Kansas News & Analysis

  • Employee Halloween costumes can give HR a scare

    Deciding whether to allow employees to dress up for Halloween can be a tricky question. Every year we see costumes in the news that cause public uproar. You don't want the news article to be about one of your employees. Think through the issue carefully before you decide.

  • 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.

  • Administrative subpoenas: EEOC's investigative power over employment practices

    Most of us have heard or used the expression "the straw that broke the camel's back." It's usually indicative of piling on things that, in the aggregate, become too much. In the employment context, it might be used to describe a situation in which there's one too many discrimination charges.

  • Certain types of parent-teacher talks qualify for FMLA leave, DOL opinion letter says

    A U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) opinion letter published on August 8, 2019, found certain types of parent-teacher conferences can be considered qualified leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). As a result, some of you may have to provide employees with leave to attend the meetings.

  • 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."

  • Arbitration provisions enforceable in ERISA fiduciary duty cases

    The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently joined the 10th Circuit (whose rulings apply to all Kansas employers) in holding that retirement plan participants bringing breach of fiduciary duty claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) are bound by the plan's arbitration provision. This emerging issue could affect how 401(k) disputes are litigated.

  • New law protects employees who report tax fraud to IRS

    The Taxpayer First Act, signed into law by President Donald Trump on July 1, provides new protections for IRS whistleblowers. Under the new law, employees who report their employers to the IRS for suspected tax law violations are shielded from retaliation.

  • 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.