(Last Updated On: November 20, 2023)
Each year, the employment landscape continues to evolve — and 2023 was no exception. Here are three workplace trends we’re keeping an eye on as we monitor their potential legal implications here in Massachusetts.
1. The 4-Day Work Week
In the wake of the global pandemic, there’s been a push for restructuring the work week. As you might have guessed, the 4-Day Work Week is a model based on full-time employees working four days a week rather than the standard five days. Under this structure, employers would pay eligible staff overtime for any hours worked over 32 instead of 40. The goal of a 4-day work week is for employees to have a better work-life balance that would translate to greater job satisfaction and improved productivity.
Both Employers and state governments have begun to experiment with this new model. According to an article published by The Hill, more than half of US employers are in favor of trying a 4-day work week. And six states have already considered bills to allow businesses to switch to this model.
Here in Massachusetts, the Labor and Workforce Development Committee is set to review a bill that would enact a two-year test pilot program. It’s known as the “Massachusetts Smart Work Week Pilot.” If passed, the bill would reduce the hours employees work without reducing their total pay. It would also reward businesses who participate in the program with a tax credit. If passed, it would likely impact overtime regulations. We’ll keep you updated on whether this bill gets ratified and how it might shape the future of MA employment law.
2. Remote Work and the Call for Return to Office
Another outcome of the pandemic is an increased desire for remote work. While this trend has impacted a number of industries, the top three this past year include computer & IT, marketing, and accounting & finance, as Forbes reports. The latest research suggests that remote work is here to stay. According to a recent survey from Buffer, 98% of workers who responded want to work remotely at least part of the time. Additionally, a new Upwork study predicts that 22% of the US workforce will be remote by 2025.
There are a few employment law implications to consider regarding remote work. First, remote workers are subject to the same wage laws as in-office employees, including adherence to the minimum wage and payment for all hours worked. It’s recommended that employees diligently record work hours, including breaks, to ensure proper compensation. Additionally, remote workers must pay Massachusetts state income tax if employed by a Massachusetts-based company, regardless of their residence. The state also mandates safe work environments for remote workers and provides resources for maintaining productivity and security.
3. The Rise of AI in the Workplace
The implementation of AI in the workplace gained momentum in 2023 and will continue to play out in the years ahead. Currently, 56% of workers are using generative AI on the job, according to new research from The Conference Board.
From an employment law standpoint, there’s a concern that employers who use AI-influenced HR processes will execute bias and discrimination. For instance, AI tools used in hiring and performance evaluations might negatively impact protected groups disproportionately. It’s a best practice for MA employers to disclose AI tool usage to applicants and employees, and to accommodate those who may be unfairly assessed by these tools.
Right now, there is no federal legislation specifically addressing the use of AI in employment decisions. However, in May 2023, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidelines emphasizing the potential for discrimination against job applicants and employees resulting from AI usage. As AI evolves, we expect more laws to develop limiting its use in the workplace.
Stay Informed as an MA Employer or Employee with Rodman Employment Law
Whether you’re an employer or employee in Massachusetts, it’s vital to keep informed of workplace trends and their legal implications. Rodman Employment Law is here to help you stay in the loop about important legislation shifts. Stay tuned to our employee and employer blogs in the days ahead as the modern workforce and employment law continue to progress.