Babies are born. Sometimes a spouse or a son or daughter becomes seriously ill. We may adopt a child, or we may bring a foster child into the home. All of these events require our full attention to our family life.
The Arkansas FMLA law is there to allow us to shift our concentration from workplace to hearth in such circumstances. They are the kinds of circumstances we think about at this time of year, as Mother’s Day passes and Father’s Day is not too far away.
The Family and Medical Leave Act is designed to offer job protection when we must leave our workplace to attend to pressing family needs. Some states have chosen to create their own versions of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which are sometimes slightly different. Arkansas abides by the federal program. Under the law, employees can take as many as 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually for these kinds of circumstances. Private workplaces with 50 or more employees must abide by the law. Public workers and teachers are protected even if the workplace has fewer than 50 employees.
Employers and employees each have obligations to fulfill under the law. Employers must notify a worker immediately in written form about the leave status and telling him or her what must be done to insure the position is still there upon return to the workplace. Employees must do their share by following through on the instructions from the employer.
Workplace medical coverage premiums are paid by payroll deductions. What happen when a worker is on unpaid leave? The employer pays the premium and declares it an advance on the worker’s future paychecks. When returning to work, the payroll deductions during the unpaid leave are taken from the paycheck.
The Arkansas FMLA provides a poster describing the basics of the program, including eligibility and benefits. It should be displayed prominently at work.
When people ask about Arkansas employee benefits, mental health coverage is one frequently asked question. Many people ask if any state or federal law requires insurers to cover mental health treatments. Others want to know if insurers can set a low limit on payments for this type of treatment. The answer is that there is a bill, in force since 1996 that regulates some aspects of this issue.
This law is The Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA), which requires that any group health insurance plan that covers mental health treatments, must offer the same coverage as for other medical treatments.
But that is only a part of the answer, because at the same time there is no law that compels any health insurer to cover mental health treatments.
A recent extension sets December 31, 2007 as the new deadline for the MHPA bill. It was approved for the first time in 1996, when the law included an expiration date of September 30, 2001. Since then, the deadline has been extended 5 times. The last extension was in February 2007 and the law will be still in force until the end of 2007.
By all indications, this bill will be extended one or more times.
Before the MHPA was approved, many group healthcare plans paid low annual amounts for mental health treatments. Some health insurance, for example, paid up to $1,500 per year for mental health treatment but paid up to $100,000 for surgery.
Today the law requires that any plan offering mental health coverage pay the same amount for both types of treatment. The old disparity in payments are illegal.
Most employees are covered by comprehensive benefits plans provided by their employers. Many of them cover include mental health treatments. On the other hand, a number of employers offer healthcare plans that don’t cover any expenses related to mental health.
Many violations of law about healthcare are now being handled by the Employee Benefits Security Administration, or ESBA, a federal government agency. More than 150 million workers are covered under plans administered by this agency.
New employers in the state of Arkansas, please listen up to me, your loyal and fearless human resource blog writer. I have some important information for you to help you stay on the right side of the law. (Not to say, of course, that you are on the wrong side of the law!)
There are just important steps that all new Arkansas employers need to know to make sure they comply with the Arkansas Employment Security Law. Even old and new employers could use a refresher on this information, as well as the updates on the law that are out there.
First and foremost, all new employers must file certain forms with the state of Arkansas’ Department of Labor—specifically, the Employment Security Division of the department. One such form is the Report to Determine Liability Form. The liability in this case is the liability to pay unemployment insurance taxes.
This form must be submitted to the Employment Security Division no later than the last day of the month that follows the first day that you were an official employer. In other words—to cut through the buearocratic jargon—you should get this form in by the end of your second month as an employer.
Even if you are not sure that you are an employer who may be liable to pay unemployment insurance taxes in the state of Arkansas—or on the other hand, if you are sure that you are not liable to pay—you still must submit this Report to Determine Liability Form within the set timeframe. If you are thinking you are not liable, you also have to provide at the same time whatever documents or evidence you have that proves you are not liable to pay the unemployment insurance tax in the state of Arkansas.
Arkansas holiday pay laws are similar to some other states. Workers receive ten paid holidays which are New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and two birthday holidays which are Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s & Robert E. Lee’s combined Birthday, as well as George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates’ Day, as well as the employee’s birthday which he can take as a holiday.
An employee is eligible for holiday pay if he works his last scheduled day before the official holiday and the next scheduled day after the holiday. If the employee is off work due to illness or a scheduled leave, he is to be given a holiday day and his annual or sick leave is not to be charged for the holiday. If the employee is on a scheduled day off on the day of the holiday, he is to be given equivalent time to be taken upon the approval of his supervisor.
Regular salaried and extra help employees are eligible to receive holiday if they work their last scheduled work day before the holiday and at least one hour on their first scheduled work day after the holiday. If the employee is on leave or out of work on these days due to illness, the holiday will be considered a holiday and will not be charged against the employee’s annual or sick leave. If by the same token the holiday occurs on an employee’s day off, the employee will be given time off equivalent to the holiday. A part-time employee will be given holiday pay at the rate equivalent to their time worked. For example, if an employee works half-time, he would be given holiday pay equal to 4 hours. Holidays which occur on a Saturday will be observed on the previous Friday, and holidays occurring on Sunday will be observed on the following Monday.
In November 2000 the Federal government passed the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act – 15 U.S.C. §§ 6801-6827 (GLBA) that set the precedence for customer privacy. This bill covered Privacy Rights for disclosure of personal information from companies, producers and other persons and entities licensed under each state’s insurance law and included all licensees, health insurers and HMOs because they are considered “financial institutions” under Title V of the GLBA. The GLBA permits each state to develop its own compliance regulations.
While there was no clear evidence that Arkansas passed any laws or regulations that may have tighten the GLBA ruling in regard to Privacy Rights, the state of Arkansas seems to be complying with all the provisions of the GLBA.
The GLBA does provide adequate guidelines and rules governing the circumstances by which financial institutions may disclose as well as gather information in regard to personal information about their customers. Generally the GLBA set forth categories from where information can be gathered. For example, information can be obtained from credit applications, credit reports, or any other entity regarding the customer’s employment or credit. Opt out options are required which gives the customer the option to either allow distribution or not allow distribution of their personal information. This however does not apply to TPAs and health insurance companies for purposes in processing claims or servicing claims.
The type of personal information that can be collected is income, credit score or history, open lines of credit, employment history, marital status and medical history. The GLBA allows this type of information to be shared among affiliated companies.
The state of Arkansas is complying with the GLBA’s standard when it comes to the format of Privacy Notices. All Privacy Notices must be accurate, written clearly and understandably so that customers can understand what information is being collected and how agencies use their information. These notices need to be given to new customers as well as sent out annually to existing customers.