Deadline Approaches for Employer Reporting Under Healthcare Law

Since its adoption in 2009, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has received a lot of attention. The ACA is one of the most complex pieces of legislation ever enacted by the federal government, and many of its required regulations are still being written.

Recently, the executive branch announced that it would delay implementation of the so-called “employer mandate”, the requirement that employers with more than 50 full-time employees either offer employer-subsidized health insurance or face penalties. Many employers thought they were “off the hook” for another year. That would be incorrect!

Section 1512 of ACA included a new section 18B of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This is a new reporting requirement for every “covered employer” under the FLSA, which impacts most employers in the U.S. As this article is being written, there is just over one month left to comply.

Section 18B of the FLSA requires all employers to provide written notice to each of their employees, no later than October 1, 2013, of certain information related to health insurance benefits. The notice must be furnished to each employee hired after October 1, 2013. The notice is required whether or not the employer provides insurance to any of its employees. The stated purpose of the notice, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is:

Informing the employee of the existence of the Marketplace (referred to in the statute as the Exchange) including a description of the services provided by the Marketplace, and the manner in which the employee may contact the Marketplace to request assistance;

If the employer plan’s share of the total allowed costs of benefits provided under the plan is less than 60 percent of such costs, that the employee may be eligible for a premium tax credit under section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) if the employee purchases a qualified health plan through the Marketplace; and

If the employee purchases a qualified health plan through the Marketplace, the employee may lose the employer contribution (if any) to any health benefits plan offered by the employer and that all or a portion of such contribution may be excludable from income for Federal income tax purposes.

The notice also provides the mechanism for the IRS to determine whether or not an employer is subject to the penalties prescribed in the ACA.

The notice, which must be in writing, can be delivered by first class mail, in person, or electronically if certain requirements are met. The DOL has issued model language to satisfy this requirement, which is available on the DOL website. Employers are not required to use the model reporting language so long as they include all of the required information.

The DOL has also issued Technical Release No. 2013-02 which describes this reporting requirement in more detail.

Employers who offer insurance have probably received information from their insurance carriers or brokers to complete the notice. If you are an employer who does not offer health insurance, you still have time to comply. We are available to provide assistance to employers who need help satisfying this new requirement.

5 Tips How Your Small Company Can Avoid Labor Law Problems in California

(Internet Resources on Employment Compliance for California’s Small Businesses)

California’s labor laws have given it a reputation as a “non business friendly” state that makes life difficult for employers. In my consulting practice we have audited many California small businesses and found most of them to be seriously non-compliant with many state employment standards and regulations.

A business owner could face serious fines or disruption if a government agency finds his or her company in violation of California’s labor code regulations, which are extensive. Disgruntled ex-employees can find “trolling” lawyers who will pay them a fee for insider information that leads to their filing suit against you for even minor infractions. The plaintiff bar attorneys have prospered from this state’s confusion of rules and regulations and have targeted numerous small and medium sized businesses with employment related litigation.

If you are a small California business employer, it is in your best interests to take the steps necessary to ensure you are compliant with the state’s labor laws. The links in this article can assist the small employer in taking the steps he or she needs, using free or inexpensive resources available on the Internet, to avoid labor law compliance problems. The guidelines outlined here are intended for use by employers with under 50 employees. For those firms with over 50 employees, this advice is still valid but there are other major legal requirements that the larger employer must consider to be fully compliant with the labor codes, such as state and federal leave laws and sexual harassment training for your managers. For the smaller business, here are the primary five areas on which you will need to focus.

#1 Update your Employment Law Posters!

The California Department of Labor and the federal government require employers to post information related to wages, hours and working conditions in an area frequented by employees where it may be easily read during the workday. The number of posters required is determined by the size and nature of your business but could total up to 10 or more.

Employers should study and make sure they understand the regulations on these posters to determine which regulations are applicable to their business so they can answer questions from employees.

#2 Be compliant with all Safety and Health regulations – In California, every employer has a legal requirement to provide and maintain a safe and healthy workplace for its employees, according to the California Occupational Safety and Health department standards. As of 1991, each employer must have in place a written, effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). This does not have to be a complex document but must encompass certain elements. In addition to developing a plan, there is a requirement that you train your workers on preventing workplace hazards (and document that training). Your IIPP plan must be updated every time you change your operations where the hazards involved also change. In addition.

#3 Pay close attention to how you pay your employees – In California, most state employment regulations “trump” federal regulations because state standards are usually stricter. Many small business owners make the mistake of paying all or many of their employees a straight salary in order to keep payroll a simple process. This is especially true in businesses which have an office environment. This can be a very perilous approach as you most probably will be in violation of overtime rules which have very stiff penalties.  know the legal requirements for overtime wages, breaks and lunch periods for your workers.

A critical area many small businesses fail to recognize is the proper classification of employees, as they apply to mandatory overtime pay – exempt from overtime or not exempt.

#4 Respect your Employees’ Privacy and secure personnel files – Today the law protects the privacy of employees with some pretty severe sanctions against employers who violate a person’s medical privacy or identity. Separate basic personnel information into two files – a personnel file (with payroll tax forms, or basic job information in it such as training documents, performance reviews and disciplinary or commendation notices) and a separate confidential file with medical, credit, benefits and personal family or dependent information. Supervisors or other interested management must be restricted in their access to the personnel file only. Only the person designated as the human resources record keeper is to be entrusted with the access to the confidential file. Make sure these files are always secured. Protect your employees’ personal information.
#5 Don’t forget to properly verify your employees’ work status – The immigration authorities are under increasing pressure to enforce the laws, and experts agree that enforcement will increase in the coming years as the debate wears on regarding illegal immigration. There have been some well publicized raids all over the country. The I-9 employment form must be completed by every employer on every employee, even US citizens. These documents must be completed properly and kept up to date if certain documents are presented on an employee’s legal status to work in the US.

As a further measure, you should also use the government’s free service to verify that the social security numbers being presented by applicants are valid, which will reduce the chances that you are hiring an illegal alien. This may become a requirement in the near future as the immigration service cracks down on employers. The government is now using tax filings with mismatched or invalid social security numbers to look for employer who knowingly hire workers who are in the US without proper labor authorization.

While this article is not inclusive of every labor code issue employers may face, it does cover the “hot” areas which will give you a running head start to being essentially compliant with California state and the federal laws. It might be a prudent investment for every business owner with more than five employees to have a human resource and payroll audit done periodically by an HR professional. This exercise can help you spot areas of vulnerability and non compliance so that you can address those issues before they become a major crisis and costly disruption of you business.

Common Traffic Tickets Regarding Accidents and Insurance

Everyone knows that speeding or running a red light or stop sign can result in being pulled over and given a traffic ticket for your momentary lapse in judgment. But did you know there are literally hundreds of California Vehicle Code sections you can violate every single time you get in your car? And some, even, that you don’t even require you to be driving? Here is some information on the most common accident and insurance traffic violations.

Proof of insurance

You are required to carry proof that the vehicle you are driving is insured. Anytime you are questioned by an officer for proof of insurance, you must produce it or you may be cited. However, an officer may not pull you over simply for the purpose of asking if you are insured. There are two ways to be cited for breaking this law:

  • If you have insurance but no proof – If you actually do have insurance but merely weren’t carrying the card with you when you were pulled over, this is relatively easy to have dismissed by giving a copy of your current insurance policy or card to the court clerk. Don’t forget to do this, however, as failing to provide proof of insurance is punishable by a fine of over $1,700!
  • If you didn’t have insurance when you were cited – If you are cited for violating this section and you simply do not have insurance, you have a big problem. Fines are extremely expensive for this infraction and if you have no proof that you do have insurance, there is not much you can do. However, if the vehicle you are driving is insured by someone else, such as your employer, it is possible to get this sort of violation dismissed. Never give wrong information to an officer about your insurance. This crime is a misdemeanor and is punishable by an even larger fine and up to five days in jail.

Mandatory Reporting of Certain Accidents

In any accident involving personal injury or damage of at least $750, all drivers must file an accident report and provide evidence of insurance. Failing to do so can result in the suspension of your license for one year. In fact, even if you are driving someone else’s vehicle, you must comply with this section.

Exchange of Information at Accidents

Even if the accident in which you were involved is very minor and less than $750 worth of damage is involved, you are still required by law to exchange information with other drivers involved. If you fail to disclose your name, address, driver’s license number, vehicle identification number, or insurance information, you can be found guilty of an infraction with another hefty fine. However, it is important to realize that this violation must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you’ve been cited for one of the many violations dealing with accidents and insurance, it could end up costing you thousands of dollars in fines, an increase in your car insurance premiums, and even a suspension of your license. With a skilled criminal defense attorney experienced in defending traffic tickets, like those at Wallin & Klarich, however, you can fight your traffic ticket and win. Often, these sorts of tickets can be reduced to much less expensive violations or even completely dismissed.

The Law of Attraction – Manifest Your Wildest Dreams Using the Law of Attraction

You can have it all. Anything your mind can conceive – money, health, love and happiness. Which of these do you desire most? This will be your biggest problem. Which of these dreams do you want to manifest first. Because you can have them all using the law of attraction in the proper way. That is the key – knowing how to use this universal law properly to achieve any or all of your desires.

The law of attraction will work in your life just as it has for me and countless others, but you can’t be greedy. Saying I want it all now is not a positive action, it is a negative self defeating action.

In order to realize the ultimate success using the law of attraction, take one goal at a time and concentrate fully on that one goal. By wanting too much, too soon, you are scattering your positive action and will accomplish little if anything.

Not being greedy also means that when you have achieved a goal, be grateful and don’t immediately ask for more. Take a break to enjoy what you have achieved.

Taking time before you move on to your next most important goal will do two things. First it will allow you to be grateful and enjoy the fruits of your labor and it will also allow you to clear your mind. By getting the goal that you have just achieved off your mind, you are now able to put your entire power of concentration upon your new goal. By taking your goals one at a time you will be much more successful and speed up the time that each is achieved.

Redundancy Law – Making it Easier on Employers & Employees

Being made redundant and making someone redundant can be difficult, particularly when you don’t know what your rights are when it comes to redundancy law. Searching on the internet is one common way that both employers and employees find information about redundancy but often the wording is such that unless they have a degree in law they probably won’t understand the full meaning. Finding an employment law company who has legal advisors specialising in redundancy law is a great start to getting your questions answered and finding out your legal rights.

If you are an employer you will know that a company restructure, downsize or reorganisation are all part of business life and more often than not result in you having to make staff redundant. You will also know that restructuring needs to be used with care so as to avoid any unintended consequences that could ultimately damage your business. Some employers think that they can make their staff redundant simply because of their lack of performance or they just don’t get on with them: This is not the case: If they are caught doing this then it can be very expensive. There are important steps to be taken when considering a restructure and talking with a specialist in the field of redundancy law will help you with these steps.

If you are an employee you may feel that being made redundant is a personal decision by your employer, as you’ve heard rumours that they are creating a new position which appears very similar to yours. Under New Zealand law you are entitled to be consulted prior to any decision being made and to be given all relevant information. Along with this you are also entitled to representation.

It’s important to remember that redundancy can come about for many reasons including the addition of new technologies, business outsourcing, market downturn or change of business ownership, but regardless of the reason redundancy laws still apply.

So to find a specialist, conduct a search for keywords such as ‘restructuring and redundancy law’ in one of the Search Engines and look for a company that provides such services in your area of New Zealand. Also, take a look at their site to see if they provide information on what they need from you to assist you with your case. Make sure that they clearly state what they can assist you with, so that you are sure you are going to receive the help and information you require.

Finding a redundancy law specialist will not only provide you with the help you need but it will help to avoid any unnecessary arguments and mitigate the stress.

 Associates Ltd is one of Canterburys leading employment law advocacy firms. Since 1992 we have been providing advice and representation to employees and employers on employment agreements, employment problems (such as personal grievances, disputes, harassment, redundancy law, unfair dismissals & workplace bullying) and the laws governing them.

We focus on employers who have small to medium size businesses and employees working in the public and private sectors. We recognize that employers are faced with the demands of running their business and surviving in a competitive market and often have very little time and energy to deal with employment relationship problems. We also recognise that when employment relationships are dislocated, employees find it difficult to find solutions without sound tactical advice.

Study Shows Traffic Fatalities Drop in States With Legal Medical Cards

A new study was published recently showing that states with legalized medical marijuana actually have fewer fatal auto accidents. It appears that this may be because marijuana users often substitute the drug in lieu of drinking alcohol.

At this point in time 16 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana for various debilitating conditions. In the study the years 1992-2009 government data were used looking at traffic deaths in the 13 states that have passed medical marijuana and put in place legalization laws during those years. The data was obtained from the national household survey on drug use along with the national Highway traffic safety administration.

Interestingly, when looking at traffic deaths over that time, in the states who have medical marijuana legalized versus those that didn’t, the study found that fatalities in car wrecks dropped by 9% in those states with legal marijuana for medicinal use. In looking further at the data the decrease was attributed largely to a reduction in drunk driving. In those states that have legalized medical marijuana rate of fatalities from car crashes due to our call dropped by 12% in crashes with high levels of alcohol drinking dropped by 14%.

The authors of the study noted that the overall reduction in traffic fatalities was similar to that seen when the minimum drinking age in the US was raised to 21. Traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death among Americans between the ages of 5 and 34. So this data is especially intriguing in light of that as a significant amount of medical marijuana users are in the upper echelon of that age range.

In line with other studies the researchers also found that there was no increase in marijuana consumption by teenagers in states that legalized marijuana for medical use. One of the important things to come out of study is it shows that driving under the influence of marijuana is much safer than driving inebriated on alcohol. It is unclear if driving while stoned leads to impairment, however, driving under the influence of alcohol has definitely been shown to significantly deteriorate driving skills.

Being under the influence of alcohol at times increases recklessness and creates a false sense of confidence. When people are stoned they often realize it and don’t have these issues. More marijuana smokers are likely to do so at home or in a private setting rather than out at a public event.

Scheduling Employees Must Obey Applicable Laws and Account For Employee Shortages

In uncertain economic times managers must be able to schedule labor correctly in a consistent manner, keep employees happy, and reduce fines imposed by legislative authorities, such as the Department of Labor. Businesses should seek to use cost effective computer employee scheduling software programs to ensure that proper scheduling techniques are utilized. Effective scheduling software will be able to schedule meal and break periods, accurately calculate overtime costs, and archive previous schedules for managerial review.

Example: The general manager at an ice cream store needs to ensure that one manager is always on duty, as well as a number of representatives are available to scoop ice cream. Each employee is required to receive a number of breaks during their shift, and this particular business prefers to hire employees who are minors to fill “holes” in the schedule. During a normal work day, between three and four employees are working.

By not carefully scheduling the break and meal periods and minor rules, the manager may end up with a shortage of staff as multiple employees take breaks (or leave for the day) at the same time, and minor employees leave for home. During the labor shortage, customers will not be serviced appropriately. Alternatively, the manager may choose not to send employees home when they should or allow breaks to proceed – grounds for heavy fines, a lawsuit, and/or increased insurance premiums.

Labor & Industries (L&I) audits are common in some US states (California, Washington, Oregon, and New York are the most common) in restaurant, food-service, and other hospitality-related industries. These audits are performed by the state or by insurance companies to verify that the business has complied with all applicable regulations.

Audits focus on unpaid overtime, minors working too late or too early, break and meal periods that are not properly documented, and other violations. Rule infractions can be punished with stiff fines and/or insurance premium increases. Make sure that all employees are aware of the applicable rules for the city, county, and state / province. Follow federal / national rules (where applicable), corporate rules, and insurance regulations (if applicable).

Where possible, automated employee scheduling systems should be utilized to enforce these rules reducing the administrative burden placed on managers – allowing management to work on other pressing issues such as training, customer service, and management tasks which cannot be automated by cost-effective technology solutions.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Employment & Job Searches

Employment Law

If there was ever a more complicated way to find lawyer categories attorney’s labor employment law, this particular string of search parameters would be it. Although if all you wanted to do was to find out where you could source a good labor lawyer, plugging in lawyer categories attorneys labor employment law will definitely give you a good starting point in your search.

Basically what you would need would be a comprehensive directory of the various kinds of labor lawyers/attorneys that specialize in a variety of different laws in the labor employment area. For instance you may need someone who specializes in discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination or a variety of other areas.

Lawyer categories attorney’s labor employment law will also take you to some sites that provide forums for you to ask questions. Granted the questions can’t be too specific, but in terms of being able to provide you with a broad overview, filling out one of the questions forms on a forum site in the lawyer categories attorneys’ labor employment law arena might get you started down the road to finding out what you need to know.

Since this area of law is so broad and complex, you might want to take some time searching for the right lawyer to suit your personality and, your specific set of circumstances. It’s important if you’re going to actually be taking a labor dispute to court, that you and your attorney are both on the same page. So, with some due diligence on your part, take the time to thoroughly check individual legal representatives in the in lawyer categories attorneys labor employment law sections you find on the Net.

In case you get lost with all the terminology on the Net in the labor law area, you might want to know labor law is also called employment or labor law. What is it? In simple terms it’s the collection of laws, administrative rulings, and precedents which deals with the legal rights of, and restrictions on, working people and their organizations.

Employment or labor law mediates many relationships between trade unions, employees and employers. Within the category known as employment or labor law, there are two other categories to consider – collective labor law (dealing with employee, employer and union) and individual labor law (dealing with employees rights at work and through the work contract).

How did we get all these labor laws? In the 19th and 20the century, the labor movement itself was/is critical in getting the various laws enacted to protect the working man and woman.

Road Traffic Accidents Are Becoming Common

A road traffic accident is an accident involving one or more vehicles on a public roadway. Although the most common type of vehicle involved in this kind of accident are cars and other motor vehicles, bicycles, animal powered vehicles, and pedestrians might also be involved. Injuries resulting from a road traffic accident can be severe and sometimes fatal. The average American will be involved in at least two road traffic accidents in their lifetime. Children and the elderly are in the most danger during a road traffic accident.

If you are involved in a road traffic accident, you are required to stop your vehicle and offer assistance to any others involved. Although moving off the road is advisable, in many states it is illegal to move the car from the scene of the accident. In many cases if there are no injuries and the cars can still be driven, law enforcement will not report to the scene of the crime, and you will be required to exchange information and report the incident to your insurance company yourself. When taking information, be sure to take the driver’s license number, the name, the address, the telephone number, and the license plate number from the other driver. Also make sure you take their insurance information as well. Never admit fault immediately following an accident, as it could cause you to be named as the guilty party when you are not.

Defensive driving and being aware of the road are the best tools to prevent an accident, but if you are involved in one, knowing what to do afterwards could save you lots of valuable time and money.

Labor and Employment Law – Personal Liability in Fair Labor Standards Act Lawsuits

In most lawsuits, even those involving employment-based claims, the existence of a corporation provides protection for owners, corporate officers, and employees from personal liability. One significant exception is when the suit is brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Owners, officers, and high-level managerial employees who exercise some control over employment matters often find, to their dismay, that they have been included as a defendant in an FLSA lawsuit along with the corporate employer.

The reason for this potential personal liability arises from the extremely broad definition of employer found in the FLSA: “‘Employer’ includes any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee…”

While the majority of cases finding an individual to be an employer involve owners or corporate officers, not all of them do, and the author is unaware of any case holding that that an employer must be an owner. The terms are not synonymous. See, e.g., Patel v. Wargo, 803 F.2d 632, 638 (11th Cir.1986) (a company’s president, director and principal stockholder did not take a sufficiently active role to be an “employer” under the FLSA).

On the other hand, not every exempt executive employee is, a fortiori, an “employer” simply because he or she exercises some managerial authority. The term “employer” is not so expansive that Congress intended that all supervisors be personally liable for FLSA violations. “[C]ourts generally reject ‘the idea that a low-level supervisor within a company can be individually liable.'” (citations omitted) Hernandez v. City Wide Insulation of Madison, Inc., 2006 WL 1993552 *2 (E.D.Wis.). Simply put, not every exempt executive employee is automatically an “employer.”

The test of employer status generally used by courts is a more complicated one looking at the “economic realities” of the relationship and requiring a careful analysis of the facts in a particular case. See, e.g., E.E. Falk v. Brennan, 414 U.S. 190 (1973). Courts have sometimes applied a four-part test in determining whether someone is an “employer”: whether the alleged employer (1) has the power to hire and fire employees; (2) supervises and controls employee work schedules or conditions of employment; (3) determines employees’ compensation; and (4) maintains employee records. Chung v. The New Silver Palace Restaurant, 246 F.Supp.2d 220, 227 (S.D. N.Y. 2002). Nevertheless, the determination is based on all the circumstances and no single factor is dispositive. Id. See Brock v. Superior Care, Inc., 840 F.2d 1054, 1059 (2d Cir.1988); Herman v. RSR Sec. Servs. Ltd., 172 F.3d 132, 139 (2d Cir.1999).

Control may be restricted, or exercised only occasionally, without removing the employment relationship from the protections of the FLSA, since such limitations on control “do[] not diminish the significance of its existence.” Donovan v. Janitorial Servs., Inc., 672 F.2d 528, 531 (5th Cir. 1982). However, courts generally require proof, in order to find personal liability for an FLSA violation, that the individual in question is “responsible in whole or part for the alleged violation.” See, e.g., Riordan v. Kempiners, 831 F.2d 690, 694 (7th Cir.1987).