1.22.2015

House Passes Bill Redefining a Full-Time Employee Under the Affordable Care Act

On January 8, 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill changing the definition of a full-time employee under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from a person who works 30 hours per week to one who work 40 hours per week. This change is significant because the ACA requires businesses with 50 or more employees to offer health insurance to their full-time employees or pay a penalty. The 40-hour per week definition would bring the ACA in alignment with other state and federal laws, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Proponents of the bill, called the Save American Workers Act, argue that the current 30-hour threshold pressures businesses to save money by either reducing employees’ hours to avoid mandatory insurance coverage or laying off employees altogether. The Obama administration strongly opposes the legislation on the grounds that it would reduce the number of Americans with health insurance coverage. Additionally, a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the bill would add to the federal deficit by decreasing employer penalties for noncompliance with the ACA and increasing the number of persons receiving government-subsidized health insurance instead of employer-provided coverage.

The bill easily passed the House by a vote of 252-172, but it will face increased opposition in the Senate, where Republicans will need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster by Senate Democrats. Further, President Obama has threated to veto the bill if it passes.

The Save American Workers Act is the latest attempt by House Republicans to chip away at the Affordable Care Act. Since taking office earlier this year, the House has also passed legislation exempting emergency service volunteers and employees that receive insurance from the Veterans Administration from being counted towards the ACA’s 50-employee threshold.



Nathan Pangrace
216.615.4825
npangrace@ralaw.com

1.19.2015

White House Makes Big Push for Paid Family Leave

On Thursday, January 15, 2015, President Obama called on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act.  If passed, the Healthy Families Act, as currently proposed, would require companies to give workers up to seven days of paid sick leave a year.  The proposed Act would apply to companies that have at least 15 employees.  Employees at those companies would earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours of paid sick time per year. 

Obama also announced that he will take executive action to give at least six weeks of paid leave to federal employees after the birth or adoption of a child.  Obama will grant the paid sick leave to federal employees of the executive branch through a presidential memorandum, a tool similar to an executive order used to direct federal agencies to implement a White House policy.  The program will work by advancing unearned sick time to employees, and will cost $250 million a year to implement.  The move is intended to encourage states and cities to implement similar paid sick leave policies. 

Obama’s actions capitalize on the recent trend of state and local governments to pass workplace regulations on matters like minimum wage and paid leave even as such measures languish in Congress.

In the November elections, ballot measures on sick leave passed in Massachusetts; Trenton and Montclair in New Jersey; and Oakland, California. There are now three states – Massachusetts, California and Connecticut – and 16 cities that offer some form of paid sick leave.  There are currently 43 million private-sector workers in the U.S. who do not have paid leave.

Obama believes that paid leave policies have an economic benefit for employers – that is, businesses with paid leave policies have greater productivity and higher corporate profits.  Critics argue that legislatively mandated leave policies will result in employers off-setting the cost through decreased wages and/or increased prices passed on to the consumer.
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216.820.4204

1.15.2015

Three Ways to Ensure a Safe Start to 2015

With the changing of the calendar comes a new year and new challenges for businesses across the country. Following these three tips is a great way to ensure that 2015 gets off to a safe start for both you and your employees.

Review your OSHA requirements

January 1, 2015 is particularly important from an OSHA standpoint, as it marks the effective date of the new injury and fatality reporting requirements. Under the new rule, employers must report all work-related fatalities within eight hours of their occurrence. Employers must also report all work-related hospitalizations of one or more employees, eye losses, and amputations within 24 hours. It is worth noting that under the new rule, employers do not have to report a hospitalization if it is for diagnostic testing or observation only.

Update your employee handbook

An out-of-date employee handbook can open you up to a host of issues, from wrongful termination and harassment suits to drawing the ire of the National Labor Relations Board. Setting out the policies of your workplace in detail is absolutely vital to the smooth operation of a business and the avoidance of unnecessary litigation. It would be a prudent move to review, revise, and update your employee handbook regularly to better reflect both changes in the law and changes in your business.

Keep abreast of any wage law changes in your state

With a new year come changes to wage laws across the country. If you own a business in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, or Washington, be advised that your minimum wage increased as of January 1, 2015. Many states implemented minimum wage changes midway through 2014 and into 2015. If you are in the hospitality industry, you should pay particular attention to any revisions related to tipped employee minimum wage, as changes to the standard minimum wage may differ from those for tipped employees.
 



Marcus Pringle
216.696.7077
mpringle@ralaw.com