Georgia News & Analysis

  • Don't forget to properly classify independent contractors

    You likely recall a time not so long ago when the improper classification of employees as independent contractors was the hot topic for the IRS and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In 2011, the agencies entered into a "Memorandum of Understanding" in which they agreed to share information about potential misclassifications in an effort to crack down on the common practice. The DOL also entered into similar agreements with roughly 30 state departments of labor.

  • DOL issues FMLA opinion letters after a long break

    For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has issued opinion letters interpreting the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This may be a sign that the Trump administration intends to rely heavily on opinion letters as a form of guidance for employers, a practice that had been discarded by the Obama administration.

  • Who, what, wear: You can enforce a dress code!

    Employers have the legal right to establish dress and grooming policies for their employees as long as the policy is not discriminatory. A dress code can be considered discriminatory if it treats employees in a protected class (based on gender, race, disability, or religion) differently or if it has a disproportionate impact on a protected class. But even if your dress code isn't discriminatory, you may still be required to make exceptions to accommodate an employee's disability or religious beliefs.

  • Agency Action

    OFCCP releases directives on equal employment and religious freedom. The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) in August issued two new policy directives, one focused on equal employment opportunity and the other addressing religious freedom. The equal employment opportunity directive calls for more comprehensive reviews of contractor compliance with federal antidiscrimination laws. The religious freedom directive is aimed at protecting the rights of religion-exercising organizations. The DOL said it is implementing a comprehensive compliance initiative that will include adding focused reviews to its compliance activities. The religious freedom directive instructs OFCCP staff to take into account recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions and White House Executive Orders that protect religious freedom.

  • Workplace Trends

    Salary increases expected to remain flat. Research from workforce consulting firm Mercer shows salary increase budgets for U.S. employees are at 2.8% in 2018—no change from 2017. Salary increase budgets for 2019 are projected to be just 2.9%, despite factors like the tightening labor market and a high rate of workers voluntarily quitting their jobs. The information comes from Mercer's "2018/2019 US Compensation Planning Survey." Mercer's research shows that even newly available investment dollars from the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act aren't enhancing the compensation budgets for most companies. Mercer says just 4% of organizations have redirected some of their anticipated tax savings to their salary increase budgets.

  • New technologies create new employee privacy issues

    Unless you work for a company that's very small or very low-tech by nature, chances are, one of your biggest challenges is keeping up with technology. If your competitors are taking advantage of the many new technological advances that promote efficiency and productivity while you're stuck in 1999, your business will struggle to compete.

  • The end of the Kennedy era

    For the past 20 years, Anthony Kennedy has decided the most important issues in America. An early protégé of Justice Antonin Scalia, Kennedy was appointed by Ronald Reagan as a conservative choice for the U.S. Supreme Court. At first, he voted with the conservative bloc more than 90 percent of the time and remained solidly conservative on criminal justice issues throughout his judicial tenure.

  • Agency Action

    NLRB launches ADR pilot program. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced in July that it is launching a new pilot program to enhance the use of its alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program. The pilot program is intended to increase participation opportunities for parties in the ADR program and help facilitate mutually satisfactory settlements. Under the new program, the NLRB's Office of the Executive Secretary will proactively engage parties with cases pending before the Board to determine whether their cases are appropriate for inclusion in the ADR program. Parties also may contact the Office of the Executive Secretary and request that their case be placed in the ADR program. There are no fees or expenses for using the program.

  • 'Fair-share' fee ruling brings new day for public employers, employees

    With proponents of a U.S. Supreme Court decision against the collection of "fair-share" fees claiming a victory for First Amendment rights and critics calling the ruling an example of the Court siding with billionaires against workers, employers are adjusting to a major change in the world of agency shops in the public sector.

  • DOL loosens rules for association health plans

    Employers may soon have new options to obtain group health insurance through association health plans (AHPs) under new regulations recently issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). A brief primer on the mechanics of insurance may be helpful before we dive into the new rules and what they could mean for you.