Senate Panel Discusses Ways to Improve Pension Structure
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions conducted a roundtable discussion on the problems facing pension plans and ways to improve pension plan structure and administration. Read the full post here. (September 21)
New Whistleblower Bills Target Private Sector
Members of the House of Representatives introduced two measures that would expand and strengthen whistleblower protections in the private sector. One bill would extend whistleblower protections to non-federal government contractors and subcontractors who disclose information about the misuse of federal funds; the other seeks to expand and streamline the administration of whistleblower protections for private-sector employees. Read the full post here. (September 18)
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El 6 de septiembre de 2012, la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación de México publicó un acuerdo general interno que prohíbe expresamente el acoso laboral y sexual y establece los lineamientos para investigar y sancionar dicha conducta. Por otro frente, y lo que podría representar un paso importante hacia una reforma en este tema, el presidente Felipe Calderón presentó una iniciativa para reformar los artículos 47 y 51 de la Ley Federal de Trabajo (LFT) para incluir acoso sexual como causal de rescisión. Aunque las normas de la Suprema Corte se aplican solamente a sus empleados, se considera que éstas son una guía para los patrones en el sector privado de cómo prevenir y eliminar el acoso laboral y sexual en el lugar de trabajo y señala un cambio en cómo la Legislatura probablemente reforme la LFT para regular dichos comportamientos en el lugar de trabajo en México.
Para mayor información sobre la manera en que las acciones recientes del gobierno mexicano para combatir el acoso laboral pueden impactar a los patrones, continúe leyendo la nota de Actualidad Laboral de Littler, México toma medidas para enfrentar seriamente el acoso sexual en el lugar de trabajo (ved aquí para la versión en inglés), escrito por Javiera Medina Reza y Matthew Capelle.
On September 6, 2012, the Mexican Federal Supreme Court promulgated internal rules that explicitly prohibit harassment in the workplace and establish guidelines for investigating and punishing such conduct. On another front, and in what represents a significant step towards reform in this area, on September 1, 2012, President Felipe Calderon proposed an amendment to Articles 47 and 51 of the Mexican Federal Labor Law (FLL) to include sexual harassment as new grounds for termination with cause. Although the Supreme Court rules are applicable to employees of that institution only, they are considered a guidepost to private sector employers on how to prevent and eliminate sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace and signal a shift in how the Legislature will likely reform the FLL to regulate these behaviors in the workplace in Mexico.
For more information on how the Mexican government's recent actions to combat workplace harassment may impact employers, continue reading Littler's ASAP, Mexico Develops Steps to Take Seriously Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (click here for Spanish version), by Javiera Medina Reza and Matthew Capelle.
EEOC Seeks Feedback on Draft Strategic Enforcement Plan
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released for public comment a draft of its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). The SEP is a component of the larger Strategic Plan for 2012-2016, a proposal approved in February 2012 that directed the EEOC to develop a SEP that (1) establishes priorities for the EEOC and (2) integrates all components of EEOC's private, public, and federal sector enforcement. Read the full post here. (September 6)
Report Finds Agency Plans for Compensation Data Collection Lacking
According to a new report on the collection of pay data, any increased efforts by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to gather detailed compensation information absent a more comprehensive plan for obtaining and measuring such data may increase employer burdens without providing the agency with beneficial statistics. Read the full post here. (September 5)
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OSHA Sets Forth Steps Employers Must Take to Be Removed from the Severe Violator Enforcement Program
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a memorandum to its regional administrators informing them of the criteria employers must meet to be removed from the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which subjects employers to more significant enforcement measures and penalties for willful, repeat, and failure-to-abate violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Read the full post here. (August 24)
OSHA Issues VPP Evaluation Report
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a report that evaluates its Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) and makes 34 recommendations for changes and improvement. VPP is a cooperative program whereby employers who pass an extensive evaluation by OSHA are exempt from OSHA programmed inspections. Read the full post here. (August 23)
DOJ Creates New Whistleblower Ombudsperson Position
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced the creation of a new position dedicated exclusively to whistleblower protections. Long-time federal prosecutor Robert Storch has been named as the first Whistleblower Ombudsperson within the DOJ's Office of the Inspector General. Read the full post here. (August 10)
DOL Issues Guidance on the Applicability of WARN to Government Contractors
The U.S. Department of Labor issued Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 3-12, offering guidance on the applicability of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act to potential layoffs among federal contractors and the defense industry. Read the full post here. (August 10)
Obama Nominates Jenny Yang to be New EEOC Member
To fill a vacancy on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, President Obama nominated Jenny R. Yang, an individual who has held various civil rights-related positions representing employees in both the private and public sectors. Read the full post here. (August 6)
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Bill Would Apply Whistleblower Protections to Allegations of Antitrust Law Violations
The Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act (S. 3462) would amend the Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Act of 2004 by adding a new section on whistleblower protections for employees, contractors, subcontractors, and employer agents. Read the full post here. (August 3)
DOL Revises Fee Disclosure Guidance Applicable to Brokerage Windows
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued Field Assistance Bulletin 2012-02R, which contains several revised FAQs providing guidance on issues related to final regulations for participant-level retirement plan fee disclosure, superseding an earlier set of FAQs released on May 7, 2012. Read the full post here. (August 2)
The Government is proposing to reduce the UK's 90-day minimum consultation period for large-scale redundancies.
While the rules governing collective redundancy consultation have remained relatively unchanged since they were introduced in the mid-1970s, the same cannot be said for the UK labour market. In an increasingly global and competitive market, the Government sees the existing redundancy consultation scheme as a barrier to competitiveness, flexibility and growth.
As a result, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has published a consultation document suggesting some changes to the legislation. (This follows an earlier call for evidence on the operation of the rules, which closed in January this year.) The main proposals are:
- reducing the 90-day minimum consultation period for large-scale redundancies; and
- introducing a new Code of Practice to address a number of key issues affecting redundancy consultations.
Reducing the Consultation Period
Currently, employers must consult with trade unions or employee representatives for a minimum of 30 days before the first redundancy dismissal takes effect when proposing to dismiss between 20-99 employees, and for a minimum of 90 days when proposing to dismiss 100 or more. The EU Collective Redundancies Directive does not prescribe minimum consultation periods and the Government regards the time periods in the UK legislation as unacceptable "gold plating".Continue Reading...
The Government has confirmed its plans to introduce employment tribunal fees in 2013 and broadly approved the results of an independent, fundamental review of the Employment Tribunal Rules.
Charging Fees for ET Claims
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Justice conducted a public consultation on potential options for charging employment tribunal claimants fees in order to bring a claim. The response to the consultation has now been published, recommending that a regime of fees should be introduced from summer 2013.
Under the proposals, claimants would have to pay fees to in two stages - firstly to issue the claim and secondly to proceed to a tribunal hearing. The amount of the fees will depend upon the type of claim:
- Level 1 (straightforward claims such as deduction from wages or redundancy pay) will cost £160 to issue and a further £230 for a hearing.
- Level 2 (more complicated claims such as unfair dismissal, equal pay or discrimination) will have a £250 issue fee and then cost £950 to bring to a hearing.
Claims with multiple claimants will cost more: the fee for proceedings with two to 10 claimants would be twice the individual claim fee. This would increase to four times the individual fee for between 11 and 200 claimants, and six times the individual fee for over 200 claimants.Continue Reading...
The Government is consulting on some significant revisions to the Equality Act 2010, including abolishing the discrimination questionnaire procedure and the rules on third-party harassment.
The Equality Act 2010, which brought together all UK discrimination laws in one place, was developed under the previous Labour Government and has been in force since October 2010. However, the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition Government which came to power that year decided not to implement certain parts of the Act, including the provisions allowing a claim for discrimination based on a combination of protected characteristics (e.g. sex and race). It also put on hold the requirement for larger companies to report on their gender pay gap.
Now it looks like the Government is planning some substantive changes to discrimination protection under the Act. The aim of the proposed reforms is said to be reducing "bureaucracy" in equality law. But while these changes will no doubt be welcomed by many employers, on a closer look they may not be as helpful as they first appear.
The first major change is a proposal to abolish the rules on third-party harassment. Employers are currently liable for harassment of their employees by third parties, such as clients and contractors, if they know an employee has already been harassed twice before and fail to take reasonable steps to prevent a third incident. This is known as the "three strikes" rule.Continue Reading...