Similar bills are being considered by state legislatures in California, Georgia, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, Nebraska, New York, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania and Vermont. Check back frequently for the latest updates on those bills.
By contrast, New Jersey is currently considering a law that would allow employers to share an employee’s or former employee’s credit history, work evaluations and other information in the personnel file with prospective employers or government agencies.
In most of these states, the limits to an employer’s use of credit checks apply to all employment decisions. However, the Florida and Michigan bills would only restrict use of credit history in hiring. An employer could still use a credit report for employment decisions regarding current employees.
According to the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, employers are required to display state and federal minimum wage posters that are both accurate and up to date, preferably in both English and Spanish.
The Florida minimum wage increased on January 1, 2009 to $7.21 an hour. That is a hike of 42 cents hourly from the 2008 rate of $6.79.
Florida was experiencing a seemingly endless economic upturn in 2004. On November 2 of that year, the voters of Florida approved an amendment to the state constitution creating a state minimum wage.
According to law, workers must receive whichever rate, the state or the federal, (more…)
A Florida law that went into effect in July permits employees to keep guns in their locked cars at work. Under the new law, employers can no longer prohibit guns on their property. A Florida worker who has a valid permit to own a gun and carry a concealed weapon, can have that gun in his or her car in the parking lot while at work, eating at a restaurant or shopping in a mall.
Florida employers do not have to permit the employees to bring guns into the workplace. That’s still a matter of company policy.
The Secretary of Labor recently announced three Florida training grants totaling more than $5.8 million. Florida employers, in cooperation with local community colleges, will use the grants to train highly skilled workers for growth industries.
A grant of $1,922,914 was awarded to the Pensacola Junior College to train workers in Information Technology.
A grant of $1,995,589 was awarded to Florida Community College to train Aviation workers. The school is located in Jacksonville, Florida.
The final grant was awarded to the Lake City Community College. That grant will train workers in the fields of Logistics and Engineering Technology in Lake City, Florida.
Due to advances in technology and innovation, to globalization and to a workforce that is aging, many industries are in dire need of skilled workers. Nationwide, these industries include biotechnology, logistics and advanced manufacturing. Industries such as the hospitality industry in Crescent City, California and the movie industry in Culver City, California are also in need of specially trained employees.
The President’s Community Based Job Training Grants Initiative was established to aid these industries in finding trained employees by providing funds to local community colleges and training facilities.
Employers who participate in this Workforce Investment System gain more than just an addition to their Human Resources Department. The employers can boost profits, retain employees longer and cut recruiting costs. Also, tax credits and government training assistance are available to employers invested in the System. The programs provide referrals and screening for qualified candidates which not only fills jobs, but also increases the quality of the workforce.
Established in 2005, the program awarded 72 grants. In the second round in 2006, 70 grants were awarded. According to a recent U. S. Department of Labor announcement, the grants for 2008 were awarded to 69 institutions in 36 states.
The focus of the Grants program is to boost the community college’s role in aiding American workers, and to assist these workers in gaining high-paying jobs with advancement.
To achieve this goal, the grants provide funding for community colleges in areas where industries need workers with a particular type of training. For example, several biotechnology labs in California are seeking trained employees. The Community Based Job Training Grant could be awarded to a community college near these labs, in order to train workers for those positions.
“Preparing local residents for careers in growing hometown industries is critical to improving the quality of life of thousands of Americans,” said acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Brent R. Orrell. “These programs will provide participants not only with the skills needed to gain employment, but the change to enter into careers that offer opportunities for advancement.”
Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao also commented on the 2008 grants. “Community colleges are in a unique position to prepare local workers for careers in high-growth industries. The $125 million awarded today will expand enrollment in education and training programs and provide more workers with the skills they need to succeed.”
An extension of the President’s High Growth Job Training Initiative, the Community Based Job Training Grants provides funds for community colleges to increase their capacity to train workers for positions in the local high growth industries.
Due to advances in technology, methods and procedures, many of these high demand industries have many more jobs open than they have qualified applicants to fill them. These industries include over 14 areas of the economy, such as Automotive, Energy, Hospitality, Transportation and Information Technology. These industries are currently experiencing growth and/or are projected to grow in the coming years.
A small fire and a switch failure apparently caused the massive power outage in Florida yesterday, which affected more than 2 million customers.
The Turkey Point nuclear power plant sensed the disruption and shut down after the minor fire. Experts are still investigating why this move caused rolling blackouts through much of the state on Tuesday. Most customers had their power restored within 4 hours, with the blackout lasting from 1 pm to 5 pm in most areas.
Florida Power & Light President Armando Olivera said a switch failed at 1:08 pm at an automated substation. At about the same time, a voltage controller caught fire. However, Olivera admits that neither event – or even the two combined – should have caused such a massive power outage.
The power outages ranged from Miami to Tampa. The entire city of Orlando and Brevard County, home of the Kennedy Space Center, were also affected.
Ironically, the power outage occurred amid clear weather, with only minor showers in the area. Officials quickly ruled out both severe weather and terrorist attacks as causes of the incident.
Despite the mild temperatures, utility workers are still at risk of cold stress, according to a recent Florida OSHA alert. That’s because cold stress and even hypothermia can occur at temperatures as moderate as 50 degrees.
Utility workers are outside in all types of weather. They are often called upon to work during thunderstorms, including windy and wet weather. They are also exposed to hazards in the aftermath of tropical storms and hurricanes, during the clean-up phase.
Other outdoor workers are also at risk for cold stress and hypothermia. This includes agricultural workers, landscapers, and those in the construction industry. Emergency responders are particularly at risk.
Employers should take precautions to prevent cold stress and hypothermia whenever workers are outdoors in cool weather.
Wet and windy conditions increase the danger from cold stress.
According to a recent OSHA alert, cold weather can create hazards such as frostbite and hypothermia for employees who work outside, especially in windy and wet conditions and for those who spend extensive time in freezers. Employers need to be aware of these dangers and establish protocols for working safely in cold temperatures.
To help protect employees against these hazards, OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) suggests several measures.
First, employees need to wear appropriate clothing. OSHA recommends workers wear at least 3 layers. Cotton should be worn closest to the body, followed by a middle layer of wool or down, which retain their insulating properties even when wet. To help break the wind, the outer layer should be made of nylon or Gortex.
Clothing should be loose to provide ventilation. Footwear should be insulated and/or waterproof. Heads should always be covered. The body can lose up to 40 degrees of heat if the head is exposed to the elements.
Alcohol and caffeine should be avoided, as they can interfere with the body’s ability to warm itself. Employees should drink plenty of fluids and eat warm, high-calorie food like pasta. Workers also need to take several breaks during the shift in either heated shelters or warm vehicles.
While working, employees need to be aware of how their body responds to the cold. They also need to understand that smoking cigarettes and taking certain prescription medicines can reduce their ability to stay warm. Cold weather exposure can lead to cold stress. Employees should work in pairs to watch each other for symptoms, which include disorientation, irrational behavior and confusion.
If a worker becomes uncomfortable or exhibits symptoms of cold stress, he or she should stop working immediately and move to a warm area. Wet clothes should be exchanged for dry ones. In fact, each employee should keep a change of clothes in a warm area, just in case his or her work clothes get wet.