DOL to Seek Public Input on Persuader Rule

The Department of Labor (DOL) has announced it will publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to rescind a rule that would have required employers and labor-management consultants to report consultants’ indirect contact with workers during union organizing campaigns.

The NPRM will be published in the Federal Register and be open for public comment on June 12. The public may submit comments, identified by RIN 1245-AA07, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, at http://www.regulations.gov. All comments received will be posted without change to the site. The public inspection copy of the NPRM can be viewed on the Federal Register’s website at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/06/12/2017-11983/interpretation-of-the-advice-exemption-in-the-labor-management-reporting-and-disclosure-act.

Commonly referred to as the “Persuader Rule,” the regulation was published in March 2016. In November of that year, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a nationwide permanent injunction against the rule. More information is available on the Office of Labor-Management Standards website, https://www.dol.gov/olms/regs/compliance/ecr_finalrule.htm.


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.
GoTo top Top

New Form I-9 to Be Issued in July

A new version of the Form I-9, dated 07/17/2017 N, will become mandatory on Sept. 17, 2017, replacing the version dated 11/22/2016 N, which may continue to be used until Sept. 16, 2017.

The International Entrepreneur Rule was published in the Federal Register by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Aug. 31, 2016, as a proposed rule and the Federal Register accepted comments on this proposed rule until Oct. 17, 2016. A final rule was published on Jan. 17, 2017, with an effective date of July 17, 2017. Form I-9 was included in this rule and was available for public comment from Aug. 31 to Oct. 17, 2016.


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.
GoTo top Top

Fiduciary Rule Takes Effect, But…

The Department of Labor (DOL) Fiduciary Rule, which requires agents marketing retirement plans to put their clients’ best interests first, took effect today, but enforcement won’t begin until Jan. 1, and maybe not then.

The DOL in advance of the June 9 implementation date announced that it  “will not pursue claims against fiduciaries who are working diligently and in good faith to comply with the fiduciary duty rule” until 2018.

DOL Secretary Alexander Acosta, however, has indicated that the enforcement date may be pushed back while his department reviews the entire rule under an executive order from President Trump.

Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a request for information (RFI) for public commentary on what defines a fiduciary, in an effort to work with the DOL on a joint standard.


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.
GoTo top Top

DOL Withdraws Obama-era Administrative Interpretation on Independent Contractors

Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta today announced the withdrawal of the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) 2015 and 2016 informal guidance on joint employment and independent contractors.

Removal of the administrator interpretations does not change the legal responsibilities of employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, as reflected in the department’s long-standing regulations and case law, according to the secretary’s announcement. The department will continue to fully and fairly enforce all laws within its jurisdiction, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act.

The 2015 interpretation on independent contractors made it more difficult to so classify one’s workers, and the 2016 interpretation on joint employment sought to make franchisers responsible for franchisees’ employment practices (i.e., legal liability), likewise for subsidiaries and sub-contractors, potentially.

Notably, the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB’s) stance on joint employment remains unchanged, meaning employers still aren’t entirely off the hook. The NLRB established the original changes to joint employer rules through its decision in the Browning-Ferris case, which is still moving through the courts.


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.
GoTo top Top

OSHA Designates June 12-18 as ‘Safe + Sound Week’

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it has designated June 12-18, 2017, as “Safe + Sound Week,” a new nationwide effort that calls on organizations of all sizes in a wide range of industries to raise awareness of the value and importance of workplace safety and health programs.

Joining OSHA to sponsor the effort are the National Safety Council, American Industrial Hygiene Association, American Society of Safety Engineers and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. In addition, 85 trade associations, industry and professional groups are partnering with the Safe + Sound Week initiative.

“Our nation has made great strides in raising awareness about the importance of workplace safety, yet more than four million workers suffer serious job-related injuries or illnesses annually. We can do better,” said Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.

Participating in Safe + Sound Week can help organizations get their safety and health program started or energize an existing one. While approaches vary, effective programs have three core elements, according to OSHA:

  • Management leadership that commits to establishing, maintaining and continually improving the program. Managers must also provide needed resources to support the program.
  • Workers who help identify solutions for improvements.
  • A workforce engaged in safety and health programs result in higher productivity, increased job satisfaction and strong worker retention, which combine to increase revenues and lower turnover and recruitment costs.
  • A systematic “find and fix” approach that calls upon employers and workers alike to examine their workplaces – proactively and routinely – to identify and address hazards before an injury or illness occurs.

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.
GoTo top Top

OSHA to Participate in GHS Conference

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will conduct a public meeting to discuss proposals in preparation for the 33rd session of the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (UNSCEGHS) to be held July 10 through July 12, 2017, in Geneva, Switzerland.

OSHA, along with the U.S. Interagency GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals) Coordinating Group, plans to consider the comments and information gathered at this public meeting when developing the U.S. Government positions for the UNSCEGHS meeting. OSHA also will give an update on the Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC).

Also, on Tuesday, June 20, 2017, the Department of Transportation (DOT), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will conduct a public meeting (See Docket No. PHMSA-2017-0037 Notice No. 2017-02) to discuss proposals in preparation for the 51st session of the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (UNSCETDG) to be held July 3 to July 7, 2017, in Geneva, Switzerland.

During this meeting, PHMSA is also requesting comments relative to potential new work items that may be considered for inclusion in its international agenda. PHMSA will also provide an update on recent actions to enhance transparency and stakeholder interaction through improvements to the international standards portion of its Web site.


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.
GoTo top Top

New Process Announced for E-Verify Corporate Administrators

On May 25, the E-Verify Modernization Project revamped the employer (child) enrollment process and made it more efficient and user-friendly.

When corporate administrators add new employers they will find: 

  • A new webpage and easier navigation
  • Fewer fields, which will quicken processing
  • Improved data fields that require fewer clicks
  • New features including the ability to save enrollments in process
  • New and clearer helper text with expanded information 

Use the new E-Verify Corporate Administrator Add Company Location Job Aid for step-by-step instructions on how to add a company location. To learn more, see the

E-Verify User Manual for Corporate Administrator


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.
GoTo top Top

HHS Report: Premiums Have Doubled Under Obamacare

In a report issued this past week, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said that health insurance premiums offered on HealthCare.gov have doubled since the start of the Affordable Care Act:

Comparing the average premiums found in 2013 MLR data and 2017 CMS MIDAS data shows average exchange premiums were 105% higher in the 39 states using Healthcare.gov in 2017 than average individual market premiums in 2013. Average monthly premiums increased from $232 in 2013 to $476 in 2017, and 62% of those states had 2017 exchange premiums at least double the 2013 average.

READ THE FULL REPORT


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.
GoTo top Top

Uncertainty over Subsidies Has Insurers Talking Huge Hikes in Premiums

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, the largest Obamacare insurer in the state, has announced it intends to hike health insurance premiums by 22.9 percent in 2018 unless the Trump administration guarantees to continue doling out what are called cost-sharing reductions (CSRs). If the CSRs are continued, the company added, rates would go up just 8.8 percent.

“The biggest single reason for the sharp increase in rates is the lack of federal funding for ‘cost-sharing reductions’ beginning in 2018,” Blue Cross NC said today.

President Trump has threatened to withhold the payments, totaling some $7 billion, and a lawsuit by House Republicans challenging the legality of the payments, which were never funded by Congress, is under appeal after a judge ruled the payments illegal. The same judge allowed the payments to continue while the appeal process plays out.

The CSRs are included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), but since all spending must originate in the House of Representatives, the Republican lawsuit argues the payments are thus unconstitutional. CSRs are designed to lower the premiums of lower-wage consumers.

Health insurance marketplace watchers have predicted all insurers will be forced to raise their premiums by 19 to 25 percent if the CSRs are dropped. The administration has agreed to continue making monthly CSR payments for the next 90 days at least.


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.
GoTo top Top

DOL Moves to Revoke Persuader Rule

The Obama administration’s “persuader rule” requiring law firms to publicly disclose any work they do for employers surrounding union organizing efforts, already subject to a nationwide injunction, is being revoked by the Trump administration’s Department of Labor (DOL).

The DOL on Monday, May 22, filed a proposal to formally rescind the rule, which was blocked by U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings and whose ruling was appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans by the Obama Department of Justice.

Judge Cummings on June 27, 2016, granted the National Federation of Independent Business’s motion for a permanent injunction.


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.
GoTo top Top