Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New GINA Regulations Release

The newest GINA regulations issued by the US Department of Labor, the IRS and the Department of Health and Human Services go into effect for plans on December 7, 2009. The Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act will not be violated by employers and employees across the nation.

GINA guards employers against gathering information on employees’ genetic makeup, and against making employment decisions based on that information. The GINA poster needs to be displayed in the workplace. This is prominent regulation.

The new GINA is interpreted broadly. In addition, employees’ requests for or receipt of genetic services, and family medical history are all included in GINA. This includes any manifestation of a disease or disorder in the employee’s family members including dependents plus all relatives to the fourth degree without regard to whether they are related by blood, marriage or adoption. This would include current medical information about an employee’s children, spouse, grandparents, great-grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, and first cousins.

GINA has two titles. Title I prohibits employers from increasing group health premiums or contributions based on genetic information. Title II also prohibits employers from using genetic or familial medical information in employment discrimination.

Monday, December 28, 2009

US DOL announces $3.8 million grant to assist workers in Massachusetts affected by financial industry layoffs

On Dec 17, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a $3,874,594 grant to assist about 725 workers affected by layoffs, began in November 2008, at seven companies in Massachusetts' financial industry.

The grant will be funded by resources made available for National Emergency Grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and will provide affected workers with access to dislocated worker services, which may include skills assessment, basic skills training, individual career counseling and occupational skills training.

Of the $3,874,594 announced, $1,294,864 will be released initially, and additional funding up to the amount approved will be made available as the commonwealth demonstrates a continued need for assistance. The grant was awarded to the Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development, and will be operated by the Metro South/West Employment and Training Administration.

"Today's grant will provide the job search and employment services necessary for affected workers in Massachusetts to find new jobs in emerging industries," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

US DOL announces more than $800,000 to assist Oregon lumber industry layoffs

On December 3, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a grant of up to $831,423 to assist approximately 75 workers affected by layoffs at Hampton Affiliates' Tillamook Lumber in Tillamook, Oregon .

The grant was awarded to the Oregon Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, and will be operated by the Oregon Consortium and Oregon Workforce Alliance. This grant will be funded by resources made available for National Emergency Grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and will provide these dislocated workers, all of whom are also certified as eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), with access to "wrap-around" and supportive services, such as dependent care and transportation assistance, not available through the TAA program.

Layoffs at Hampton Affiliates' Tillamook Lumber began on April 6. An initial increment of $501,765 will be made available to serve these workers with the remainder of the funds distributed as the state demonstrates a continued need for assistance.

The grant will "provide the retraining and re-employment services necessary for these Oregonians to upgrade existing skills or seek out retraining that leads to careers in growing regional industries," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Michigan Passed Smoking Ban Law

Michigan has just passed a law that bans smoking in the workplace, including restaurants and bars on December 10. Michigan follows 37 states to pass this law, which will go into effect on May 1, 2010.

The law prohibits workers smoking in almost all the workplaces, even in bars and restaurants. There are also some exceptions, such as tobacco specialty stores and cigar bars. Home offices and motor vehicles are also allowed to smoke, even motor vehicles used for work. Michigan joins with other states including New York, California and Illinois to implement the smoking ban.

According to the new law, smoking will be permitted on the gambling floor of the Detroit-area casinos, but in the casino bars, restaurants and hotels the smoking is not allowed. When the bill was signed by the governor, Michigan became the 38th state to ban smoking in public places including government buildings, bars and restaurants. Senator RAY Basham of Taylor fights for a total smoking ban. He said, “We are moved the ball down the court, and even scored a basket.”

In the state Senate, the bill passed by a vote of 24 to 13. In the Michigan House, it passed by a vote of 75 to 30. 66% of Michiganders supported a smoking ban in a March 2009 survey.

Monday, December 14, 2009

November 2009 Employment Situation

On December 4, U.S. DOL released the November 2009 Employment Situation report, which was the most hopeful sign yet that the stabilization of financial markets and the recovery in economic growth may be leading to improvements in the Labor market.

As reported, the economy lost 11,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate edged down to 10.0 percent in November. Payroll employment declined 597,000 in November 2008 and 741,000 in January 2009. It is by far the closest we have been to stable employment since the recession began almost two years ago. The unemployment rate, which had risen to 10.2% in October, declined to 10.0% in November.
"I am encouraged by the pattern of moderated job loss; however, I will not be satisfied until there are robust job gains,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, "Over the past 10 months, the Obama Administration has taken bold steps to break the back of this recession. While there has been a lot of rhetoric about the Recovery Act, when you look at today's report and other recent favorable economic trends, it is hard to argue that the Recovery Act is not working. "

Hilda L. Solis also said that "At the Department of Labor, we are working tirelessly to ensure that we fulfill our responsibility to provide workers with the assistance they need today to help them find good jobs. We still have work to do before we can be sure that all Americans have access to good jobs, but I am confident that we will reach that goal."

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Washington Minimum Wage Remain at $8.55 per Hour in 2010

In the year 2010, Washington minimum wage remaining at $8.55 per hour will marks the first year that it is no increase in the state minimum wage since 1998. This is the result of economy crisis. Even remain stable; the Washington minimum wage is still the highest in the nation.

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries calculates the state minimum wage each September under initiative 688, passed by voters in 1998. According to the law, Washington has increased its minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $8.55 per hour from 1998 to 2009. Each time’s minimum wage increase is on the basis of the federal Consumer Price Index change for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers during the 12 months ending on August 31.

A 5.9% increase in the 2008 CPI makes the Washington minimum wage increase to $8.55 per hour on January 1, 2009. The Washington minimum wage applies to most workers and most industries in the state, even to agricultural workers.

In addition to Washington, there are nine states adjusting their minimum wages each year for inflation. Oregon, Vermont, Ohio, Nevada, Montana, Missouri, Florida, Colorado and Arizona are in the list. Most of those states plan no minimum wage increase for 2010.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

OSHA Schedules Stakeholder Meetings on Combustible Dust

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced that it will hold two stakeholder meetings on December 14, 2009, to discuss combustible dust workplace hazards . The meetings will be held at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. EST at the Marriott at Metro Center, 775 12th Street NW, Washington, DC. The 2010 meeting dates and locations will be announced in one or more subsequent notices.

The effort is intended to prevent the kind of blast that ravaged Imperial’s Port Wentworth refinery on Feb. 7, 2008, killing 14 people and hurting many others. Investigators have concluded highly explosive sugar dust fueled the inferno. The federal government says that since 1980, more than 130 workers have been killed and more than 780 injured in combustible dust explosions. Existing OSHA rules spell out employers’ “general duty” under the law to keep workplaces safe. But they don’t protect workers as well as a comprehensive dust standard would, said OSHA spokesman Michael Wald.

"Workers are dying from combustible dust explosions, and it must stop," said acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab. "Worker safety must be a priority, and we are committed to enforcing effective standards to prevent a repeat of these tragedies."

OSHA believes the stakeholder meeting discussion should center on major issues such as:
• Possible regulatory approaches
• Scope
• Organization of a prospective standard
• The role of consensus standards
• Economic impacts
• Additional topics as time permit

OSHA will use comments and information gathered from these meetings and responses to an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in developing a comprehensive standard addressing fire and explosion hazards of combustible dust.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Ohio Remain Minimum Wage Stable in 2010

The state minimum wage is always increased according to the economy inflation. Colorado will reduce the state minimum wage from $7.28 per hour to $7.24 per hour effective on January 1, 2010. However, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act, most Colorado employers will be required to pay &7.25 per hour under the federal minimum wage. While the state of Ohio will remain its state minimum wage stable at $7.30 per hour in 2010.

The minimum wage in the Buckeye State is 5 cents higher than the federal minimum wage at $7.25 per hour. Employers who are covered by both the state and federal minimum wage must pay the higher of the two. So in Ohio the employees will be paid the state minimum wage.

In 2010, Ohio tipped minimum wage will still remain at $3.65 per hour. If a tipped employee does not average at least $3.65 per hour over the payroll week, the employer must pay the difference as wages. The Ohio minimum wage applies to employers with more than $267,000 in gross revenue. The Ohio minimum wage is increased each year based on the rate of inflation. According to a memo released by the Ohio Department of Commerce, the rate of inflation declined 0.2 percent from late 2008 to late 2009.