Informed Employer: The Employee Handbook: A Pandora's Box of Unfair Labor Practices? Informed Employer: The Employee Handbook: A Pandora's Box of Unfair Labor Practices?

Informed Employer: The Employee Handbook: A Pandora's Box of Unfair Labor Practices?

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Small Businesses Paying Average $15,000 a Year to Comply with ACA
Complying with the health care law is costing small businesses thousands of dollars that they didn't have to spend before the new regulations went into effect. On average, complying with the law costs small businesses more than $15,000 a year, according to a survey released a year ago by the National Small Business Association.
(Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2015-03-18) Read the full article
Google Chairman Urges Congress to Boost H-1B Visas
The executive chairman at Google urged Congress to increase the number of high-skilled work visas made available to foreigners and to deal with other immigration issues later on. Eric Schmidt said he believes the United States is better off having more immigrants, not fewer, but he is particularly focused on allowing more immigrants with specialized technical skills into the U.S.
(Source:, 2015-03-19) Read the full article
Shareholders Scrutinizing Pay Packages Not Getting 70% of Vote
Boards and the executive pay packages they approve cannot simply squeak by these days. Individual directors and "say-on-pay" votes that failed to garner 70 percent in annual shareholder meetings now come under increased scrutiny from both investors and proxy advisors.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal, 2015-03-20) Read the full article
PBGC Says Multiemployer Pension Plans Poised for Problems
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.'s safety net for multiemployer private pension plans already has some holes in it, and its effectiveness will decrease as additional terminated plans become insolvent, according to a new PBGC report. Twenty-one percent of multiemployer participants in "current plans" -- that is, insolvent plans currently receiving financial assistance from PBGC -- have experienced or are projected to experience a reduction in benefits, the report says, compared with 16 percent of participants in the agency's most recent study of single-employer plans.
(Source:, 2015-03-16) Read the full article
Companies Analyzing Data Points to Decide Who Might Quit
As turnover becomes a bigger worry -- and expense -- in a tightening labor market, companies including Wal-Mart, Credit Suisse and Box Inc. are analyzing a vast array of data points to determine who is likely to leave a post. The idea, say people who run analytics teams, is to give managers early warning so they can take action before employees jump ship.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal, 2015-03-13) Read the full article
Employers Concerned as Workplace Violence Rises
Savvy employers are losing sleep as workplace violence becomes a more pressing concern. Employers see the growing trends.
(Source: Workforce Management, 2015-03-18) Read the full article
More Firms Taking Steps to Help Workers with Financial Wellness
More employers are concerned about whether their workers are saving enough -- and not just for retirement. More than 90 percent of 250 large employers said they want to introduce or expand their financial wellness programs this year, according to a survey by benefits consulting firm Aon Hewitt.
(Source: CNBC, 2015-03-13) Read the full article
Employees Engaged in March Madness Could Be Costing $1.9B
NCAA hoops and March Madness is a productivity killer at the office. The lost time employees spend crafting brackets, streaming games or checking scores could reach $1.9 billion.
(Source: Indianapolis Star, 2015-03-11) Read the full article
Companies Trying to Bring Etiquette Back to Workplace
People have spent so much time in recent years lost in their virtual lives that they've forgotten how to actually communicate and behave in the real world. That's why, after spending years shielded behind computer screens and user names, modern professionals are seeking out more traditional advice on manners and social niceties.
(Source:, 2015-03-12) Read the full article
The Employee Handbook: A Pandora’s Box of Unfair Labor Practices?
Justin Spack
Justin Spack

Employers thrive on efficiency, stability, and consistency.  In this fast-paced, constantly changing business climate, the employer who can adapt to every situation by applying a set procedure is the employer that usually comes out ahead.  In the realm of human resources and employee administration, employers typically achieve that stability and consistency through an employee handbook.  It is the employer’s scripture, its set of Golden Rules, its creed and doctrine, its ultimate authority.  And now, that employee handbook could force employers to spend substantial money, time, and effort fighting unfair labor practice charges.

For several years now, the National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) has expanded the scope of its application of the National Labor Relations Act (“Act”).  Now more than ever, the Board examines every employer, even those whose employees are not affiliated with a union, to ensure compliance with federal labor law.  Recently, the Board’s General Counsel issued a 30-page report summarizing the various ways that employers violate the Act simply by maintaining certain work rules—even if those rules have never been applied in an illegal fashion.  The potential impact on employers is staggering.  Every employer, whether unionized or not, is potentially at risk of being brought up on unfair labor practice charges before the Board, based solely on the language in the employee handbook. Read More.

For more information, contact Justin Spack or any other member of Ice Miller's Labor and Employment Group.


Last Call for New H-1B Visas!

H-1B visa petitions will be accepted by USCIS beginning April 1, 2015 for employment to begin October 1, 2015 (the beginning of fiscal year 2016).  Assuming the annual quota is immediately exhausted as expected, the filing window will close April 7, 2015, and USCIS will conduct a random lottery to determine which lucky applicants will be selected for processing.  There are only 65,000 new H-1B visas available each fiscal year (with an additional 20,000 reserved for foreign nationals with a U.S. master's degree or higher).  Last year, USCIS received approximately 172,500 H-1B petitions, and the year before that, 124,000 petitions were received.

The H-1B annual quota applies to foreign nationals who do not presently hold H-1B status, including recent graduates who are working during their one year of "optional practical training."  This cap does not apply to filings for H-1B workers who have already been counted against the annual H-1B quota, which includes requests for extensions of stay or changes in employer sponsor. Certain types of employers are exempt from the H-1B annual quota, including institutions of higher education and their related or affiliated nonprofit entities (including some hospitals), and nonprofit research organizations or government research organizations.

Time is running out!  If you currently employ a foreign student with limited employment permission expiring between now and April 1, 2016 (when the next fiscal year lottery begins) or intend to extend a job offer soon, this is likely your last chance for an H-1B visa during all of fiscal year 2016.

To discuss H-1B eligibility and requirements, please contact Jenifer M. Brown, Christl P. Glier or any member of Ice Miller's Immigration Group.


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