Week in Review

January 19, 2015

Week in review....1/16/15

Federal Judge overturns rule on Home Care Overtime Exemption
On January 14th US District Judge Richard Leon has ruled that the US Department of Labor will not be allowed to enforce its new rule that would force home care companies to pay overtime. The Judges briefs stated that the change would have to be implemented through the Legislative process in Congress rather than a regulatory process in the Department of Labor. There is no word yet on whether the DOL will appeal the ruling.

Proposed Legislation
- Renewed efforts target change in ACA definition of "full-time employment'
As the 114th Congress opened for business, lawmakers renewed efforts to change the definition of "full-time employment" under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). On Tuesday, January 6, 2015, Representatives Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), on behalf of themselves and Senate colleagues Pete Olson (R-Tex.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), and Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), led the introduction of H.R. 30, the Save American Workers Act (SAW) of 2015. A similar measure was introduced during the 113th Congress but did not clear the Senate. The bill would repeal the ACA's 30-hour definition of "full-time employment" and change it to what the lawmakers characterized as the "traditional" 40-hour definition. Under the ACA, employers with more than 50 full-time employees are required to provide employees with a basic level of health insurance or potentially face a penalty. The health reform law defines a full-time employee as an individual who works an average of at least 30 hours per week. Many legislators have been concerned that this requirement creates an incentive for employers to cut workers' hours so they won't have to pay the potential fine.

Pending Legislation — Lawmakers approve measure excluding some veterans from ACA mandate.
House lawmakers on January 6 approved the Hire More Heroes Bill of 2015 (HR 22), which would permit an employer, when determining whether it must provide health care coverage to its employees under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), to exclude employees who have coverage under a healthcare program administered by the Department of Defense (DOD).The final vote was 412 to 0. "By exempting veterans who already have health coverage through the Department of Defense or the VA from the employer mandate in the president's health care law, we're making it easier for small businesses to hire and helping more veterans find work," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, following the vote.

Michigan law excludes student athletes from unions

Michigan has become the first state to exclude college athletes at public universities from being defined as "public employees," preventing such student athletes from a right to form a union, collectively bargain or strike. The Michigan Public Employment Relations Act (MCL 423.201 et seq.) has been amended to exclude from the definition of "public employee" students participating in intercollegiate athletics on behalf of a public university in the state, and to require independent verification of reported expenditures. The amendment comes in light of a March 26, 2014, National Labor Relations Board regional director's decision that ruled scholarship football players at Northwestern University (Illinois) are statutory employees, allowing them to organize. That decision is currently under review.

Parental leave expansion bill becomes law — MASSACHUSETTS
A bill that will allow Massachusetts parental leave laws to be applicable to both men and women has finally become law after being passed on the last day of the legislative session. Outgoing Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill into law on the day prior to his leaving office on January 7, 2015. Employers will now be required to make parental leave available to both men and women, if they do not already, and provide job protection to workers during the birth or adoption of a child.

Louisville minimum wage increases to $9 an hour in 2017 — KENTUCKY
The Louisville Metro Council last month passed a minimum wage ordinance that reportedly makes it the first city in the South to increase the minimum wage. By a vote of 12 to 9, the ordinance passed as amended to bring the minimum wage in the city up to $9.00 an hour beginning on July 1, 2017-a substantial drop from the $10.10 initially proposed.
Approved on January 2 by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, the ordinance requires employers within the boundaries of Louisville Metro to pay employees an hourly wage of at least $7.75 beginning on July 1, 2015; $8.25 on July 1, 2016; and $9.00 on July 1, 2017.