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Informed Employer: January 18, 2017 Informed Employer: January 18, 2017

Informed Employer: January 18, 2017

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Supreme Court Considers Workers' Right to Sue After Signing Waivers
The Supreme Court said it will decide whether employers can require workers to sign arbitration agreements that prevent them from pursuing group claims in court. The justices agreed to consider an issue affecting millions of workers who have signed forms waiving rights to bring class-action lawsuits over unpaid overtime, wage disputes and other workplace clashes.
(Source: Seattle Times, 2017-01-14) Read the full article
Court Says EEOC Rules on Employee Wellness Program Fees Stand
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's new rules governing the fees employers can assess employees who do not participate in wellness programs took effect Jan. 1. In October of last year, AARP, acting on behalf of its members, objected to the rules and filed a motion to block them, which a district court denied. But AARP's lawsuit isn't dead.
(Source: SHRMOnline, 2017-01-11) Read the full article
House Committee Reviewing Bill Increasing H-1B Visa Salaries
The House Judiciary Committee is currently reviewing a bill that would require employers to pay high-skilled foreign temporary workers hired under the "exempt" category of the H-1B visa program at least $100,000 a year, up from a current minimum of $60,000, and index the new minimum to inflation. Known as the "Protect and Grow American Jobs Act," the bill is sponsored by California Republican Representative Darrell Issa, a major supporter of President-Elect Donald Trump.
(Source: Fortune, 2017-01-15) Read the full article
BLS Finds Retirement Plans Lacking at Smaller Companies
At companies with fewer than 50 workers, not even half the employees have access to a 401(k) or pension, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At companies with 500 workers or more, 90 percent of employees have access to a retirement plan.
(Source: Bloomberg, 2017-01-11) Read the full article
Employers Making Move Toward Value-Based Health Payment Models
For lower health care costs and better health outcomes, employers are shifting to value-based payment models, writes SHRM. A Willis Towers Watson survey, the 21st Annual Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey, found that more employers were adopting value-based plans that focus on high-quality, cost-efficient treatment.
(Source: HR Dive, 2017-01-12) Read the full article
States Mull Covering Contraception as Lawmakers Seek ACA Repeal
A growing number of U.S. states are seeking to ensure that women have continued access to free birth control in case the insurance benefit is dropped as part of President-elect Donald Trump's vow to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The 2010 law, popularly called Obamacare, requires most health insurance plans to provide coverage for birth control without a patient co-payment, which can be as much as $50 per month for birth control pills or $1,000 for long-acting contraceptives such as intrauterine devices.
(Source: Reuters, 2017-01-12) Read the full article
More Employers Taking Notice of Workers' Prescription Use
Prescription drug abuse is at the forefront of human resources issues for many employers. To address the problem, an increasing number of employers are examining the medications their employees take to determine how often and how many of their workers have been prescribed opioid painkillers, such as OxyContin and Percocet.
(Source: Dayton Daily News, 2017-01-13) Read the full article
Report Finds Paid Family, Sick Leave Good for Bottom Line
Those who criticize paid family leave and paid sick days have claimed that such programs are burdensome to employers and lead to increased unemployment. Yet, a new report found that ensuring access to paid family leave and paid sick days helps companies save on health-care costs, decreases turnover rates, and increases productivity in the workplace.
(Source: New York Magazine, 2017-01-05) Read the full article
Employers Change Interview Process as More People Work from Home
Working remotely is the rule for millions of workers who can do their jobs wherever there's an internet connection, and this evolution -- of what it means to be "at work" -- shows no sign of reversing. As a result, managers continue to re-examine their criteria for evaluating employee performance.
(Source: Seattle Times, 2017-01-10) Read the full article
OSHA’s Updated Walking Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Standards are Now in Effect

Charles E. Bush

On January 17, 2017, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (“OSHA”) final rule revising and updating its general industry walking-working surfaces standards and personal fall protection systems went into effect. While the new rule does not impact construction standards, it does affect employees in all general industry workplaces, such as warehousing, utilities, retail, window cleaning, and outdoor advertising, among others.

Regarding walking-working surface conditions, the rule adds several provisions to 29 C.F.R. § 1910.22, Subpart D. For example, employers must now ensure that work surfaces are free of hazards such as sharp or protruding objects, loose boards, corrosion, leaks, spills, snow, and ice. Employers must also provide a safe route of ingress and egress to and from walking-working surfaces, and ensure each employee uses the secure route. Employers are also now required to ensure that walking-working surfaces are inspected regularly and maintained in a safe condition.

Read more here.


Immigration in 2017 – What We Know (and What We Don’t)

Christl Glier & Jenifer Brown

Later this week, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. He has promised sweeping changes in many areas, with immigration at the top of that list. In the coming weeks and months, any number of things is possible that may affect employers and their foreign workers. Here’s what we know:

New I-9 Form. The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) requires all employers to verify an employee's identity and authorization to work in the United States by completing Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification within three business dates of the employee’s first day of employment. This obligation extends to all U.S. employers and all new hires, regardless of citizenship. An updated form was released late last year and will become mandatory on January 22, 2017. The new form includes minor changes to language and formatting, with drop-down lists and on-screen instructions to assist users who choose to complete the form online. Failure to use the new form for new hires after the effective date is a violation and could subject an employer to fines and penalties.

Read more here.


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