As more employees are finding themselves on self-quarantine or limited duty and looking at possible furloughs and layoffs the state and federal governments are looking at ways to provide financial relief.

Early Saturday morning the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act through bipartisan efforts brokered by Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin.  Some of the highlights of the bill are as follows:

Continue Reading State and Federal Authorities Work to Find Solutions for Workers Impacted by Coronavirus

The unfortunate COVID-19 outbreak in the United States presents unique and complicated issues for employers big and small. The ultimate appropriate resolution for these issues is not yet known as the length and extent of the disease is currently ever-evolving.

There is, however, an excellent Interim Guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which provides comprehensive recommended strategies that employers can implement immediately.

Continue Reading COVID-19: What Should Employers Do NOW?

Six key questions that New Hampshire employers may have about the virus.

Whether the spread of Covid-19 is a serious pandemic or a lot of overblown media-driven hysteria, businesses are seeing very real impact on their daily operations due to this illness.

Here are some common questions about what the World Health Organization has identified as a “public health emergency of international concern.” But keep in mind that information about Covid-19 changes constantly, so it is important to recheck the most reliable sources on the topic: the CDC, WHO, and for most readers, your state and local public health offices frequently.

To read my full article that was published in NH Business Review on 3/10/2020, please click here.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Intel Corporation in, Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee v. Sulyma, a case with potentially far reaching implications to employers who maintain Section 401(k) retirement plans.

The case involved a class action lawsuit brought by an Intel employee who claimed that Intel, Intel committees and individuals administering two Intel retirement plans had breached their fiduciary duties under ERISA, the federal law that governs such plans, by offering two investment funds that were imprudently overinvested in “alternative investments” such as hedge funds and private equity and failed to disclose relevant facts about those allocations to plan participants.  This is but one of many similar class action ERISA lawsuits brought against large employers, universities and colleges.  The Supreme Court decision focused on the time a plaintiff has to bring such a claim.  ERISA Section 413 allows a plaintiff as long as six years to file suit following an alleged ERISA breach or violation.  However, if a plaintiff has “actual knowledge” of a breach or violation, that period is reduced to three years.

Continue Reading United States Supreme Court Rules in ERISA Fiduciary Case

The Department of Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Services published a notice in the Federal Register on January 31, 2020, alerting the public to the release and requirement of a new version of the ubiquitous Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification document.  The new form was available for download and use beginning on that date.  We are presently in a 90-day transition time during which employers may use the new form, with a version date of “Rev. 10/21/2019”, or the prior version of the form with a version date of “Rev. 07/17/2017N”.

Continue Reading New I-9 Form – Available January 31, 2020; Mandatory May 1, 2020

One of the hallmarks of the Americans with Disabilities Act is that employers are required to have a dialogue—known as the “interactive process”—with an employee who requests or appears to be in need of an accommodation. A recent case, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination v. Tufts Medical Center, Docket No. 10-BEM-01133 (Dec. 18, 2019), provides some guidance for how an employer can fulfill its obligation to determine whether an employee’s disability can be accommodated.

In 2006, after about four years of working as an inpatient nurse at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, the Complainant was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and lung disease. The following year, she was excused from overtime responsibilities as an accommodation, but still worked without other restrictions. In the spring of 2009, Complainant took medical leaves and by the summer, had exhausted her job protection; in order to return to the nursing pool at Tufts Medical Center, Complainant was required to apply for vacant jobs. By October of 2009, she was cleared to return to work with no restrictions.

Continue Reading MCAD Awards Former Employee $420,000 in Damages for Employer’s Failure to Engage in Interactive Process

On January 9, 2020, the implementation of the H-1B registration process was published in the Federal Register. Although the final rule regarding registration was issued in January 2019, and an announcement was made in December 2019 confirming the process, only some guidance regarding the process has been provided. As of the January 9, 2020 notice, USCIS has stated that it will conduct further outreach and training prior to the initial implementation of the registration process, and will provide guidance on how to use the registration system.

Continue Reading H-1B Cap Registration Update

Last week Congress passed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act as part of the legislative package of spending bills. President Trump signed the legislation on Friday to implement the first major retirement plan legislation since the Pension Protection Act of 2006. As often occurs with major Tax legislation, employers will need to quickly review the legislation as some of the provisions are effective as early as January 1, 2020.  The following are some of the important provisions in the 119 pages of legislation.

Continue Reading Congress Passes SECURE Act Making Major Changes to Retirement Plans

Calculation of “regular rate” of pay is something which has long given employers fits, and the US Department of Labor (“DOL”) has taken a step which it hopes will clarify the definition, something which hasn’t been done in 50 years.  On December 12, 2019 the Final Rule interpreting “regular rate” was announced.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) employers are required to pay non-exempt workers time and one half the “regular rate” for every hour worked over 40.  According to the regulations, the “regular rate” includes all remuneration paid to the employee except for certain payments specifically excluded under the FLSA.  This would include wages paid by the hour, by salary, or by piecework and most bonuses, commissions, incentive pay, shift differentials, and on-call pay. Excluded payments, by definition, are premium payments for certain work (e.g. Sunday premium pay), discretionary bonuses, holiday gifts, and vacation pay.

Continue Reading USDOL Issues Guidance on “Regular Rate” of Pay

It’s that time of year HR Pros!  Holiday parties, too much food and drink, devolving into that awful HR role of party planner and gift giver, and a list a mile long of things you meant to get to before year end which, somehow, just didn’t get done.  Here’s an idea.  Let’s not think about what we didn’t do, but focus instead on a real plan for what we realistically can accomplish in 2020, the start of a brand new decade!  I’m not talking about strategic planning or high level forecasting for your business, which is of course critical to success.  I’m talking about simple things which you know you should do (or we employment attorneys have been telling you  to do); things you can do yourself or delegate. Here’s my list of 2020 to-do’s!

Continue Reading Happy Holidays, New Year’s Resolutions and All That