Families of Armed Forces members on active duty are covered, not just family members of the National Guard and Reserve
It appears that these changes are retroactive, according to Matthew Effland, an Indianapolis attorney specializing in FMLA issues.
Active Duty Included
Under the new law, when a member of the Armed Forces is deployed to a foreign country, his or her spouse, son, daughter, parent, step-child, or step-parent can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected FMLA leave for any “qualifying exigency.”
Many employers have already been granting this leave to military families, and not just the families of Reserve or National Guard members who are called to active duty. In fact, it is unclear why the U.S. Department of Labor interpreted the original law so narrowly in the final days of the second Bush administration.
Under the current regulations, qualifying exigencies include attending military-sponsored functions, making appropriate financial and legal arrangements, handling details of a short-notice deployment, attending counseling, and making alternate childcare arrangements. In addition, an employee can take up to 5 days of FMLA for rest and recreation or R&R under the law. The employee can also use FMLA up to 90 days following deployment for arrival ceremonies, post-deployment ceremonies and other military events.
Military Caregiver Leave Expanded to Veterans
The NDAA also permits an employee who is the son, daughter, spouse, or parent to take up to 26 weeks of unpaid, job-protected FMLA during a 12-month period to provide care for a service member who has been injured or contracted a disease in the line of duty.
This extended FMLA leave also applies to the injured soldier’s next-of-kin, regardless of the relationship. This means in some cases that an in-law, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle or cousin could qualify for military caregiver leave.
The new law permits the (more…)
This new federal posting requirement applies to virtually every employer, even if they never engage in genetic testing.
GINA, of course, is the Genetic Information Nondisclosure Act of 2008. Under GINA, employers are prohibited from gathering information on an employee’s genetic makeup. Employers are also prohibited from considering an employee’s genetic information in making employment decisions.
Health insurance providers cannot discriminate against consumers, based on genetic information under GINA. For example, a health insurance company could not refuse to cover an individual, simply because her mother, grandmother and aunt all had breast cancer. Even if genetic testing showed that the consumer had a gene for breast cancer, that alone would not be sufficient cause for the health insurance company to deny her coverage.
The GINA prohibition on gathering genetic information also includes taking information on an employee’s family medical history – especially hereditary illnesses like heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and other inherited conditions.
GINA covers a wide variety of mental health conditions including depression, (more…)
Many states are imposing stricter penalties for employers who illegally avoid paying unemployment insurance and workers’ comp by misclassifying workers as independent contractors.
In Somers v. Converged Access, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the independent contractor law is a strict liability statute. This means that the employer’s intent in misclassifying a worker is irrelevant. Therefore, the worker was entitled to compensation for wages, overtime and benefits that he would have received, if he had been correctly classified as an employee. In addition, the employee was permitted to keep the $65 per hour that the company paid him as an independent contractor – an amount far in excess of an employee’s wage in the same job.
The Massachusetts company was required to pay the employee for benefits including vacation and holiday pay. In addition, the company was ordered to pay the employee overtime at a rate of $97.50 per hour – 1.5 times the worker’s $65-per-hour wage.
A new Pennsylvania law holds the employer responsible when an employee uses a work computer for child porn. Every employer needs to be aware of this change, because it highlights a recent trend under federal and state law of holding employers responsible for crimes of child exploitation by workers.
A Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling requires the employer to act when notified of employee use of a company computer or a company network to view child pornography — even a single image viewed one time, even if the employee claims the site was accessed accidentally.
More states are placing the burden on employers to eliminate such conduct by employees, even on company laptops that the employee takes home.
By law, IT workers in Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Dakota must report the discovery of child pornography on any work computer to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. An employer who fails to report such images is subject to fines and even jail time.
Employers should consider implementing an Internet policy that any employee who downloads or views child pornography on a work computer or network is immediately terminated. In one recent ruling, the appeals court found that the employer has a duty to report even a single incidence (more…)
The California Labor Agency recently issued an opinion allowing employers to reduce an exempt employee’s salary and hours worked, at the same time, without endangering the worker’s status as a salaried exempt employee.
In the example used, the state labor agency permitted an employer faced with economic difficulties to reduce the work schedule of exempt employees from five days to four days. The state DLSE or Department of Labor Standards Enforcement ruled in a recent opinion letter that simultaneously reducing the employee’s salary by 20% “did not violate the ‘salary basis’ for the workers’ overtime exemption under the state Labor code and wage orders” as long as the employer’s action is a temporary measure.
This is a radical change, since the DLSE took the opposite position in 2002. In an opinion letter issued in that year, the California agency ruled that the employer could reduce an employee’s salary. However, if the employee’s work hours were also reduced, that change the employee from exempt to non-exempt status.