Government policies and proposals

Legislative Update for the Week of January 28, 2013

Leg Roundup Image 132 by 140.jpgLegislative Roundup
In the week following President Obama's inauguration, lawmakers reintroduced familiar legislation dealing with equal pay, whistleblower protections, immigration reform, and retirement security in bankruptcy protection. Read the full post here. (January 30)

OSHA Releases Statistics on Whistleblower Complaints
In fiscal year 2012 a total of 2,787 whistleblower complaints - the largest number to date - were filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to newly released data published on the agency's Whistleblower Protection Program webpage. Read the full post here. (January 29)

EEOC Releases Details on Charges Filed with the Agency in FY 2012
Overall, the EEOC received 99,412 private sector charges of discrimination between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012, down slightly from the 99,947 charges it received the prior fiscal year. Read the full post here. (January 29)

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Legislative Update for the Week of January 21, 2013

Leg Roundup Image 132 by 140.jpgNLRB Recess Appointments Invalid, D.C. Court Holds
In a decision that could potentially invalidate hundreds of Board decisions, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has held that President Obama's three recess appointments to the NLRB were unconstitutional. Read the full post here. (January 25)

Union Membership Continues to Decline, BLS Report Finds
The number of unionized workers in both the public and private sectors fell again in 2012, continuing a downward trend, according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Read the full post here. (January 24)

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Legislative Update for the Week of January 14, 2013

Leg Roundup Image 132 by 140.jpgHHS Releases Long-Awaited Health Privacy Rule
This extensive rule spanning more than 500 pages comprises four final privacy-related regulations. Among other significant changes, the rule modifies the privacy, security, and enforcement regulations implementing HIPAA to incorporate amendments made by the HITECH Act that provided increased protections for an individual's health information. Read the full post here. (January 18)

DOL provides Guidance on Availability of FMLA Leave to Care for Adult Children
The guidance explains that the FMLA entitlement applies regardless of when the mental or physical disability in the child began; discusses how the ADAAA - which expanded the definition of disability under the ADA - affects the employee's ability to take leave to care for an adult child; and examines the availability of FMLA leave to care for an adult child who becomes disabled due to military service. Read the full post here. (January 18)

Weekly Legislative Roundup
The 113th Congress hit the ground running by introducing - and reintroducing - various labor- and employment-related bills during its first week in session. It is expected that over the next few months new and returning members of the House of Representatives and Senate will inundate their chambers with measures they hope to see signed into law. Read the full post here. (January 14)

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Legislative Update for the Week of January 7, 2013

Leg Roundup Image 132 by 140.jpgDOL's Wage and Hour Division Seeks Input on Proposed Worker Classification Survey
According to a notice published in the Federal Register, the proposed Worker Classification Survey is intended to "provide critical information to Department policymakers on whether workers have knowledge of their employment classification and whether they understand the implications of their classification status." Read the full post here. (January 11)

Hilda Solis Resigns as Labor Secretary
Shortly after the Department of Labor released its ambitious regulatory agenda, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced her resignation from the agency. Read the full post here. (January 10)

OSHA Issues Its Annual Inspection Plan
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released its annually updated Site-Specific Targeting program designed to focus agency inspection resources on workplaces that experience the highest injury and illness rates. Read the full post here. (January 9)

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Legislative Update for the Week of December 31, 2012

Leg Roundup Image 132 by 140.jpgIRS Issues Updated Withholding Tables in Response to Fiscal Cliff Deal
Shortly after President Obama signed the fiscal cliff deal into law, the IRS issued updated income tax withholding tables to reflect the changes made by the measure. Among other provisions, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 allows Social Security payroll taxes to return to 6.2%. Read the full post here. (January 4)

While Congress Averts Leap off Fiscal Cliff, Employment Issues Still Loom
The eleventh hour agreement to avoid the precipitous tax hikes and spending cuts widely known as the "fiscal cliff" will still require employers to make some changes to their current practices, and leaves many questions unanswered. Read the full post here. (January 2)

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Legislative Update for the Week of December 24, 2012

Leg Roundup Image 132 by 140.jpgAgencies Finally Issue Their Regulatory Agendas for 2012
Although federal agencies ordinarily release unified agendas in the spring and fall of each year, many did not release their long-awaited unified agendas and regulatory plans for 2012 until December 21, 2012. Read the full post here. (December 27)

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Legislative Update for the Week of December 17, 2012

Leg Roundup Image 132 by 140.jpgIRS Amends Eligibility, Extends Timeframe for Voluntary Classification Settlement Program Participation
The Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) allows eligible taxpayers to voluntarily reclassify their workers as employees for federal employment tax purposes and thereby obtain partial relief from federal tax liabilities. The IRS has made a number of revisions to the VCSP, e.g., allowing taxpayers to participate in a modified version of the VCSP even if they have not met the prior VCSP requirement of having filed all require Forms 1099 for the previous three years with respect to the workers to be reclassified. Read the full post here. (December 21)

DOL Announces Effective Date of Rule Governing Nondisplacement of Service Contract Employees
The final rule implementing Executive Order 13495, which applies to certain contracts covered by the federal Service Contract Act, varies slightly from the initial proposals, e.g.: clarifies Department of Labor (DOL) regulations; amends Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR); adds cross-references throughout FAR to applicable DOL regulations; and clarifies that a "service employee" doesn't include an individual employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity. Read the full post here. (December 21)

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México Otorga Aumento a los Salarios Mínimos de las Áreas Geográficas A y B

Por Mónica Schiaffino

El 18 de diciembre de 2012, el Consejo de Representantes de la Comisión Nacional de los Salarios Mínimos acordó otorgar un aumento general a los salarios mínimos de las dos áreas geográficas para el 2013 de 3.9%. El incremento en los salarios mínimos entrará en vigor a partir del 1 de enero de 2013.

Para el área geográfica "A", el incremento aumentará el salario mínimo a $64.76 pesos diarios. Dentro del área geográfica se encuentran el Distrito Federal y su área metropolitana, los estados de Baja California y Baja California Sur, las ciudades de Acapulco, Guerrero, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Guadalajara, Jalisco y su área conurbada, Monterrey, Nuevo León y su área metropolitana, Hermosillo, Sonora, Matamoros y Reynosa, Tamaulipas y Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz.

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Mexico Approves an Increase to the Minimum Wage for Geographic Zones "A" and "B"

By Mónica Schiaffino

On December 18, 2012, the Council of Representatives of Mexico's National Minimum Wage Commission approved a general increase of 3.9%, to the minimum wage for geographic zones "A" and "B." The wage increase will be effective as of January 1, 2013.

For Zone A, the 3.9% wage increase will raise the minimum wage to $64.76 Mexican pesos (currently approximately $5.07 USD) per day. Among the geographical areas covered under Zone A are Mexico City (Federal District) and its metropolitan area; the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur; the cities of Acapulco, Guerrero, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Guadalajara, Jalisco and its suburbs, Monterrey, Nuevo León and its metropolitan area, Hermosillo, Sonora, Matamoros and Reynosa, Tamaulipas and Coatzacoalcos, and Veracruz.

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EC Boardroom Gender Diversity Proposals Back Away from Mandatory Quotas

By Madeleine Jephcott

DiversityBoardroom.jpgThe European Commission has published a scaled back proposal to increase the number of women on boards, setting a minimum objective of a 40% presence of female non-executive directors in publicly listed companies by 2020.

There is a powerful business case for addressing lack of female representation in top jobs, the reasons for which are varied and largely intractable. International interest in boardroom gender diversity has grown significantly in recent times and in October the EU Justice Commissioner signalled her intention to introduce decisive legislative action on mandatory gender quotas for corporate boards.

Reportedly, the plan was to force Europe's listed companies to reserve at least 40% of board seats for women by 2020 or face fines or other sanctions. However, stiff opposition from a number of EU member states effectively derailed those plans and the Commission has now published watered down proposals.

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