Robert S. Groban, Jr. and the Immigration Law Group of Epstein Becker Green recently issued an alert that will be of interest to employers. Following are the main topic headings:
Read the full alert here.
Regarding the Affordable Care Act, Our colleague August Emil Huelle at Epstein Becker Green has posted “Legislation Introduced to Change Full-Time Employee Definition under the Affordable Care Act” on one of our sister blogs, Employee Benefits Insight. Following is an excerpt:
On January 7, 2015, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Donnelly (D–IN) along with Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Forty Hours is Full Time Act, legislation that would amend the definition of a “full-time employee” under the Affordable Care Act to an employee who works an average of 40 hours per week. In the coming days, the House is expected to vote on its own version of this legislation, the Save American Workers Act.
The teeth of the Affordable Care Act have the ability to sink excise taxes on employers who do not offer affordable healthcare coverage to full-time employees, which the Affordable Care Act defines as employees who work an average of 30 hours per week. In announcing the introduction of the legislation, Senator Collins argued that the current definition “creates a perverse incentive for businesses to cut their employees’ hours so they are no longer considered full time.” The implication being that the Forty Hours is Full Time Act will increase employee wages because the employers who reportedly reduced employee hours below 30 per week in an effort to avoid costs associated with providing healthcare coverage to employees (or the tax for not providing coverage to employees) are the same employers who will raise employee hours above 30 per week if they are not faced with such costs.
Read the full blog post here.
On January 5, 2015, less than one month after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) voted to adopt a Final Rule to amend its rules and procedures for representation elections, a lawsuit has been filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, asserting that the Board exceeded its authority under the National Labor Relations Act (Act) when it amended its rules for votes on union representation and that the new rule in unconstitutional and violates the First and Fifth Amendments of the US Constitution.
The suit was filed by the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation and the Society for Human Resources Management. It seeks an order vacating the Final Rule, declaring the Final Rule to be contrary to the Act and in excess of the Board’s statutory jurisdiction and authority and to violate the First and Fifth Amendments.
The claims raised in the suit are essentially the same as those which were raised by in an action filed in the same court in 2012, in response to the NLRB’s December 2011 adoption of a very similar set of changes to its representation election procedures. That action also challenged the Board’s action based on what it found to be the Board’s lack of a quorum at the time it adopted those rule changes in 2011. Because the Court found that the Board lacked a quorum at that time, it found it unnecessary to address the substantive arguments about the changes in the election rules that are the essence of the new lawsuit.
While the Complaint does not indicate that the plaintiffs are seeking an order enjoining the Board from implementing the new election procedures under the Final Rule while the case is litigated, the plaintiffs are likely to request such an order as the Final Rule’s effective date of April 15th nears. In the earlier challenge to the Board’s 2011 rulemaking, the Court granted an injunction in April 2012 enjoining the Board from putting the new rules and procedures into effect, while it considered the merits of the challenge.
While Republican members of Congress have with increasing frequency indicated their desire to reign in the Board in a variety of areas where they have seen it as exceeding its mandate or moving in directions that they do not agree with, it is almost certain that President Obama would veto such legislation and it is not likely that the sufficient support would be present to override a veto. Thus as the New York Times observed earlier this week, those who oppose administrative actions such as this are turning increasingly to the courts in hopes of relief.
We will continue to monitor and report on developments in this closely watched case.
Our colleague Steven Swirsky at Epstein Becker Green wrote an advisory on an NLRB ruling that affects all employers: “NLRB Holds That Employees Have the Right to Use Company Email Systems for Union Organizing – Union and Non-Union Employers Are All Affected.” Following is an excerpt:
In its Purple Communications, Inc., decision, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) has ruled that “employee use of email for statutorily protected communications on nonworking time must presumptively be permitted” by employers that provide employees with access to email at work. While the majority in Purple Communications characterized the decision as “carefully limited,” in reality, it appears to be a major game changer. This decision applies to all employers, not only those that have union-represented employees or that are in the midst of union organizing campaigns.
Under this decision, which applies to both unionized and non-union workplaces alike, if an employer allows employees to use its email system at work, use of the email system “for statutorily protected communications on nonworking time must presumptively be permitted . . . .” In other words, if an employee has access to email at work and is ever allowed to use it to send or receive nonwork emails, the employee is permitted to use his or her work email to communicate with coworkers about union-related issues.
Read the full advisory here.
Regarding the Supreme Court’s Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk opinion, issued today, our colleague Michael Kun at Epstein Becker Green has posted “Supreme Court Holds That Time Spent in Security Screening Is Not Compensable Time” on one of our sister blogs, Wage & Hour Defense.
Following is an excerpt:
In order to prevent employee theft, some employers require their employees to undergo security screenings before leaving the employers’ facilities. That is particularly so with employers involved in manufacturing and retail sales, who must be concerned with valuable merchandise being removed in bags, purses or jacket pockets.
Often in the context of high-stakes class actions and collective actions, parties have litigated whether time spent undergoing a security screening must be compensated under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). On December 9, 2014, a unanimous United States Supreme Court answered that question – no.
The Court’s decision in Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk may have a far-reaching practical and legal impact. Not only may it make more employers comfortable conducting security screenings of their employees, but it may bring an end to most class actions and collective actions filed against employers seeking compensation for employees’ time spent in such screenings.
Epstein Becker Green’s slides from the “Eye on Ebola: A Discussion About the Health Regulatory, Risk Management, and Labor and Employment Issues Impacting Health Care Providers” webinar is featured on the American Hospital Association’s Ebola Preparedness Resources – click here.
The November 17 webinar addressed the professional and business challenges encountered by health care providers dealing with Ebola and other infectious diseases, and featured 4 fantastic speakers.
- Bruno Petinaux, M.D., Associate Professor, Co-Chief of the Emergency Management Section, Department of Emergency Medicine, George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates offered a clinical overview as well as a review of the guidelines which offer protocols for addressing concerns over Ebola and similar diseases.
- Amy F. Lerman, Associate, Epstein Becker Green covered the health regulatory considerations.
- George B. Breen, Member, Epstein Becker Green, Chair, Health Care and Life Sciences Practice Steering Committee elaborated on risk management issues providers might consider in developing a response strategy.
- Frank C. Morris, Jr., Member, Epstein Becker Green, Employment, Labor and Workforce Management Practice discussed the resulting labor and employment considerations facing health care employers.
The webinar slides and recording can also be found here on Epstein Becker Green’s website.
Health care employers doing business in New York City should take note of a new ordinance Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law on October 20, 2014 – The Affordable Transit Act.
The Affordable Transit Act (the “Act”) requires employers in New York City with 20 or more full-time employees to offer pre-tax transit benefits to employees. The Act allows employees to use up to $130 in tax free money towards their transit costs, which is the current IRS limit. Full-time employees are defined as employees working an average of 30 hours or more per week.
Penalties for violating the Act are $100-$250 for first time violations and $250 for repeat violations. Health care employers, however, have 90 days to cure the first violation before any civil penalties will be imposed and penalties will not be imposed on any employer more than once in any 30-day period.
Health care employers are exempt from the Act if a collective bargaining agreement covers the relevant employees or where the health care employer is not required to pay federal, state and city payroll taxes. In addition, the Department of Consumer Affairs may waive the requirements if an employer demonstrates that offering the benefit is a financial hardship.
According to the Mayor’s office, the legislation is expected to save employees over $400 a year on Metro Card expenses and employers more than $100 per year per employee in tax liability. The Mayor’s office also predicts that the Act will extend transit benefits to more than 450,000 employees in NYC who are not currently offered them.
The Act takes effect on January 1, 2016 but in order to allow businesses adequate time to adjust to the new law, employers will not be subject to penalties prior to July 1, 2016.
Employers who do not already offer pretax transit benefits should take the next year to ensure compliance with the new law, assess and make any necessary changes to their payroll and benefits systems, and prepare communications to employees.
By Frank C. Morris, Jr.
The Ebola virus disease (“Ebola”) has become a worldwide threat, which, among many other effects, has forced employers to think about how to protect their employees. Employers also must consider how Ebola might impact employment policies and procedures, including, but not limited to, those addressing attendance, leaves of absence, discipline, and medical testing.
My colleagues and I have written a detailed Act Now advisory providing legal framework of best practices and legal risks pertaining to Ebola.
Click here to read the advisory in its entirety.