Immigration ban sparks benefit communication

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Following President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration restrictions, multinational corporations became tasked with handling the onslaught of employee questions and concerns.

CEOs and HR officials across industries sent out e-mails or posted notices on social media to assure affected employees that they will receive guidance following the Jan. 27 executive order that temporarily banned nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States on any visa category.

With internal memos, employers were likely to include a point of contact for employees impacted by the ban, as JPMorgan Chase did.

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“Over the weekend, we have worked to reach out to all JPMorgan Chase employees on sponsored visas who are potentially impacted by the recent orders,” the bank’s operating committee wrote in an e-mail. “We understand the situation is evolving quickly, so if you have any concerns about your own situation and have not been contacted, please reach out to your local immigration specialist or HR team.”

Andrew Gray, a JPMorgan spokesperson, also confirmed that affected employees will have access to a hotline.

Similarly, companies like Apple, Uber and Amazon offered legal guidance and other resources to employees. However, the details haven’t been made public.

Marina Hoffman Norville, vice president of corporate, financial and risk public relations at American Express, said she couldn’t provide specifics on the employee assistance “as this situation is evolving.”

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Rhonda Blum, HR director at MRA – The Management Association, says that might be a best practice when communicating with employees.

“I would really be targeting my communication to those employees who are impacted,” she says.

The Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based benefit adviser recommends that large, multinational employers conduct a live webinar to get a better understanding of employee concerns.

She also insists that employers should avoid communicating their actions with the entire workforce, which will consist of employees who might agree with Trump’s executive order.

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By creating an open discussion thread, employees affected by the 90-day travel ban might feel uncomfortable in their workplace during a volatile time.

“We know that stress is an endemic issue in the workplace at the moment,” says Chris Bruce, cofounder and managing director of software company Thomsons Online Benefits. “I haven’t spoken to companies that are looking at how they support employees emotionally through this.”

Many of the Silicon Valley firms and conglomerates that sent supportive emails to employees or posted messages of dissent on social media use Thomsons Online Benefits’ cloud-based technology platform for their employee benefits programs, Bruce says.

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He says the companies he’s spoken with have been providing legal advice to their employees following Trump’s executive order, but recommends they could point employees to other benefits, such as the employee assistance program.

“Most multinationals do provide an EAP,” Bruce says. “Now is the time to be communicating this to employees that they have that available to them.”

For now, employees will have to rely on employer resources and communications through this period of global and legal uncertainty.

“It’s being correctly managed,” Bruce says. “Companies are absolutely on top of this.”

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