Thursday, August 27, 2009

E-Verify News

E-Verify have the new changes. During July, both the U.S. House and Senate took measures that would E-Verify will be required to use by more employers, including federal contractors and companies that benefit from federal stimulus spending. The U.S. Senate passed an amendment to the 2010 Department of Homeland Security budget sponsored by Senate Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

This amendment will prevent illegal immigrants from being hired for construction projects funded by the federal stimulus packages. This bill was submitted to both the Senate and the House. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has long opposed the mandatory use of E-Verify SHRM argues that a biometric component needs to be added to E-Verify.

While the E-Verify are required to use by employers in a number of states, federal contractors are still in limbo. President George W. Bush signed an executive order that would have required federal contractors to implement E-Verify. However, SHRM and other employer groups challenge that.

Nevertheless, many employers continue to voluntarily adopt the E-Verify system. E-Verify compares information provided by the employee’s identity documents – including date of birth, sex, middle name, social security number and other information – with data on file with the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Signed Guns at Work Laws

In a growing number of states, an employer cannot bar its employees from bringing guns to work and leaving them in their cars. Recently, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer also signed a new law to limit employers from implementing and maintaining policies that prohibit employees from lawfully storing firearms in their locked vehicles while parked in their employer's parking lot.

The new law, which takes effect on September 30, 2009, prohibits property owners, tenants, public or private employers or business entities from maintaining or enforcing any policy or rule that would forbid employees, as well as other individuals such as visitors and customers, from lawfully transporting or lawfully storing any firearm, as long as 1)the firearm is in the employee's locked and privately owned vehicle or in a locked compartment on the employee's privately owned motorcycle; and 2)the firearm is not visible from outside of the vehicle or motorcycle.

Arizona employers are advised to modify their policies about guns in the workplace and provide appropriate training in anticipation of the new law's effective date. By doing this, Arizona will also join the states who have the similar laws. Other states are: Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

QuikTrip to Pay $750,000 in Back Wage

Convenience store operator QuikTrip Corp. agreed to pay $747,729 in overtime back wages for 3,819 current and former convenience store workers ,following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division’s Arkansas-Oklahoma District Office.

The Department of Labor said on Monday that they found Tulsa-based QuikTrip had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to pay its employees the overtime compensation they were legally entitled to receive. The chain did not pay additional overtime premiums due on performance-related bonuses. Among the states involved in the investigation were Missouri , Illinois , Arizona , Georgia , Iowa , Nebraska , Oklahoma and Texas .

An employer is not required by law to provide a bonus, but if a nondiscretionary bonus is paid, the bonus must be included as part of the employee's regular rate of pay for purposes of computing overtime. The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage and receive overtime at one and one-half times their regular rates of pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Effective July 24, 2009, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Employers must also maintain accurate time and payroll records.

Mike Thornbrugh, QuikTrip spokesman, said that "We have an additional form of compensation, and that is an additional bonus that we pay based on customer service…What we did, and it's our fault, is we had a computer programming error that was paying some employees too much for that and others were not getting the appropriate amount. We obviously fixed the program and reimbursed employees who were not getting the proper amount."

"I am pleased that this case has resulted in almost $750,000 in back wages being paid to thousands of workers across nine states," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "I am committed to ensuring that every worker is paid the full wages he or she is due, and that those who work overtime receive the compensation to which they are legally entitled."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Latest Minimum Wage Increase Still not High

The federal minimum wage rose from $6.55 an hour to $7.25 in last month. An estimated 2.8 million employees got a minimum wage raise. Another 1.6 million whose hourly pay hovers around $7.25 also got a boost as employers adjust their pay scales to the new minimum.

After inflation, the latest minimum wage increase is still no higher than it was in the early 1980s, and it is 17 percent lower than its peak in 1968. That means that no matter how hard they work, many low-wage workers keep falling behind. To some extend, the latest increase will slow down the decline in living standards.

The minimum wage also sets a floor by which other wages are set. Keeping it low keeps wages lower than they would be otherwise, especially for jobs that are just above the minimum-wage level. According to the Department of labor, 50 percent occupations expected to add the most jobs through 2016 are “very low paying,” up to a maximum of about $22,000 a year. The jobs covers retail sales and home health.

Barack Obama proposed lifting the the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011 during the presidential campaign to adjust for inflation. The minimum wage of $9.50 an hour would be restored to its historical highs — about 50 percent of the average wage.

In America, low-paid jobs are a fact of working life. Unlike so many of the nation’s higher-paying jobs, they are not going away. One of the big challenges of our time is to ensure that for some workers, they are a stepping stone to better jobs and that for all workers; they are safe and fairly compensated.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Minimum Wage Rises, Unemployment Jumps Again

Recently, the federal minimum wage has risen. However, the numbers of those who unfortunate to be out of work also increase.
Under federal minimum wage laws, the workers covered nonexempt ones are entitled to a minimum wage of not less than $7.25 per hour. The new rate has come into effect July 24, 2009. Many states also have minimum wage laws; West Virginia is one of the states.
The minimum wage increase of two weeks ago brings the federal minimum in line with the West Virginia state minimum wage. In West Virginia, the minimum wage also increases to $7.25 per hour. According to the West Virginia Division of Labor, that state minimum came into effect July 1, 2008.
According to U.S. Department of Labor's Website, in cases where an employee is subject to both state and federal minimum wage laws, the employee is entitled to the higher minimum wage. Over half the states in the nation have a state minimum the same as the federal minimum. Also many states exceed the federal minimum wage, like California, Oregon and Washington.

WorkForce West Virginia released data that there were 950 people unemployed in the county in June. The June rate of unemployment was 11.6 percent, well up from May's rate of 10.7 percent. The rate of unemployment for the same June period last year was just 5 percent, representing 410 individuals out of work.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Heat Illness Prevention Regulations Strengthened by Cal/OSHA

On July 31, California's Department of Industrial Relations' (DIR) Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) filed a proposal with the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to amend the state's heat illness prevention regulations, which follows the July 16 request by Governor Schwarzenegger to strengthen and improve the standards to protect outdoor workers from the hot summer sun.

Besides, the state budget just signed has authorized the spending of $1.5 million to expand upon the efforts already in place to educate workers and employers about the necessity of heat illness prevention. This was the expanding outreach to train outdoor workers and employers, and will help to expand Cal/OSHA's successful participation and partnership with industry, labor, and community groups.

Under the Governor’s leadership, California was the first state in the nation to develop a safety and health regulation addressing heat illness in 2005. Cal/OSHA issued permanent heat illness prevention regulations to protect outdoor workers in 2006. The Regulations address such topics as shade requirements, drinking water requirements, heat illness training requirements and other related subtopics. They require that the employer make shade available, provide drinking water, provide training to both supervisors and workers, and requires that the written heat illness prevention program include a plan for summoning emergency responders.

"Today we are moving to clarify amendments to the standards and to ensure that we provide the necessary measures to improve upon our first in the nation regulation to protect outdoor workers from the summer heat," said DIR Director John C. Duncan. "This package will, among other things, include a requirement for shade to be present at all times and a trigger for shade to be up when the temperature exceeds 85 degrees. It also makes it clear that employees have the right to take a rest in the shade whenever they feel the need to do so to prevent themselves from overheating."