EEOC Seeking Comment on Proposed GINA Regulations

February 26, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is in the process of finalizing regulations implementing the employment provisions of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 (GINA).

The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, signed into law in May 2008, prohibits discrimination by health insurers and employers based on people’s genetic information. The EEOC is to issue regulations by May 21, 2009, implementing Title II of GINA, the part that prohibits the use of genetic information in employment, prohibits the intentional acquisition of genetic information about applicants and employees, and imposes strict confidentiality requirements.

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More Details on COBRA Continuation Subsidy in Stimulus Package

February 20, 2009 - by: HR Hero 19 COMMENTS

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

You’re probably well aware by now that the $787 billion economic stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama this week will provide many out-of-work employees and their families with a reduced rate on continuing health care coverage under COBRA. Because the stimulus plan was adopted so quickly in Congress, it has been difficult to learn and understand the details. Here’s an outline of some of the major provisions of the stimulus package that relate to the COBRA subsidy.

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Bad Economy No Excuse for Not Succeeding

February 20, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Bad news is everywhere. The recession is dominating the headlines. On a daily basis we hear about bailouts, layoffs, and bankruptcies. In light of all the bad news, how are we to react? If there ever was a time when one could step back and just mail it in, this would be it. I mean who can blame you for not making budget this year? In light of what’s going on in the economy, “they” should be happy if we make any money at all. I mean look at the banks and the auto industry. With some of this country’s most respected institutions teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, mere survival should be applauded. Right?

Wrong. True leaders emerge in times of crisis, and I think the current economic environment qualifies as a crisis. It is crucial that you understand and accept that there can be no excuses. Sure, it would be easy to hide behind the recession. You could even reasonably argue that many of the justifications you would come up with to explain your failures and mediocrity would be legitimate. But in order to lead, you must accept the responsibilities of the reality and deal with them. There’s a quote that says, “The person who really wants to do something finds a way; the other person finds an excuse.” Are you going to be the one who finds a way or the one with the excuse?

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Categories: Commentary

Money for Nothing

February 20, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

When President Barack Obama signed into law the $787 billion stimulus package on February 17, I couldn’t help but think of the 1985 Grammy award winning song by the English band Dire Straits, “Money for Nothing.”

No, that’s not a political commentary on how the money is being spent. I’m talking about all the corporate executives and state and local politicians who had hoped to grab their share of the pie now are thinking twice. As they look more closely at the consequences of the money grab, they’re finding that some of the terms are not to their liking. Whether it is limits on executive compensation or restrictions on where and how the money can be spent, they’re finding out that you don’t get “money for nothing” even from the federal government. It seems that some of the would-be recipients of the stimulus package were hoping the terms would allow them to fit the description Mark Knopfler penned when he wrote the song along with Sting:

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Categories: Commentary

Mental Health Parity Act Effective Date Delayed

February 18, 2009 - by: HR Hero 16 COMMENTS

Update: Mental Health Parity Changes Take Effect January 1, 2010

Congress deferred the effective date of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 to January 2010 for plans that otherwise would have been covered in 2009.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Public Health Service Act to prohibit employers’ health plans from imposing any caps or limitations on mental health treatment or substance use disorder benefits that aren’t applied to medical and surgical benefits.

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Stimulus Bill Brings COBRA, Other Issues for Employers

February 16, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

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

Even as President Barack Obama prepares for a trip to Denver Tuesday to sign the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the stimulus package, many are still trying to sort out the bill, which Congress passed last Friday in dizzyingly rapid fashion.

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Oklahoma Immigration Law Passes Test

February 13, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Oklahoma’s immigration law, House Bill 1804, contains a number of employment provisions, including limitations on terminating employees while knowingly retaining unauthorized workers and requiring verification of employees’ legal work status. On February 11, 2009, Tulsa District Court Judge Jefferson D. Sellers ruled that the immigration law’s employment provisions don’t violate the Oklahoma Constitution.

Oklahoma employers should keep in mind that in June 2008, an Oklahoma City federal court held that the Oklahoma immigration law’s employment provisions shouldn’t be enforced because they violated federal law. That ruling is presently on appeal to the federal court of appeals in Denver.

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Categories: Immigration / Oklahoma

Keep Long-Term Goals in Mind While Cuting Staff, Budget

February 13, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Talent Management
We’ve talked a lot about job loss. With U.S. companies slashing nearly 600,000 jobs in January, it has been top of mind for most of us.  Here’s the upside in what is an otherwise very dismal situation.  Layoffs can give a company the opportunity to cull its lowest performers, resulting in a leaner, more competitive organization. Those companies with a strong talent management program, who really know who the top performers and key employees are and which positions are most critical to the organization’s future success, will emerge from the recession on top. After losing, let’s say, the bottom 10% from their organization they’ll replace them with top talent that has become available when they begin to hire again. The net effect will be that the firms that have a strong grasp of strategic talent management will emerge from the recession miles ahead of those who don’t. This is HR’s time to shine if they’re up to the task.

Leadership Development
Is leadership development worth fighting for in a down economy? That’s a question human resources professionals and businesses should be asking themselves right now. Often travel and training are the first budget items to get slashed when a company experiences a difficult patch. In fact, a recent study showed that 23% of companies cut their training budget in 2008, with another 18% planning to do so this year. But can a company afford to sacrifice tomorrow’s leaders because of today’s economy? I’d argue strongly that a company must continually invest in its leaders and that the costs associated with not doing so, while often difficult to measure, are too great. One thing to consider might include paring the group of trainees down so that you’re investing the same amount in each future leader, but fewer of them. Another might be to start (or expand if you already have one in place) your internal mentoring program. It can often be much more cost effective to focus on existing leaders within the organization to provide the training.

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Categories: Commentary

This Week’s Changes to Federal Employment Laws

February 13, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

For the third week in a row, Congress and President Barack Obama have made changes to federal employment laws or regulations. First, it was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The next week, President Obama signed executive orders affecting federal contractors and unions. And this week brings us the stimulus plan with changes to COBRA health care continuation and unemployment benefits.

When we put this issue of HR Hero Line to bed, the economic stimulus plan still had a few hoops to jump in Congress and each hour seemed to to bring dramatic news about deals being made and then no deals. Maybe Howie Mandel and the models will jump into the fray to help the folks in Washington make up their minds, but I suspect the banker won’t show up until Congress starts work on Bail Out Round 2.

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New I-9 Form Delayed for 60 Days

February 02, 2009 - by: HR Hero 5 COMMENTS

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a 60-day delay in implementing the new Form I-9 for employment eligibility verification for new hires.

The new I-9 forms were to take effect February 2, but a seemingly last-minute decision was made on January 30 to delay implementation of the I-9 forms and their accompanying rules. The delay comes in response to a January memorandum from President Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. In that memorandum, Emanuel directed all federal agencies to put a freeze on certain unimplemented federal regulations, recommending that these regulations be subject to a 60-day hold for further agency consideration.

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