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This week, some U.S. companies extended their three-day July 4 holiday weekend off to give their employees more time away from the office.

LinkedIn gave employees the entire week off. The paid week off is a benefit the company provides twice a year, according to Fortune. The policy started last year when LinkedIn surveyed its employees and found that the pandemic was inflicting “clear burnout” upon them, LinkedIn’s chief people officer Teuila Hanson told CNN at the time. As a result, the tech company implemented the initiative LiftUp! geared toward improving employees’ mental health with additional training and resources.

Online publishing platform Medium also gave its employees the entire July 4 week off for the first time. Laura Newton, Medium’s head of people, called the new initiative a “collective recharge Summer Break” in a LinkedIn post.

“I’m excited that we get to experiment in this way,” Newton wrote. “Last year, we added four Company Holiday days into our Time Off Calendar…this year, we’ve grouped those days together and tacked them onto the July 4th holiday to give ourselves a full week off, instead. I think this’ll be great for all of us, and I’m eager to collect feedback once we return.”

Later this summer, Hootsuite Inc. will shut down Aug. 29 to Sept. 2 for its second annual wellness week. Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, the tech company’s wellness week is just one part of the Hootsuite’s mental-health strategy, said Paul Dhillon, director of total rewards at Hootsuite.

 “We don’t feel offering a competitive salary is the way to differentiate ourselves from competitors,” Dhillon told Benefits Canada. “We’re looking at it from an employee experience perspective.”

U.S. Economy Adds 372,000 Jobs in June

While concerns of an economic recession linger, job growth remained steady last month, as the U.S. economy added 372,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department’s jobs report on Friday.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.6% and an alternate measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those holding part-time jobs for economic reasons fell to 6.7% from 7.1%.

“The strong 372,000 gain in non-farm payrolls in June appears to make a mockery of claims the economy is heading into, let alone already in, a recession,” Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, told CNBC.

The Labor Department did revise down May and April’s job totals to 384,000 and 368,000, respectively. Average hourly earnings increased 0.3% for the month and were up 5.1% from a year ago. Hunter told CNBC that the wage number means Federal Reserve officials “are likely to press ahead with aggressive rate hikes over the coming months.” Policymakers have indicated a 0.75 percentage point rate hike is likely at their July meeting.

By sector, education and health services led job creation, with 96,000 hires, while professional and business services added 74,000 positions. Other contributors included leisure and hospitality (67,000), Health care (57,000), and transportation and warehousing (36,000).

Additional sectors showing strong gains included manufacturing (29,000), information (25,000) and social assistance (21,000). Government jobs fell by 9,000.

Peloton Sweetens Employee Pay Incentives

As reported by CNBC, Peloton is aiming to entice its workers with one-time cash bonuses and changes to its stock compensation plan.

Shari Eaton, Peloton’s chief people officer, said the company is taking these actions so employees can benefit as the company works on its turnaround efforts.

“The extraordinary circumstances that we find ourselves in now really give us that chance to pause and look at what it is that we can do to ensure future success,” Eaton told CNBC.

The changes come a little more than five months into Barry McCarthy, a former Spotify and Netflix executive, working to boost the morale at Peloton as part of a turnaround push. McCarthy was named CEO in early February, replacing founder John Foley. At the time, Peloton announced it was slashing roughly $800 million in annual costs. That included cutting 2,800 jobs, or about 20% of corporate positions.

According to internal memos seen by CNBC, Peloton told employees that eligible team members will have their post-IPO options repriced to Peloton’s closing price on July 1 of $9.13. The company is also accelerating the vesting requirement by one year for eligible unvested restricted stock units that have more than eight vesting dates left in their vesting schedule. That lets employees access the value of the stock units sooner, Eaton said.

But not every Peloton employee owns or wants stock in the company. Instead of an equity grant, Peloton’s hourly workers in September will be eligible for a one-time cash bonus to be paid before the end of February, according to one of the internal Peloton memos.

Vermont AGO Announce $1.6 Million Settlement with McDonald’s Franchisee Over Workplace Sexual Harassment

The Associated Press has reported that a Vermont corporation that operates as a McDonald’s restaurant franchisee has been ordered to pay $1.6 million in damages and penalties after authorities said it failed to protect young workers from harm and sexual harassment. The state attorney general’s office made the announcement on July 1.  

The agreement reached by the state and the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission with Coughlin Inc. is the largest public sexual harassment settlement in the history of the attorney general’s office and one of the largest reported employment discrimination settlements in Vermont.

Among the terms in the five-year consent decree, Coughlin will establish a settlement fund of $1.2 million to provide compensation to victims of the harassment at its Randolph restaurant and revise its policies and procedures around sexual harassment.

It will also pay $125,000 in civil penalties and other damages to the State of Vermont, and $275,000 in damages to the estate of one of the complainants who died during the course of the litigation.

“This settlement sets the tone for employers to recognize their duty to keep workers safe, respect their dignity, and provide a workplace free of discrimination,” Vermont’s acting attorney general Joshua Diamond said in a statement.

City of Phoenix Adds Paid Parental Leave to Employee Benefits

The city of Phoenix recently announced that beginning on Oct. 1 it will provide eligible employees up to 480 hours (12 weeks) of paid leave for the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child during a 12-month period.

“The working world has changed dramatically, and we are focused on meeting the needs of today’s parents. The new, additional leave is extremely flexible to meet varying challenges that arise when a new child comes into the family,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “This new benefit will help the city stay competitive and able to attract the best employees to serve Phoenix’s residents.”

According to the announcement, “The change is intended to allow the city to maintain its competitive edge to recruit and retain a highly skilled and productive workforce while also providing working parents and caregivers greater flexibility in balancing their work and family commitments.”

“Our employees are our most valuable assets,” said Phoenix city manager Jeff Barton. “Adding parental leave to the many benefits offered by the city demonstrates our investment in them, which in turn, is an investment in our community.”

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