Category Archives: employment law

Most Read Stories on HREOnline™ Last Week

Here’s what our readers found most interesting on HREOnline™ last week:

 Time to Re-Engage: Top businesses for HR practices — according to an exclusive recalibration of Fortune‘s “Most Admired Companies” list — are taking employee engagement very seriously in this economy.

Pinpointing Leadership Qualities: Susan Meisinger’s latest column on the way social networking is changing the way HR leaders think of legal risks or recruiting opportunities. It also should make them think about the way they select high-potential candidates for leadership-development programs.

Modifying Preconceived Notions: A study suggests millennials are happier with their bosses than many workplace observers thought; happier than baby boomers or Gen Xers. There could be many reasons for the phenomenon, experts say.

Ensuring Parity: The most significant points about complying with the Mental Health Parity Act and an update on the COBRA benefits — as modified by the economic-stimulus act — are summarized in this month’s Legal Clinic.

HR Costs Rebounding? A new report on human-capital effectiveness finds HR costs for organizations are rebounding to pre-recession levels. But does that mean the war for talent is back on? 

Most Read Stories on HREOnline™

Last week’s most popular articles on HREOnline™  — See what you may have missed:

* Bill Kutik’s latest column: When Will They Ever Learn?

The learning management vendors, now solidly selling talent management, are bubbling these days. Cornerstone OnDemand has announced its intention to go public; Plateau has shucked off its heritage of selling installed systems in favor of SaaS; and Saba (already public) is pioneering collaboration tools for corporate use.

* Chilling Worker Speech on Facebook

The NLRB’s case against an ambulance company that fired an employee for a posting on Facebook really boils down to traditional labor law, experts say. Can a worker be fired for bad-mouthing a supervisor who denied them access to union representation? The decision will have implications for company policies on social-media use.

* A New Era for HR Perks?

Increased public scrutiny has probably contributed to the leveling off of executive perquisites, but a recent analysis shows that two-thirds of HR executives receive some form of perk. The larger the company, the more likely HR leaders would receive perks, although there were industry differences.

* HR’s Role in ERISA Regulation

New regulations have been handed down from the U.S. Department of Labor related to fiduciary requirements for fee disclosures in retirement accounts, including 401(k)s. HR can play a key role in compliance by effectively getting the new information out to employees, experts say. 

* Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes in Congress

As the United States braces itself for a Republican-led House of Representatives after the sweeping GOP victories in the midterm elections, experts weigh in on what it all means for HR. 

Employer Survey Moves OSHA’s I2P2 Plans Forward

The Jackson Lewis employment law firm posted a pretty interesting legal alert today. It seems the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is moving ahead with plans to establish its proposed national Injury and Illness Prevention Program — described by Jackson Lewis as “new regulatory requirements that may affect nearly every employer.” (This type of program is already required in California; other states have safety programs and safety committee requirements in connection with their workers’ compensation laws.)

The moniker OSHA has assigned to this project is I2P2 — and that’s “not the cute little robot in the Star Wars movies,” the alert points out.

OSHA, it says, “wants employers everywhere to undertake an overarching, programmatic approach to occupational safety and health, a framework for … businesses to incorporate hazard investigation, identification, remediation and prevention into workplace culture.”

To lay the groundwork, OSHA’s eastern research group is preparing a “Safety and Health Practices Survey” to be sent to employers randomnly selected from its database, to profile employers’ establishments, determine existing safety practices, identify sources of safety information … the list goes on.

The survey is currently being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget, billed by OSHA as a way “to enable you to have your voice heard and your experience considered as OSHA approaches new regulation.” OSHA also says “no individual or company will be identified to OSHA,” nor will any information be provided that will “enable identification of any individual or company.” I’m thinking more than one of those randomnly selected employers is going to hope that’s true as they’re hitting the send button.

It’s hard to know what to expect from all this, and so far, there’s no real timetable. In the alert, OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels describes I2P2 as a “risk-based system to address hazards” in which workers will play “an important role.” His agency, he says, “is trying to get away from [a] ‘catch-me-if-you-can’ ” approach to dealing with workplace safety and health.

A report from an August I2P2 stakeholder meeting conducted by OSHA reveals some of the thinking behind “methods OSHA could use to increase workplace engagement” with such a program. Take a look. It’s under the header “Possible Regulatory Approaches.” There’s a subsection in there called “Leadership component” that describes crafting a “rule” to encourage top-mangagement engagement. I believe you’d be especially interested in that.

Pay Gap Favoring Men Isn’t Universal

The gender pay gap, where men typically earn more than women, continues to persist. But according to a story posted on Time’s website today, there’s at least one segment of the workforce where the gap now favors women.

In a just released analysis of data from 2,000 communities, Slingerlands, N.Y.-based market research firm Reach Advisors reports that the median full-time salaries of young women who are unmarried, childless and under 30 are 8 percent higher than men in their peer group in 147 of  the 150 biggest U.S. cities.

Because the research was intended primarily for market-research purposes and not to shed light on HR practices, Reach Advisors’ president James Chung declined to comment for this blog post. But in the Time article, he primarily credits education for the difference.

“For every two guys who graduate from college or get a higher degree, three women do,” the Time article said. “This is almost the exact opposite of the graduation ratio that existed when the baby boomers entered college.”

Chung’s conclusion is certainly in line with other studies that show college degrees result in better wages.

Though the economic advantage sometimes disappears as women age and have families, Chung told Time he believes women may now have enough leverage so their financial gains aren’t completely erased as they get older.

In time, I guess we’ll find out whether Chung is right. But at least for now, it’s nice to see study findings that suggest the pay gap in favor of men isn’t true across the board.

Everybody’s an Intern!

Came across an interesting legal alert from the folks at Jackson Lewis today reminding employers to pay attention to the rules and regulations governing the use of interns.

Mind you, we’ve heard, read and written about this fairly regularly through the years, but what caught my attention was just how prevalent interns may be in American businesses this fall. Seems the recession’s layoff victims who’ve given up trying to get traditional full-time work anytime soon will be trolling for internships right alongside college students.

Many of you have probably heard that as well, too. I had. I just didn’t know how many there might be, and what a range there would be in years of experience and age.

A survey by CareerBuilder,  included in the alert and released earlier this month, shows more than half of the employers polled saying they’ll probably hire interns as full-time, permanent employees. It also shows nearly a fourth of them saying they’re seeing workers with more than 10 years of experience and those ages 50 and older applying for internships at their companies.

Better check out the criteria from Jackson Lewis on how these “unorthodox” interns should be treated, and paid or not paid. It may be great to have the pick of the litter for positions you’re opening in the coming months, but make sure you don’t crash this handy system by breaking the law.