Workplace Flexibility: Good For You and Your Employees

Today’s post was shared by the U.S. Labor Department and comes from

Even though National Work and Families Month was in October, I think this topic is a good discussion to encourage employers and business owners to consider anytime during the year. As we have discussed in the past, not everyone has the luxury of benefits at their jobs. But benefits can be an extremely important part of the overall compensation package, including paid sick leave and workplace flexibility. As is evidenced below, employers can also reap great benefits from providing such flexibility, especially when it comes to increased worker loyalty and productivity. That includes offering schedules that are concrete for workers so they don’t have to “choose between … job or … family.” In addition, there are definitely benefits of goodwill and there might even be cost savings when a person, regardless of job, stays home when sick, instead of passing the illness around the workplace and other workers taking that illness home to loved ones. Another example is for anyone who drives for work. A sickness on the road and working while sick could very quickly become an employer’s safety issue that could endanger both the employee and the general public, if being forced to work led to an accident.

A March 2014 article by Bryce Covert discusses the reality of what paid sick leave (and I would argue workplace flexibility) did in one state, in addition to humanizing service-sector workers and spreading caregiver tasks out over more family members. Researchers Eileen Appelbaum and Ruth Milkman from the Center for Economic and Policy Research surveyed Connecticut employers and “they found that ‘everything they were worried about, that workers would take all the time available, employees would abuse it, did not happen,’ she said.”

“Only 11 percent of Connecticut’s businesses had costs increase by 3 percent or more, their study found, while about two-thirds said there was either no cost or a small one. The vast majority said there were no cases of abuse. In fact, while the law provides workers with five paid sick days a year, on average they use just four. Half of them used three days or fewer, and a third didn’t take any at all. ‘It’s not that you give workers a paid sick day and they run out and use every single one,’ Appelbaum noted. ‘From the point of view of employees, these paid sick days are a form of insurance,’ and workers hold on to them in case they need them in the future.”

Because as you should read below, regardless of the size or type of business, in the long run, workplace flexibility can be very good for business.


Kimmich-1024x768Small business owners know that things don’t always go as planned, and the same is true for their employees. Even the family responsibilities that we can plan for sometimes require a balancing act: nearly two-thirds of American women with a 1-year-old child are in the labor force, and approximately 16.8 million adults over 55 years of age provide unpaid care for elderly loved ones. That’s why workplace flexibility policies that allow employees to balance the demands of work and home are vitally important − especially paid sick days, paid parental leave and flexible scheduling.

These policies also give employers a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining top talent, increase employee creativity, increase productivity, increase profitability, and boost employee morale.

Many large companies have made headlines when offering workplace flexibility policies (Netflix, Google and Microsoft to name a few), but flexible workplace policies are good for small businesses, too.

During National Work and Families Month, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Labor Department are supporting businesses’ efforts to make the country’s workplaces more fair and family-friendly by creating a Workplace Flexibility Toolkit. It’s full of helpful tips and ideas to help small businesses implement smart workplace flexibility policies.

Small businesses all over the country already are reaping the benefits of such policies:

“Years ago my husband, John, and I decided to offer…

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2013: Centennial Year for Workers’ Compensation in Nebraska

100 Years of Nebraska Workers’ Compensation

The year 2013 will mark 100 years of workers’ compensation law in Nebraska. This state was a leader in adopting the new protections and benefits for workers. The first workers’ compensation laws in the United States were enacted two years earlier, and few states had followed by 1913. Workers’ compensation laws were hailed as social progress, if not outright human-rights triumphs. Nebraska was a leader in protecting workers’ rights. Much has changed since then.


The current workplace is not the workplace that existed 100 years ago. The jobs then were much more physically demanding and dangerous. The injuries and diseases are not the same. Repetitive-motion injury was not contemplated or compensated. Cancer from industrial solvents was not contemplated or compensated. Mental disease was stigmatized by society and essentially not compensated. Medical practice was less specialized, and treatment options were much more limited.


Interested parties have long been working to keep the law in sync with the times. The law has changed from time to time, but some of the bedrock concepts, such as requiring “accident” have resulted in some rules that lawyers call legal fictions, for instance. Medical benefits that experts consider the most basic protection are the most costly part of the system, and cost increases are an area of constant concerns.


Competing legislation is presented each year with incremental changes resulting. The last major revisions happened 20 years ago. The annual arguments sometimes get heated, but the law seems to advance. The big picture is something we can be proud of.


Nebraska law has the highest rating of any state under presidential-commission guidelines established in 1972. Premiums and costs are in the mid-range of the states, as are worker benefits. Nebraska is rated as the 2nd-best state legal climate by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Nebraska is one of few states that has robust vocational rehabilitation benefits for injured workers. Hopefully we can continue working together to maintain and improve Nebraska’s workers’ compensation law in ways that benefit all of the competing interests.


Bottom-line conclusion: Nebraska law is doing well for a centenarian. Let’s keep cooperating to ensure progress.

Highlights From Nebraska’s 102nd Legislative Session

Nebraska State CapitolClients of Rehm, Bennett & Moore helped make a positive difference this legislative session. They are parents who lose their children as a result of work injuries.

Albert and Diane DeLeon of Grand Island persuaded their state Sen. Mike Gloor to introduce a bill that was signed into law that increased the funeral benefit from $6,000 to $10,000. This was after they lost their son Emilio in a construction accident. In addition, Gene Cary testified in favor of a similar bill that would have raised the funeral benefit for the families of dead workers as well as giving a $25,000 death benefit to parents who have had a child killed in a work accident. Gene’s son Neil was killed in a work accident in 2010. The bill awarding an automatic death benefit to parents who have their child killed in a work accident failed to advance out of committee. Bills held in committee are killed for this session of the legislature and must be re-introduced next session. However, the combined stories of Cary and the DeLeons helped to advance the cause of parents who lose a child in a work accident.

Besides the bill increasing funeral benefits for parents who lose their children in work accidents, the only other bill to pass that affected injured workers was a bill that gave employers protections for information given in employment references.

Besides the bill increasing funeral benefits for parents who lose their children in work accidents, the only other bill to pass that affected injured workers was a bill that gave employers protections for information given in employment references. As the bill was originally introduced by Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont, the bill would have given employers almost free reign to Continue reading

New Social Security Rules Make It Harder To Present Your Case

This guest post is written by colleague Ryan Benharris of Massachusetts. The situation described is one example where it is wise to ask an attorney to be your advocate. Roger Moore is our resident expert on Social Security appeals in Nebraska and Iowa as a member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives.

Knowing your Administrative Law Judge is important for your case.

In December, 2010, the Social Security Administration (SSA) implemented a set of rules put in place to enable more effective case review. One of the major changes was that Applicants will no longer know who their Administrative Law Judge is prior to their scheduled hearing.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted that these judges seem more concerned with the speed of case processing than on whether the applicants actually deserve benefits. WSJ also indicated that some judges were approving more than 85% of the cases they heard in what was allegedly an effort to have the cases resolved more quickly.

Unfortunately, for applicants, this change in practice has made their cases much harder to litigate. Many Administrative Law Judges have different styles of practice in how their cases are heard. An attorney may present information in a different style depending on the judge.

The importance of an applicant being represented by an attorney before the Social Security Administration has never been clearer. Since there is no way to know who the Administrative Law Judge is prior to the hearing, it is absolutely imperative that every case prepared in accordance to all rules governing how cases are tried before the court. If even the slightest detail is overlooked, it may prevent an applicant from being allowed to present evidence that could win his or her case.

Employees’ Health vs. Companies’ Profits

Does your employer care about you? If corporations are going to get the perks of being “people” then they need to give a darn about their employees for the sake of humanity, argues the international president of the United Steelworkers in the story below. And we think that means holding those “people” accountable when they stumble, easier to do when there’s a dramatic accident, but also important to do for issues like long-term contact to toxic materials.

Dying for Work
Every day, 12 workers die on the job in America — often because a corporation has defied regulations or ignored standard safety procedures. Many more die prematurely from work exposure to toxic materials.