Trump administration expands exemptions to ACA contraceptive mandate

October 09, 2017 0 COMMENTS

On October 6, the Trump administration released two interim final rules that will vastly expand the availability of exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) rules requiring employer coverage of contraceptives.

The ACA requires employers and insurers that offer group health plans to employees to cover certain approved contraceptive methods—at no additional cost to employees—or face stiff penalties. Previously, there were exemptions for grandfathered health plans (i.e., plans in existence at the time of the ACA’s adoption) as well as for group health plans sponsored by religious employers. “Religious employers” were narrowly defined to include churches and related entities as well as religious orders.

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Republican ACA proposal poses challenges for multistate employers

January 25, 2017 0 COMMENTS

A group of Republican senators has proposed a replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that would allow states to choose whether to keep Obamacare’s provisions in place. Because employers’ requirements would depend on where employees work, compliance could be a real challenge for companies with operations in multiple states, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

The bill is seemingly an attempt to gain bipartisan support, but lawmakers on both sides have expressed dissatisfaction with its provisions, said Chatrane Birbal, SHRM’s senior adviser for government relations.

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Nevada Supreme Court clarifies connection between healthcare coverage, minimum wage

October 28, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Deanna L. Forbush

Nevada is unique in so many ways. For instance, unlike other states, Nevada has a constitutional provision that authorizes a two-tiered minimum wage. It’s called the Minimum Wage Amendment (MWA). Under the MWA, if an employer provides qualifying health benefits, a minimum-wage employee may be paid $1 per hour less than the upper-tier minimum wage. But what does “provide” mean? Must the employer actually enroll an employee in a qualifying health benefit plan? Or is it sufficient if the employer only “offers” a qualifying plan? That’s a significant distinction, with major economic ramifications for Nevada employers whose payrolls include minimum-wage employees.

In a unanimous opinion issued October 27, the full Nevada Supreme Court looked at the plain language of the MWA to conclude that “provide” means “offer,” thereby partially overruling a lower court’s finding that an employee must actually “enroll” in an employer’s health benefit plan before the employer is entitled to pay the lower-tier minimum wage.

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Proposed rule spells out paid sick leave requirements for federal contractors

February 25, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released its proposed regulations implementing President Barack Obama’s Executive Order requiring paid sick leave for employees of federal contractors.

Executive Order 13706, signed on September 7, 2015, will apply to new contracts and replacements for expiring contracts that result from solicitations issued on or after January 1, 2017, or that are awarded outside the solicitation process on or after January 1, 2017.

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Not so fast—Judge strikes down Pittsburgh’s paid sick leave ordinance

January 12, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Gregory J. Wartman

In November, we reported that Pittsburgh had enacted a paid sick time ordinance for employees working in the city that was scheduled to take effect January 11, 2016 (see “Pittsburgh passes ordinance requiring paid sick time”). On December 21, 2015, a Pennsylvania judge struck down the ordinance, ruling that it is “invalid unenforceable.”

As we reported in November, the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association and others filed a lawsuit against the city of Pittsburgh to bar it from implementing the ordinance, which would have entitled workers within the city to up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year. They contended that the Pittsburgh City Council lacked the authority to pass and enforce the law.

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Colorado’s new use-it-or-lose-it vacation policy sparks questions

October 21, 2015 0 COMMENTS

The Colorado Division of Labor has taken a new position on enforcing wage claims based on an employer’s vacation policy, and the position is leaving employers with questions about whether use-it-or-lose-it vacation policies are lawful in the state.

In response to inquiries about whether policies that prohibit employees from rolling over some or all earned vacation or paid time off (PTO) from year to year, the division recently posted frequently asked questions (FAQs) on its website. The FAQs state that such policies don’t necessarily run afoul of the Colorado Wage Protection Act (WPA) and that if an employee challenges the validity of an employer’s policy, the determining factor will be when vacation is earned.

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Massachusetts employers need to be ready for new sick leave law before July 1

April 28, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Kimberly A. Klimczuk

Employers with operations in Massachusetts can finally get a look at proposed regulations concerning the earned sick time law that goes into effect July 1.

The new law requires employers with at least 11 employees to provide paid sick leave. Employees will accrue paid sick leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, for a maximum of 40 hours a year. Employers with fewer than 11 employees must allow them to accrue and use up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time per year.

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Ruling goes against Nebraska’s same-sex marriage ban

March 03, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

In a ruling that wasn’t a surprise, a federal judge has ruled against Nebraska’s ban on same-sex marriage. But the fate of the state’s constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage awaits an appeal to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon issued the ruling on March 2. It is scheduled to take effect on March 9. Almost immediately after Bataillon’s ruling, the state appealed to the 8th Circuit, which is considered a conservative court, according to Mark Schorr, a senior partner at Erickson & Sederstrom, P.C. in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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South Dakota same-sex marriage ban ruled unconstitutional

January 13, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Jane Pfeifle

On Monday, a federal judge in Sioux Falls ruled that South Dakota’s constitutional and statutory prohibition on same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution. Six same-sex couples filed a lawsuit against the governor, the attorney general, the secretary of the South Dakota Department of Health, and other public officials seeking to overturn the ban on gay marriage.

Judge Karen Schreier found that marriage is a fundamental right and that the law violated equal protection and due-process rights without sufficient justification. She postponed enforcement of her decision, however, to allow state officials to appeal to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appellate court that hears appeals from South Dakota.

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Legal knots untied: Same-sex marriage soon to be lawful in Florida

December 29, 2014 0 COMMENTS

by Robert J. Sniffen and Jeff Slanker

Effective January 6, 2015, same-sex marriage will be lawful in Florida. On December 19, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to extend the postponement of a federal district court’s decision that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

The district court judge postponed his order until January 5, 2015, and Florida’s attorney general asked the Supreme Court for an extension. The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals also declined to extend the postponement, but an appeal is pending with the court. Florida is poised to become the 36th state to legally recognize same-sex marriage when the postponement expires on January 5.

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