Positions and Policies
NLRB Expedited Election Rules Issued, Reducing Election Periods to As Few As 10 Days; Conference Call Briefing December 17
Today, the National Labor Relations Board issued its long-awaited expedited election rules, which dissenting Republicans on the Board labeled as "the Mount Everest of regulations; massive in scale and unforgiving in its effect." The 733-page rules contain a number of technical changes in NLRB union representation procedures following the filing of a petition by a union, the effect of which will take time to fully digest. Among the notable changes are a requirement that employers include in voter lists provided to the union personal telephone numbers and email addresses, to the extent that information is available to the employer, Republicans Phil Miscimarra and Harry I. Johnson III note in their dissent that there is little change in the final rules from what was proposed, which would mean that elections will typically be conducted between 10 and 21 days following the filing of a petition by a union. Currently, these elections normally take 6 to 8 weeks, allowing employees to fully consider all sides of the issue in discussions with the union, the employer and their co-workers. This is a busy period for the NLRB, and it also ruled this week that employees have a federal right to use workplace email systems for discussions of terms and conditions of their employment. More controversial decisions are expected in the next few days as Democrat Nancy Schiffer's term expires December 16. Her seat will be filled immediately by Lauren McFerran, who was confirmed by the Senate this week by a vote of 54 to 40. Prior to her confirmation, McFerran served as Chief Labor Counsel to the Senate HELP Committee Democrats. The business community will likely challenge the new election rules in federal court, and the Republican Congress is also expected to consider legislation overturning them. Please note that on Wednesday, December 17 at 10:30 a.m., HR Policy Senior Labor and Employment Counsel Roger King will conduct a conference call briefing on the new rules. He will be joined by former NLRB General Counsel Ron Meisburg of Proskauer. Register for the call by
Dec 12, 2014
Omnibus Spending Bill Contains ACA Expat Fix, Other HR Policy Items
The funding bill Congress is expected to send to the President today includes relatively minor but noteworthy HR policy provisions, ranging from an ACA exemption for expatriate health insurance plans to changes in multiemployer pension obligations to a new FLSA exemption for some insurance claims adjusters. Items of note are:
Health Care Provisions
Of most significance to large global companies is an exemption for expatriate health insurance plans from the ACA's minimum coverage requirements that have put them at a competitive disadvantage against foreign companies that did not have to meet the requirements. In addition, the bill modifies a so-called "risk corridor" program that protects insurance companies providing plans on the ACA exchanges against excessive losses caused by high risk profiles. The bill requires HHS to administer the program in a budget-neutral way, thus removing the potential for unlimited general revenue payments from the Treasury Department to the insurance companies. America's Health Insurance Plans predicted it could increase the cost of coverage on the ACA exchanges. In response, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who has described the payments as an insurer "bailout," praised the decision to include the language.
Demonstrating how Congress can respond positively when both business and labor are aligned, the bill includes relief for several multiemployer pension plans enabling them to reduce pension benefits to avoid more drastic cuts if the federal government were to take them over. Though some unions were opposed to the bipartisan provision co-authored by House Education and the Workplace Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Democrat George Miller (D-CA), it is the result of a three-year effort by a coalition of businesses and unions. It allows distressed multiemployer pension plans to reduce retirees' benefits by up to 30 percent (subject to a vote by union members) in order to preserve a plan and prevent a 70 percent reduction in benefits if it is turned over to the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
The bill also includes the latest example of how Washington typically responds to the disconnect between the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act and the modern workplace, enacting narrow, industry-specific exemptions. The bill exempts certain insurance claims adjusters for two years following a major disaster but only if their employer is "not engaged, directly or through an affiliate, in underwriting, selling, or marketing property, casualty, or liability insurance policies or contracts." The narrow provision effectively codifies an example in DOL's 2004 final overtime rule.
Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
The OFCCP is moving forward with its proposed Equal Pay Report, requiring federal contractors to provide annual reports to the agency containing extensive compensation data broken down by race and gender. The spending bill does not prohibit OFCCP from moving forward with its proposal but it puts the agency on notice that it is closely watching the rulemaking by including a provision that instructs OFCCP to "carefully consider" the public comments it receives.
Dec 12, 2014
Dec 12, 2014
HR Policy Fall Labor Relations Conference Examines Home Stretch for Obama Administration's Agenda
Dec 12, 2014
Employer Health Care Spending Rising Faster Than Government and Households
Dec 12, 2014
SEC Commissioner Gallagher Warns Shareholder Rights Project May Expose Harvard Law School to Legal Liability
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Nov 11, 2014
HR Policy Association Urges Senate to Weigh Attacks on Employer Wellness Programs in Considering EEOC Nominees
Nov 10, 2014
New Study Finds Excise Tax Will Dramatically Impact Employees
Nov 7, 2014
Business Groups Call for Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order (E.O. 13673) to be Withdrawn by the President
Nov 5, 2014
HR Policy Association Urges EEOC to Drop Further Action Against Honeywell Wellness Program
Oct 17, 2014
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HR Policy Denounces National Labor Relations Board's Destabilizing Reversals of Long-Standing Precedents
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