Until recently, with the realities of America’s mobile society, it was quite possible to lose track of people—former employees included—especially if they didn’t particularly care to be found. However, the advance of modern technology, led by the Internet, first slowed and then reversed this trend—to the point where anonymity and obscurity have become virtually unattainable. Recognizing this fact, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued updated guidance for locating missing participants in terminating retirement plans and for handling their plan benefits until they’re located.
by Lisa Berg
Nonunion employers often believe they don’t have to worry about decisions from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Well, think again! On March 15, 2015, NLRB General Counsel Richard F. Griffin issued a 30-page memo (Memorandum GC 15-04) that provides guidance on handbook policies the NLRB considers unlawful. The memo focuses on employer rules that may violate Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by prohibiting protected concerted activity. Section 7 of the NLRA gives employees the right to “self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”
What if an employer interested in improving the health of its employees—and reducing its health insurance premiums—could slap a device on workers to show statistics on physical fitness? Not only could the people participating in an employer-sponsored wellness program track their own progress, the employer also could see just how hard participants in its program work.
Sounds simple and, indeed, with the proliferation of wearable activity trackers, it’s easy to collect a wealth of information. It may not be so simple, though, to avoid legal problems.
Employers have long used paid vacation policies as a compensation benefit and a means of enhancing employee productivity. To keep pace in a competitive hiring market, many start-ups offer employees the right to take “unlimited” paid vacation. While “unlimited vacation” policies do offer certain benefits, the law on such policies is currently undeveloped, and employers must pay careful attention to implementation and administration to minimize legal risks.
Human resources professionals know well the mantra: Document, document, document. But just writing things down isn’t enough. HR needs to recognize and avoid common documentation mistakes.
Susan G. Fentin, a partner with the Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. law firm in Springfield, Massachusetts, recently outlined common mistakes as part of a Business & Legal Resources webinar titled Defensible Employment Documentation: How to Build a Wall and Minimize Legal Risks.
No employer wants impaired workers on the job, and most take steps intended to prevent drugs and alcohol from causing harm. But despite carefully considered policies, problems often occur. Statistics reported in the June 2 Wall Street Journal are giving employers more to worry about.
Statistics from Quest Diagnostics Inc., a major administer of workplace drug tests, show that the number of U.S. workers testing positive for drugs increased slightly from 2013 to 2014. Drug use was indicated in 3.9 percent of the 9.1 million urine tests the company conducted for employers in 2014. That’s up from 3.7 percent in 2013. Before 2013, positive tests had dropped almost every year for 24 years, according to the Journal report.
by Elaine Young
In 2013, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was part of the group that drafted and passed a comprehensive immigration bill in the Senate. The bill later fizzled out in the House of Representatives. This year, Senator Hatch introduced the Immigration Innovation Act of 2015, which addresses one aspect of comprehensive immigration reform—increasing the number of high-skilled worker visas, referred to as H-1B visas. The bill is commonly known as the “I-Squared Act.”
Questions regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can get tricky. For example, if an employee is off work because of a medical condition, can the employer start the FMLA clock ticking even if the employee doesn’t want his time off counted against his FMLA leave allotment?