States Seek Medicaid Work Requirement Authority

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is granting waivers for states to establish work requirements for the able-bodied who receive Medicaid health care services. The requirements usually consist of community service, job training or schooling, if not outright employment.

cms-issues-waviers-for-medicaid-work-requirementsThe waivers are designed to control the costs of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) and to prevent fraud and abuse of the system. Some 15 million people have gained access to health care since the expansion began in 2014.

CMS has already granted waivers to Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. There are 10 other states with pending waivers.

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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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Workplace Injuries, Illnesses Continue to Decline, BLS Confirms

There were approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2017, which occurred at a rate of 2.8 cases per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this month.

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State-by-state comparison of injury-illness incidence rates
Click to enlarge

Private industry employers reported nearly 45,800 fewer nonfatal injury and illness cases in 2017 compared to a year earlier, according to estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII).

Among the findings reported by the bureau:

  • The 2017 rate of total recordable cases (TRC) fell 0.1 cases per 100 FTE workers to continue a pattern of declines that, apart from 2012, occurred annually since 2004.
  • The rates for different types of cases — days away from work (DAFW), days of job transfer or restriction only (DJTR), and other recordable cases (ORC) — were unchanged from a year earlier.
  • The rate for DJTR cases has remained at 0.7 cases per 100 FTE workers since 2011.
  • Nearly one-third of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses resulted in days away from work.
  • Among the 19 private industry sectors, only manufacturing and finance and insurance experienced statistically significant changes in their overall rates of nonfatal injuries and illnesses in 2017 — each declined by 0.1 cases per 100 FTE workers compared to 2016.

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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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Obamacare Enrollment Reaches Nearly 2 Million

In week three of the 2019 Open Enrollment, 748,244 people selected plans using the HealthCare.gov platform, bringing the total to 1,924,476.

obamacare-enrollment-reportAs in past years, enrollment weeks are measured Sunday through Saturday.  Consequently, the cumulative totals reported in this snapshot reflect one fewer day than last year.

Every week during Open Enrollment, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will release enrollment snapshots for the HealthCare.gov platform, which is used by the Federally-facilitated Exchanges and some State-based Exchanges. These snapshots provide point-in-time estimates of weekly plan selections, call center activity, and visits to HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov.

The final number of plan selections associated with enrollment activity during a reporting period may change due to plan modifications or cancellations. In addition, the weekly snapshot only reports new plan selections and active plan renewals and does not report the number of consumers who have paid premiums to effectuate their enrollment.


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 Issues Performance and Accountability Report

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is reporting significant increases in its outreach efforts and enforcement actions to prevent and remedy unlawful employment discrimination during fiscal year 2018, which ended Sept. 30. The EEOC detailed its accomplishments in its annual Performance and Accountability Report published on Nov. 15.

eeoc-releases-performance-reportAs noted last week, the EEOC’s fiscal year 2018 highlights include:

  • The launch of a nationwide online inquiry and appointment system as part of the EEOC’s Public Portal resulted in a 30 percent increase in inquiries and over 40,000 intake interviews.
  • The EEOC’s outreach programs reached 398,650 individuals, providing them with information about employment discrimination and their rights and responsibilities in the workplace. To address persistent workplace harassment, the EEOC conducted more than 300 Respectful Workplaces trainings that reached over 9,800 employees and supervisors in the private, public and federal sectors.
  • The EEOC secured approximately $505 million and other relief for over 67,860 victims of discrimination in the workplace. The EEOC’s legal staff resolved 141 merit lawsuits, filed 199 more in FY 2018, and filed 29 amicus curiae briefs on significant legal issues in employment discrimination cases.
  • The EEOC also made significant progress in reducing its backlogs, reporting a 19.5 percent reduction in its private sector charge backlog, a 19.4 percent reduction in the backlog of federal employee appeals, an 8.6 percent reduction in the backlog of federal employee hearings, and a 7.6 percent reduction in the backlog of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

The EEOC’s fiscal year 2018 Performance and Accountability Report is posted on the agency’s website at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/plan/upload/2018par.pdf . Comprehensive enforcement and litigation statistics for fiscal year 2018 will be available on the agency’s website later in fiscal year 2019.


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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DHS, DOL Propose Modifications to H-2B Visa Program to Favor U.S. Citizens

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in conjunction with the Department of Labor (DOL), has published a joint notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would modernize the recruitment requirements for employers seeking H-2B nonimmigrant workers to make it easier for U.S. workers to find and fill these open jobs.

H-2B-program-to-be-modernizedThe H-2B program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs.

The proposed rule would require electronic advertisements to be posted on the internet for at least 14 days, replacing the print newspaper advertisements that regulations currently require. DHS and DOL believe this is a more effective and efficient way to disseminate information about job openings to U.S. workers.

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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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Personnel Concepts Publishes Video ‘Compliance 101: Beyond Posting Requirements’

Joining our series of videos aimed at clarifying various labor law and employment compliance issues and workplace concerns, we are proud to offer our latest production — “Compliance 101: Beyond Posting Requirements.

compliance-101-new-video-from-personnel-concepts

Click on image to view the video.

For a business to be in compliance with all relevant state and federal laws and regulations requires more than just a poster or two in the break room. Various records need to be maintained, forms submitted to watchdog agencies, personnel trained, policies and procedures put into place — and more.

This is where Personnel Concepts comes in as your Trusted Compliance Partner.

Click on the image or the link above to view the video and discover how to be in full compliance.

Also, you can VIEW OUR VIDEO COLLECTION ONLINE


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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NLRB Chair Praises the Role of Rulemaking

In an era when deregulation seems the order of the day, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Chairman John Ring (a Trump appointee) seems to be swimming against the administration’s tide, arguing that more regulations — at least from the NLRB — are called for.

john-ring-new-nlrb-chair

John Ring, NLRB Chair

The NLRB has already announced it is working on a joint employer definition rule, which it tried to do unsuccessfully in a case it heard (which was later thrown out due to a conflict of interest). Now, Chairman Ring has his regulatory eyes glued on other controversial legal decisions from the Obama era, including the use of employer property for union organizing and other activities.

Ring made his pronouncement about rulemaking while speaking this week at the American Bar Association’s 12th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference.

“I have been a big proponent of rulemaking for many years,” Ring told conference attendees. “I think [it] allows us to address areas of the law in a more holistic way.”

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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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EEOC Reports Uptick in Harassment Reports

Protect your business and keep your workplace safe from tension and conflict, view our video on “Workplace Harassment Investigations” today.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) responded to a significant increase this past fiscal year in calls, emails and online inquiries concerning potential discrimination claims and high demand for its new Respectful Workplaces Training Program, the agency reported today.

eeoc-sexual-harassment-lawsuits-on-the-riseThe increased demand is reflected in more than 554,000 calls and emails to the EEOC and more than 200,000 inquiries concerning potential discrimination claims. The launch of a nationwide online inquiry and appointment system as part of the EEOC’s Public Portal resulted in a 30 percent increase in inquiries and more than 40,000 intake interviews.

“Many people in thousands of workplaces around the country depend every day on the work of the EEOC. I am proud to say that the EEOC met the increased demand for our expertise, for information and training, and for strong enforcement to combat all forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment,” said Victoria A. Lipnic, acting chair.

Other fiscal year 2018 highlights include:

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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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DOL Issues Four New Opinion Letters

The Department of Labor (DOL) announced today that it has issued four new opinion letters that demonstrate its commitment to providing meaningful compliance assistance to help employees understand their rights and ensure employers have the tools they need to comply with federal labor law. The letters address compliance under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and other laws.

The opinion letters issued today address:

  • Application of section 7(k) to nonprofit, privately-owned volunteer fire departments
  • “Reasonable relationship” between salary paid and actual earnings
  • Application of section 13(a)(3) to a pool management company
  • Dual jobs and related duties under section 3(m)

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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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Google Responds to Protests with New Sexual Harassment Policy

Google employees worldwide — some 20,000 of them — staged a walkout this past Thursday over what they saw as a lack of fairness and transparency in dealing with issues of sexual harassment, and now Google has responded.

google-updates-its-sexual-harassment-policy

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

CEO Sundar Pichai today sent a memo to employees at all locations, acknowledging that “we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that,” adding:

Going forward, we will provide more transparency on how we handle concerns. We’ll give better support and care to the people who raise them. And we will double down on our commitment to be a representative, equitable, and respectful workplace.

The “comprehensive action plan” he then announced includes provisions for making “arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims” (arbitration was previously mandatory); for providing “more granularity around sexual harassment investigations;” for “revamping the way we handle and look into your concerns;” and for updating and expanding “our mandatory sexual harassment training.”


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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