Monday, December 15, 2008

IRS Announces Mileage Rate For 2009

On Nov. 24, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that as of Jan. 1, 2009, the standard mileage rates for business miles driven will be 55 cents per mile.

The business mileage rate was 50.5 cents in the first half of 2008, and 58.5 cents in the second half, which was an adjustment based on rising gas prices.

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating a vehicle. However, the rate cannot be used for any vehicle used for hire or for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.

Under Labor Code section 2802, California employers need to utilize the IRS mileage rate to reimburse employees for miles driven for business purposes. If faced with a claim for failure to reimburse expenses, the burden would be on the employer to prove that its mileage reimbursement rate adequately covered all of the employee's actual costs of operating a vehicle for employment purposes.

Employers should review their mileage reimbursement policies to stay in compliance with the law.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

2009 Federal Healthcare Regulations

According to a recent news release by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), the U.S. Department of Labor has issued final rules under the Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act of 1996. The new regulations, taking effect on December 19, 2008, apply to health insurance plans issued on or after January 1, 2009.

The rules were issued in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury Department. They apply to group health plans and health insurers, including businesses that are self-insured. The new rules from the U.S. Department of Labor regulate, among other things, the length of time mothers and newborn babies may stay in the hospital.

Under the “general rule”, employers can restrict the hospital stay after a cesarean to 96 hours – but cannot require that mothers leave the hospital sooner. The new federal regulations do not require that new mothers stay in the hospital that long. The regulations contain a long list of restrictions to ensure that an early discharge does not endanger the health of mother or infant. In particular, the insurance company cannot provide financial incentives to healthcare providers to require mothers leave the hospital earlier.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Arizona Minimum Wage Will Increase to $7.25 per hour Jan. 1, 2009

According to the Industrial Commission of Arizona, the minimum wage in Arizona will increase to $7.25 per hour from $6.90 per hour. The new wage will take effect in January 1, 2009.

In order to cooperate with Arizona’s Minimum Wage Initiative, the Industrial Commission is supposed to adjust the state’s minimum wage every year. According to Arizona Revised Statutes Section 23-363(B), the minimum wage shall be increased on January 1, 2008 and 2009 as a result of the increasing of the cost of living.

The Consumer Price Index is a good mirror to reflect the cost of living, The increase in the cost of living shall be measured by the percentage increase as of August of the immediately preceding year over the level as of August of the previous year of the Consumer Price Index (All Urban Consumers, U.S. City, All Items) or its successor index as published by the Department of Labor or its successor agency, with the minimum wage increase rounded to the nearest five cents”.
Based on the increase of Department of labor’s Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers from 2007 to 2008, if the initiative requirement that all increase must be rounded to the nearest five cents, the new minimum wage if Arizona will be $7.25 per hour in 2009. It is expected that the minimum wage in 2009 of Arizona will continue to exceed the federal minimum wage through the first half of 2009.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Montana’s Minimum Wage to Increase to $6.90 in January 2009

Effective January 1, 2009, the Montana minimum wage will increase by 35 cents, from $6.55 to $6.90 per hour.

Montana law requires an adjustment to the state minimum wage to be calculated no later than September 30 of each year, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the previous 12 months. This amount is to be rounded to the nearest 5 cents.

The current 2008 minimum wage rate is $6.55 per hour and the CPI increased 5.4 percent from August 2007 to August 2008. So the minimum wage will increase by 35 cents, to $6.90.

“This gives those Montanans who are struggling to keep up with higher energy and food prices some much needed help, “says Labor Commissioner Keith Kelly.
According to the Montana Department of Labor & Industry, more than 70 percent of the state voters supported raising Montana's minimum wage when they voted in favor of Initiative 151 that appeared on the ballot in 2006. The state's minimum wage will be the greater of either the current state or federal minimum wage. So on July 24, 2009, when the federal minimum wage increase to $7.25 per hour, which will be higher than state minimum wage $6.90 at that time, the Montana state minimum wage will increase again to $7.25 per hour.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

New Federal Poster Available Online

The Department of Labor recently published a new “Workplace Poster Requirements for Small Businesses and Other Employer” poster. All the workplaces covered by Title VII or Executive Order 11246 are required to display the poster. The new poster changed the previous one slightly not dramatically. The purpose of the revision is for better clarifying employee rights and providing more specific definitions.

As for the specific time to display the updated poster, the Department of Labor has not given any official response. The Department provides electronic copies of the required posters and some of the posters are available in languages other than English.

Now the new poster is available at