State governments have started to take strong action against what they view as unfair employment practices. Legislatures are passing new laws about hiring practices quite frequently over the last few years. These laws seek to create greater fairness in the hiring and salary negotiation process in order to overcome inequalities such as the gender pay gap and other issues.
While the world steps through the global pandemic, we know our clients are facing the same questions, concerns, and decisions that we are grappling with. The collective safety of our employees, families, clients, and your business interests weigh heavily on everyone’s mind. Disaster planning can only take you so far when experiencing anything of this magnitude.
How does insurance play into the events unfolding? Insurance policies address coverage in general terms. The specific circumstances around each loss or situation will determine whether or not coverage applies. However, in general terms, we’d like to share an overview of the potential claims issues in various lines of coverage and how those policies might respond.
Workers compensation is often defined as an exclusive remedy for employees injured on the job. Like with all laws however, there are exceptions. Intentional injuries have long existed as one of those exceptions to the exclusive remedy rule for workers’ compensation. Now, a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Oklahoma has the potential to substantially expand that exception, leaving certain safety-indifferent employers facing greater exposure to lawsuits when an employee is injured.
The Fair Labor Standards Act sets national standards for wage and hour issues related to employees. The law empowers the Department of Labor to set eligibility standards for overtime pay as well as a series of exemptions for it. Employees who qualify for overtime under the law receive time-and-a-half pay for hours worked more than forty hours a week. Time-and-a-half pay is a 50% increase to the employee’s “regular rate of pay.”
As part of a widespread regulatory overhaul, the National Labor Relations Board recently issued new guidance on employee handbooks. The new handbook rules are considerably friendlier to employers than the old rules, and the NLRB has tried to provide employers with clear examples of how to remain in compliance with the new guidelines. The guidance results from a case decided by the NLRB in December 2017, The Boeing Company, which overturned a previous Bush II era case that imposed much stricter guidelines for acceptability when reviewing provisions of employee handbooks.
Employee handbooks are an essential resource for most companies. They are an excellent way for companies to communicate important and vital information to employees such as benefit information, sick and vacation leave policies. They’re also a great way to help establish a company culture and lay out clear expectations for employees. They can lay out the essential processes and procedures of your company, and your employees should follow. Moreover, if you’re not careful, an employee handbook can be enforced against the employer as a binding contract.
The United States as a whole has a significant problem with prescription medication. Estimates are that Americans consume seventy five percent of the world’s prescription drugs. A large part of these prescription drugs focus on chronic pain management. Doctors in the 1980s began prescribing opioids for those patients suffering from chronic pain under a mistaken assumption that prescription opioids had little potential for addiction or abuse.
On August 1, 2017, OSHA launched its web portal to accept the submissions of recordkeeping forms per the requirements in the final rule; to “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses.” As we had advised earlier this year, under this rule, which was enacted in May 2016.
Prescription painkillers create unique problems in the world of workers compensation. Doctors in all fields have grown more aware of the issues created by prescribing potentially addictive painkillers to patients. Painkiller addictions can make the likelihood of finding a long-term solution to a patient’s situation decrease.
The Supreme Court of New Jersey recently accepted a case that could have far reaching implications for how employee relations and worker’s compensation are handled moving forward. The case, Vitale v. Schering Plough, involves the validity of third-party lawsuit waivers in employment contracts. Lower courts have found that such waivers violate public policy and are thus unenforceable.