Nancy Gunzenhauser Popper, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in Law360 Employment Authority, in “‘Office Housework' Can Make a Legal Mess for Employers,” by Anne Cullen. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

Women in the workplace are picking up more than their fair share of unpaid tasks like cleaning, scheduling, and mentoring, experts say, and employers that don't intervene risk burning out their hardest workers and inviting legal liability.

Half of the women in the legal profession reported participating in so-called "office housework," compared to about a quarter of men, according to data gathered in 2017 by the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. These kinds of activities can set workers back by taking time away from their actual job duties, undermining their pay and advancement opportunities. …

'Mission-Critical' …

Experts said that the significance of office housework as a whole shouldn't be underestimated by companies, as it builds culture and morale and encourages teamwork.

"Some leaders of companies may not know that it's happening, but they see the effects of it — how happy workers are by having birthday parties or getting a card," said Nancy Gunzenhauser Popper, an Epstein Becker Green member who counsels employers.

It's also a boon for the bottom line, Popper said, as these kinds of events — happy hours, office birthday celebrations, free lunch Fridays — can help with recruitment and retention.

"Building culture is something that brings value, it helps companies retain talent, it helps attract talent, which lead to dollars in the end," Popper said. "Recruiting, hiring and onboarding are expensive."

'Straightforward' Fixes …

Companies can also tether pay bumps to these duties by recognizing them in performance reviews, said Epstein's Popper.

"Acknowledge and address those types of contributions, either in a self-evaluation or a formal evaluation," she said. "Being able to highlight this additional type of work that people do, and the emotional work that comes with it, could be a way companies can recognize and acknowledge it's being done, which could be a tangible way to reward it."

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