Montana News & Analysis

  • Just pay it: 9th Circuit revives wage claims for brief 'off-the-clock' inspections

    The de minimis doctrine under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal minimum wage and overtime law, says that employers do not need to pay employees for otherwise compensable amounts of time that are small, irregular, or administratively difficult to record. When deciding whether certain amounts of time are de minimis, federal courts governed by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to employers in Alaska and eight other Western states) consider:

  • Individual coverage HRAs probably not option for 2020

    On his very first day in office, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order instructing federal agencies to lessen the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) burden on the organizations and individuals who were subject to its requirements. More than two years later, the ACA is limping along, but the Trump administration is still working to carry out that order.

  • How to identify and minimize employee burnout

    You may have seen reports recently that the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified employee burnout as a diagnosable medical condition. While that's not exactly accurate, the group has expanded its definition of the term in its latest edition of the International Classification of Diseases.

  • It's not me—it's you: how to break up with your employees

    Relationships—both personal and professional—can be complicated. Just like first dates, job interviews offer candidates the chance to show a prospective employer the best possible version of themselves: smart, charming, funny, and responsible. As an employer, you ask exploratory questions about a candidate's background, education, interests, and goals for the future to see if it's a good fit. If you both agree that it is, you start a relationship.

  • Cash for (no) smokes?

    Q Can we offer a small cash bonus to employees who either are nonsmokers currently (verified by a short questionnaire) or who smoke/chew tobacco today but complete a smoking cessation program? Is there a cap on how much we can offer or how these dollars can be paid?

    A No. Under Montana law, employers are prohibited from discriminating against an individual with respect to compensation, promotion, or the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because she legally uses a lawful product. Tobacco use is expressly listed as a lawful product under the statute, so paying employees less because they smoke or chew tobacco would be unlawful.

  • Agency Action

    DOL takes more steps to advance apprenticeships. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) along with monetary awards in its continuing effort to expand apprenticeships. In the announcement, the DOL said the NPRM would establish a process for the agency to advance the development of high-quality, industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs). A 2017 Executive Order created the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, which developed recommendations on how to best expand the apprenticeship model. The new NPRM reflects key recommendations from the task force. The DOL also announced awards totaling $183.8 million to support the development and expansion of apprenticeships for educational institutions partnering with companies that provide a funding match component. The agency also will make available an additional $100 million for efforts to expand apprenticeships and close the skills gap.

  • Workplace Trends

    Tight labor market tops HR concerns, survey says. Attracting talent has surpassed regulatory compliance as the top HR concern, according to the 2019 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey, released on June 24. More than two-thirds of HR leaders reported difficulty finding and hiring quality candidates, up from 59% last year. When asked specifically about challenges related to hiring, HR professionals most often cited finding qualified candidates (49%), retaining their best employees (49%), and finding candidates who fit their company culture (42%). The survey reported that as a result of those challenges, HR teams are increasingly willing to train job candidates who may not check all the boxes for required skills. The survey showed 85% of HR leaders would be willing to train and upskill an underqualified candidate, and 78% said their organizations have already benefited from upskilling underqualified workers.

  • Does employee need to be main caregiver to take FMLA leave?

    Q An employee who is eligible for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave has requested to use it to spend time with her father, who is in a nursing home but having difficulty settling in. He has dementia and will listen only to family members. Is this a qualifying event? She wouldn't be the primary caregiver.

  • When determining contractor status, ABC test applies retroactively

    The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Oregon employers) recently ruled the California Supreme Court's 2018 Dynamex decision, which adopted the "ABC" test to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, applies retroactively to claims that arose years ago, when individual franchisees claimed their national franchisor was their employer under state law.

  • DOL updates opinion on independent contractors for the gig economy

    Under the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has taken a decidedly industry-friendly approach to the independent contractor analysis. If there was any doubt before, that was made clear by its recent issuance of a whopping 10-page opinion letter examining the nature of the relationship between a virtual marketplace company (think Uber) and the "gig" workers they employ (e.g., Uber drivers).