Wyatt Employment Law Report


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Proposed New Tax Breaks For Employers

By Kim Koratsky

By a 70-28 vote, the Senate passed a new jobs bill, sending the bill back to the House for final approval.   Democrat leaders promise more jobs bills are on the way.   This bill contains two major provisions.  First, it would exempt, through December, businesses hiring the unemployed from the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax, then give those businesses an additional $1,000 credit if new workers stay on the job a full year.  Second, it would extend highway and mass transit programs through the end of the year and put $20 Billion into them in hopes of creating new construction jobs.


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Extension of COBRA Subsidy and Unemployment Benefits Signed Into Law

By Edwin S. Hopson

On December 19, 2009, President Obama signed into law a measure that provides for an expansion of the COBRA subsidy for unemployed persons and a 2 month extension of the eligibility period.  The COBRA subsidy, which was set to expire December 31, 2009, requires employers to pay 65% of the cost of COBRA for eligible unemployed workers, but also allows employers to take an offset of that cost against payroll taxes due the federal government.  The measure also included an additional 13 to 20 weeks of unemployment benefits and a raise in the benefit payment of $25 per week.  This legislation was inserted in the massive Defense spending bill – H.R. 3326 –  which was approved by a vote of 395 to 35 on December 16, 2009 in the House. Tthe Senate passed the bill on December 19, 2009.  Here are the details according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s “fact sheet.”

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Congress Jumps Aboard the H1N1 Bandwagon

By George J. Miller

As if the flood of information and guidance from OSHA and the CDC were not enough to help employers and employees deal with the threat of H1N1 in the workplace, Congress has now gotten into the act.  On November 3rd, the Emergency Influenza Containment Act (H.R. 3991) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.  This bill would guarantee a maximum of five paid sick days for employees who are sent home or directed to stay home by their employer because they have symptoms of a contagious illness, or have been in close contact with an individual who has symptoms of a contagious illness, such as the H1N1 flu virus.

As if this were not enough, a second bill, the Pandemic Protection for Workers, Families and Businesses Act (S.2790/H.R. 4092) was introduced on November 17th in the House and Senate.  This bill would give employees up to seven paid sick days to use for leave due to their own flu-like symptoms, or for medical diagnosis or preventative care, or to care for a sick child, or to care for a child whose school or child care facility has been closed due to the flu.

Both bills would take effect fifteen days after being signed into law but would automatically terminate after two years.  They would apply only to employers of fifteen or more employees.

If both bills are enacted into law, it is not clear whether there would be circumstances under which an employee could stack the leave entitlements under the two laws and take up to twelve paid days off.


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FMLA Amended, Yet Again

By Kim Koratsky

On December 3, 2009, the U.S. House passed a bill that will make the nation’s flight attendants and pilots eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid leave time each year under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  This legislation has already passed the Senate (by unanimous consent) on November 10, and is expected to be signed by the President.  Senate Bill 1422, The Airline Flight Crew Technical Correction Act, clarifies the FMLA to accommodate flight attendants and pilots who, because of the airline industry’s unique calculation of work hours spent on overnights, layovers and waiting to be called to duty, currently do not qualify for leave time.  The Bill’s original sponsor, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) said, Continue reading


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EEOC Revises Its Notice to Employees Poster

By Edwin S. Hopson

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has revised its Notice to Employees poster that all employers with 15 or more employees must post. The poster was revised to include information about the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 which is effective November 21, 2009, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008.  The EEOC website link to be used to order the new poster on line is:

http://archive.eeoc.gov/posterform.html

According to the EEOC press release, there are several ways for employers to comply with the posting requirements of the law:

1. Print the supplement below and post it alongside EEOC’s September 2002 “EEO is the Law” poster or OFCCP’s August 2008 “EEO is the Law” poster.

2. Print and post the EEOC’s November 2009 version of the “EEO is the Law” poster.

3. Order a new poster through the EEOC Clearinghouse at the address provided below. Please note that the EEOC poster is on backorder and will be shipped when the poster becomes available in the near future.

The new poster will also be available in Spanish, Chinese and Arabic before the GINA statute becomes effective on November 21, 2009.

If you need more than ten copies of the poster, you should contact:

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Clearinghouse

P.O. Box 541

Annapolis Junction, MD 20701

Fax: (301) 206-9789 or call: 1-800-669-3362 (voice) 1-800-800-3302 (TTY)

To order the poster, complete and submit the form contained on the EEOC website link referenced above.

 


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The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

By LaToi D. Mayo

GINA was first introduced in the House in 1995, finally passed in 2008 and signed into law by President G. W. Bush in May 2008.  GINA includes two titles. Title I amends portions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Public Health Service Act, and the Internal Revenue Code, and addresses the use of genetic information in health insurance. Title II prohibits the use of genetic information in employment, prohibits the intentional acquisition of genetic information about applicants and employees, and imposes strict confidentiality requirements.

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E-Verify Required For Federal Contractors In September. Is There More To Come?

By Kim Koratsky 

            Starting September 8, 2009, federal contractors will be required to use E-Verify to confirm that both current and newly hired employees working on federal contracts are authorized to work in the United States.  The E-Verify system allows employers to check Social Security and visa numbers against government databases via the Internet.  So, federal contractors (and subcontractors) must be prepared to implement this system in September, but is this where the requirement stops?  Yes, for now. 

             Many in Congress would like to require E-Verify for all employers. 

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