Proposed West Virginia regulations spell change to wage and hour landscape

by Rodney Bean

The West Virginia Division of Labor (DOL) has proposed emergency regulations that, if enforced in their present form, could force West Virginia employers to change by December 31 a number of common wage and hour practices that comply with long-standing federal regulations.

Although the state DOL’s emergency rules purport to adopt vast portions of federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations, they simultaneously impose several new rules that contradict or otherwise differ from those same federal regulations, particularly as they relate to the determination of what constitutes compensable working time.

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New OSHA reporting requirement takes effect January 1

by Judith E. Kramer

A new rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requiring employers to notify the agency when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye goes into effect on January 1 for workplaces under OSHA’s jurisdiction. The rule also updates the list of employers that are partially exempt from OSHA’s record-keeping requirements.

The previous regulation required employers to report work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees within eight hours of the event. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations, or loss of an eye wasn’t required under the previous rule.

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NLRB says employees may use company computers for organizing activity

December 12, 2014 - by: HR Hero 2 COMMENTS

In perhaps one of its boldest moves, on December 11, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) overturned existing precedent and held that employees have the right to use their employer’s e-mail system for Section 7 concerted activity, including union-organizing activities, during nonbusiness hours. The decision obviously affects employers’ policies on employee e-mail use.

As background, the NLRB previously held in Register Guard, 351 NLRB 1110 (2007), that employers could bar employee use of their e-mail systems for nonbusiness purposes, including union or other communications protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), so long as the employer does so on a nondiscriminatory basis. In other words, the employer did not have to let employees use its e-mail system when it came to union business, including organizing campaigns.

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NLRB adopts ‘quickie election’ rule

December 12, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) decision to adopt a rule speeding up union representation elections continues to draw fire, as opponents of the change consider legal options.

The Board’s action, announced on December 12, represents the second time the controversial regulation—dubbed the “quickie” or “ambush” election rule by detractors—has been advanced. In June 2011, the changes were proposed, but they were struck down in 2012 because only two members participated in the vote.

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New laws affecting Illinois employers take effect January 1

by Steven L. Brenneman

Illinois employers need to be aware of a few new laws taking effect January 1.

Ban the box

One of the new laws, the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, prohibits most private-sector employers and employment agencies with 15 or more employees from asking applicants about their criminal histories and conducting criminal background checks until after they are deemed qualified for a job.

Under the law, employers may not inquire about, consider, or require disclosure of an applicant’s criminal record or criminal history until he has been deemed qualified for a position and has been notified that he has been selected for an interview. If there is no interview, the employer may not inquire into the applicant’s criminal record or criminal history until after making a conditional offer of employment.

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New Jersey cities getting paid sick leave laws

by Kevin J. Skelly

Paid sick leave laws are gaining ground in New Jersey, as new laws in several cities are scheduled to take effect in the coming weeks and months.

Paterson, Irvington, Passaic, Newark, East Orange, Jersey City, Trenton, and Montclair have passed laws either in city councils or, in the case of Trenton and Montclair, in the November general election.

Jersey City was the first city in the state to pass a paid sick time law, with its law going into effect in January 2014. Newark’s law took effect in May. The laws in Paterson, Irvington, East Orange, and Passaic go into effect in January 2015. Voters in Trenton and Montclair passed versions of a paid sick leave law in the November election, and their laws are to take effect March 4.

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Comment period on OFCCP’s proposed regulation on pay secrecy closing

by Emily L. Bristol

The comment period for a new rule prohibiting federal contractors from having pay secrecy policies will come to a close on December 16.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) regulation, “Government Contractors, Prohibitions Against Pay Secrecy Policies and Actions,” would prohibit contractors from taking action against applicants or employees because they were discussing, inquiring about, or disclosing their compensation or the compensation of another applicant or employee. The proposed regulation also includes:

  • Definitions for key terms such as “compensation,” “compensation information,” and “essential functions”;
  • An obligation to disseminate a new OFCCP-mandated nondiscrimination provision to employees and applicants; and
  • A defense for the discipline of an employee, such as an HR employee, who improperly discloses employee pay absent a separate legal obligation to disclose the information.

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Part of once-delayed ACA employer mandate takes effect January 1

by Douglas R. Chamberlain

Employers got a reprieve in 2014 on a key mandate incorporated in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but the new effective date for many employers is now set for January 1, 2015.

The ACA generally provides that all employers with 50 or more employees who work 30 or more hours per week must offer their employees health insurance coverage. This “employer mandate” was originally slated to take effect January 1, 2014, but during 2013, the Obama administration delayed the effective date to 2015.

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New circuit ruling complicates same-sex marriage issue

November 07, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The issue of how employers should handle same-sex marriage got a bit murkier November 6 as a divided appeals court panel broke with rulings from four other U.S. circuit courts of appeals by upholding state bans on same-sex marriage.

A three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the 2-1 decision, which allows bans on same-sex marriage in four states to stand. The court’s decision—affecting Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee—differs from other jurisdictions that have recently struck down similar state bans.

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New Massachusetts law requires paid sick leave

Voters in Massachusetts approved a law in the November 4 election that requires certain employers to provide paid sick leave. The law takes effect July 1, 2015.

Under the law, Massachusetts employers with at least 11 employees must provide paid sick leave. Employees will accrue paid sick leave beginning July 1, 2015, at the rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked for a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year. Employees won’t be eligible to take paid leave unless and until they have worked for the employer for 90 days.

In addition to paid leave, the new law means employers with fewer than 11 employees must allow employees to accrue and use up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time per calendar year.

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