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2015 HR Legislative, Regulatory, & Judicial Developments Overview

Posted By Claire David, Tuesday, January 26, 2016

In case you missed this third of our four-part series of informational emails to SAHRA members at the end of 2015, we would like to remind you of some of the most important HR-relevant legislative, regulatory, and judicial developments in 2015—and how you can use this information in your day-to-day HR world:

 

Right-To-Work: once again the MO Congress failed to pass any legislation to prevent unions from requiring dues even from non-members; however they seem to get closer and closer every year to doing so, and if/when they have a Republican governor sympathetic to this effort, it will likely pass as it has done in many other states. Keep an eye on this, as it may directly affect your collective bargaining policies in your workplace.

 

Quickie election rule: The NLRB passed regulations to allow unions to force a vote much faster than before. Work with your legal counsel to make sure you are fully compliant with all regulations surrounding union organizing campaigns, as penalties can be severe—up to and including establishing a union regardless of the vote.

 

Using workplace email to organize a union: NLRB ruled that employees who are allowed access to email during non-work time may use email to organize. This is a significant change requiring policy review for employers.

 

Exempt employee salary threshold: DOL has proposed approx. doubling the minimum rate of pay required to designate an employee as “exempt” (exempt from overtime rules). The new rule is under review but will likely be implemented. This will be an enormous change for many employers, so keep watching this.

 

“Cadillac Tax” implementation: Some wondered if this would ever happen, but ACA regulations are starting to come out regarding so-called “Cadillac” employer health plans with premiums above a certain threshold. It’s all very tricky so work closely with legal counsel and health insurance providers to make sure you’re in compliance.

 

Workplace retirement plan fiduciary responsibilities: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer that you must watch the performance of mutual funds in your workplace retirement plans and replace poor performers, or you can be held liable. (Also, fees in your retirement plans must be reasonable—this has long been the case but Canada has seen cases in their courts this year so be sure you’re watching this too). The good news is you don’t have to be an expert yourself—you just need to engage someone who is: your plan provider should already be providing advisory services including benchmarking performance and fees; some will even provide a warranty for these items. If you haven’t heard from your plan advisor lately on these items, call them. You should have a yearly review with the provider on these points, and document that you did so.

 

Unemployment claims environment: This is purely anecdotal from our Committee meetings, but it seems MO unemployment referees are asking for more documentation regarding the reason an employee quits, in order to determine whether it might be “constructive discharge” (employee felt they had to either quit or get fired, or environment was in some way hostile to continued employment—either of which would likely result in the employer losing the hearing. On the other hand, we’re hearing even more stories about referees coming down on the side of employers in cases where they might not have in recent years. Our takeaway is that you should never assume an outcome, but prepare thoroughly with plenty of documentation in both resignations and involuntary terminations.

 

We will continue to watch these items and let you know how they develop in 2016.

 

 

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