TIME Business

5 Things You Need to Know Before Changing Jobs

Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

5 insights with links to the research backing them up:

For more on how to find the perfect career for you, click here.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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How to Fulfill the Promise of the Americans With Disabilities Act

People participate in the first annual Disability Pride Parade in New York City on July 12, 2015.
Stephanie Keith—Getty Images People participate in the first annual Disability Pride Parade in New York City on July 12, 2015.

Ensuring equity, access and inclusion is a shared responsibility

In July 1990, President George H W Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law in an action that “gave voice to the nation’s highest ideals.”

As we celebrate 25 years of ADA, we can see the significance of this law. The ADA challenged discrimination and helped remove many barriers, so people with disabilities could lead independent lives.

Today, there are roughly 56.7 million Americans, comprising 19% of the civilian population, with some form of disability, who are able to participate in mainstream society.

More than 700,000 students are enrolled in American public and private colleges and universities with documented disabilities including dyslexia, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), sensory and mobility issues, mental illness, and health impairments.

But what is important to note is that the promise of ADA cannot be fulfilled unless those without disabilities act on its “clear, strong, consistent and enforceable standards.”

In my work as an experienced special educator, I have observed allies for people with disabilities across the country among students, faculty and administrators who recognize their role in fulfilling this promise.

So how are they advocating for people with disabilities on their college campuses? They are creating change by sponsoring inclusive organizations, teaching to specific learning needs and making campus policies more equitable.

A proclamation of emancipation

The ADA was brought in to ensure that people with disabilities get equal opportunities to fully participate in all aspects of community life, to live independently and to achieve economic self-sufficiency through the removal of barriers that prevent their meaningful inclusion in American life.

The ADA builds on 20 years of disability-specific legislation to eliminate the historic and pervasive isolation and segregation of Americans with disabilities. Before that, they were viewed as objects of pity, unable to work, go to school or live on their own.

The ADA altered this view by making buildings, transportation and services change so people with disabilities could participate.

Former Senator Tom Harkin, the chief sponsor of the ADA in Congress, referred to the law as the “20th century emancipation proclamation for people with disabilities.”

In 2008, new amendments to the ADA broadened the standard used to define a disability and extended protections to individuals with substantial limitations in a variety of major life activities including reading, concentrating and working.

The amendments also extended protections to those using a variety of supports such as cochlear implants, hearing aids and prosthetics.

In short, the ADA is not just about people with disabilities; it is about society at large. Ensuring equity, access and inclusion is a shared responsibility.

What has changed on campus

So, how are some of these changes reflected in today’s society? I see this every day on our campus: students and faculty using wheelchairs, accessible e-readers for those with low vision, sign language interpreters and other technologies that allow people to learn and to work.

As an instructor, I get help from the campus disability resource center to make sure I provide reasonable instructional accommodations in my classes, such as repeating or clarifying directions, or providing a note-taker, to students who need them.

Today’s undergraduates grew up in a post-ADA world where people with disabilities are expected to be included in, not segregated from, campus life. Many attended elementary and secondary schools alongside students with disabilities.

They are used to interacting in classes, clubs and community activities with friends and peers whose disabilities are just a part of life.

Early experiences have prepared these young adults to interact with increasing numbers of people with disabilities on campus. About 11% of college students have documented disabilities. Their full-time enrollment grew by 45% and part-time enrollment by 26% between 2000 and 2010. There are also about 250,000 higher education faculty memberswho have disabilities.

College leaders use strategies such as universal design and disability education to prevent discrimination against students and employees.

The concept of universal design means making things accessible and desirable to as many people as possible. For example, curb-cuts in the sidewalk were made for wheelchair users, but are used by everyone.

Architects use principles of universal design in building dormitories, classrooms and labs.

Universal design also applies to curriculum materials and teaching methods, such as presenting content and encouraging students to participate and respond to instruction in a variety of ways.

Programs in disability education and disability studies promote campus awareness about the experiences of people with disabilities and advocacy for social change. Courses can be taken at most universities to reduce the stigma still associated with disabilities.

On my campus at the University of Florida, students from different fields, including business, design, engineering, nursing, education, prelaw and medicine, enroll in the Disabilities in Society minor so they will be prepared to interact successfully with future coworkers, customers and neighbors with disabilities.

Way forward

However, despite these 25 years of advocacy, for many Americans with disabilities, equity and inclusion are still out of reach. And more needs to be done to fulfill the promise of the law.

Stigma and stereotypes are still perpetuated on college campuses, where students with disabilities tend to leave school after two years and graduate at half the rate of their classmates. They are also employed at half the rate of workers their own age who do not have disabilities.

Up to now, the most common experience of people with disabilities has been discrimination. Perhaps the greatest success of the ADA would be that discrimination would no longer be a shared experience in the future.

This article originally appeared on The ConversationThe Conversation

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.


How to Convince Your Boss That You’re an Employee—Not a Contractor

Many employers illegally classify employees as contractors to avoid paying certain benefits

Correction appended, July 21

The federal government is cracking down on an increasingly common labor practice of misclassifying employees as “independent contractors,” to avoid paying them benefits or payroll taxes.

The practice has been in the spotlight recently because of companies like Uber, which relies almost exclusively on contractors, but it exists across the economy, in industries including home health care, janitorial work, construction, sales, publishing, food service, garment work and hospitality. In the last fiscal year, the Department of Labor returned $79 million in back wages to 109,000 workers, after investigations showed that they were being treated as contractors even though they deserved the wages and benefits of employees.

To continue informing the public about the difference between contractors and employees, the Department of Labor published new guidelines last week based on the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, the law that establishes rules for minimum wage and overtime. TIME spoke to employment experts to help explain the rules and answer common questions.

How do I know if I’ve been misclassified?

The best way to truly know is to consult a lawyer or call the toll-free number for the Wage and Hour division in the Department of Labor listed on this website. Employment law is pretty complicated, and depending on the details of your job, the labor violation can cut across a number of different laws and agencies including the Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board and the IRS.

But when it comes to wage and hour laws, much of it is based on how much an employer controls your time and exerts power over your work, and how much you depend on the employment of that single employer to make a living. It’s work taking a look at all of the official guidelines. But factors include things like how integral the employee’s service is to the employer’s core business. A carpenter who works for a construction company, for example, is more likely to be an employee than someone who creates a special software program for the company to track its bids. Another factor has to do with who determines how the work is done. If you are a specialty carpenter who only makes handcrafted cabinets and offers them to many different companies, you are more likely to be an independent contractor than someone who comes to work every day and executes a supervisor’s orders.

If I think I’ve been misclassified, what should I do first?

The first thing you should do is to either call the toll free number on the Department of Labor’s website, or get legal advice from a lawyer.

What if I don’t want to get a lawyer involved or file a complaint with the Department of Labor? Wouldn’t it be better to just address it with my employer informally?

That’s the last thing you should do, said Carole Vigne, staff attorney and director of the wage protection program at the Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center in San Francisco. “Don’t informally walk into the bosses office and say ‘I think I’ve been misclassified.’ The problem is evidence. You want to create a record, and that’s really the best way to protect yourself against retaliation,” she told TIME. Save your pay checks. Take detailed notes every day of your start time and end time, your tasks, and when and whether you take meal breaks. The more information the better. If you are going to address your employer, she advises to do it over email to create a record.

A spokesman for the Department of Labor agreed. “One of the best bits of information I could give employees or contractors, before or after they contact us, is keep written records of the hours that you work,” the spokesman said. The Department of Labor even provides a time sheet app for your phone that makes it easy.

Making a complaint may not be realistic if you need the steady income your job provides. But Vigne suggests paying attention to the statute of limitations in your state—you can always take action after you’ve left. In California, the statute of limitations for willful misclassification of an employee is three years.

I’ve noticed that other employees who work at my company might be in the same situation. Should I complain alone, or see if they’ll join me?

Rachel Bien, a partner at Outten & Golden in New York, who specializes on wage and hour litigation, said it’s usually a better idea to make a complaint in a group. “Unfortunately its really tough for individuals go it alone,” she told TIME. “That’s why you’ve seen [the] most change when large groups of workers who have been misclassified come together and try to address it collectively in a class action lawsuit.”

Vigne, the employment lawyer from San Francisco, said if you aren’t involved in a big class action, there is strength in numbers even if it’s just two or three employees. The National Labor Relations Act protects employees who organize, even if they aren’t members of a union.

I don’t want to get involved in a lawsuit! Is there anything else I can do?

Yes. For some employees, particularly those in vulnerable low-wage jobs, the best avenue may be to go to the Department of Labor. If you call the toll free number (1-866-487-9243), the department will refer you to the best agency to help you. Sometimes it will be Wage and Hour, sometimes it will be the IRS, and sometimes, if you work in a state like New York or California with laws that are more favorable to the worker than federal laws—they’ll advise you to go to the state. The Department of Labor’s wage department has offices in every state, and usually a complaint will result in an in-person meeting or a phone call.

What happens if I make a complaint?

If it falls under the purview of the Department of Labor, they’ll start an investigation. If the Department of Labor believes there is a violation, there will usually be a comprehensive investigation of the entire business and its practices, along with an onsite visit. Investigators will not tell an employer the name of the complainant, or even that the investigation started because of a complaint.

In most cases, said the Department of Labor spokesman, the complaints result in an employer changing its practices, and paying the workers what they are owed.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the name of the lawyer at Outten & Golden iwho specializes on wage and hour litigation. She is Rachel Bien.

TIME Labor

Uber Challenges Class-Action Lawsuit in New Motion

Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images The Uber Technologies Inc. logo is seen on the ground at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 26, 2014.

The company's lawyers argue that the 160,000 Uber drivers in California have "little or nothing in common"

Uber filed a motion in a California court Thursday opposing a class action lawsuit against the company, marking the latest salvo in the increasingly pitched battle over how workers are treated in the multi-billion dollar on-demand economy.

The lawsuit filed in California’s Northern District Court alleges that Uber drivers in California should be classified as employees rather than independent contractors. Uber challenged the certification of the class in its motion, arguing that the more than 160,000 Uber drivers in the state have “little or nothing in common,” aside from having downloaded and used the Uber app “at some point over the past six years.”

The suit is one of several pending cases that could have profound implications for the on-demand economy, which includes some of the world’s hottest technology startups. Companies like six-year-old Uber, now valued at $50 billion, have been able scale fast in part because they classify many of their workers as independent contractors, which frees them from costly obligations like remitting payroll taxes and paying worker’s compensation and other duties that typically accompany an employer-employee relationship. Nor does the company reimburse drivers for expenses like gas and car maintenance, which the lawsuit alleges are owed to tens of thousands of drivers for years of work.

In its motion, Uber argues that a successful class action suit “could force Uber to restructure its entire business model.” It could also have a ripple effect across the burgeoning startup culture, leading other companies with similar structures to recalibrate. In addition to the case against Uber, lawsuits challenging the status of workers are pending against Lyft, Uber’s chief U.S. rival; Postmates, which offers on-demand delivery; Homejoy, which offers on-demand cleaning; and Instacart, an on-demand grocery shopping service.

The lawyers pursuing these cases believe that the companies are skirting labor laws by identifying themselves as technology platforms that connect willing workers with users who need services, rather than, say, a taxi service that employs drivers. “They’re claiming there’s something new and different because their services are provided through technology, through a smartphone,” Shannon Liss-Riordan, the lawyer for the plaintiffs in the suit against Uber, told TIME in an earlier interview. “But there’s nothing new about this.”

Uber is adamant that they are not a traditional employer. Its motion challenging the class certification emphasizes the variety among drivers, the different amounts and ways they use Uber’s app and the various terms of agreement they have with the company. The filing also included declarations of from about 400 drivers in the state, many of whom say they value the freedom of the current arrangement and don’t want anything to change. “I don’t want anyone to take away this flexibility by suing Uber,” writes an L.A.-based UberX driver named Janice Fry.

The company says a ruling against it could eliminate that independence. “As employees, drivers would drive set shifts, earn a fixed hourly wage, and lose the ability to drive using other ridesharing apps as well as the personal flexibility they most value,” Uber said in a statement.

For example, Uber emphasizes that many of its drivers also work for competing companies like Lyft and Sidecar, and sometimes have multiple companies apps on at once. In its motion, Uber claims the suit “would force drivers to pick one app over all others.”

Yet that would only be the case if Uber and its competitors required drivers to do so under a legal principle known as duty of loyalty, which gives companies the right to sue two-timing workers. The companies could instead lay out terms that allow employees to work for more than one ride-app outfit. “They could promise to waive that right,” says Sachin Pandya, a law professor who specializes in labor and employment at the University of Connecticut. “There’s no prosecutor going around charging workers for being disloyal.”

But certifying the drivers as employees could introduce other tricky questions. If an employee-driver is riding around with both Uber and Lyft apps on, for instance, which company would be on the hook for reimbursing them for gas? Which company would need to make sure they take legally required breaks?

To showcase the variety of situations that Uber drivers are in, the company states that there are 17 different terms of agreement that drivers have agreed to over time. They emphasize that while some drivers essentially work full-time, others use Uber to supplement income from a part-time job, or hire subcontractors. While some follow Uber’s “suggestions” on how to act or dress or comport themselves, others do not, they say. Drivers work when they want, where they want, as much as they want, being paid per job rather than being assured minimum wage and overtime. Drivers can choose to accept requests or contact Uber to ask for a fare to be lowered (if they made errors), they write.

Many of these details speak to arguments about control over a work environment that are key elements of arguments over employee status. How much control Uber has in writing, and in practice, can heavily weigh judges’ opinions about how workers should be classified. In a recent California Labor Commission ruling, for instance, a commissioner deemed an Uber driver to be an employee in part because Uber was “involved in every aspect of the operation.”

That ruling determined the status of only one driver, and Uber has appealed it. If the district court lawsuit is certified as a class action, it has the potential to affect far more workers. A hearing is scheduled for August.


These Are the Employment Numbers That Really Matter to Job Seekers

pile of white envelopes
Tanja Giessler—Getty Images

National employment statistics don’t matter to the individual job seeker.

I was recently asked to comment on what the latest employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics mean for job seekers. Unless you’re an economist, employment statistics for the country don’t matter to the individual job seeker. If you really want to impact your job search, pay attention to data much closer to home. Here are 10 numbers you want to track closely:

Your employment statistic
Whether the market is at 5%, 10% or 50% unemployment, your number will always be 0% or 100%. You either have a job or you don’t. If you do, focus on whether you like your job, whether you’re fairly compensated, and whether you’re continually growing your skills, network, or expertise. If you don’t have a job and aren’t independently wealthy, prioritize your job search.

Interview invitations
The easiest way to see if you’re on track is to count the number of interviews you are invited to. If you’re not getting interviews, you’re not getting the chance to get hired. Since employers interview multiple people for every one job, you can’t be assured that you’ll be the one. You need to have multiple companies in play at any one time. Aim for five to ten interviews per week. Remember that some roles will not be filled at all or will go to someone internal or will go to another candidate.

Callbacks made
Getting an interview is one thing, but moving forward in the process is a separate issue. Companies don’t normally hire after just one interview, so you also need to track whether you are getting callbacks. If not, you need to work on your interview technique. You want to get called back after every interview. Even if you’re not interested in the job, you want to know that you did well, and you want to be the one that says No, not the employer.

Meetings scheduled
If you aren’t getting callbacks or even interviews, then you’re not putting yourself out there enough. It’s easy to send resumes – too easy in fact, so most of your competition will do that. What’s harder but much more effective is networking – meeting with people to learn more about the companies and roles you are interested in, hopefully get referrals to companies, or even turn that networking meeting into an actual interview. Aim for five to ten meetings per week. If you’re well-researched and meeting with the right people, these five to ten meetings will turn into interviews as your search progresses.

Leads identified
How do you get the networking meetings that lead to interviews? You can cold call a senior, influential decision-maker, absolutely. However, when you get started, unless you’re a trained salesperson, the thought of cold calling might be overwhelming and therefore not so productive. Start with people you know – family, friends, former colleagues, classmates. You know more people than you think. These early leads will enable you to practice your networking skills in a supportive environment, collect information about companies and other people (who then will be warm leads, not cold calls!), and might even become more formal meetings or interviews themselves.

Companies researched
When you exhaust your friendly leads, you may have to cold call to supplement your pipeline. In order to identify the appropriate people in your area of interest, you need to know the companies active in your area of interest. List out all of the companies, organizations, agencies, and trade associations that are of interest so you can research the right people to target. You also want to make sure you’re going after a large enough pool and not being so narrow there aren’t enough jobs. If you want to work as a grant writer for a children’s-related non-profit, how many of these non-profits are there in your market? If you live in a major metro, there are probably enough to sustain a search. But if not, you may want to also look at schools, government agencies that serve children, for-profit daycare and learning centers, etc. Make sure you have enough target companies that there will be enough jobs and people to go after.

Distance to the decision-maker
So you itemize your family and friends and you have your company target list to add even more names. But how powerful are these names? If you’re the aspiring grant writer, do you know senior people in the development department specifically? You want to know and network the people you will ultimately interview with and who will ultimately make the hiring decisions. Sure, it’s also useful to know the IT or finance or other people at a children’s non-profit, but given a choice, you want the shortest distance to the decision-maker.

Time spent on your search
As you can see from all of the people you need to keep up with, the job search takes time. How many hours per week are you spending your search? Many job seekers get in trouble because their search stops and starts. They spend hours one day researching companies or applying to jobs, but then they don’t follow or continue to add more leads. They just wait and do other non-job related things. Aim for 10-20 hours on your search if you’re employed and double that if you’re unemployed. If you see that you’re spending too little time on your job search, fill in those extra hours with rekindling friendly connections, cold calling new connections, identifying more companies, and booking more meetings. There is always more to do!

Money in the bank
Unless you’re independently wealthy, your severance, savings, or whatever is filling your bank account outside of your job is what is funding your job search. If you have six months of expenses covered, your job search pace and strategy should be much different than if you have six weeks left. Be mindful of your cash cushion so you don’t go too slowly and then are pressured as funds run out. If you are employed and have a paycheck for your “money in the bank” then focus on doing well enough on your current job to keep it. You will need your current job for strong references as well.

Time elapsed since you started
Finally, another key number to track is the overall length of your search. If you are one month into your search, your expected results are different then if you’re six months into your search. For example, at one month, you should have itemized your networking list, gathered your marketing documents and started your research. At six months, you should be well into the callback interview stage, if not totally completed with your search. Aim to complete your search in 3-6 months. That represents one to two business quarters. Market conditions change every quarter (in volatile times, it could be more frequently than that). If you run a slow job search that spans over multiple quarters, you have a new market to tackle every few months, rather than building on your efforts within the same market conditions.Given that there is so much to do and so many more important numbers to track, you can now save some time and energy by not tracking the BLS numbers. Focus on your own efforts instead.

MONEY The Economy

The Worrisome Number in This Month’s Jobs Report

Despite a jump in jobs and lower unemployment, analysts are focusing on a different stat.


Here’s Why the Summer Job is Disappearing

PeopleImages.com—Getty Images

Teens today are half as likely to have summer gigs compared to the 1970s.

A new Pew report finds that employment for 16 to 19-year-olds has been on a steady decline over the last couple of decades, with fewer than a third of teenagers working a summer job last year.

Between 1950 and 1990, employment of U.S. teens generally rose and fell with the economy. But ever since the recession in 1991, young people have had a harder and harder time getting jobs—even during periods of recovery.

Last summer, less than 32% of teens were employed between June and August, compared to 58% in 1978. The current rate is barely higher than the all-time low of about 30% in 2010 and 2011.

fewer teens have summer jobs

One reason for this steady drop in employment, the Pew report suggests, is a declining number of entry-level jobs, as well as an increase in pressure on young people to take unpaid internships rather than waitressing or lifeguarding gigs. Many of these problems aren’t limited to Americans, as younger workers across the world are facing much tougher labor markets than in years past.

Pew researchers also found that teen employment differed across racial groups. White teenagers in the U.S. were more likely to work summer jobs last year, with employment at 34% for white 16 to 19-year-olds—versus 19% for black teens, 23% for Asian teens, and 25% for Hispanic teens.

White Teens Most Likely to be Employed, Especially During the Summer

Read next: These 5 Industries Are Hiring Like Crazy Right Now

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