OFCCP Rules for Hiring Veterans and the Disabled Now in Effect

Two final rules from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) are now in effect, in essence establishing quotas for the hiring of veterans and the disabled by federal contractors and subcontractors.

One rule updates requirements under the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974; the other updates those under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. For more than 40 years these laws have required federal contractors and subcontractors to affirmatively recruit, hire, train and promote qualified veterans and people with disabilities respectively.

The VEVRAA rule provides contractors with a quantifiable metric to measure their success in recruiting and employing veterans by requiring contractors to annually adopt a benchmark either based on the national percentage of veterans in the workforce (currently 8 percent), or their own benchmark based on the best available data. The rule strengthens accountability and record-keeping requirements, enabling contractors to assess the effectiveness of their recruitment efforts. It also clarifies job listing and subcontract requirements to facilitate compliance.

The Section 503 rule introduces a hiring goal for federal contractors and subcontractors that 7 percent of each job group in their workforce be qualified individuals with disabilities. The rule also details specific actions contractors must take in the areas of recruitment, training, record keeping and policy dissemination — similar to those that have long been required to promote workplace equality for women and minorities.

Both rules took effect yesterday, March 24, and apply to businesses that do contractual work with the federal government.


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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States Add Wiggle Room to Obamacare Sign-Up Deadline

Some states are already gaming the Obamacare enrollment deadline by announcing that those who start the sign-up process by the official deadline of March 31 can have extra time to complete their applications.

Maryland, Nevada and Minnesota have already announced the wiggle room. Minnesota officials also said that so long as the late-signers have coverage kicking in by May 1, they will not be subject to a fine for lacking health insurance. This was later confirmed as acceptable by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Americans who lack health insurance for 90 days or more in 2014 can be fined $95, or 1 percent of their income, prorated for the period they lacked coverage, though the government has offered many "hardship" exemptions. The fine is set to rise each year.

Oregon, whose online Health Care Marketplace is still not fully operational, is considering an outright extension of the sign-up deadline, something that would require approval from the federal government.


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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OSHA Announces National Stand-Down for Fall Prevention

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced a national safety stand-down from June 2 to 6 to raise awareness among employers and workers about the hazards of falls, which account for the highest number of deaths in the construction industry.

"Falls account for more than a third of all deaths in this industry," said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "We're working with employers, workers, industry groups, state OSH plans, and civic and faith-based organizations to host safety stand-downs that focus on recognizing hazards and preventing falls. We are getting the message out to America's employers that safety pays and falls cost."

During the stand-down, employers and workers are asked to pause their workday to talk about fall prevention in construction, and discuss topics like ladder safety, scaffolding safety and roofing work safety. OSHA has also launched an official national safety stand-down website with information on how to conduct a successful stand-down. Afterwards, employers will be able to provide feedback and receive a personalized certificate of participation.

The stand-down is part of OSHA's ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign, which was started in 2012 and was developed in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and NIOSH's National Occupational Research Agenda program. The campaign provides employers with lifesaving information and educational materials on how to plan ahead to prevent falls, provide the right equipment for their workers and train all employees in the proper use of that equipment.


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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Sibelius Finds Loophole to Extend Obamacare Open Enrollment Period

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sibelius is eyeing special enrollment periods, or SEPs, to extend the Obamacare health care sign-up deadline past March 31, citing technological problems that prevented many from signing up.

In recent testimony to Congress, she "made it clear that if, through no fault of their own, [consumers] were unable to enroll, that eligibility extends to a delayed enrollment period and they will have a special enrollment period which we have the authority to grant."

This contradicts — or at least adds a wormhole for safe passage through legislative restrictions — to an earlier statement made by HHS Office of Health Reform Director Michael Hash, who noted that "We do not believe we have the authority to extend that period beyond March 31," adding, "We have no plans to do so."


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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EEOC Raises Fines for Non-Posting of Title VII, ADA and GINA Posters

Effective April 18, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is raising its fine for non-posting of notices regarding the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII protections, provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and provisions of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) from $110 per instance to $210.

In other words, if you fail to post all three, you could be fined $630 and ordered to post the notices.

According to the published EEOC notice:

In accordance with the Federal Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended by the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, this final rule adjusts for inflation the civil monetary penalty for violation of the notice-posting requirements in Title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act.


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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Obamacare Enrollments Reach 5 Million, Administration Says

Through yesterday, the administration claims total enrollment in Obamacare health care plans had reached 5 million, 25 percent of them in the 18-35 age group, with March 31 the cut-off for open enrollment.

Originally, administration spokespersons said the goal was to reach 7 million enrollments with 40 percent of them "young invincibles," who would rarely use their insurance and thus offset the cost of older, more health-challenged individuals. Now they have backed off that number, saying that it was a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) calculation, not theirs.

Few observers expect enrollment to top 6 million by the end of the month. Even though Americans who lack health insurance will be socked with a minimum $95 tax penalty for failing to be covered, a Bankrate survey found that 34 percent of uninsured Americans don't plan on buying health insurance. The survey also found that half of people without insurance are unaware of the March 31 deadline and 70 percent are unaware that subsidies for their insurance might be available.


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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EEOC Seeks Commentary on Social Media

The use of social media has become pervasive in today's workplace and, as a result, is having an impact on the enforcement of federal laws, a panel of experts told the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at a meeting held at EEOC Headquarters in Washington. The meeting was convened to gather information about the growing use of social media and how it impacts the laws the EEOC enforces.

"The increasing use of social media in the 21st century workplace presents new opportunities as well as questions and concerns," said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. "This meeting has helped the EEOC understand how social media is being used in the employment context and what impact it may have on the laws we enforce and on our mission to stop and remedy discriminatory practices in the workplace."

Jonathan Segal, speaking on behalf of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), explained that employers use different types of social media for several different reasons: employee engagement and knowledge-sharing, such as having a corporate Facebook page or blog to keep employees in far-flung offices aware of new programs or policies; marketing to clients, potential customers and crisis management; and for recruitment and hiring of new employees. In fact, SHRM surveyed its members over several years and found that 77 percent of companies surveyed reported in 2013 that they used social networking sites to recruit candidates, up from 34 percent in 2008.

(more…)


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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OSHA Issues Recordkeeping Bulletin to Help Protect Temporary Workers

The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a new educational resource that focuses on requirements for injury recording of temporary worker injuries and illnesses. The bulletin explains the requirements for both the staffing agency and the host employer. The new Recordkeeping Bulletin addresses how to identify who is responsible for recording work-related injuries and illnesses of temporary workers on the OSHA 300 log.

OSHA's Temporary Worker Initiative is an agency-wide concerted effort that uses enforcement, outreach and training to assure that temporary workers are protected in their workplaces. In recent months, OSHA has received and investigated many reports of temporary workers suffering serious or fatal injuries, many of which occur within their first week on the job. OSHA's initiative was launched to raise awareness and compliance with requirements that temporary workers receive the same training and protection that existing workers receive.

"The Recordkeeping Bulletin is the first of many materials we are releasing and helps clarify which employers are responsible for reporting injuries and illnesses," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "These materials will provide valuable information for both host employers and staffing agencies on how they can work together to make sure their workers are properly trained and protected."


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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The Face-Off Over Facebook in Job Interviews

In 2010, the online world was shocked with reports of employers demanding access to job candidates’ social media sites. At the forefront of these headlines was a story about Robert Collins, an applicant to the Maryland Department of Corrections who was asked during a recertification interview for his Facebook login credentials to verify, he was told, that he had no gang affiliation.

Mr. Collins recalled in an interview with National Public Radio in 2012 that as he sat and watched the interviewer go through his messages, his wall, his friends, and photographs he felt violated and disrespected, questioning why an employer could go through personal messages when it is a federal crime to go through personal, traditional mail. Cries of privacy invasion, chilling effects and cybersnooping soon filled the interwebs as social media users and civil liberties groups demanded reformation in the ways employers use social media.

States, hearing the cries, quickly moved to enact sweeping legislation aimed at protecting online privacy.
 
This new current of legislation, aimed at protecting social media users from what the public has deemed overly-intrusive employers, is changing the landscape of employment in the digital age.
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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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Another Obamacare Extension, This One for PCIP

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced another extension, the third in fact, of the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Pool (PCIP), a plan that was set up to help individuals obtain health insurance who otherwise couldn't or couldn't afford it because of health challenges. It was to be a stopgap measure until the full Affordable Care Act (ACA) kicked in on New Year's Day 2014.

Those who are currently in the plan and who haven't obtained insurance in the Obamacare Marketplace can now continue in PCIP for another month, or until the end of April 2014, HHS announced.

PCIP was originally scheduled to expire at the end of 2013, but it was extended one month before that happened. Then it was extended until the end of the Marketplace open enrollment period on March 31. Now another month has been tacked on.

In a separate announcement, HHS declared that insurers could not refuse coverage to same-sex couples.


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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