Senate Report Outlines Possible Approaches for Health Care Reform

May 19, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

If you or your organization has a keen interest in health care reform, a key Senate committee has opened a short window of opportunity for you to have your say. The Senate Finance Committee released a report on Monday, May 18, outlining possible approaches to financing comprehensive health care reform. The full document is available at, where you can follow the link at “Latest News.”

Options include (1) realizing savings from the health system, (2) altering current tax treatments for various health-related expenses, and (3) promoting healthy lifestyles by, for example, raising taxes on beverages sweetened with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and other sweeteners — but not on artificially sweetened beverages.

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U.S. Supreme Court Reverses Decision on Decades-Old Maternity Leave

May 19, 2009 - by: HR Hero 2 COMMENTS

In a May 18, 2009, decision, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether women who took maternity leave decades ago (before discrimination based on pregnancy became illegal) can sue to have their pregnancy leave time count toward their pensions. The Court reversed the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling and held that they cannot.

Before the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was enacted, the employer in this case (AT&T) based pension calculations on a seniority system that relied on its employees’ years of service. The system subtracted any uncredited leave time from years of service and gave less retirement credit for pregnancy leave than for general medical leave. In 1978, Congress added the PDA to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit employers from treating pregnancy leave differently than other medical leave.

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Government Resources for Employers on H1N1 Swine Flu

April 29, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Many departments and agencies in the federal government provide helpful information for individuals, businesses and health care providers on responding to pandemic flu and developing plans to deal with contagious diseases and other emergencies. The following is information from the federal government directed toward businesses.

ADA-Compliant Employer Preparedness For the H1N1 Flu VirusEEOC compliance guidance for employers on the H1N1 swine flu

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President Obama Announces NLRB Nominations

April 27, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Craig Becker and Mark Pearce to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in a White House press release issued Friday, April 24, 2009. Congress created the NLRB in 1935 to administer the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the principal law that governs relations between labor unions, employers, and employees in private-sector workplaces.

The governing NLRB, which decides labor issues, is one of the two major parts of the NLRB. The President appoints Board members to five-year terms with the Senate’s consent, and one member’s term expires each year. Currently, Wilma B. Liebman is the chair of the NLRB, Peter C. Schaumber is a member, and there are three vacancies.

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EEOC Develops Best Practices Against Caregiver Discrimination

April 22, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

On April 22, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offered employers new guidance and best practices on avoiding discrimination against workers with caregiving responsibilities. The best practices document is available online at and illustrates proactive measures employers can take that go beyond federal non-discrimination requirements.

It supplements a 2007 EEOC guidance document on unlawful disparate treatment of employees/caregivers. The new guidance suggests language for a written policy addressing caregiver protection and offers best practices in recruitment, hiring, promotion, and terms and conditions of employment.

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FTC, HHS Propose Rules, Seek Comments on Electronic Health Records

April 22, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Does your organization offer or plan to offer employees online or electronic personal health records (PHRs)? Can employees enter their personal health information into online programs that help them evaluate and improve their health, such as weight loss applications?

If you’ve answered yes or if your organization provides electronic PHR programs to others, you should be aware of proposed rules on the topic from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The extent to which employees will embrace new health information technologies and wellness-type applications (and to which your organization may save on health-related expenses) may depend on their faith in the security of sensitive health information.

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Federal Contractors’ Deadline on E-Verify Moved to June 30

April 17, 2009 - by: HR Hero 1 COMMENTS

Update: E-verify deadline moved to September 2009

The deadline for federal contractors and subcontractors to begin using the E-Verify system has once again been delayed –- this time to June 30.

The rule requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to agree to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their employees went into effect in January, but the applicability date of the final rule has been delayed three times: It originally was to take effect on January 15, then it was delayed to February 20, then to May 21, and now the latest delay pushes the date out six more weeks to June 30.

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IRS Issues New COBRA Guidance for Employers

April 02, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Update Dec. 16: House Passes COBRA Subsidy Extension and Expansion

The IRS has issued guidance on the COBRA premium assistance or subsidy provisions of the economic stimulus bill recently passed in Congress. Under the provisions, eligible employees who were involuntarily terminated from their jobs between September 1, 2008, and December 31, 2009, and their qualified beneficiaries are entitled to up to nine months of COBRA health insurance coverage at a 65% reduction over what they would normally pay. The 27-page guidance (IRS Notice 2009-27) was issued late on March 31.

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Categories: COBRA / Federal Laws / HR Hero Alerts / IRS

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Starbucks, Costco, and Whole Foods Propose Alternative to EFCA

March 23, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

After forming an ad hoc committee called the “Committee for a Level Playing Field for Union Elections,” three U.S. retailer giants announced an alternative to the controversial Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). Starbucks Corp., Costco Wholesale Corp., and Whole Foods Market, Inc., outlined six principles they believe represent a compromise between business and labor interests. According to Costco CEO Jim Sinegal, “Our proposal is not anti-union, and it’s not anti-business.”

The Employee Free Choice Act, a bill introduced in both houses of Congress on March 10, 2009, contains two particular provisions that have raised an onslaught of contention between the labor and business communities.

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SEIU, Nurses Union Boost the Employee Free Choice Act

March 19, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Two large and powerful health care labor unions have signed a pact that is expected to provide a shot in the arm for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

Under the pact announced on March 19, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CAN/NNOC) will work together to bring union representation to all nonunion registered nurses and other health care employees while stepping up efforts to enact the Employee Free Choice Act. The two groups are the largest unions in the nation representing health care workers and registered nurses, according to a statement from both organizations.

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