Connecticut News & Analysis

  • Recession preparation 101: Plan for potential layoffs ahead of time

    The economy is strong. Unemployment is at 3.5 percent, the lowest it has been in decades. Employers added 136,000 jobs in September. Yet there are growing concerns that a recession is coming. The Dow dropped 800 points in two days at the start of October because of those concerns. Start making plans now so your business won't be caught unprepared if the economic winds turn rough.

  • Preparation, training help employers cope with unsettling ICE news

    The thought of immigration enforcement agents surrounding a workplace, seizing business records, questioning employees, and even making arrests is worrisome to say the least. But it has been and likely will continue to be a reality for many employers since audits and raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are on the upswing. Plus, the Social Security Administration has once again begun sending "no-match letters" to employers that have W-2 forms with mismatched names and Social Security numbers. Now referred to as educational correspondence (EDCOR) or an employer correction request (ECR), the letters require employers to take action to resolve the problem. So the signals are clear: Employers with undocumented workers are on notice that they face serious consequences.

  • New OT rule sparks questions beyond where to set salary threshold for 'exempt' status

    The thought of immigration enforcement agents surrounding a workplace, seizing business records, questioning employees, and even making arrests is worrisome to say the least. But it has been and likely will continue to be a reality for many employers since audits and raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are on the upswing. Plus, the Social Security Administration has once again begun sending "no-match letters" to employers that have W-2 forms with mismatched names and Social Security numbers. Now referred to as educational correspondence (EDCOR) or an employer correction request (ECR), the letters require employers to take action to resolve the problem. So the signals are clear: Employers with undocumented workers are on notice that they face serious consequences.

  • What employers need to know about breastfeeding at work

    The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires certain employers to provide basic accommodations—including break time and a designated space other than a bathroom—for breastfeeding employees to pump (or express) breast milk at work. Additionally, some states' law allow women to freely and openly breastfeed their children at any business location where they are otherwise authorized to be. Understanding the laws and implementing a company lactation policy will promote employee retention and satisfaction and prevent liability.

  • Bargaining obligations when acquiring a unionized business

    When a business acquires the assets of a unionized facility, there are very few options for continuing the operations with the same employees without assuming the obligation to bargain with the union.

  • Agency Action

    USCIS releases guidance on employment authorization. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in August announced new policy guidance to address its discretion to grant employment authorization to foreign nationals who are paroled into the United States, including those who are otherwise inadmissible. The agency explained that certain foreign nationals may be paroled into the country for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit, but they aren't entitled to employment authorization solely because of that. Instead, they must establish eligibility and apply for employment authorization. USCIS will consider employment authorization for parolees only when, based on the facts and circumstances of each individual case, it finds a favorable exercise of discretion is warranted. The agency said it is taking the action in response to "the national emergency at the southern border."

  • Workplace Trends

    Report details persistent wage gap affecting black women. Black women who work full time year-round typically are paid 61 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, according to a fact sheet from the National Women's Law Center released in August. The wage gap also contributes to the wealth gap, the fact sheet says, and is an obstacle to black women's economic security over their lifetimes. The report says that in 1967, a black woman working full time year-round typically made 43 cents for every dollar a white man made. In 2017, the most recent year for which figures are available, the gap had narrowed by just 18 cents. The wage gap is wider in certain areas. The report lists the 10 worst states for black women's wage equality: Louisiana, a wage gap of 53 cents; Washington, D.C., a gap of 49 cents; Utah, 47 cents; South Dakota, 47 cents; New Jersey, 44 cents; Mississippi, 44 cents; Connecticut, 43 cents; South Carolina, 43 cents; Alabama, 41 cents; and Texas, 41 cents. The gap for the United States as a whole is 39 cents.

  • Employee contradictions lead to case being thrown out

    We're always on the lookout for interesting cases. A recent case decided by the federal appeals court that hears all federal cases from Connecticut gave one employer a big win. The court concluded a lower court was correct when it threw out an employee's discrimination claim because she had contradicted herself. The decision should be helpful for employers facing meritless discrimination lawsuits.

  • IRS authorizes more preventive services to be paid by HSA-eligible health plans

    The IRS recently issued guidance expanding the definition of "preventive care" that may be covered—possibly free of charge—by a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) that's paired with a health savings account (HSA). While the changes made by the guidance are relatively simple, they have the potential to make HSAs substantially more attractive, particularly to employees who have a chronic condition that is controlled by medication or therapy. Before diving too far into the details, however, it's important to have a solid understanding of HSAs and how they work.

  • Association retirement plans may not be ready for prime time

    The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently finalized regulations allowing multiple employers to offer a retirement plan to their employees through a combined association retirement plan (ARP). In what is becoming a common theme for the agency under President Donald Trump, the new rules are intended to make it easier for small to mid-sized employers to offer such plans to their employees. While they are similar to rules finalized last year that established a new type of association health plan, they go even further by establishing guidelines for professional employer organizations (PEOs) to sponsor retirement plans for their members' employees. Unfortunately, they also may face some of the same problems as those rules, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.