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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Employers should review policies on same-sex couples in wake of Supreme Court decision

October 07, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

With the U.S. Supreme Court deciding not to take up a case to settle the same-sex marriage issue on the national level, employers need to understand how the Court’s decision affects their policies.

As it opened its new term on October 6, the Supreme Court declined to review one of seven cases from five states up for consideration. The Court’s decision means that rulings from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th, 7th, and 10th Circuits will stand. The rulings struck down state prohibitions on same-sex marriage.

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Flexible work, job protection, paid leave at heart of White House summit

June 23, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

President Barack Obama is launching a new effort aimed at increasing protections, opportunities, and wages for workers to create what the White House envisions as a 21st century workplace.

The president, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden are hosting the White House Summit on Working Families on June 23. The agenda calls for sessions focusing on hourly workers, compensation, the structure of the workplace, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers, and nontraditional jobs, among other topics.

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Proposed rule would extend FMLA protection to employees in same-sex marriages

June 20, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 1 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

On June 20, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed rule that would allow employees to take Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave to care for a same-sex spouse even if the couple lives in a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages.

The proposed rule is another result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor. The Court struck down the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that interpreted “marriage” and “spouse” to be limited to opposite-sex marriages for the purposes of federal law.

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Illinois employers need to prepare for same-sex marriage law

Illinois’ same-sex marriage law, which was passed last fall, is set to take effect June 1. The new law will affect Illinois employers in various ways.

Employers will need to treat same-sex spouses the same way they treat opposite-sex spouses. This will have ramifications for employer-sponsored health plans with spousal coverage and retirement plans.

Also, employee leave policies will be affected. For example, the guarantees provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act for the serious health condition of a spouse will be available to same-sex spouses. Similarly, other leave or benefit policies relating to spouses and families (e.g., bereavement leave) will need to be administered consistently for opposite-sex and same-sex married employees.

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Rhode Island’s temporary caregiver leave law takes effect January 1

by Timothy C. Cavazza

As of January 1, 2014, Rhode Island’s temporary disability insurance program will be expanded to cover employees taking temporary caregiver leave.

Leave will be available to employees “to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, or to bond with a new child.” An employee who is “unable to perform his or her regular and customary work” for those reasons may receive up to four weeks of temporary caregiver benefits per year. Benefits will be determined and paid for by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT) in accordance with the state’s temporary disability insurance program.

Temporary caregiver leave is similar in some respects to leave granted under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act (RIPFMLA). For example: read more…

Categories: FMLA / FMLA / Rhode Island

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DOL issues final rule on FMLA expansions

February 05, 2013 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

On February 4, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule implementing two expansions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The rule was issued to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Act.

One of the expansions provides families of eligible veterans with the same FMLA-protected leave available to families of military servicemembers. It also provides leave to more military families for activities that come up when a current servicemember is deployed.

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FMLA’s 20th anniversary: New survey shows use and impact of law

February 05, 2013 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) observed the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) on February 4 by releasing a survey on its use and impact.

The survey, conducted in 2012, follows previous assessments in 1995 and 2000. Both employees and worksites were surveyed. Here are some of the key findings:

  • Most worksites aren’t covered by the FMLA, but more than half of all employees are eligible. The survey’s executive summary notes that 17% of worksites reported being covered by the Act, and another 30% said they weren’t sure if they were covered. Although many employers are too small to be covered, most employees across the country are covered. According to the survey, 59% of employees meet the requirements to be eligible for the FMLA’s protections. The survey addressed what would happen if the law were changed to cover more employees. “Expanding eligibility to smaller worksites would modestly increase eligibility,” it states. “Currently, eligibility requires that firms have 50 employees within 75 miles of this worksite; lowering the cutoff to 30 employees would increase eligibility from 59 percent to 63 percent, [and] lowering it further to 20 employees would increase it to 67 percent.”

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DOL interpretation tackles FMLA rule on caring for adult children

January 16, 2013 - by: HR Hero Alerts 2 COMMENTS

A new U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Administrator’s Interpretation has been issued to clarify who qualifies as an adult “son or daughter” whom an employee may take unpaid leave from work to care for and rely on the job protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

An adult son or daughter must meet four requirements before the employee may take FMLA leave to provide care. (The employee must also meet all of the other requirements under the FMLA, such as employer coverage and employee eligibility.) The son or daughter must (1) have a mental or physical disability as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as amended by the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), (2) be incapable of caring for himself because of the disability, (3) have a serious health condition, and (4) be in need of care because of the serious health condition.

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Maryland same-sex marriage law goes into effect January 1

by Kevin C. McCormick

Maryland’s new law allowing same-sex marriage takes effect January 1, 2013, meaning employers need to understand what changes are in store for the workplace.

The General Assembly passed the law legalizing same-sex marriage that Governor Martin O’Malley signed on March 12, 2012. However, the new law was on hold until Maryland voters decided to uphold it in a referendum held November 6.

Now that the law has been approved, Maryland employers are obligated to apply it in the workplace. Administering benefits to employees in same-sex marriages may be problematic. For example, while the federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides certain benefits to spouses, it isn’t clear if spousal benefits will apply to employees in same-sex marriages since the federal Defense of Marriage Act bars such individuals from receiving federal rights or benefits, regardless of whether state benefits are permitted.

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