This morning Punxsutawney Phil told us that we are facing six more weeks of winter.  Great.  We thought it served as a good opportunity to remind employers of the importance of establishing inclement weather policies that are compliant with wage and hour laws for both exempt and non-exempt employees.  Here is a quick, yet helpful, Q&A for your reading pleasure:

Continue Reading The Groundhog Says Six More Weeks of Winter, So Employers Should Remain Mindful of Their Obligations During Inclement Weather

Our sister blog, Privacy and Security Matters, has released an alert entitled, EU-US Privacy Shield to Launch August 1, Replacing Safe Harbor, which provides an overview of the new Privacy Shield requirements. Privacy Shield replaces Safe Harbor and provides a legal mechanism for transferring personal information from the EU to the US. In addition to summarizing key points of the Privacy Shield documents, the alert is also a guide for companies interested in certifying compliance with Privacy Shield.

The benefits world was set abuzz late last year with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Flambeau, Inc., in which the Federal District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin upheld the validity of Wisconsin-based plastics manufacturer Flambeau, Inc.’s wellness program in the face of a challenge by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). We provided the details of the case in an earlier post. The EEOC has since appealed the lower court’s decision to the Seventh Circuit. An earlier appellate case, Seff v. Broward County, 691 F.3d 1221 (11th Cir. 2012) reached a conclusion similar to Flambeau.

If the Seventh Circuit affirms the Flambeau decision on appeal, then the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADA) will have virtually no impact on wellness programs tied to employer-sponsored group plans in six states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin—i.e., the states comprising the Seventh and Eleventh federal appellate circuits. An appeal to the Supreme Court would almost certainly follow, though it’s not clear whether the Court would accept the case in the absence of a split in the Circuits. But if the Seventh Circuit sides with the EEOC, then a confrontation before the Supreme Court is almost assured.

This post explains what is at stake in the EEOC’s appeal of the Flambeau decision and offers some predictions about the likely outcome.

Continue Reading EEOC v. Flambeau, Voluntary Plans, the Insurance Safe Harbor, and the Future of Wellness Programs

Massachusetts employers need to take heed that the safe harbor provision in the Earned Sick Time law ends on December 31, 2015.  By the start of the New Year, Massachusetts employers will need to strictly comply with the Sick Time Law or it will not be a very happy New Year.

Continue Reading One Particular (Safe) Harbor: Safe Harbor for Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law Ends on December 31, 2015.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) has now declared Safe Harbor invalid – in total.  The ECJ has sent the case back to the Irish Data Protection Authority to determine whether Facebook Ireland’s transfer of personal data to the US is permitted under EU data protection law, in light of Facebook’s participation in the NSA’s PRISM program and bereft of the shelter of Safe Harbor.

If your company relies exclusively on Safe Harbor as the basis for its transfer of personal data from the EU to the US, it will need to find another basis for the transfer as soon as possible.  This is relevant to any US company that has employees in Europe and could impact how—and even if—HR personal data is transferred, accessed, processed from any EU employees to its US operations.  It could also impact the utilization of HRIS cloud systems.

Continue Reading EU Top Court Invalidates Safe Harbor; Data Transfer Concerns Arise for EU/US Employers; Learn More About this at Tomorrow’s Privacy Webinar

Written by Ann Fievet

Last Friday, the IRS provided guidance on ways for employers to reduce or eliminate the employer contribution to a safe harbor 401(k) plan mid-year, guidance which employers looking to enhance their bottom lines will welcome with open arms. For employers who satisfy the employer contribution requirement of their safe harbor 401(k) plan through nonelective contributions, these new rules provide some additional flexibility and may warrant changes to the annual safe harbor notice for the 2014 plan year.

Continue Reading Want to reduce or suspend safe harbor 401(k) employer contributions mid-year? IRS final regulations provide a new way.