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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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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Controversial EEOC official reconfirmed as general counsel

December 03, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

P. David Lopez, general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), won confirmation for another four-year term on a 53-43 Senate vote on December 3. The Senate also voted 93-2 to confirm Charlotte Burrows to a seat on the commission.

Lopez became the agency’s general counsel in April 2010. Before taking the general counsel post, he held various EEOC positions during a two-decade career with the agency.

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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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$10.10 minimum wage for contractors set for January 1

December 01, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

President Barack Obama’s Executive Order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors and subcontractors is set to take effect for all federal contracts beginning on or after January 1.

Obama signed Executive Order 13658 on February 12. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the final rule implementing the order on October 1. The DOL has said the order will affect nearly 200,000 workers.

Obama had urged Congress to raise the federal minimum wage for all workers covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to $10.10 an hour, but that effort failed in Congress. The current minimum wage, in force since 2009, is $7.25 an hour. Obama’s Executive Order applies only to employees of federal contractors and subcontractors. Congressional action is necessary to raise the general minimum wage.

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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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Comment period for rule on federal contractor compensation data extended

November 03, 2014 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has extended the comment period for a proposed rule that would require federal contractors and subcontractors to submit an annual equal pay report to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

The 60-day extension means comments must be submitted by January 5, 2015. Interested parties can read and comment on the proposed rule, which was published in the August 8 Federal Register, by visiting www.dol.gov/ofccp/epr.html.

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