The federal government has just updated its USERRA regulations to cover a new group of employees.
With the changes, employers should update their New Mexico USERRA posters correspondingly, to reflect those changes.
The newest version of the USERRA regulations, released recently by the U.S. Department of Labor, adds federal government employees to the list of those entitled to file claims.
USERRA – the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 – offers job protection to returning veterans, as well as to National Guard and Reserve members.
Returning veterans have a two-step claims process available to them. The first is the original claim filed under USERRA. The claim is investigated by the Veterans Employment and Training Service. VETS in turn issues a finding. In most cases, employees who have been on military duty and away from their jobs less than 5 years will be entitled to get their old jobs back. Some may even qualify after 7 years, or longer. The process usually ends here, because most employers will rehire a worker after getting a VETS finding.
However, another step is available if that does not work. The employee’s claim may be sent on to the U.S. Department of Justice. The Justice Department brings a suit in a federal district court at no cost to the employee. The appropriate federal district court may rule that there were willful violations of the USERRA. In that case, the court could award additional damages. Not only damages, but also attorney and expert fees, will be awarded if an employee brings a suit on his or her own.
While federal government employees can now file claims, the procedure is different. Unresolved VETS findings would go to the Office of Special Counsel for federal government and U.S. Postal Service employees, rather than the Justice Department. The reviewing body is the Merit Systems Protection Board. Like the court, it may award damages.
The law requires employers to display an accurate poster even if the workplace does not include someone who serves or has served in the military.
What can New Mexico workers with disabilities expect from the latest move by the US Department of Labor? A new partnership between this department and an organization that represents human resource professionals should result in more jobs for these workers.
What is this new partnership? The partnership is between the US office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM).
This partnership between the US office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) will focus on services the can help disabled workers, such as access to resources. Moreover, the new partnership will address research in addition to helping state agencies with necessary resources and addressing communication between agencies.
ODEP was created in 2001 to help disabled workers have access to jobs. The agency is headed by Roy Grizzard, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy. Prior to the founding of ODEP, federal disabled worker policy was included in the US Department of Labor.
What will happen to the services New Mexico disabled workers receive through the New Mexico Department of Labor?
Workers will continue to be able to access the services available through the New Mexico Dept. of Labor. This new partnership will eventually provide disabled workers with more resources and opportunities. Because disabled workers still are underutilized in the workforce, this partnership should help. Training, along with outreach and technical assistance, are just a few of the targets of the new collaboration.
The Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) was created in 1948. Since it was founded, this organization has grown to 550 chapters in over 100 countries. Moreover, over 200,000 people are members of SHRM. The mission of the organization is to “to serve the needs of human resource professionals by proving the most essential and comprehensive resources available.”
Now, by forming a partnership between ODEP and the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM), even more focus will be put on the issue of disabled workers. Even though disabled workers have more opportunities now than in the past, as a group they are underutilized in the national workforce. Hopefully, this new partnership will improve this situation.
Listen up, New Mexico employers. You have some new reporting requirements and opportunities that you should know about. Your Labor Secretary there has announced that the new multi agency quarterly reporting system is out and operational in the state.
The new system is meant to streamline, standardize and modernize how all of you report the needed business information that you have to report to the state every quarter. This can include, for instance, how you report your new hires to the new hire reporting system so that child support payments can be collected from delinquent parents for the needy children. Or the system can also come in handy when reporting your quarterly payroll amounts to the unemployment insurance taxation system.
The new system is care of a triple effort by three New Mexico government operations—the New Mexico Department of Labor, the New Mexico Tax and Revenue Department, and the Workers’ Comp Administration.
Everything basically that you need to be reporting to the state, then, can be done through this new electronic system. Employee state withholdings, workers’ comp information and accident reporting, for instance, can be transferred via this system. It can be reported individually by each employee if you want to do it that way, or you employers can also tap into the ease of the system by reporting all of your employees and reports in bulk fashion.
You can check out the new so called Tri Agency System at the state Web site to see just how easy and or different it will make your life. It is viewable at the Web site https://ec3.state.nm.us/NMWebfile. The system is already up and running, as I explained, so the state authorities are even recommending that employers start to use the system for all of their reporting in the first quarter of this year, meaning right about now you could be getting yourself familiar with the new system if you hope to join in for the first quarter.
Continuing with our look at the stats coming out of the New Mexico Occupational Employment Statistics survey, we find that workers in the education, training, and library fields average about $16.93 per hour. That concludes the list for now, as we have already consider the better paying positions in the state, such as those in the legal fields, management positions, or health care practitioners. See my earlier posts for those stats.
Now let’s getting into true averages here for New Mexico, based on what we know from the Occupational Employment Statistics survey. The median wage in the state of New Mexico is $15.95 per hour. That is at least a couple of dollars lower than the national average, which is $18.02 per hour. That means that most workers in the state of New Mexico make less than the national average, according to the Occupational Employment Statistics survey put out by the state Department of Labor.
Some of the explanation for this could be that 16 percent of the work force in the state have jobs in the office and administrative support field, where the median hourly wage is $10.59 per hour. There workers could include the likes of general office clerks, secretaries, book keepers, administrative assistants, customer service reps, accounting and audit clerks, and others in similar low level office work. That 16 percent of the work force represents the number one category out of all the categories in the state.
Then next occupations that have the most workers in them include the sales work force category and the food prep and food serving category, both of which have 10 percent of the work force in them. These two fields makes $12.40 per hour and $7.37 per hour, respectively, again explaining why the state is below average perhaps in its overall pay average.
What do some of the other trades in New Mexico make, those that are not above this $25 per hour threshold? Well, if you are looking at the farming, fishing and forestry trades, for instance, in New Mexico they make as much as $7.32 per hour on average, according to the Occupational Employment Statistics survey from the Department of Labor in the state. Those workers in food prep and food serving make on average about $7.37 per hour.
Next in line are those employees in the personal care and service arena make on average $8.76 per hour, says the Occupational Employment Statistics survey for New Mexico. Workers in the field of health-care support make on average about $8.82 per hour. Employees in building and grounds maintenance make about $10.55 per hour on average in New Mexico. On the other hand, those workers in office and administrative support bring in about $10.59 per hour.
Other workers on the list of the Occupational Employment Statistics survey include sales workers, who can earn on average $12.40 per hour; workers in the transport and material moving business, who can earn $12.40 per hour as well; workers in the field of production, who average about $13.00 per hour; and employees in protective services, who can earn on average about $13.70 per hour.
The Occupational Employment Statistics survey for New Mexico also includes amounts for workers in the construction and extractive services, such as mining, who can make about $14.49 per hour, along with workers in the community and social services field and their $14.54 per hour average wage. Workers in installation, maintenance, and repair of machinery can average as much as $15.70 per hour in New Mexico, and workers in the arts, design, sports, entertainment, and media field average about $16.08 per hour.