The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that median weekly earnings of the nation's 117.2 million full-time wage and salary workers were $887 in the third quarter of 2018. This was 3.3 percent higher than a year earlier, compared with a gain of 2.6 percent in the Consumer Price Index.
Most safety incentive programs and post-incident drug testing policies will not be considered retaliatory and unlawful under a newStandard Interpretationfrom the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In previous guidance, OSHA stated that in some circumstances, safety incentive policies could deter employees from reporting work-related injuries and illnesses and post-accident drug and alcohol testing could be a retaliatory practice. The new guidance clarifies that safety incentive programs are retaliatory and unlawful only if they seek “to penalize an employee for reporting a work-related injury or illness rather than for the legitimate purpose of promoting workplace safety and health.” It also states that “most instances of workplace drug testing are permissible.” OSHA makes clear that employers need not analyze whether there was a “reasonable possibility” that drugs or alcohol could have contributed to an accident. Instead, broad post-accident drug and alcohol testing is permitted as long as all employees whose conduct could have contributed to the accident are tested. Employers should have SESCO review and, if needed, update their drug testing policies to ensure compliance with the new OSHA guidance.
Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 0.3 percent from August to September. This result stems from a 0.3-percent increase in average hourly earnings combined with a 0.1-percent increase in the Consumer Price Index. Real average hourly earnings increased 0.5 percent, from September 2017 to September 2018. The change in real average hourly earnings combined with the 0.6-percent increase in the average workweek resulted in a 1.1-percent increase in real average weekly earnings over this period.
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