Under state law, the Vermont minimum wage increases each year based on the cost of living. According to a press release issued by the Vermont Department of Labor, the cost of living fell by 1.5% between September 1, 2008 and August 31, 2009. Because the state law does not permit a decline in the minimum wage, it will remain at the current level until 2011.
“A steady minimum wage reflects our economic times, “ according to Labor Commissioner Patricia Moulton Powden. “The cost of living has fallen and the ability of employers to increase pay is limited by the recession.”
The Vermont minimum wage for tipped employees will also remain stable at $3.91 per hour for employees who earn at least $120 per month in tips for direct, personal service. However, those employees are still entitled to the minimum wage of $8.06 when tips and (more…)
Smoking will be prohibited in all public places and indoor workplaces including restaurants, hotels and bars under the Michigan Smoking Ban. Under the law, the “workplace” is defined as any place that serves food or drink and has at least one employee.
Smoking will still be permitted in vehicles, even those vehicles used for work. It will also be permitted in home offices, according to the Detroit Free Press.
As we previously reported, Michigan is the 38th state to pass a smoking ban, which becomes effective on May 1, 2010. An exception to the ban will permit smoking on the gambling floor of the Detroit-area casinos, while prohibiting smoking in casino bars, restaurants and hotels.
Hookah bars and cigar bars can continue to operate as long as they do not serve any food or beverages. Smoking is banned on the outdoor patios of restaurants, and in all hotel rooms. Workers on construction sites are permitted to smoke outside, but not inside.
This law is the result of a decade-long effort by Michigan legislators, mostly Democrats, to implement a smoking ban. A recent survey shows that 66% of Michigan voters support some type of smoking ban.
Employers must post appropriate non-smoking signs throughout the workplace, especially at entrances and exits. Ashtrays and other smoking implements are prohibited. If an employee is caught smoking, the employee will be subject to tickets, fines and penalties. The fine is $100 for the first violation and up to $500 for subsequent violation. This also applies to customers, (more…)
GINA prevents employers from gathering information on employees’ genetic makeup, and from making employment decisions based on that information. Many employers are surprised to learn that while they do not engage in genetic testing, common HR practices may still put them in violation of the law.
In addition, every employer needs a to prominently display a GINA poster in the workplace.
A behavior as simple as asking an employee returning from an uncle’s funeral about the cause of death may be a GINA violation.
Genetic information is interpreted very broadly under the sweeping new GINA regulations. In addition to genetic testing, GINA also includes an employees requests for or receipt of genetic services, and family medical history. This includes any manifestation of a disease or disorder in the employee’s family members including dependents plus all relatives to the fourth degree without regard to whether they are related by blood, marriage or adoption. This would include (more…)
In late-breaking news, on December 16, 2009 Congress passed a law to extend both the COBRA subsidy implemented under the stimulus package in February 2009, and unemployment benefits to millions of Americans.
Still, many workers who were eligible for the subsidy at its inception have already lost coverage – they exhausted available benefits on December 1, 2009. Regardless of the date of termination, the COBRA premium reduction is available for a maximum of 9 months.
Employees terminated on or before December 31, 2009 will qualify for the original COBRA subsidy. The subsidy allows workers to continue their current health insurance coverage while paying just 35% of the COBRA premium. The balance of the COBRA premium is paid by the employer, who takes a credit on the quarterly payroll taxes, passing the cost along to the federal government.
Actually, until President Obama signs the extension into law, an employee terminated in late December 2009 might not qualify for the COBRA subsidy, if his or her group insurance coverage continues until January 1, 2010.
Any employer who is considering laying employees off in early January might actually be doing the workers a favor by terminating them prior to December 31, 2009 unless the extension goes into effect ASAP.
The Michigan smoking ban will go into effect on May 1, 2010. The law prohibits smoking in almost all bars, restaurants and workplaces. Exceptions to the smoking include tobacco specialty stores and cigar bars. Smoking will also be allowed in home offices and motor vehicles – even motor vehicles used for work.
Governor Jennifer Granholm called the bill “a terrific gift to Michigan.”
By implementing the smoking ban, Michigan joins with other states including New York, California and Illinois.
Under the new law, smoking will be permitted on the gambling floor of the Detroit-area casinos, but prohibited in the casino bars, restaurants and hotels. The casino exemption was a compromise between House Democrats and conservatives in the Michigan Senate.