Opioid prescriptions and opioid abuse have the potential to substantially increase workers’ compensation costs for companies. Opioids lead to addictions and can increase the amount of time an employee cannot work.
Wage and Hour litigation continues to increase across most types of businesses in the United States. The number of cases filed in the US reached an all-time high in 2015. Unsurprisingly, industries with large number of service jobs caused the majority of cases and losses: hotels, restaurants, leisure companies, as well as department stores and supermarkets. The nature of these suits can vary but often involve multiple claims - misclassification of employees, failure to pay or calculate overtime properly, breaking rules on rest periods and meal periods, as well as a host of violations relating to the paying of tipped employees.
The Department of Labor’s new fiduciary rule with respect to retirement plans caused a lot of consternation when first announced. The new rule created special rules aimed at limiting conflicts of interests within the world of investment advice for retirement accounts. Some people within the industry decried the rule as more needless regulation that would only increase costs for consumers, whereas others simply saw it as codifying changes most investment advisors had already made in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse. Now, though, several factors raise questions as to the rule’s status before it goes into effect in June of 2017.
Lawsuits over retirement plans and the failure of organizations to meet their fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) continue to proliferate and make the news. Previous defendants in these suits include high profile companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Now these lawsuits have expanded to include non-profit organizations such as educational institutions and hospitals.
Employers face difficult decisions when it comes times to classify borderline workers as employees or as independent contractors. At first, classifying someone as an independent contractor rather than an employee would seem to offer significant advantages. Companies avoid payroll taxes with independent contractors and do not face issues such as unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation insurance, or employee benefits. On the other hand, the penalties for misclassification can be quite severe.
After more than five years of work, the Department of Labor finally released its final rule redefining the concept of fiduciary duty in the context of retirement planning advice. The new rule, replacing standards that have been in place since 1975, comes with a significant amount of controversy. Republicans in Congress have made their unhappiness with the new rule clear and the Securities and Exchanges Commission, who have their own, separate definition of fiduciary duty and the circumstances in which it applies, have expressed their own concerns with the effect of the DOL rule.
Continuing a trend from the National Labor Relations Board and several state courts, the US Labor Department issued new guidance regarding joint employer liability on Wednesday, January 20, 2016. Companies face a number of exposures as it relates to the status of employees: these can range from unionization regulations as controlled by the NLRB, to minimum wage and overtime laws controlled by the US Department of Labor under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and even including discrimination claims under the Civil Rights Act often litigated in court. Rules for who constitutes an employee can differ significantly depending on the employee rights sought. The US Labor Department often uses a more expansive definition of employee than the National Labor Relations Board or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, for example.
Read More About The Growing Liability Of Joint Employment Here
For the second time in a year, the United States Supreme Court issued a 9-0 unanimous opinion regarding the duty of employer investment plans. Last year, the Court rejected the so-called presumption of prudence as it relates to Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs). This month, the Court employed a continuing duty of prudence standard in refusing to dismiss a suit related to a 401(k) plan under a six-year statute of limitations.
Whether a business classifies someone as an independent contractor or an employee can have far-reaching effects in a large number of fields: workers’ compensation, taxation, liability insurance, health care, unemployment insurance etc. A company can gain many benefits from classifying someone as an independent contractor. However, misclassifying someone as an independent contractor can lead to severe penalties with the IRS, Department of Labor and other organizations.