Employment Law Changes from 2009
A CHESS Tournament guest post by Deb McGahey, HR Options
For most employers, 2009 was a busy year monitoring all of the employment law changes that were enacted throughout the year. As I started to write this article, I soon realized that I could be writing a mini novel if I tried to cover all of the nitty gritty details regarding the most important changes during 2009. Hopefully the following recap, with related links, will re-educate or remind you of changes that may need to be on the top of your HR “to do” list in 2010.
Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
Source: Society of Human Resource Management
The Act makes it easier for employees who have experienced pay discrimination to seek redress. Key provisions of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act include:
- Changes application of statute of limitations. By making the time clock re-start each time an employee receives a paycheck, and potentially even when a retiree receives an annuity check, the Ledbetter Act will allow individuals to bring discrimination claims potentially many years after an alleged act of discrimination occurred. Employers will be liable for earlier management decisions for which there may be no records.
- Expands plaintiff field. The Ledbetter Act will allow, not just an employee who was discriminated against, but, other individuals who were “affected” by an act of pay discrimination to file claims. Thus, the new law may allow family members, including spouses and children, and potentially others to become plaintiffs in discrimination suits over an employee’s pay.
- Amends other civil rights statutes. The Ledbetter Act will extend the statute of limitations for filing claims for all protected classes of employment law, including gender, age, color, disability, race, religion and national origin.
Suggested guidelines to help support your pay practices may include the following: document and communicate your compensation philosophy; ensure proper record retention regarding performance appraisals/performance reviews; offer better oversight and review of merit increases and provide management with a structured increase process; conduct an internal audit of pay for similar positions.
MN Unemployment Insurance Updates
A number of changes have been made for consideration of benefits to former employees.
- Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation State Extension
- Base Period Definition Change
- Reemployment Assistance Training
- Changes to Qualifications for Receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits
For details see this document from UI.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to companies with 15 or more employees. The definition of what constitutes a disability changed substantially in 2009; those changes are noted in Section 12102 of regulation.
The complete act is posted here.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Two of the major changes to the FMLA were the addition of Military Leave under FMLA and clarifying the definition of a serious health condition. There are two types of leaves under the Military Leave:
- Military Caregiver (up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave during a single 12 month period)
- Qualifying Exigency (up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12 month period) for events that may arise out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter or parent is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty.
An FMLA fact sheet regarding Military Leave and all of the details of Military Caregiver and Qualifying Exigency has been made available from the department of labor wage and hour division.
Additional FMLA related documents can be found here.
Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act is designed to prohibit the improper use of genetic information in health insurance and employment. The Act prohibits group health plans and health insurers from denying coverage to a healthy individual or charging that person higher premiums based solely on a genetic predisposition to developing a disease in the future. The legislation also bars employers from using individuals’ genetic information when making hiring, firing, job placement, or promotion decisions. As an employer, you should ensure that you have the most recent law posters that include the new GINA guidelines. In addition, you should add language to your EEO policies preventing discrimination based on genetic information.
A new I-9 form and a handbook for employers were made available in August of 2009.
The Handbook for Employers includes comprehensive instructions for completing Form I-9.
As an employer it is important to not only understand key changes that may impact your business, but to also ensure compliance by updating your handbook, policies, forms and required posters.
Deb McGahey has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources and is the founder and principal consultant for HR Options. She has helped clients with the development of handbooks, policy and procedure manuals, development of compensation structures, benefit renewals and acting as an interim head of HR. Deb can be reached at 952.240.9257.