 and released in April. Among those polled, 72 percent of workers who reported facing increased financial setbacks during the pandemic said they would be more attracted to another company that cared more about financial well-being than their current employer. About 57 percent of workers who hadn’t yet faced increased financial stress said the same thing.

Financial stress doesn’t just affect worker retention; it also has an impact on productivity. PwC’s survey showed that 45 percent of workers experiencing financial setbacks have been distracted at work by their money problems. The menu of financial wellness tools employers might elect include educational tools for personal finances, one-on-one financial coaching, and even access to rainy day funds.

It’s a growing business sector, too. HoneyBee, a B2B financial wellness startup, recently closed a round of funding with $5.7 million in equity, TechCrunch reported. The financial technology company grew 225 percent during the pandemic and saw a 175 percent increase in usage for its on-demand financial therapy tools. Origin also recently announced that it raised $56 million in its Series B funding round, which it will use for customer expansion, as it saw increased demand for financial planning services during the pandemic, Business Wire notes.

Although one in five workers waits until they experience a financial setback to seek guidance, when they are offered continual support, employees are more likely to be proactive with their finances. According to the PwC survey, 88 percent of workers who are provided financial wellness services by their employers take advantage of them.

By Rebecca Deczynski, Staff reporter, Inc.@rebecca_decz

Source: The Hottest Perk of the Pandemic? Financial Wellness Tools | Inc.com

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Critics:

Making money is definitely the cornerstone of financial wellness and increasing your income can help you obtain your goals. You do not need to be a millionaire, but it’s important to obtain some level of income stability. Being financially well starts with having a reliable income and knowing at a consistent time, you will expect to be paid a certain amount. Steady and reliable income is one of the cornerstones of financial wellness.

Even if you don’t like budgeting or planning, it’s good to set goals for yourself. You are more likely to stick with it when you have goals to reach and can see progress. By creating a plan, you are visualizing the what, why, and how you will get there. If you don’t already have a household budget, grab your most recent bank statement and look at the total amount of money you have coming into your household each month. Then, factor in fixed, required expenses – things like rent or mortgage payments, utilities, insurance, and more.

f you do not have an emergency fund, now is the time to start building it. The goal of an emergency fund is to have available funds for when you are dealing with unemployment or you have an unforeseen cost. You won’t stress about the money because you have a nice cash reserve that you can access quickly. Finance experts often say that you should have at least three to six months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund. If you have nothing in savings, putting away just $25, $50, or $100 a month is an amazing start. Ultimately, it’s what you feel comfortable with. You can also consider putting it in a high savings investment such as CIT Bank’s Savings Builder, which helps put your savings to work with very little risk.

Once you get a handle on your finances, you can start to map out life events and large purchases, so you can begin saving! Planning ahead is always helpful, and once you get a handle on your current financial plan, set some goals for what comes next. By building a plan, you have a road map to help guide you through the rest of your story. Putting even a small amount into savings on a consistent basis is one of the best ways to get your savings to grow so you can meet your goals, small or large. Set your own personal savings rule to live by and make a plan on how to achieve it. Prepare for life events and large purchases by planning ahead.

Your credit score is another critical part of your financial health. Things like late payments, too much debt or high balances negatively affect your credit score. Keep watch over your credit report and credit score with a free credit report from places like Credit Karma. A higher credit score tells banks and lenders that you’re a reliable and less risky borrower. 

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The Pandemic Led Many Women To Rethink Work. Here’s What They Want Most From Employers

No one had it easy during the pandemic, but the data shows that women may have had a harder time than men. At the end of 2020, women held 5.4 million fewer jobs than they had in February 2020, before the pandemic began. Meanwhile, men lost 4.4 million jobs over that same time period.

While working-age women overall have largely recovered since the depths of the pandemic, mothers have repaired their losses more slowly.  As of July 2021, nearly 1 million fewer mothers were actively working than in July 2020, according to Misty Heggeness, principal economist and senior adviser at the Census Bureau.

There are things employers can do to help. In a panel discussion on Tuesday hosted by the Independent Women’s Forum, a national organization dedicated to developing and advancing policies for women, experts discussed what employers can do to keep their female employees, especially those with children, on the payroll. Here are three things women say they want:

1. Accessible child care.

Many of the current struggles women face derive from finding adequate and affordable child care, said Angela Rachidi, senior fellow and Rowe Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that researches government, politics, economics, and social welfare.

She noted that many employer policies don’t completely meet a family’s needs, such as providing access to a convenient childcare provider. It’s also not particular to the pandemic, she noted that workplaces should be focusing on policies that offer more flexible, more affordable options, as opposed to just blanket childcare subsidies.

“I think that that’s where our focus should be,” said Rachidi. “It should be not only our government policies, but again, our workplace policies to make child care better, and meet the needs of families.”

2. Workplace flexibility.

Flexibility is vital to all working parents–not just mothers–but mothers are often quicker to express a desire to have the flexibility to work a reduced schedule, if need be, said Rachel Greszler, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington D.C. So if the goal is to keep working parents on the payroll–or get them back–allow them time off during the day if needed, or the ability to structure their own hours.

If you’ve offered more flexibility during the pandemic, think about maintaining those policies or asking employees their thoughts on new schedules. “The pandemic has allowed employers to see that they’re able to have these policies. And not only the paid family leave, but the remote work and the flexibility. And I think just will become a silver lining coming out of all of this,” said Greszler.

3. Paid-time off.

Paid-time off is useful for parents, who need the time to care for an infant or an ill loved one. President Biden’s American Families Plan includes $225 billion to create a paid medical and family leave program. The program would eventually guarantee 12 weeks of paid leave, and providing a federal subsidy for workers of up to $4,000 per month. The Department of Labor found that 95 percent of the lowest-wage workers, mostly women and workers of color, lack any access to paid family leave, so the program is needed.

But to keep women in the workforce long term, you should offer both paid leave and increased flexibility, said Greszler, because paid family leave, while necessary may have a lower utility for women on a day-to-day basis than, say, malleable hours.

“I don’t think [a lack of] paid family leave is is holding women back,” said Greszler. “Women increasingly value flexibility far more than family leave.”

Even so, both policies can be done and the balance of the two may also help employees be more productive. In 2019, for example the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation decided its generous 52-week paid parental leave policy was not working because too many workers would be out at the same time, creating more disruption that it was worth. Instead, the organization decided to offer half as much paid leave and a $20,000 stipend to new parents to help cover expenses and childcare.

Source: The Pandemic Led Many Women to Rethink Work. Here’s What They Want Most From Employers | Inc.com

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What percentage of the US public approves of working wives

Vocational and business training to improve women’s labour market outcomes

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These Industries Added the Most Remote Jobs During the Pandemic, and Talent Is Tight

Listing an open role as work-from-home may sway applicants to apply, but founders will still likely face stiff competition for talent in the fields that have added the most remote positions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since March 2020, the vertical for marketing, media, and design has seen the biggest growth, with a 974 percent increase in remote roles paying six-figure salaries or higher, according to research from Ladders, a career site based in New York City. The data looked at 50,000 North American employers to find which high-paying professional fields have seen the most growth in remote work.

Project and program management is the next fastest-growing, with an 801 percent increase, followed by accounting and finance with a 750 percent increase. Runners-up include human resources and legal (546 percent), technology (521 percent), and engineering and construction (410 percent).

The availability of high-paying remote work across all fields has grown more than 1,000 percent since March 2020. At that time, there were just over 7,000 jobs available, compared with 80,000 today.

“The world is staying remote post-Covid,” says Ladders’ founder and CEO Marc Cenedella. “Your competitors, your suppliers, and your customers are increasingly comfortable with hiring remote employees in all fields. ‘Work-from-home’ is now a must-have for employers to be competitive.”

Working remotely may require changes in your workplace to be more employee-friendly and productive, Cenedella says. Fewer meetings, better-written communication, occasional in-person meet-ups are just some of the new behaviors and practices he’s seeing from remote employers. “It’s best to be proactive, curious, and open to new ideas as we all figure out what the workplace looks like in 2022 and beyond,” he says.

By: Anna Meyer, Assistant editor, Inc.@annavmeyer

Source: These Industries Added the Most Remote Jobs During the Pandemic, and Talent Is Tight | Inc.com

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People who do their jobs from home, freelance or travel for work are increasingly leaving cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco and taking their families — and jobs — to places including Denver and Boise, Idaho, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Here are the top 20 companies, hiring hundreds of remote workers each.

1. Appen

Headquarters: Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia

Industry: Technology (machine learning and artificial intelligence)

Remote jobs: voice coach, linguist, web search evaluator, transcriber

2. Lionbridge

Headquarters: Waltham, Massachusetts

Industry: Software and business (language translation)

Remote jobs: creative designer, social media assessor, project manager, scheduling assistant

3. VIPKid

Headquarters: Beijing, China

Industry: Education

Remote jobs: online English as a second language teacher

4. Liveops

Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona

Industry: Customer service

Remote jobs: customer service representative, licensed insurance agent, health care resource specialist

5. Working Solutions

Headquarters: Dallas, Texas

Industry: Customer service

Remote jobs: sales development representative, travel reservation specialist, corporate travel agent

6. Kelly Services

Headquarters: Troy, Michigan

Industry: Staffing

Remote jobs: data entry operator, administrative assistant, software tester, data analyst

7. EF Education First

Headquarters: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Industry: Education

Remote jobs: language teacher, copywriter, content writer, college counselor, IT coordinator

8. SYKES

Headquarters: Tampa, Florida

Industry: Customer service

Remote jobs: customer support agent, executive assistant, senior director of client management

9. Concentrix

Headquarters: Fremont, California

Industry: Business services

Remote jobs: sales and service representative

10. Williams-Sonoma

Headquarters: San Francisco, California

Industry: Retail

Remote jobs: customer service agent, technical designer, copy manager

11. UnitedHealth Group

Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Industry: Health care

Remote jobs: product director, medical director, health and wellness coach, call center nurse

12. LanguageLine Solutions

Headquarters: Monterey, California

Industry: Translation

Remote jobs: interpreter, software engineer

13. TTEC

Headquarters: Englewood, Colorado

Industry: Business operations

Remote jobs: Salesforce developer, software engineer, consultant, web developer

14. TranscribeMe

Headquarters: San Francisco, California

Industry: Information technology, translation

Remote jobs: transcriptionist

15. Humana

Headquarters: Louisville, Kentucky

Industry: Health care

Remote jobs: sales manager, medical director, business and technology lead, sales executive

16. Cactus Communications

Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Industry: Communications

Remote jobs: editor, medical writer, academic research evaluation

17. Transcom

Headquarters: Stockholm, Uppland, Sweden

Industry: Customer service

Remote jobs: technical support representative, payroll administrator, customer service agent

18. BroadPath Healthcare Solutions

Headquarters: Tucon, Arizona

Industry: Health care

Remote jobs: director of service operations, provider service representative, insurance claims processor, data specialist

19. Dell

Headquarters: Round Rock, Texas

Industry: Computer technology

Remote jobs: program manager, account executive, consultant, sales executive

20. Aetna

Headquarters: Hartford, Connecticut

Industry: Health care

Remote jobs: outreach coordinator, content quality reviewer, network relations manager, health coach

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If You’re Still Working at 65, How To Avoid Costly Medicare Mistakes

Key Points
  • You could face lifelong late-enrollment penalties if you don’t sign up for Medicare when you’re supposed to.
  • The rules for enrollment when you already have insurance through your job depend partly on whether your employer is large or small.
  • It’s important to know that once you sign up for Medicare, even if only for Part A (hospital coverage), you can no longer contribute to a health savings account.

Workers who are nearing age 65 and have health insurance through their job may want to consider how Medicare could factor into their medical coverage.

While not everyone must sign up for Medicare at that age of eligibility, many are required to enroll — or otherwise face lifelong late-enrollment penalties.

“The biggest mistake … is to assume that you don’t need Medicare and to miss enrolling in it when you should have,” said Danielle Roberts, co-founder of insurance firm Boomer Benefits.

Roughly 10 million workers are in the 65-and-older crowd, or 17.9% of that age group, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The general rule for Medicare signup is that unless you meet an exception, you get a seven-month enrollment window that starts three months before your 65th birthday month and ends three months after it. Having qualifying insurance through your employer is one of those exceptions. Here’s what to know.

The basics

Original, or basic, Medicare consists of Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (outpatient care coverage).

Part A has no premium as long as you have at least a 10-year work history of contributing to the program through payroll (or self-employment) taxes. Part B comes with a standard monthly premium of $148.50 for 2021, although higher-income beneficiaries pay more through monthly adjustments (see chart below).

Some 43% of individuals choose to get their Parts A and B benefits delivered through an Advantage Plan (Part C), which typically includes prescription drugs (Part D) and may or may not have a premium.

The remaining beneficiaries stick with basic Medicare and may pair it with a so-called Medigap policy and a stand-alone Part D plan. Be aware that higher-income beneficiaries pay more for drug coverage, as well (see chart below).

Remember that late-enrollment penalties last a lifetime. For Part B, that surcharge is 10% for each 12-month period you could have had it but didn’t sign up. For Part D, the penalty is 1% of the base premium ($33.06 in 2021) multiplied by the number of full, uncovered months you didn’t have Part D or creditable coverage.Working at a large company

The general rule for workers at companies with at least 20 employees is that you can delay signing up for Medicare until you lose your group insurance (i.e., you retire).

Many people with large group health insurance delay Part B but sign up for Part A because it’s free. “It doesn’t hurt you to have it,” Roberts said. However, she said, if you happen to have a health savings account paired with a high-deductible health plan through your employer, be aware that you cannot make contributions once you enroll in Medicare, even if only Part A.

Also, if you stay with your current coverage and delay all or parts of Medicare, make sure the plan is considered qualifying coverage for both Parts B and D. If you’re uncertain whether you need to sign up, it’s worth checking with your human resources department or your insurance carrier.

“I find it is always good to just confirm,” said Elizabeth Gavino, founder of Lewin & Gavino and an independent broker and general agent for Medicare plans. Some 65-year-olds with younger spouses also might want to keep their group plan. Unlike your company’s option, spouses must qualify on their own for Medicare — either by reaching age 65 or having a disability if younger than that — regardless of your own eligibility.If your employer is small

If you have health insurance through a company with fewer than 20 employees, you should sign up for Medicare at 65 regardless of whether you stay on the employer plan. If you do choose to remain on it, Medicare is your primary insurance. However, it may be more cost-effective in this situation to drop the employer coverage and pick up Medigap and a Part D plan — or, alternatively, an Advantage Plan — instead of keeping the work plan as secondary insurance.

Often, workers at small companies pay more in premiums than employees at larger firms. The average premium for single coverage through employer-sponsored health insurance is $7,470, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. However, employees contribute an average of $1,243 — or about 17% — with their company covering the remainder.

At small firms, the employee’s share might be far higher. For example, 28% are in a plan that requires them to contribute more than half of the premium for family coverage, compared with 4% of covered workers at large firms. Original Medicare consists of Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (outpatient care coverage). Excluding limited exceptions, there is no coverage related to dental, vision or hearing, which can lead to beneficiaries forgoing care.

“It would be a significant improvement [to provide coverage] for people who often go without needed care because they can’t afford it and for people who pay a lot for the care they need,” said Tricia Neuman, executive director for the Kaiser Family Foundation’s program on Medicare policy. Some beneficiaries get limited coverage for dental, vision and hearing if they choose to get their Parts A and B benefits delivered through an Advantage Plan (Part C), which often include those extras. About 40% of beneficiaries are enrolled in Advantage Plans.

However, Lipschutz said, the extra coverage generally is not comprehensive. On the other hand, if expanded benefits — no matter how generous — were required under original Medicare, they’d become standard in an Advantage Plan.

Source: If you’re still working at 65, how to avoid costly Medicare mistakes

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JP Morgan Chase Launches Its Own Health Business Unit Three Months After Haven Implodes

https://g.foolcdn.com/image/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fg.foolcdn.com%2Feditorial%2Fimages%2F616249%2Fjpmorgan-branch-courtesy.jpg&w=1200&h=630&op=resize

JPMorgan Chase is staking out its own healthcare venture, after its joint project with Berkshire Hathaway and Amazon failed earlier this year. On Thursday, the financial firm announced the launch of Morgan Health, a business unit focused on improving employer-sponsored healthcare, to be led by Dan Mendelson, founder and former CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based healthcare consultancy Avalere Health.

The move comes a little over three months since the joint venture Haven Health, which also aimed to lower employee healthcare costs and boost quality services, said it would be winding down.

Morgan Health will invest up to $250 million in “promising healthcare solutions” and will also enter into strategic partnerships, the company said. The new division, which will be headquartered in Washington, D.C., will also focus on health equity issues.

“JPMorgan Chase has been focused on improving healthcare for its employees for many years,” Morgan Health CEO Mendelson said in a statement. “We are going to take what we’ve learned and accelerate healthcare innovation in the employer-sponsored healthcare market, partnering with and investing in companies that share our goals, and measuring key health outcomes to show what works.”

Mendelson has a background in both health policy and finance. He was an operating partner at healthtech PE firm Welsh Carson for the past two years and served as the associate director for health in the Office of Management and Budget in the Clinton White House prior to founding Avalere. With 165,000 employees in the United States, JPMorgan Chase provides health insurance to around 285,000 people, including dependents.

Haven was announced with much fanfare in 2018, with billionaire Warren Buffet calling rising employee healthcare costs “a hungry tapeworm on the American economy.” Around half of Americans receive healthcare benefits through their employers, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The federal government estimates total national healthcare spending reached $3.8 trillion, or $11,582 per person, in 2019. And health spending continues to outpace inflation, growing 4.6% in 2019.

The implosion of Haven three years later demonstrated how even well-capitalized corporate juggernauts could be thwarted by the complexity of the U.S. healthcare system. “We were fighting a tapeworm in the American economy, and the tapeworm won,” Buffet said at Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting earlier this month, according to Yahoo Finance.

“Haven was supposed to show how creativity, ingenuity and private sector, entrepreneurship could beat the healthcare sector. And it failed,” David Blumenthal, a physician and president of the healthcare think-tank The Commonwealth Fund, told Forbes in an interview earlier this year.

He said the speculation as to one of the big challenges Haven faced was that each company wanted to make its own choices for its employees, which has been the downfall of many similar coalitions. Amazon has also been making its own big push into the healthcare sector recently with a virtual primary care service called Amazon Care, the launch of its wearable Amazon Halo and its purchase of online pharmacy PillPack for $750 million.

The radical change needed to control healthcare costs requires buy-in on many levels, including some that employees might not be happy about, says Blumenthal. It could mean narrower networks of physicians to choose from or requiring travel for certain surgeries so they take place at top-ranked facilities, as opposed to the comfort of a local community hospital.

But the biggest impediments are structural—the lack of purchasing power for employers and consolidation among health systems, he said. “In the end, controlling costs in almost every other Western country is a responsibility that government assumes,” Blumenthal said. “It’s for precisely this reason that the alternatives are not effective.”

Despite what may be an uphill battle ahead, JPMorgan leadership is giving it another go. “Covid has shed light on both the greatness of our healthcare system and its challenges,” Peter Scher, vice chairman of the company who will be overseeing Morgan Health, said in a statement. “The firm has been investing in developing solutions to address social and economic challenges over the past 10 years. We plan to take what we’ve learned there and apply it to healthcare.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip.

I am a staff writer at Forbes covering healthcare, with a focus on digital health and new technologies. I was previously a healthcare reporter for POLITICO covering the European Union from Brussels and the New Jersey Statehouse from Trenton. I have also written for the Los Angeles Times and Business Insider. I was a 2019-2020 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in business and economics reporting at Columbia University. Email me at kjennings@forbes.com or find me on Twitter @katiedjennings.

Source: JP Morgan Chase Launches Its Own Health Business Unit Three Months After Haven Implodes

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References

 

“The History of JPMorgan Chase & Co.: 200 Years of Leadership in Banking, company-published booklet, 2008, p. 5. Predecessor to J.P. Morgan & Co. was Drexel, Morgan & Co., est. 1871. Retrieved July 15, 2010. Other predecessors include Dabney, Morgan & Co. and J.S. Morgan & Co” (PDF).

Can Employers Monitor Employees Who Work From Home Due To The Coronavirus?

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When working from home, there may be a new concern for workers other than going without pants.

To ensure employees do what they’re supposed to, some employers have begun using surveillance apps and programs to monitor worker productivity.

This has raised some worker privacy concerns and the questions of whether this is legal or proper.

The short answer is that yes, it can be legal if done right. As for whether it’s proper or not, that’s up to debate. In this article, I’ll discuss what can or cannot be done when it comes to employers remotely supervising their employees.

Why Would an Employer Want to Monitor an Employee?

Traditionally, there have been five primary reasons why employers seek to watch or monitor employees.

First, the employer may want to protect itself in the case of possible lawsuits. This can include documenting what a worker does in case litigation, or an internal investigation ensues.

Second, the employer may want to maintain the integrity of its hardware and software from malicious cyber activity. Social media and rogue cloud accounts can be sources of harmful software, including viruses and malware.

Third, the employer might seek to protect intellectual property, such as trade secrets or client lists.

Fourth, all employers want to make sure workers do what they’re supposed to do. This means not downloading pornographic material or engaging in any activities that the employer might have a particular reason to discourage.

Finally, we have the employer who wants to ensure productivity levels. This is likely one of the biggest reasons employers monitor their employees, especially with the rise in the number of people working from home.

How Do Employers Monitor Their Employees?

Employers have been monitoring employees since the dawn of the employer-employee relationship. In the Internet age, with the ubiquity of laptops, tablets and smartphones, what the employer can do has gone up a notch.

Depending on the device and motivation of the employer, employees can expect employers to monitor them by:

  • Keeping track of what they type
  • Recording Internet activity
  • Taking screenshots
  • Using a device’s webcam
  • Noting which employees access what files and when
  • Monitoring an employee’s physical location using GPS
  • Measuring the employee’s productivity, such as noting a computer’s idle time or how long an app or piece of software remains open

That’s some pretty invasive stuff so it’s sometimes hard to believe that it’s mostly legal.

As a general rule, when using your employer’s equipment while on your employer’s network, your employer will have the right to monitor what you do. If you’re on your own device and using your own Internet connection, it’s less likely to be legal if your employer monitors you, although it still is often perfectly legal.

Also, it’s probably going to be legal if your employer has your permission or otherwise gives you notice of the monitoring. A good example is a company’s BOYD (bring-your-own-device) policy which will often allow employers a certain level of access to what an employee does on their personal device.

Employee Monitoring Pursuant to Federal Law

The main federal law that potentially covers employment monitoring is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA).

Title I of the ECPA is also known as the Wiretap Act. It makes it illegal to intentionally intercept, use, disclose or otherwise obtain any wire, oral or electronic communication.

Title II of the ECPA is more commonly referred to as the Stored Communications Act (SCA). As the name implies, it exists to maintain the privacy of stored electronic information.

Title III of the ECPA covers pen registers and trap/trace devices. Pen registers and trap or trace devices do not record the substance of the communication, but they do record identifying information, such as the number dialed or from where a telephone call originated.

At first glance, it appears as if the ECPA would prevent some forms of employer monitoring, but the ECPA has some notable exceptions and caveats as they apply to the employment context.

First, there is the business use exception, which allows employers to monitor the oral and electronic communication of employees as long as the employer has a legitimate business reason for doing so.

Second, there is the consent exception. Employers may monitor their employees’ communication if they obtain the consent of the employee.

Third, for the most part, the SCA does not protect the privacy of stored information if the information exists on the employer’s own servers or equipment.

Fourth, the ECPA is silent as to many forms of employment monitoring, such as keystroke logging. In many respects, the ECPA is definitely behind the times due to advances in technology.

However, employees in some states may have slightly more employee privacy protections.

Employee Monitoring Pursuant to State Law

When it comes to certain types of employee activity, a few states make it more difficult for the employer to monitor employees.

For example, some states, like Maryland, Illinois and California have “all-consent” or “two-party consent” laws that require everyone involved in an electronic communication or telephone call to consent to the monitoring.

A few states require employers to give notice to employees before monitoring can take place. Connecticut and Delaware are two such states with specific laws on the books, although Connecticut’s law might not apply when the employee is working from home.

Other Laws Potentially Applicable to Employment Monitoring

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects the right of employees to collectively bargain. The National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, enforces the NLRA and has concluded that surveillance of employees who are engaged in concerted activity can be an unfair labor practice.

There’s also attorney client privilege, which may protect an employee’s communication even if it takes place on the employer’s laptop or during work hours. How this privilege applies will be specific to the facts and jurisdiction, but the overarching principle will be an expectation of privacy.

For instance, if an employee emails her attorney from her personal web-based e-mail account using her laptop while working from home, then that’s very likely going to be protected from employer monitoring. But if that same employee were to use a work-issued laptop and her employer’s email account to send the email, then it’s far less likely for the attorney-client privilege to apply.

The Practical Realities of Employment Surveillance

Most laws, especially at the federal level, will not directly address the legality of the many different types of employment monitoring. So, the legal landscape is a little fuzzy, but regardless of what the law is, there are some principles or realities about workplace monitoring.

In many cases, much of the monitoring isn’t done in real time. It’s often just the gathering and archiving of employee behavior that will only become known if there’s a lawsuit, an internal complaint of improper behavior or poor job performance.

When overdone, employee monitoring can be bad for morale as employees won’t feel trusted and will feel micromanaged. This will be particularly true if the employee meets his or her productivity expectations when working in the office or in the home, but it’s only when working from home that the employer feels the need to snoop.

Then there’s the fact that the employee will probably feel the monitoring is unfair. They might ask themselves, “Why should everyone lose their privacy just because one or two employees acted inappropriately?” Or they might wonder why it’s not okay for them to step away from their laptop in the middle of the afternoon for 30 minutes to take care of a personal errand, but it’s perfectly okay for the boss to expect them to reply to an email late at night.

Finally, there’s the fact that workers are not robots. They won’t be working every single second of every single day, even when in the office. The practical reality is that workers will do non-work activities while on the job.

They will plan a birthday party for a co-worker, make a personal telephone call, text with family, surf the web for personal reasons and even spend a few minutes catching up on the latest office gossip. Employers who don’t accept this reality (to a reasonable extent) may find themselves with unhappy workers.

The Bottom Line

Most employers can legally monitor what you do while working as long as it’s for legitimate business purposes or they have your consent. If you decide to engage in personal activities during business hours, you will usually do so at your own risk.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

After clerking for a judge and working as a federal prosecutor, I wanted to spend more quality time with my kids so in 2009 I started the Spiggle Law Firm. We focus on workplace law helping protect the rights of clients facing pregnancy and caregiver discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination in the workplace. I am a frequent commentator on employment law, especially how it affects families. My book, “You’re Pregnant? You’re Fired: Protecting Mothers, Fathers, and Other Caregivers in the Workplace,” is available on Amazon. You can learn more about my work at https://www.spigglelaw.com/contact

Source: https://www.forbes.com

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Some employers are turning to software that monitors their employees as they work from home during the coronavirus pandemic. CBS News contributor and Wired editor-in-chief Nick Thompson joined CBSN with how it works.
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