Human Resource Management Association of Arkansas

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  • 3 Mar 2020 9:07 PM | Melanie Ridlon (Administrator)

    In January, the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.” For the general American public, such as workers in non-healthcare settings, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low and will continue to be monitored by the CDC. Visit FAQs from the Centers for Disease Control for more information about COVID-19.

    This situation has given employers many questions about what to expect. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, along with state and local laws, states that an employer has a general duty to provide a working environment “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”

    The CDC has posted some guidance for employers to help prevent workplace exposures in non-healthcare settings. The following condensed recommendations are taken from the interim guidance found on the CDC website.

    1. Actively encourage sick employees to stay home. Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever, signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines.

    2. Separate sick employees. The CDC recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms, such as cough or shortness of breath, upon arrival to work or who become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and sent home immediately. Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).

    3. Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette, and hand hygiene. Place posters that encourage staying home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen. Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.

    4. Perform routine environmental cleaning. Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas, and follow the directions on the label.

    5. Advise employees to take certain steps before traveling. This could include checking Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance, and other information that is available on the CDC’s website.

    6. Take additional measures as needed. Employees who are well should be instructed to notify their supervisors if they have family members with COVID-19 and to refer to CDC guidance on conducting a risk assessment of their potential exposure.

    The Family and Medical Leave Act allows an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave due to his or her own “serious health condition” or that of a spouse, parent or child. It is almost certain that COVID-19 would be considered a “serious health condition” qualifying the employee for FMLA leave if the employer is covered and the employee is eligible. Employers may also be required to comply with state or local medical leave laws.

    If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, or other contagious illness, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA also prohibits employers from requiring current employees to undergo medical examinations unless the examinations are “job-related and consistent with business necessity.” However, ADA does give employers the ability to assess whether an employee is a “direct threat” thus giving them permission to send the infected employee for a medical assessment to determine the risk to other employees and how best to accommodate the employee who is ill.

    Local conditions will influence the decisions that public health officials make regarding community-level strategies; employers should take the time now to learn about plans in place in each community where they have a business and consider canceling non-essential business travel to additional countries per travel guidance on the CDC website.

    The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas has set up a COVID-19 Coronavirus Resource Page to help businesses and workers deal with this emerging public health issue.

    As the COVID-19 outbreak evolves, employers should stay informed of the latest CDC guidance and consult with qualified employment counsel. If you have any questions or need guidance on planning for or responding to COVID-19, you may contact Jenny Holt Teeter or Brianna C. Cook


  • 10 Feb 2020 2:44 PM | Felicia Johnson (Administrator)

    In order to allow sufficient time for responses to the large number of initial comments received, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has extended the time for submitting responses to initial comments on its proposed rule concerning the definition of “employee” under Section 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The proposed rule would exempt from the NLRB’s jurisdiction undergraduate and graduate students who perform services for financial compensation in connection with their studies. The original notice of proposed rulemaking was published at 84 FR 49691.

    The submission window for responses to initial comments will remain open and interested parties may now file responses on or before Friday, February 28, 2020.

    The Federal Register is expected to announce and publish the extension of time as early as today.

    Responses to initial comments should be submitted either electronically to https://www.regulations.gov/, or by mail or hand-delivery to Roxanne Rothschild, Executive Secretary, National Labor Relations Board, 1015 Half Street S.E., Washington, D.C. 20570-0001.

    Click here to read the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and request for comments in the Federal Register.

    Click here to read the original press release regarding the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

    If you have any questions regarding labor law matters, you may contact Jenny Holt Teeter or Brianna C. Cook.



  • 2 Feb 2020 7:38 PM | Randy Martinsen (Administrator)

    Click HERE to view the February 2020 HR Perspectives Newsletter


  • 29 Jan 2020 5:20 PM | Felicia Johnson (Administrator)

    Help us recognize people who are doing great things!  Please submit your nominees today by completing this submission form -  https://forms.gle/kV8A43fnETKQ3jUK6

  • 22 Jan 2020 10:47 AM | Melanie Ridlon (Administrator)

    The U.S. Department of Labor frequently publishes new releases on employers who are fined for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (including minimum wage violations, overtime violations, and child labor violations). The DOL contends that such releases are sent as a reminder for all companies to familiarize themselves with federal labor standards, and to ensure they comply with labor requirements.

    Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor published a News Release about an Arkansas employer, operating Wild River Country in North Little Rock, related to civil money penalties assessed to the company for child labor violations. 

    Civil money penalties are often assessed by the DOL on top of the back wages and liquidated damages the employers have to pay for these violations.

    For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Division, you can contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at www.dol.gov/agencies/whd, which includes a search tool.

     

    If you have any questions regarding labor law matters, you may contact Jenny Holt Teeter or Brianna C. Cook


  • 19 Jan 2020 7:17 AM | Melanie Ridlon (Administrator)

    The U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule to update the regulations interpreting joint employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA requires covered employers to pay their employees at least the federal minimum wage for every hour worked and overtime for every hour worked over 40 in a workweek. Under the FLSA, an employee may have, in addition to his or her employer, one or more joint employers—additional individuals or entities who are jointly and severally liable with the employer for the employee’s wages.

    In the final rule, the Department provides a four-factor balancing test for determining FLSA joint employer status in situations where an employee performs work for one employer that simultaneously benefits another person. The balancing test examines whether the potential joint employer:

    •     hires or fires the employee;

    •     supervises and controls the employee’s work schedule or conditions of employment to a substantial degree;

    •     determines the employee’s rate and method of payment; and

    •     maintains the employee’s employment records.

    The final rule also clarifies when additional factors may be relevant to a determination of FLSA joint employer status, and identifies certain business models, contractual agreements with the employer, and business practices that do not make joint employer status more or less likely.

    These revisions will add certainty regarding what business practices may result in joint employer status. This rule promotes greater uniformity among court decisions by providing a clearer interpretation of FLSA joint employer status.  These benefits will in turn improve employers’ ability to remain in compliance with the FLSA and will reduce litigation costs.

    This final rule does not address “joint employer” status under other federal employment laws, such as the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

    The effective date of the final rule is March 16, 2020.

     

    If you have any questions regarding the final rule or other employment matters, you may contact Jenny Holt Teeter or Brianna C. Cook


  • 1 Jan 2020 12:00 AM | Randy Martinsen (Administrator)

    Click HERE to view the January 2020 HR Perspectives Newsletter


  • 13 Dec 2019 2:08 PM | Melanie Ridlon (Administrator)

    USCIS announced a final rule that will require a $10 non-refundable fee for each H-1B registration submitted by petitioning employers, once it implements the electronic registration system. The registration fee is part of an agency-wide effort to modernize and more efficiently process applications to live or work in the United States.

    The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent.

    Upon implementation of the electronic registration system, petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, will first have to electronically register with USCIS during a designated registration period, unless the requirement is suspended.

    The final rule, Registration Fee Requirement for Petitioners Seeking to File H-1B Petitions on Behalf of Cap-Subject Aliens, is effective Dec. 9, 2019, and the fee will be required when registrations are submitted. USCIS is fee-funded, and this non-refundable fee will support the new electronic registration system to make the H-1B cap selection process more efficient for both petitioners and the agency.

    USCIS is slated to implement the registration process for the fiscal year 2021 H-1B cap selection process, pending completed testing of the system. The agency will announce the implementation timeframe and initial registration period in the Federal Register once a formal decision has been made, and USCIS will offer ample notice to the public in advance of implementing the registration requirement.

    If you have any questions about U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you may contact Jenny Holt Teeter or Brianna C. Cook, or go to USCIS.gov.


  • 13 Dec 2019 1:21 PM | Melanie Ridlon (Administrator)

    The U.S. Department of Labor announced a Final Rule that marks the first significant update to the regulations governing regular rate requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in over 50 years. The requirements define what forms of payment employers include and exclude in the FLSA’s “time and one-half” calculation when determining overtime rates, as well as which perks and benefits an employer may provide without including them in the regular rate of pay.

    The rule clarifies that employers may offer the following perks and benefits to employees without risk of additional overtime liability:

    • the cost of providing certain parking benefits, wellness programs, onsite specialist treatment, gym access and fitness classes, employee discounts on retail goods and services, certain tuition benefits (whether paid to an employee, an education provider, or a student-loan program), and adoption assistance;
    • payments for unused paid leave, including paid sick leave or paid time off;
    • payments of certain penalties required under state and local scheduling laws;
    • reimbursed expenses including cellphone plans, credentialing exam fees, organization membership dues, and travel, even if not incurred “solely” for the employer’s benefit; and clarifies that reimbursements that do not exceed the maximum travel reimbursement under the Federal Travel Regulation System or the optional IRS substantiation amounts for travel expenses are per se “reasonable payments”;
    • certain sign-on bonuses and certain longevity bonuses;
    • the cost of office coffee and snacks to employees as gifts;
    • discretionary bonuses, by clarifying that the label given a bonus does not determine whether it is discretionary and providing additional examples and;
    • contributions to benefit plans for accident, unemployment, legal services, or other events that could cause future financial hardship or expense.

    The Final Rule will take effect around January 16, 2020, which is 30 days after its scheduled publication in the Federal Register on December 16, 2019.  More information about the final rule is available HERE.

    If you have any questions regarding the final rule or other employment matters, you may contact Jenny Holt Teeter or Brianna C. Cook


  • 1 Dec 2019 8:13 PM | Randy Martinsen (Administrator)

    Click HERE to view the December 2019 HR Perspectives Newsletter

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