Ada Lovelace Day Celebrated Today, Oct. 14

Ada Lovelace in 1833 developed what was arguably the world’s first programming language, or algorithm, for mathematician and mechanical engineer Charles Babbage, who was working on two prototype computers called the Difference Engine and the Analytics Engine.

Ada was the daughter of Lord Byron and mathematics-loving Annabella Milbanke, who instilled in her daughter a love of science, math and logic.

Some 110 years later, the U.S. military began developing the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), the world’s first electronic computer consisting of 17,468 vacuum tubes and weighing 30 tons. The ENIAC team put out a call for “computers” to program the new device, thus giving the name to posterity for all computing devices.

The six “computers” the team hired were all women: Jean Bartik, Frances “Betty” Snyder Holberton, Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum and Frances Bilas Spence.

Grace Hopper later developed the rudiments of COBOL, the main language used in mainframe computers like the IBM S/360.

Thus Ada Lovelace was the first in a long line of women who left their mark on the world of computing.

Ada Lovelace Day, Oct. 14 each year, marks the achievements of these and other women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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New HealthCare.Gov Site Unveiled But With Spanish Misspellings

healthcaredotgovA day after insurers got to navigate through the site, the administration unveiled its revamped HealthCare.Gov insurance portal on Wednesday with versions in both English and Spanish, but with “get ready” misspelled three times in Spanish as preparase instead of the correct spelling, preparese.

The incorrect usage appears three times.

Open enrollment for year two of Obamacare commences Nov. 15. Though the number of screens for the enrollment process has been reduced from 76 to 16, health insurance premiums won’t be available until the second week of November, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Returning customers are being advised that, to ensure their existing coverage continues on Jan. 1, 2015, they must update their accounts and financial information by Dec. 15.

For the full story on how the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) affects your business, no matter how large or small, please obtain a copy of our comprehensive and easy-to-follow Affordable Care Act Compliance Kit.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Top 1% of Patients Consume 22.7% of Spending, Research Group Finds

The top 1 percent of all patients consume 22.7 percent of all health care spending, while the top 5 percent account for half of all spending, according to an analysis by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The average annual tab for the elderly in the top 5 percent is $60,976, topped only by people with four or more conditions in the top 5 percent, whose yearly total is $78,198, says the AHRQ.

In contrast, people with private insurance in the top 5 percent average $39,542 a year, lowest of all in the top segment.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Gag Order Placed on Insurers Who Test Revamped HealthCare.Gov Site

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has invited health insurers to test the revamped HealthCare.Gov site today but only if they “acknowledge the confidentiality of this process.”

Despite the gag order, which states that the testers “will not use, disclose, describe, post to a public form, or in any way share Test Data with any person or entity, including but not limited to the media,” the Wall Street Journal obtained a copy of the confidential CMS email to insurers quoted here.

If it was so easy to obtain the email, won’t details of the tests be sure to follow?


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Wal-Mart, Other Retailers Cut Health Care for Part-Time Workers

Joining Target, Home Depot and others, Wal-Mart — the nation’s largest retailer — has announced plans to eliminate health insurance for some of its part-time workers (those who work fewer than 30 hours a week) in order to curb health care expenses. Wal-Mart employs 1.4 million full- and part-time workers, but only about 30,000 of them will be affected.

The move will be implemented come Jan. 1, according to The Associated Press.

“We had to make some tough decisions,” Sally Wellborn, Wal-Mart’s senior vice president of benefits, told The Associated Press. Wellborn says the company will use a third-party organization to help part-time workers find insurance alternatives.

“We are trying to balance the needs of [workers] as well as the costs of [workers] as well as the cost to Wal-Mart.”


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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By Refusing to Hear the Issue, SCOTUS Allows Gay Marriage in Five More States

The Supreme Court today refused to consider whether states can ban gay marriages and in so doing upheld rulings by judges in five states that had struck down bans on gay marriages.

As a result, Virginia, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Utah and Indiana will now be obliged to allow gay marriages, bringing the total number of states so aligned to 24 from 19. In addition, another six states are bound by federal appeals court rulings that have struck down their bans and will soon join the five states’ ranks. That leaves 20 states with bans intact.

With appeals on lower courts’ rulings no longer on hold, gay couples in those five states can begin lining up immediately for marriage licenses.

The upheaval in state same-sex marriage laws follows the June 2013 Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor, which ruled as unconstitutional that part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defined marriage as legal only when between a man and a woman.

To understand how the Windsor decision affects your workplace and your administration of benefits, please get a copy of our DOMA Ruling Compliance Kit today.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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USCIS Launches myE-Verify for Employees

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez has announced the launch of myE-Verify — a new website designed for employees.  myE-Verify is a one-stop shop for employees to create and maintain secure personal accounts and access new features for identity protection, according to USCIS.

“Since its inception, E-Verify has provided employees with valuable online tools and resources regarding the employment eligibility verification process,” said Rodríguez. “myE-Verify signifies a significant step forward for added transparency, features and identity protection.”

myE-Verify gives workers a free and secure way to participate in the E-Verify process by accessing features dedicated for employees, including Self Check and the Employee Rights Toolkit.  For added security, individuals will have their identities verified through Self Check, in order to create a myE-Verify account.

myE-Verify accounts and Self Lock will initially be accessible to individuals in five states — Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, Mississippi, Virginia — as well as the District of Columbia.  In future releases, USCIS will roll out myE-Verify across the country with plans for additional features focused on employees and job seekers.

Employers, keep your workforces aware of their rights and obligations under USCIS employment verification standards by posting our E-Verify Right-to-Work Notice Poster in a prominent place.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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WHD Finally Releases Enforcement Statistics

Once the Obama administration took office in 2009, the Department of Labor (DOL) quietly abandoned the practice of releasing yearly enforcement statistics, but its Wage and Hour Division (WHD) finally righted the ship recently when it released data for fiscal years 2009 to 2013.

The results show a general uptick from the Bush years  in both back wages collected and enforcement hours, reflecting the nearly 300 new WHD agents hired during the administration’s tenure. FY2012 represented the high-water mark with $280 million recovered, though the trend is clearly upward.

VIEW “FISCAL YEAR STATISTICS FOR WHD”

The basis of the WHD’s enforcement activities are the laws and regulations, which are continually amended, contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). To stay current with your requirements as an employer, please refer to Personnel Concepts’ comprehensive FLSA Compliance Program.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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DOL Solicitor Confirms Home Care Worker Amendment Delayed

A few days after labor and advocate organizations beseeched the Department of Labor (DOL) not to delay or give up on it, the DOL Solicitor, M. Patricia Smith, announced that the proposed amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to incorporate home care workers won’t be ready by November, as the department’s regulatory agenda had forecast. She now says the DOL “hopes” to implement the rule in 2015.

Under the FLSA, domestic labor is largely unregulated, meaning that many home workers caring for the elderly and disabled are often not paid minimum wages or overtime.

Opposition to the proposed rule arose from several quarters, but most tellingly from state Medicare directors whose agencies must fund most of these workers.

To fully understand the complexities of the FLSA and how they impact your business, please procure a copy of our FLSA Compliance Program.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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USCIS Introduces Form I-9 Desktop Widget

Employers can now download and install a USCIS-provided desktop widget for filling out Form I-9, the worker eligibility document that all new hires must complete within three days.

The widget takes you to an online Form I-9, but remember that employers still must complete Section I and employees Section II.

In the end, you need to print out and retain a hard copy.

DOWNLOAD THE I-9 WIDGET

There’s more to understanding and properly completing employment eligibility verification than just using a widget, so please get a copy today of our I-9 Compliance Kit.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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