Spouses of certain H-1B visa workers now eligible for employment authorization

February 25, 2015 - by: Holly Jones 0 COMMENTS

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published final regulations that will extend employment authorization eligibility to spouses of certain nonimmigrant workers who are in the United States on H-1B visas.

The H-1B, or highly-skilled worker, visa is the most commonly discussed and highly sought employment-based nonimmigrant visa. The number of visas available each year is closely capped—20,000 for applicants holding master’s degrees and 65,000 for those holding bachelor’s degrees—so selection is often made using a random lottery. For the 2015 fiscal year, 172,500 applications for H-1B visas were submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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New rule extends FMLA rights to more employees in same-sex marriages

February 24, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

More employees in same-sex marriages will be able to take leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as a result of a new rule taking effect March 27. And while employers in states that recognize same-sex marriage already have been operating under a definition of spouse that includes legally married same-sex partners, employers in other states will need to change their practices.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule that was published in the Federal Register on February 25 that revises the definition of spouse under the law so that eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages will be able to take FMLA leave to care for their spouse or family member regardless of whether they live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, according to the DOL’s explanation of the new rule.

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Paid leave among priorities in DOL budget proposal

February 03, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 2 COMMENTS

A $2 billion paid leave initiative as well as millions for enforcement of laws on equal opportunity, wage and hour issues, safety, whistleblowing, and retirement security are among the priorities outlined in President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

On February 2, the DOL announced that the budget includes $2 billion for a Paid Leave Partnership Initiative to help as many as five states launch paid leave programs following the example of California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. The DOL announcement said participating states would be eligible to receive funds for the initial setup and half of benefits for three years. The budget also includes a $35 million State Paid Leave Fund to provide technical assistance and support to states as they build the infrastructure needed to launch paid leave programs in the future, according to the DOL announcement.

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OFCCP proposes new rule on sex discrimination guidelines for contractors

January 30, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) new proposed rule updating sex discrimination guidelines for federal contractors takes aim at what the director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) calls “regulatory anachronism.”

The proposed rule appears in the January 30 Federal Register. The public will have until March 31 to provide comments. A fact sheet and frequently asked questions are available on the OFCCP’s website. The revisions address discrimination based on gender identity and pregnancy as well as sexual harassment.

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Obama takes steps toward requiring paid sick leave

January 15, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Is it a sensible plan to boost productivity and give workers the help they deserve, or is it an unaffordable, unfair mandate on already overburdened employers? President Barack Obama’s announcement of a push to pass a paid sick leave law is likely to garner both reactions.

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, launched the effort January 14 with a post on the career-centered social network LinkedIn, a venue chosen because of its high profile with employers.

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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 4 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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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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LGBT final rule for contractors published

December 05, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The final rule implementing President Barack Obama’s Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees and applicants based on sexual orientation and gender identity has been published in the December 9 Federal Register.

The rule implements Executive Order 13672, which Obama signed on July 21. The order directed the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to update rules to add gender identity and sexual orientation to classes protected by law. Obama had hoped Congress would pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would have covered more employers than just those with government contracts, but that bill has not passed.

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