Labor laws: what employers can expect in 2010

We saw a lot of changes to labor laws in 2009 – both in new laws and re-imaginations of old ones.  From the Family and Medical Leave Act to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, it’s hard to keep up, isn’t it?

The good news is, our partners at Ford & Harrison have put together an article called “A Look Back at 2009 and What 2010 May Hold For Employers,” your guide to understanding it all. What has changed? What is new? All the updates you need are right here in this article.

Because the article also covers what you can expect in 2010, you’ll be ahead of the game this year and ready to tackle anything that comes your way. Click here to read the article.

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Hiring insights

In our HR books, we tell you what you can ask and what you can’t ask. We make sure you have the resources you need to get in compliance with the laws and don’t get hit with a lawsuit. But you know there’s more to hiring than “taboo topics.” To help round out your hiring knowledge, read “What Makes You Roar?,” an interview with Jeffrey Swartz, president and C.E.O. of the Timberland Company.

Swartz’s philosophy is that the resume speaks to the qualifications and past experience, but what you need to focus on in the interview is getting to know the individual. He says, “In hiring, I’m desperately probing for the human inside the shell because the people who succeed at Timberland show a little leg, meaning they expose themselves. You have to.”

So what kind of tasks and questions does he use to really get to know someone in a personal way? Find out in the article, by clicking here.


The New Mental Health Parity Act

Final regulations on the New Mental Health Parity Act, a law that requires health insurance to cover mental and physical illness to some extent, have been issued by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Treasury.

There is quite a lot of information to digest on this topic, so please check out “Does Your Health Plan Violate the New Mental Health Parity Rules?” by our partners at Ogletree Deakins. You’ll find out what the law means to you and get access to a list of items you should review in your health plans to be sure you’re in compliance with the law.

Click here to read “Does Your Health Plan Violate the New Mental Health Parity Rules?”


2010 editions of the Tennessee HR Library are available now!

The HRidiot blog is written by American Chamber of Commerce Resources. We publish plain-English HR guides that connect you with  information you need to know to stay in compliance with state and federal labor laws. Basically, it’s your bookshelf HR Manager. And we just published the 2010 editions of the Tennessee HR Library, which includes the following publications:

  • Tennessee Human Resources Manual
  • Model Policies and Forms for Tennessee Employers 
  • Hiring, Firing and Discipline for Tennessee Employers
  • Wages and Hours for Tennessee Employers
  • Unemployment Compensation and Workers’ Compensation for Tennessee Employers

If you have a need for resources like these, you can visit our website to do some exploring. We have posted the complete table of contents from each book so you can see what kind of information they include. In addition, each book also has a sample chapter so you can see the format, lay out and writing style – try before you buy! To find out more about the Tennessee HR Library, click here.

We have state-specific editions in many states. Click here to see what publications are available in your state.

Wage and hour compliance tips

Our partners at Fisher & Phillips  have put together a few points to help you reduce wage and hour claims filed against your business. Why? Because with the recession there has been an increase in claims filed by unemployed individuals. Safe-guard your company with this quick review on:

  • Meal period compliance
  • Rest period compliance
  • Overtime compensation
  • Hours worked
  • Other pay practices

Click here to read “Five Key Strategies for Wage/Hour Compliance” by Fisher & Phillips.

“Snowmageddon” and the need for inclement weather policies

With much of the east coast and Midwest digging themselves out of record snowfalls, HR professionals and employers have been reminded of the need for an inclement weather policy. With more snow on the way for many of these places (and hurricane and tornado seasons in future months), this may be your opportunity to put together your company’s severe inclement weather policy and make sure everyone is on the same page when the next storm hits.

ACCR’s “Sample Inclement Weather policy” reads as follows:
“If the local public school district is closed due to weather creating bad travel conditions, then the office will be closed. In the event of bad weather that would create unsafe travel conditions and the public schools have not yet announced whether they will close, please stay in touch with the main reception voice mail box for announcements of office closure. Above all employees should use prudent discretion regarding their ability to report to work under such conditions”. 

You may want to further personalize it by addressing the following topics:

  • payment for hourly employees
  • how employees will be notified of the business closing
  • Collective Bargaining Agreements (if you are unionized)
  • guidelines for working from home.

A great reference for our Pennsylvania readers is “The Weather Outside is…” by Kathy Speaker MacNett of Skarlatos & Zonarich, one of our partner firms. Click here to read the article.


Social media rears its ugly head

Often when we speak of social media in regards to the workplace, we are talking about how it can affect employees’ productivity. But the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) new regulations brings up an entirely different concern. Employers must warn their employees that promotion of an employer’s products or services on blogs and other social media sites cannot be covert. That means if an employee posts on a website or makes a comment in an open forum, he or she must disclose his or her relationship to the company.

Why? The FTC claims that these endorsements further the practice of “astroturfing” (because it appears to be ‘grassroots’ support, but is not), which misleads consumers about the quality or popularity of a product or service. Do your employees know what to do to stay in compliance with this law?

Our partners at Baker & McKenzie have put together a great article to help you understand this issue. Here are some steps you can take right now to ensure you’re in compliance:

  • Adopt a policy that requires employees to disclose their employment relationship when making online or social media comments promoting the employer, its products, or services.
  • Ask the company’s marketing or legal team to approve comments before being posted.
  • Train employees on all company policies and legal obligations that are involved in making representations about products or companies online.

To read “New Worries with Social Media for Employers” by our partners at Baker & McKenzie, click here.