Employers’ flu worries go beyond germs, attendance

January 17, 2018 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

This year’s influenza outbreak has sickened millions of people across the country, leaving employers struggling to cover for employees who are out sick and searching for ways to prevent others from coming down with the flu. But dealing with germ control and sick days is only the beginning. Legal issues also can come into play.Flu concerns

This season’s flu virus is more widespread than usual, according to information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and it’s hitting children and young adults harder than usual. The CDC reported that as of the week ending January 6, 2018, the number of child fatalities attributed to this season’s flu outbreak hit 20. The CDC’s report for the week ending January 6 also showed “widespread” flu activity in every state but Hawaii, where flu activity was described as “regional.”

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Latest nomination expected to boost NLRB’s new agenda

January 17, 2018 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The announcement of President Donald Trump’s nominee for the vacant seat on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is another sign that some controversial prolabor decisions of the Obama-era Board will be revised.

John Ring, a management-side attorney with the Washington, D.C., office of prominent law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, was announced as the nominee on January 12. If confirmed by the Senate, he will take the seat vacated by Philip A. Miscimarra, whose term ended December 16.

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Maryland paid sick leave law takes effect February 2018

Time card snipby David. M Stevens

On January 12, 2018, following nearly a year of speculation in the wake of Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of the paid sick leave bill passed by the Maryland General Assembly near the close of last year’s legislative session, the General Assembly and the Senate have overridden the governor’s veto. The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (HB 1/SB 230) will now take effect in 30 days and will have significant implications for Maryland employers.

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DOL’s reissuance of 17 opinion letters called step in right direction

January 11, 2018 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) decision to reissue 17 opinion letters first issued during the George W. Bush administration is a welcome move and “a step in the right direction,” according to an attorney who represents employers.

On January 5, the DOL announced that it was reissuing the opinion letters. The move follows the DOL’s announcement last summer that it was returning to the practice of issuing opinion letters, a practice that was discontinued during the Obama administration in favor of issuing “administrative interpretations” of the DOL’s views on issues related to laws and regulations enforced by the department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD).

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New policy on internships puts DOL, courts on same page

January 09, 2018 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

EntertainHR intern movieThe U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) announcement that it is nixing its 2010 guidance on unpaid internships in favor of a less-rigid test puts the agency in line with recent appellate court rulings on the issue, according to an attorney following the matter.

Matthew H. Parker, an editor of Rhode Island Employment Law Letter and attorney with Whelan, Corrente, Flanders, Kinder & Siket LLP in Providence, Rhode Island, says the new policy isn’t “a sea change in how to classify interns” but does align the DOL’s standard with recent appellate court rulings.

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Catch-22 on marijuana laws continues with new Justice Department policy

January 05, 2018 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Hero Line marijuanaU.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ action rescinding an Obama administration policy on marijuana enforcement may signal a tougher stance against the substance, but it isn’t expected to have a major impact on employers.

On January 4, Sessions rescinded the “Cole memo,” which was issued by then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole in 2013. The memo told federal prosecutors to focus their enforcement efforts against organizations trafficking drugs to children, engaging in violence, or selling pot in states where it remains illegal. States that legalized marijuana and enacted regulations regarding its use were less of a threat, according to Cole. Therefore, he wanted to leave enforcement to local authorities instead of federal prosecutors.

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Minimum wage is now $10.50 in Arizona, $11 in Flagstaff

by Dinita L. James
Gonzalez Law, LLC

The second of four annual increases in Arizona’s minimum wage kicked in at midnight on January 1, 2018, boosting the base rate from $10 to $10.50. Voters gave themselves the raise and paid sick time when they adopted Proposition 206, the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, in November 2016.

Flagstaff voters claimed an even bigger raise for themselves, with the minimum wage in the High Country city rising to $11 per hour on January 1. It increased to $10.50 on July 1, 2017.

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Tax reform raises questions on employee classification

December 27, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

HRDA independent contractorNow that President Donald Trump has signed the bill overhauling the U.S. tax code, employers are on a tight timetable to react to the new law before the bulk of it takes effect on January 1, 2018. Besides requiring employers to deal with new payroll forms (including the IRS’s W-4) and other changes, the new law sparks many other questions for employers. Among them: How might current employees wish to change their classification status?

William C. Foley, an attorney with Axley Brynelson, LLP, in Madison, Wisconsin, says employers certainly will be interested in new forms and guidance from the IRS and how the new tax law will affect their fourth-quarter financial statements. But it’s unclear when the IRS will be able to issue revised forms, and relief may be available on financial statements. But there’s a different issue—related to the employment relationship—that also requires thought and planning, Foley says.

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Latest NLRB reversal takes aim at ‘microunits’

December 19, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

NLRB logoThe latest National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision reversing actions by the Obama-era Board hands employers a win against an organizing tactic that gave unions the upper hand in determining what constitutes an appropriate bargaining unit. As was the case with other mid-December decisions, the Board turned the old standard into the new standard.

On December 15, the Board issued a 3-2 party-line decision reversing the 2011 Specialty Healthcare decision, which opened the door for unions seeking to organize “microunits.” The decision reining in microunit unionization efforts was the latest in a flurry of NLRB activity undertaken just before Republican Philip Miscimarra’s term expired on December 16. Other recent decisions struck a blow against the “quickie” union election rule and reversed a decision affecting employee handbooks and another related to the “reasonableness” settlement standard in single-employer claims.

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Browning-Ferris reversal calls end to uncertainty on joint employment

December 15, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Employers confused over what constitutes joint employment have seen the confusion largely cleared up, thanks to a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision issued December 14.

The 3-2 decision overrules the Browning-Ferris decision, which broadened what could be considered a joint employment relationship. Under the Browning-Ferris decision, employers that had indirect—even potential—unexercised control over employees of another employer could be considered joint employers. The party-line decision reinstates the old standard that was used for decades before the 2015 Browning-Ferris decision issued by the Obama-era NLRB.

“I think the most important aspect of the case is that it really ends the uncertainty and unpredictability that Browning-Ferris created because the prior decision never really gave anybody a clear understanding of indirect control,” Burton J. Fishman, an attorney with Fortney & Scott, LLC, in Washington, D.C., and a contributor to Federal Employment Law Insider, said of the new ruling.

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