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Kevin Marrs

4/16/2014

In a case with a set of circumstances that would make a good book on how an employer should not handle an employee returning from maternity leave, Nationwide Insurance nevertheless got a favorable decision due to technicalities. In Ames v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. 8th Circuit, the employee returning from an eight-week maternity leave was told she had two weeks to catch up on her work or she would be disciplined. In addition, the company called her back to work earlier than originally planned because of an error in calculating her leave, and advised her not to object to the change because it would send up “red flags” that she would not want to send up. Further, her department head told her that a lactation room for her to express milk was not available, advised her to go home “to be with her babies,” and allegedly handed her a pen and paper and dictated what she should write to submit her resignation. All of this happened on the day she returned to work.

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4/16/2014

Every manager needs to do it.  Nearly every (OK, every) manager dreads doing it.  Even when you try to disguise it as “constructive criticism,” it is still one of the most painful duties of leadership. Add to it that 25% of employees “(dread) their performance review more than anything else in their working lives,” as Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen write in their soon-to-be-released book, Thanks for the Feedback.  The sane manager wonders why she should even bother.

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4/16/2014

Discrimination lawsuits are decreasing: It may seem counterintuitive to HR practitioners. But according to Patrick Dorrian on Bloomberg BNA’s Labor and Employment Blog, the number of new federal court filings charging these violations actually dipped below 1,000 per month for January and February—for the first time since 2006.

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4/16/2014

A disturbing trend is being reported in The Wall Street Journal: HR departments are stifling innovation in companies.  As a result, employers are dropping HR totally and making it a manager responsibility.  LRN Corp., a 250-employee business, reorganized and dropped most job titles and department names. It also did away with its HR department.

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4/16/2014

Assume the following scenario: ABC Company has 200 full-time employees and 50 temporary employees supplied through a staffing company. Based on the calculations for employee coverage for 2016, ABC Company determines that the 200 full-time employees are its “common law” employees. Therefore it provides coverage under its group health plan to all of them. The staffing firm also provides coverage to all of its full-time employees, including the 50 temporary workers placed with ABC Company (whom the staffing firm has determined are full-time for IRS Code § 4980H purposes). 

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4/9/2014

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) owes its existence to Executive Order 11246 and its implementing regulations at Title 41 Section 60 et.seq.  President Johnson signed EO 11246 in 1965 and amended it in 1967. Back then it was seen as a means to regulate the total HR operations of a federal contractor or subcontractor.  But the question today is whether 11246 is too expansive in its scope. Should it be limited to only the contractor’s HR operations and workforce that are working on a federal contract or subcontract? There are estimates out there that this Executive Order applies to all employees of all federal contractors and subcontractors impacts up to 25% of the U.S. work force.

 

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4/9/2014

The High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), by its very name, infers more cost to the participant than a traditional health plan. But the use of HDHPs comes with a very interesting and valuable side feature. Only HDHPs allow the employee to set up a savings account that both employer and employee can contribute pre-tax dollars to, and the user can use those dollars to pay for any IRS-recognized medical expense.  These accounts also have the added tax benefit of investment gains accruing on a tax favored basis, similar to 401K investment accounts. These accounts are called Health Savings Accounts or HSAs.

 

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4/9/2014

No Surprise-H-1B Visa lottery expected: Once again, the annual national quota for coveted skilled-worker visa applicants was met in a matter of days, meaning U.S. employers hoping to hire through the program will see the outcome determined by lottery. The USCIS is prepared to use a random selection process to meet the numerical limit it is reporting. 

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4/9/2014

According to recent Gallup polls, only 29% of North American employees are actively engaged in their jobs. And that is a comparatively high number; the world average, says Gallup, is around 13%.  Of 71% not engaged, 25% of those are actively not engaged. That is not soothing news for employers.

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4/8/2014

If you know me, you know I am a big baseball fan. All winter long I live for spring training and opening day. My summer vacations include going to other cities’ ballparks to watch games. I have Tiger season tickets and go to about 40 games a year. 

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