Wednesday, February 29, 2012

DOL Issues Military Family Leave Rules

In a notice published on February 15th in the Federal Register, the Department of Labor (DOL) finally issued proposed regulations to implement the 2009 statutory amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). A number of the 2009 requirements are already in effect, but the DOL regulations both confirm and expand some of them. Employer policies need to be reviewed now, although some changes will not be mandatory until the final regulations are implemented.

In recent years, Congress has made changes several times to the military service portion of the FMLA. The intent of the changes was to expand the protections for those who serve or served in the military and their families. The original amendments to the FMLA provided for military caregiver leave and leave for families dealing with various exigencies that arose in connection with a family member’s deployment. The most recent statutory changes included (1) extending FMLA military caregiver leave to care for veterans who were honorably discharged in the last five years, in addition to current service members, and (2) expanding the “qualifying exigency” leave provisions to cover members of the Regular Armed Forces as well as the Reserves and National Guard, but only in situations in which members are deployed to a foreign country (i.e., international waters and areas outside of the United States, D.C. or any territory or possession of the U.S.). It’s interesting to note that the five-year limitation could exclude veterans of the War in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Arbitration Agreements, Employee Handbooks: Bad Mix

So, you’ve heard that arbitration agreements are the way to go. You’ve read or been told that arbitration is less expensive than litigating discrimination and other employee claims in court, and that it avoids the risk of a runaway jury verdict in favor of your employee. Just slip the agreement into your company’s employee handbook and you’re good to go.

Not so fast … and not so good. In fact, you’re probably wasting the paper the agreement is written on – and ruining an otherwise perfectly good handbook.

NLRB Delays Union Organizing Rights Posting Rule

Employers that have been gearing up to meet the January 31, deadline for posting an National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) poster notifying employees of their right to unionize, no longer need to rush. The NLRB has for the second time delayed the implementation deadline; posters need not go up before April 30, 2012.

The NLRB initially issued a Final Rule requiring most private-sector employers, both unionized and non-unionized, to post this poster in their workplaces by November 11, 2011. This controversial rule was challenged in federal court in suits brought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. As a result, the NLRB first postponed the date until January 31. Now, at the request of the judge in one of the cases, the NLRB has agreed to defer the posting requirement until April 30, 2012.