Year in review and 2021 preview – Top 10 trends for US employers

A DLA Piper handbook

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Employment Update

2020 was one of the most challenging years of our lifetimes. In the US alone, the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country in the early months of the year, followed by economic turmoil, climate disasters, protests concerning racial equality and social justice, and a contentious national election. These events and their aftershocks will continue to challenge employers.

In this review, we identify the top 10 trends impacting US businesses as we close out 2020 and enter 2021:

  • Worker health, safety and well-being take center stage
  • Toward workplace equality
  • ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance)
  • Social and labor unrest
  • Remote working goes mainstream


  • ABC (the test frequently used to determine employee vs independent contractor status)
  • Responding to the economic crisis
  • Digital transformation and privacy
  • Shifting litigation landscape
  • Uncertainty ahead


Brian Kaplan
Brian Kaplan, Chair, US Employment practice and Co-Chair, Global Employment practice

As we look ahead to the other side of the pandemic, there are some bright spots. While employers are facing different challenges, many are innovating at a new pace out of necessity. Leaders are connecting with and empowering their people like never before. Employees are working in new ways – whether remotely, as part of new teams, or with different technologies and responsibilities. And businesses are rethinking their purpose and business model to better meet the needs of workers, customers and communities.

By staying nimble and working together, we can head into this new year stronger, with more innovative workforce solutions to support your business.



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