The Biden administration has released a final rule aimed at making it harder for companies to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees. The U.S. Department of Labor rule, which will take effect on March 11, mandates that workers deemed “economically dependent” on a company be treated as employees, granting them additional benefits and legal protections. While this rule is anticipated to impact various industries, the focus is on its potential effect on app-based services relying heavily on contract workers, such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash. The rule replaces a Trump-era regulation, and critics argue it may reduce worker flexibility and lead to lost earning opportunities. Business groups have expressed concerns about increased labor costs across sectors like trucking, retail, and manufacturing. The Biden administration contends that the previous rule violated wage laws and was inconsistent with federal court decisions, emphasizing the need for a stricter standard to combat worker misclassification.
Source: The Washington Post
The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council’s recent survey reveals a significant adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) tools among small businesses, with 48% of them incorporating AI tools in the past year. The study indicates that younger businesses are rapidly embracing AI, leading to enhanced efficiency and substantial cost savings. According to the CEO of SBEC, Karen Kerrigan, 93% of small business owners acknowledge that AI tools provide cost-effective solutions, contributing to savings and improved profitability. The report highlights various AI tools available for small businesses, ranging from Upmetrics for business plans to Zoho’s Zia for sales and ClickUp for project management. The adoption of AI has resulted in notable time and cost savings, allowing businesses to redirect resources to higher-value work, innovative customer solutions, and growth opportunities. The main drivers for adopting AI include addressing workforce challenges in a tight labor market and the need to compete with other businesses. While AI tools offer significant benefits, the article also mentions potential downsides, such as a lack of creativity and emotional elements compared to human contributions.
The Wall Street Journal highlights a growing trend among retailers and businesses making environmental adjustments to accommodate customers and employees on the autism spectrum. Walmart, for instance, tested initiatives like halting music and freeze-framing TVs for two hours on Saturdays to reduce sensory stimuli, with positive responses leading to a nationwide expansion of the program. Other businesses, including Disney theme parks, AMC Entertainment theaters, and airports in various cities, have also adopted measures to create sensory-friendly environments. Recognizing the unique needs of autistic individuals, these adjustments not only enhance the customer experience but can also positively impact the workforce. With approximately 3% of U.S. children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, businesses are urged to replicate these adaptations, fostering goodwill and potentially tapping into the untapped potential of neurodiverse individuals. Research suggests that accommodating neurodivergent employees with initiatives such as autism awareness training, low-stimulus workspaces, clear instructions, and flexible working hours can result in increased productivity, making it a win-win situation for both employers and employees.