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Federal Compliance Alerts
A study by Hewitt Associates shows that enrollment in COBRA extended health coverage doubled after the 65-percent subsidy kicked in this past March. From September 2008 through February of this year, enrollment stood at 19 percent. From March on, it jumped to 38 percent. COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986, one of whose provisions allows employees to...
Though the waves of layoffs seem to have abated somewhat lately, the second quarter of 2009 set a record for both mass layoff events and employment separations. From April 1 through the end of June, employers initiated 2,994 mass layoff events, resulting in the separation of 534,881 workers from their jobs. Both set records (with data going back to 1995). In these tough times, many...
Health care providers, insurers and their business associates are covered by the security and privacy rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), but some third-party vendors that offer to store personal health information (PHI) for consumers are not covered by HIPAA. Thus vendors such as Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health were under no obligation to report...
It's not even April, but this may be the cruellest month for Lilly Ledbetter, who wooed Barack Obama and the Democrats with her woeful tale of pay discrimination, which culminated in an act being passed bearing her name. To make the story brief, Ledbetter worked for Goodyear for decades, but shortly before retiring learned that she had been paid less than her male, more junior coworkers...
New regulations requiring health care providers, health plans, and other entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to notify individuals when their health information is breached were issued today (Aug. 19, 2009) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These “breach notification” regulations implement provisions of the...
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) until a year ago relied almost entirely on voluntary compliance with the privacy and security provisions of HIPAA, the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. HHS, however, is now levying fines and imposing corrective action plans (CAP) for breaches of personal health information (PHI). Two cases in point are...
Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has introduced legislation paralleling a House bill that seeks to amend the 1970 OSH Act (Occupational Safety and Health) by expanding coverage to public sector employees not covered by state OSH acts, enhancing whistleblower protection, and increasing fines and criminal penalties for non-compliance and violations. The bill, S. 1580, is actually one of ailing...
I guess they can use the Timothy Geithner excuse--the law is too hard to figure out and comply with. However, they're the ones who are supposed to be enforcing the law. Turns out that the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) was busted for misclassifying employees as exempt and then failing to pay overtime in an arbitrator's decision issued back in April. The agency blamed it all...
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is combining enforcement of the HIPAA privacy and security rules into the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and will enter the change into the Federal Register today, Aug. 4, 2009. Previously, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administered the security rule while OCR administered the privacy rule. Both rules are contained...
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is launching a national emphasis program (NEP) to inspect facilities that could potentially release highly hazardous chemicals resulting in toxic fire or explosion hazards. The one-year pilot program will focus on several regions around the country (OSHA regions I, VII and X) and will rely on programmed inspections that are not based...
Along with the rise in the federal minimum wage to $7.25 this past Friday, the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor (DOL) revised the agency's minimum wage poster and announced that the previous poster is still valid for the time being. That older version listed the minimum wage increases of the past three years in succession, concluding with the final level that kicked...
The Department of Labor has released an insert poster providing information on the FMLA amendments that were part of the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Tthe notice is intended to be posted next to the official FMLA notice by all covered employers (i.e. employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius as well as all primary and secondary schools.) The new poster,...
COMPLIANCE ALERT: The employer compliance deadline for OSHA’s final rule on payment for personal protective equipment (PPE) expired May 15, 2008. All employers must ensure their compliance with this new regulation. The new regulation addresses employer payment for personal protective equipment (PPE), which is any safety equipment or device that must be worn in the workplace to...
In Candice Davis v. Michigan Bell Telephone Company , the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a request for intermittent FMLA leave terminates when the employee's new 12-month FMLA leave period begins. In other words, FMLA leave cannot carry over into a new 12-month period. The issued revolved on Ms. Davis's absence from work on FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) from Sept. 24 to...
As early as today, the Department of Labor (DOL) is going to issue new regulations relating to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The regulations are being promulgated after a commentary period that began two years ago this month. Some of the changes coming down the pike might (or might not) include the following: Additional notice requirements that the employer must provide...