For the first time in history, half of all U.S. workers are women, and mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of U.S. families, according to a report released Oct. 16, 2009 by the Center for American Progress (CAP) and California first lady Maria Shriver.
The report, The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything, was co-authored by, among others, Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation; Heather Boushey, CAP senior economist; Ann O'Leary, CAP senior fellow; and John Halpin, CAP senior fellow.
Pointing out that in 1967 women made up only one third of all U.S. workers, the report said women's changing roles affect the country's major societal institutions. The report concluded that today's families need more flexible work schedules, comprehensive child care policies, redesigned family and medical leave, and equal pay for women.
At the moment Congress is pretty occupied with the health care debate, financial regulations, Afghanistan, and economic recovery. In case you were worried, they’ve still had enough time to introduce bills relating to human resources.
Given all of the distractions, it’s unclear how much will happen immediately with these proposals, but it’s probably a good taste (or bad taste?) of things to come. The proposed legislation includes: reviving of the Employee Free Choice Act, which m
akes it easier for employees to unionize, extension of federal unemployment benefits, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, expansion of the FMLA (to provide some paid sick leave and domestic violence and “parental involvement” leave,) and immigration reform.
Additionally, health care reform legislation could also potentially impact employers. Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
The California Supreme Court’s recent ruling upheld Proposition 8, which denies same sex couples the right to marry. However that ruling does not affect registered domestic partners’ state workplace rights which are quite similar to those of heterosexual couples.
The California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act provides that registered domestic partners “have the same rights, protections, and benefits provided to married couples.” Therefore such same sex couples would be entitled to rights under California’s family leave law, paid family disability leave, kin care, and discrimination laws.
A recent 8th Circuit Court of Appeals case recently dealt with an interesting FMLA question. The issue was: Is it appropriate for an organization to fire an employee on FMLA leave for failing to call in each day, as required by company policy?
The arrival of January marks the effective date of major changes to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
The ADA Amendments, effective January 1, 2009, make it easier for employees to show a disability. Before the amendments, many ADA claims were thrown out of court on this issue. From now on, the focus instead will be on how well the employer assisted the possibly disabled employee. HR persons now must “re-learn” parts of the ADA. You can read a summary of the ADA changes here.
Effective January 16, 2009, the FMLA also has been expanded. It now covers leave to care for family members injured in active military duty or to assist a family member preparing to go on active military duty.
New FMLA regulations from the United States Department of Labor (DOL) expand employer notice obligations and otherwise significantly revise the details of FMLA compliance. It is time for your FMLA specialist to go back to FMLA school. You can read a summary of the FMLA changes here.
Here is a summary from the DOL
New FMLA forms are available here
You can see the new, required FMLA poster here
After two years the Department of Labor has just released its final regulatory updates to the Family Leave Act. These new regulations we be effective on January 16, 2009.
While attorneys and other “interested” observers are pouring over the 201 page document published in the Federal Registry, it doesn’t appear, at first glance, to have any significant surprises or differences from the proposed rules.
New guidance and “clarification” includes those involving the two new forms of FMLA leave…military caregiver and active duty leave, modifications regarding employer and employee notice requirements, and changes regarding medical certifications.
New guidance has also been added to implement the Supreme Court’s decision in Ragsdale v. Wolverine Worldwide (i.e., regarding penalties where employers fail to give proper notice), light duty, perfect attendance, and waiver of rights in settling FMLA claims. More details on these changes can be found at the Department of Labor website www.dol.gov.
They will require changes in your FMLA policy. As important as these new regulations are they may be overshadowed by what could happen in the next Congress. With Democrats controlling the White House and Congress, look for more proposals to make substantive FMLA changes in the future. This will probably include lowering the coverage threshold from 50 to 25 employees and allowing workers to take leave for elder care, school-parental leave and domestic violence situations. You will probably also see the new Administration support efforts to make FMLA leave paid, rather than unpaid. Finally, efforts to require most businesses to provide employees with a certain amount of paid sick leave will also gain momentum.