Electronic Submission of OSHA Form 300A Due by July 1 for Qualified Businesses

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is reminding businesses with 250 or more employees — and businesses with 20-249 employees in high-hazard fields — that they must submit their Form 300A Injury and Illness Report data for 2017 electronically by July 1.

OSHA-form-300a-due soonAccording to the OSHA website, Injury Tracking Application:

OSHA is not accepting Form 300 and 301 information at this time. OSHA announced that it will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to reconsider, revise, or remove provisions of the “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” final rule, including the collection of the Forms 300/301 data. The Agency is currently drafting that NPRM and will seek comment on those provisions.

To determine if your business with 20-249 employees is affected, please check if your industry qualifies you by visiting the OSHA online directory.

You can submit your data online by accessing the Injury Tracking Application.


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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CMS to Step Up Scrutiny on State-Run Medicaid Programs

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) says it will crack down on Medicaid fraud through a renewed analytical effort “to hold states accountable” following Office of Inspector General (OIG) findings in California, Kentucky and New York.

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CMS Administrator Seema Verma

Thanks to a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that allows states to expand the ranks of those on Medicaid using the federal government’s dime, spending on Medicaid has risen from $456 billion in 2013 to $576 billion in 2016 (the ACA commenced operations in 2014).

In the announcement Tuesday by CMS Administrator Seema Verma, every state, plus Puerto Rico and D.C., will have to submit enhanced Medicaid data for the first time, data which the agency will scrutinize carefully.

The OIG report specifically asked CMS to take steps to mitigate Medicaid overpayments not being properly measured by revising the Payment Error Rate Measurement (PERM) methodology or by focusing additional audit resources on managed care.

Enforcement, however, still seems to be years off. A CMS statement clarified that “Current regulations will allow CMS to begin to issue potential disallowances to states based on Payment Error Rate Measurement program findings in 2022.”

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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 Acting Chair Releases Report on Ageism in America

Victoria A. Lipnic, acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), issued a report today on the “State of Older Workers and Age Discrimination 50 Years After the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).” The ADEA was signed into law in December 1967 and took effect 50 years ago this month, in June 1968. The ADEA was an important part of 1960s civil rights legislation that was intended to ensure equal opportunity for older workers by preventing ageism.

Victoria Lipnic

The report finds that age discrimination remains too common and too accepted as outdated assumptions about older workers and ability persist, even though today’s experienced workers are more diverse, better educated and working longer than previous generations.

“As we’ve studied the current state of age discrimination this past year in commemorating the ADEA, we’ve seen many similarities between age discrimination and harassment,” explained Acting EEOC Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. “Like harassment, everyone knows it happens every day to workers in all kinds of jobs, but few speak up. It’s an open secret.”
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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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FLSA Turns 80 Today

On Saturday, June 25, 1938, to avoid pocket vetoes nine days after Congress had adjourned, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed 121 bills. Among these bills was a landmark law in the nation’s social and economic development — the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA).

FLSA-turns-80Against a history of judicial opposition, the Depression-born FLSA had survived, not unscathed, after more than a year of Congressional altercation. In its final form, the act applied to industries whose combined employment represented only about one-fifth of the labor force. In these industries, it banned oppressive child labor and set the minimum hourly wage at 25 cents and the maximum workweek at 44 hours.

Forty years later, a distinguished news commentator asked incredulously: “My God! 25 cents an hour! Why all the fuss?” President Roosevelt expressed a similar sentiment in a “fireside chat” the night before the signing. He warned: “Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day … tell you … that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry.”

In the 80 years since, the FLSA has been amended by law and interpreted by regulation, especially in regards to minimum wage and overtime.

Read the full background of the FLSA here.


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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CHIP Survives Senate Rescission Vote

A move by the Trump administration to claw back nearly $15 in spending from the massive March 23 budget bill has failed in the Senate in a vote eerily similar to last summer’s vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The rescission measure would have hit the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) hardest at $7 billion.

chip-program-reauthorizedFrom CHIP, the administration’s proposal would have canceled $5.1 billion authorized in 2015 to bolster reimbursements to states for children’s health care costs, and another $1.9 billion from a contingency fund for states with funding shortfalls because of higher-than-expected enrollment.

The rescission measure had passed the House of Representatives on a narrow vote earlier this month.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was one of two Republicans to join Democrats to opposing the measure, 48-50. Collins was also a dissenter against Obamacare repeal.

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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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White House Proposes Merging of Labor and Education Departments

In a long-rumored move, President Trump during a White House staff meeting today proposed merging the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Education (DOE) into a single branch to be known as the Department of Education and the Workforce.

department-of-education-building

Department of Education

Efforts in the past to do similar agency reshuffling have been ignored by the Congress, which must approve any such change. In 2017, the Trump administration proposed merging the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) into the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), but the idea got virtually nowhere in Congress.

As a result of the Workforce Innovation of Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014, Labor and Education are split operating 33 job training and education programs. An earlier, less radical plan would have simply merged overlapping programs in the two agencies.

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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 Final Rule on Association Health Plans (AHPs)

The Department of Labor (DOL) today issued a final rule expanding the definition of employer under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to enable the formation of Association Health Plans (AHPs) that can span cities, counties and states. Phase-in begins on Sept. 1, 2018.

dol-reissues-flsa-opinion-lettersThe final rule states:

This document contains a final regulation under Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) that establishes additional criteria under ERISA section 3(5) for determining when employers may join together in a group or association of employers that will be treated as the “employer” sponsor of a single multiple-employer “employee welfare benefit plan” and “group health plan,” as those terms are defined in Title I of ERISA.

According to the DOL, this reform will allow small employers – many of whom are facing much higher premiums and fewer coverage options as a result of Obamacare – a greater ability to join together and gain many of the regulatory advantages enjoyed by large employers.

Under the department’s new rule, AHPs can serve employers in a city, county, state, or a multi-state metropolitan area, or a particular industry nationwide. Sole proprietors as well as their families will be permitted to join such plans. In addition to providing more choice, the new rule makes insurance more affordable for small businesses. Just like plans for large employers, these plans will be customizable to tailor benefit design to small businesses’ needs. These plans will also be able to reduce administrative costs and strengthen negotiating power with providers from larger risk pools and greater economies of scale.

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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 Launches Apprenticeship.gov Website

The Department of Labor (DOL) today announced the launch of Apprenticeship.gov.

Apprenticeship.gov delivers on the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion’s recommendation to “compile apprenticeship information in a single, online, centralized website.” The website will evolve into a robust one-stop platform to connect job seekers, job creators, training providers, parents, teachers, and federal and local workforce agencies with information and resources to learn more about apprenticeships, how to establish apprenticeship program, and how to access open apprenticeship opportunities, according to the DOL.

The initial launch of Apprenticeship.gov comes at the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s Executive Order Expanding Apprenticeships in America, which directed the U.S. Department of Labor to expand access to apprenticeship opportunities to help more Americans secure family-sustaining jobs. The Executive Order also created the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion to identify strategies and proposals to promote apprenticeships. The Task Force released its final report on May 10, 2018.

Apprenticeship programs utilize a learn-while-you-earn model that provides workers with a career path that includes paid on-the-job instruction, skills development, and mentorship, while providing job creators with highly skilled workers.


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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Uptick in Harassment Complaints from #MeToo Movement Yet to Happen, EEOC Says

Watch our YouTube video on preventing harassment in the workplace.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) this week convened its Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment (details here), during which Acting EEOC Chair Victoria Lipnic confirmed that the agency has seen no uptick in sexual harassment claims since the #MeToo movement began — but added that it could still happen.

She also noted that the EEOC’s new guidance on harassment in the workplace is in the hands of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), where it was sent before the inauguration of President Trump, and will no doubt linger there until the Senate confirms Trump’s two new appointees to the commission.

Despite the report of no #MeToo uptick, the EEOC this week filed seven sexual harassment lawsuits across the nation.

“As the nation has seen over the past nine months, harassment at work can affect individuals for years in their careers and livelihoods,” said EEOC Acting Chair Lipnic. “There are many consequences that flow from harassment not being addressed in our nation’s workplaces. These suits filed by the EEOC around the country are a reminder that a federal enforcement action by the EEOC is potentially one of those consequences.”

She continued, “I commend our investigative and trial teams, and our Office of General Counsel, for their work on these important cases. I also commend the individuals who came forward, for bringing their stories to the EEOC in the first place.”

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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 Fiduciary Rule Now Officially Dead

The scant remaining life support for the Fiduciary Rule crafted by the Obama Department of Labor (DOL) ran out yesterday as the Trump administration declined to ask the Supreme Court to review an injunction blocking the rule’s implementation.

fiduciary-rule-dies-without-an-appeal-to-SCOTUSIn March, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-to-1, vote vacated the rule, saying the DOL had overstepped its authority. In May, the same court rebuffed two appeals by the attorneys general of California, New York and Oregon, leaving a window until June 13 for the government to ask the Supreme Court to repeal the injunction.

Financial Advisor magazine reported on why there was no appeal: “A Labor Department spokesman referred questions to the Justice Department, noting that it represents the government in such cases. The Justice Department declined to comment.”

Just two weeks into his presidency, Donald Trump issued an executive order about the rule, asking the DOL “to determine whether it may adversely affect the ability of Americans to gain access to retirement information and financial advice.”

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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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