Thursday, June 25, 2009

Obama Speeds Up Stimulus Spending

President Barack Obama announced plans on June 8 to accelerate stimulus spending to save or create 600,000 jobs over the next 100 days, four times the number created or saved in the first 100 days since the plan was signed into law on February 17.

The announcement came days after the government reported that the number of unemployed continues to rise. The Labor Department reported that U.S. unemployment rose to 9.4 percent in May, even though job losses last month slowed to 345,000. The rate is the highest in more than 25 years. Hundreds of thousands of Americans continue to lose jobs each month, although fewer jobs were lost last month than expected.

"We've got a long way to go, but I feel like we've made great progress," Obama said at a White House meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and cabinet officials aimed at highlighting gains made since Congress passed the massive stimulus package in February. Obama has claimed as many as 150,000 jobs saved or created by his stimulus plan so far, even as government reports have shown the economy has lost more than 1.6 million jobs.
The White House estimates the $787 billion Recovery and Reinvestment Act that Democrats pushed through Congress with little Republican support will create or save 3 million to 4 million jobs by early 2011.

Monday, June 22, 2009

N.C. law strengthens rules for child labor

Gov. Bev Perdue on Friday signed into law a bill aimed at improving enforcement of the state's child labor rules.

The N.C. labor commissioner is required by the new law to provided detailed reports on the state’s efforts to protect child labor.

The Labor Department is obligatory to report each year on the number and types of complaints it received. Besides, it must report that how it investigated those complaints and the identity of employers cited for violations.

The labor commissioner also have the reasons about what kind of obstacles they have met which stop the Department of Labor from enforcing youth employment rules , and then provide recommendations about how to better protect working children.

The legislation was passed unanimously in the House and Senate. It followed stories in the Observer last year that chronicled how thousands of American youths are injured working jobs deemed unsafe for young workers.

According to the present law, state regulator can not fine the violators of labor law more that $250. That's among the nation's lowest penalties for child-labor violations.
Now we know that one of the reason that there are so many violators as the do not afraid to be fined.

We are glad to see that there is another bill which aimed to increase penalties for violations of child labor law has passed the House and awaits action in the Senate finance committee.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2009 Federal Minimum Wage Increase

The federal minimum wage increases from $6.55 per hour to $7.25 per hour on July 24, 2009. This is the third time and the final annual increase under the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007.

For ten years, while the federal minimum wage sat at $5.15 an hour, members of Congress voted themselves raises that increased wages by an average of $31,600 each. That changed with the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. This new Act released that increase the minimum wage by 70 cents per hour every year for three years.

The increase comes on July 24 each year. The final increase comes July 24, 2009, when the minimum wage rises from $6.55 to $7.25.

The federal minimum wage law is the Faire Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It applies only to those employers who have more than 50 workers or who earn revenues of more than a half-million dollars a year. More than half of all states in America have passed laws that establish a higher minimum wage than the federal rate.

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Illinois Nonsmoking Regulations

Now there are clear terms to state that violators of Smoke-Free Illinois Act will face civil but not criminal charges.

Public Act 95-1029, signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn, amends the Smoke-Free Illinois Act by specifying that violations are treated as civil matters and the hearings shall be conducted by the Illinois Department of Public Health in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act. While the penalties will still include fines but not include jail time.

The Illinois non-smoking law defines smoking as carrying a lit cigarette, pipe, cigar or any other smoking material or implement. In addition, smoking, burning, inhaling and exhaling are also defined as smoking. The law specifically prohibits herbs and weeds as well as tobacco.

According to the Smoke-Free Illinois Act, every employer must post signs prohibiting smoking within 15 feet of any windows that open or ventilation intakes that serve an indoor workplace. It is also prohibited to smoke in all workplaces, including bars, restaurants, schools, theaters and casinos.
Before the regulation, the Chicago Tribune reports that some local law enforcement authorities were treating violations as criminal matters. However, At least one judge ruled that the county courts could not enforce the statute until the State adopted administrative rules. As a result, some counties in rural downstate Illinois stopped enforcing the law.

Monday, June 08, 2009

State and Federal Regulations for Summer Jobs

Here comes summer. It is time for some teenagers to go to the workforce to earn some money.
Companies who hire teenagers should be highly aware that state and federal law restricts the use of minors. Every company should be clear about this labor law poster requirement.

State and federal law apply to “minors.” According to the California Labor Code, minors refer to people under the age of 18 who are required to attend school. The definition also includes people under age 18 who are not required to attend school because they are not California residents. The definition also covers any child under the age of six.

A person under the age of 18 but has graduate from high school or the equivalent is not a minor according to this definition as he is not required to go to school. So the child labor laws would not apply.

Work permits are required to employ “minors” under the age of 18. Generally, permits can be obtained from the student’s school. Schools are not permitted to issue permits for children under age 12, but under federal law it is generally impermissible to employ an individual under age 14. The documents are usually issued from the superintendent’s office, or by the superintendent’s designated representative.

You should know that work permits have its expiration, so it is important to know the effective dates. Permits issued during the school year expire at the start of the next school year. That is to say, if you would love to hire a teenager for another school term, you need to obtain a new permit

To comply with Labor Code requirement, the school district’s permit form includes the following information: the minor’s name, age, birth date, address, telephone number, and social security number. The permit must be signed by both the issuing school representative and the student.

Let’s take a look at some details about the work time by the California Education Code.
Minors age 16 or 17 cannot work more than 8 hours per day or 48 hours per week. They may work as early as 5:00 a.m. or as late as 12:30 a.m. as long as there is no school the following day.

Not all the occupations are allowed for child labor. Children of certain ages are prohibited from working in a number of hazardous jobs, for example, a number of manufacturing, industrial, and construction occupations, as well as driving a motor vehicle.
So before hiring a minor, you should make it clear that weather state and federal law permit the child to work the occupation.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

New Illinois Sexual Harassment Law

A new ruling about sexual harassment was released by the Illinois Supreme Court that an employer is responsible for sexual harassment by an employee who happens to be a supervisor. This ruling makes Illinois employers train supervisors and managers to prevent sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.

In Sangamon County Sheriff’s Department v. Illinois Human Rights Commission, the judge ruled on April 16, 2009 that the employer was strictly liable for any manager’s or supervisor’s actions.

In a 4-2 ruling, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling that the sheriff’s department could be held strictly liable in such circumstances.

According to the Illinois Supreme Court, “The issue in this case is whether an employer is strictly liable under [the IHRA] for the ‘hostile environment’ sexual harassment of its supervisory employees, where the supervisor has no authority to affect the terms and conditions of the complainant’s employment. The answer is yes.” The court added that the employer is reasonable for the harassment by the supervisor.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

California Supreme Court Upholds Same-Sex Marriage Ban

On May 26th, the California Supreme Court rejected all constitutional challenges and upheld a voter-approved constitutional amendment Proposition 8 that bans same-sex marriage in the state.

In the 2008 general election, California voters approved Proposition 8 by a 52 percent to 48 percent majority. Proposition. 8 stated: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

However, the California Supreme Court held that Proposition 8 is not retroactive. So those couples who wed in the state under an earlier opinion from the court, will be considered married.

The court majority said same-sex couples would continue to have the right to choose life partners and enter into "committed, officially recognized and protected family relationships" that enjoy all the benefits of marriage under the state's domestic partnership law. But opponents said that the measure was passed improperly as an "amendment," and instead constituted a "revision" to the state constitution, which cannot be accomplished through the initiative process and instead require the involvement of the state legislature. However, the court rejected these arguments.

Monday, June 01, 2009

U.S. Labor Department announces release of $32.3 million to Idaho

The U.S. Department of Labor has decided to release $$32,260,831 in the unemployment insurance modernization incentive funds to the state of Idaho.
Idaho's approved application will be posted at the department's Employment and Training Administration Web site at .

"Idaho has made important updates to its UI program to better meet the needs of the 21st century workforce," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The UI modernization provisions adopted in Idaho help unemployed workers who have entered the workforce recently, work part time or need training to become re-employed receive the benefits they deserve."

As for the usage of the funds to Idaho, the Idaho Department of Labor can use them to pay unemployment benefit. What’s more, the funds can also be used to administer its unemployment insurance program or deliver employment services, if appropriated by the legislature.

These funds are extremely important to those folks in Idaho. These one-time dollars give Idaho families the temporary assistance they need to help themselves through these challenging economic times."

The Recovery Act made a total of $7 billion available in UI modernization incentive payments to states that include certain eligibility provisions in their UI programs. The states that can show that its law includes those provisions have the qualification to share some of the fund.
In addition to Idaho, Connecticut, Minnesota and New Jersey have been certified by the Labor Department to receive their full shares of the funds. Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, South Dakota, Vermont and Virginia have been certified to receive one-third of their shares.