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Many employers are changing strategies when it comes to employee healthcare benefits

You could argue that the "rising cost of health care" has become a clichéd phrase in the benefits arena; it is used so frequently that it doesn't seem to elicit much of a reaction anymore. But healthcare costs are obviously an ongoing concern for benefits professionals—a concern that is not likely to go away anytime soon.

Past practice

For the past decade or so, employers generally have combatted rising healthcare costs using a traditional "managed trend" approach, which includes aggressive management of costs through vendor management and employee cost sharing, says Jim Winkler, chief innovation officer for Health & Benefits at Aon Hewitt (www.aonhewitt.com).

By making a series of tactical decisions regarding whether to change deductibles and copays, increase employee contributions toward premiums, and switch from one plan to another, employers have achieved significant—and relatively quick—cost savings year after year, Winkler explains. However, "they're running out of runway. It's hard to save enough money anymore."

As a result, many employers are changing strategies when it comes to employee healthcare benefits. While 95 percent of participants in Aon Hewitt's 2014 Health Care Survey expect to continue offering healthcare benefits to active employees over the next 3 to 5 years, an increasing number plan to migrate away from a managed trend approach to a "House Money/House Rules" approach or a private health exchange.

"Traditional cost management tactics do not address foundational issues in health care, including worsening population health and misaligned provider payment methodologies," says Winkler. "Employers remain committed to providing health benefits, but recognize the need for new approaches that fix those problems." The "house money/house rules" approach and private exchanges "have elements that allow you to start addressing those issues."

House money/house rules

Forty percent of the more than 1,230 employers that participated in Aon Hewitt's survey reported that they currently use a house money/house rules approach, and 36 percent plan to do so in the next 3 to 5 years.

Winkler describes house money/house rules as a strategy in which employers promote healthy behaviors by offering a suite of services, such as wellness programs, health screenings, and health improvement programs (e.g., smoking cessation), along with an array of financial incentives and communication.

The rationale is, "If you follow the house rules, you get more of the house money," Winkler says. That is, while employees who participate in wellness programs, health screenings, and health improvement programs benefit from a health standpoint, they also benefit from associated financial incentives, such as:

  • Lower premium rates,
  • Lower out-of-pocket costs (e.g., the employer puts an extra $200 each in participants’ health savings accounts), and
  • Cash incentives (e.g., a gift card or extra cash in their paychecks).

In addition, this approach changes the way primary care physicians are paid. Rather than paying them solely on the basis of volume, they are rewarded for coaching patients on wellness, Winkler says.

Unlike the managed trend approach, savings from the house money/house rules approach are achieved in the long term. "It's complex. It requires a multi-year game plan, and it may not deliver a meaningful short-term cost saving," he says. "You have to build the infrastructure and put the program in place and then engage people. Obviously, they won't get healthy overnight."

The biggest risk of using this approach, Winkler says, is, "if it's not well communicated, and, in particular, if the employer does not do a good job explaining how the individual employee will benefit from this, then employees might view it as an intrusion into their personal life."

For this approach to be effective in the long run, Winkler suggests doing the following:

Market it to your employees. "You have to think about your messaging in a way that a marketer does"—not in a traditional HR explanation of benefits," he says. You also need to be aware that "we're more inclined as humans to do something if others around us are doing it, too." So, for example, if you have a running group at work, you might consider including a feature story in your benefits materials about how a particular employee got started in running.

Make incentives easy to understand. "Make them really transparent and easy to understand, straightforward. I shouldn't need a calculator to figure out what I'm going to get," he says. Plus, financial incentives should not be excessive—use a couple of hundred dollars rather than a couple of thousand dollars so that the incentive is "meaningful enough that I'll pay attention but not so significant that I get stressed about whether I have to do this or not."

Keep it fun. If you're trying to get employees to be more active, don't make the activity a chore. Instead, get them excited about participating, see the value in it, and recognize that the activity can help them improve their health, Winkler says.

For example, he says an Aon Hewitt client encourages its employees to be active throughout the workday by handing out cards containing exercises that can be done in 5 minutes at their desks, such as stretching exercises. It’s top of mind, because employees keep the cards on their desks, and they are more likely to do the exercises because they see their colleagues exercising at their desks, too.

Exchanges

Exchanges are piquing employers' interest, because, under a well-run private health exchange, "the insurance carrier assumes the financial risk of managing health care costs," Winkler says.

As a result, carriers "become more motivated to address the foundational issues" of declining health in the U.S. population and the way that providers are paid. They have a vested interest in making sure employees in the exchange have access to cost-effective, high-quality health plans. Insurance carriers in a private exchange must make their premiums competitive, so their plans are attractive to consumers, Winkler says.

Five percent of employers in Aon Hewitt's survey have already moved to a private exchange, and 33 percent expect to do so within the next 3 to 5 years. Winkler attributes the current low adoption rate to the fact that private exchanges are so new. For example, although Aon Hewitt's exchange for employers was one of the first to be offered, it is only in year 3.

However, Aon Hewitt is already seeing measurable cost savings. Companies that returned to its private exchange in 2014 saw a 5.1 percent average cost increase in fully insured premiums, including the reinsurance fees levied on all group health plans under the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, average healthcare cost increases of approximately 6 percent to 7 percent are expected for large U.S. employers in 2014, before employers make changes in deductibles and copays, Aon Hewitt reports, citing its own estimates and other industry reports.

The biggest drawback with this approach, Winkler says, is that the employer gives up the ability to select providers and plan design. Plus, although employees enrolled in the private exchange are pleased to have so many plans to choose from, he says broad choice can be overwhelming for some employees, making it important for employers that are migrating to a private exchange to make sure the process is explained properly to employees.

Benefits for part-timers

Although employers have the ability to direct part-time employees to buy health coverage through federal and state-run public exchanges, nearly two-thirds of surveyed employers plan to continue offering part-timers the same level of benefits that they offer to full-time employees—with or without an employer subsidy. Only 38 percent of survey participants don't plan to offer benefits to part-time employees in the next 3 to 5 years.

"I think, in general, employers are conservative and somewhat risk averse as it relates to their employees," Winkler explains. In mid-2013 (when employers were preparing for open enrollment), "it was unclear how the public exchanges were going to operate." Coupled with access problems on healthcare.gov, many employers may have decided to let the marketplace mature a bit before going that route, he says.

"I think the biggest thing employers will try to figure out is, where are their employees truly better off?" Winkler says. For example, as the public exchanges mature, an employer might find that it is more beneficial for an employee working 15 to 20 hours per week to obtain insurance through a public exchange, and qualify for a tax subsidy, than to continue on employer-sponsored benefits, he explains. "I think we'll see that part-time space evolve over the next 3 to 5 years, but it will be slow"—unless the public exchanges mature quickly or "health care economics get significantly worse."

Benefits for retirees

Meanwhile, in a separate report on retiree health benefits, Aon Hewitt found that only 3 percent of 424 surveyed employers have moved all or some of their pre-65 retirees to the public exchanges, but 20 percent favor doing so within the next 3 to 5 years.

"Employers will be moving at least some portion of their pre-65 retiree populations to state and federal exchanges, but they are waiting for these marketplaces to become more robust, competitive, and mature," says John Grosso, leader of Aon Hewitt's Retiree Health Care Task Force. "This movement will be slow and methodical, as the public marketplaces evolve and as employers understand the implications of the 2018 excise tax, which will only impact group-based health insurance plans."

Regarding post-65 retirees, Aon Hewitt reported that the number of employers offering subsidized retiree health benefits has dropped from about 50 percent in 2004 to just 25 percent in 2014. Many of those employers have turned–or are planning to turn—to the individual Medicare plan market to provide health benefits.

In fact, 30 percent of employers already have sourced benefits through the individual market—mainly through a multicarrier private health exchange. Two-thirds of employers that are considering future changes to their post-65 retiree strategies are also considering that approach, the survey found.

"A growing number of employers are leveraging multicarrier private exchanges for Medicare beneficiaries, because they see the value in both the competitive mix of plans offered and the Medicare-specific navigation and advocacy offered by these private exchanges," says Grosso.

"The competitive nature of the individual Medicare market has resulted in more moderate year-over-year rate increases than what employers have experienced on their own," says Winkler. "As health insurers regain control for creating a competitive market that is accountable to the consumers within it, we expect to see similar cost moderation across the system, including the new competitive markets emerging for pre-65 retirees and active employees."

Key takeaways

Aon Hewitt's research offers some valuable lessons for benefits professionals. "If you haven't done something strategic in the last 3 to 5 years, it's OK. You're not alone yet," says Winkler. However, "you need to be working on a strategy now for how you're going to change the direction you're going in [and travel] down one of those paths" (i.e., the house rules/house money approach or private exchanges)—especially with the so-called Cadillac tax on plans above a certain threshold looming in 2018. "That's not that far away."

"You need to start thinking about this," he says. "These are complex, sophisticated, multi-year strategies that take some planning and socialization within your organization."

He recommends thinking about your employees as consumers, who need to be vested in your strategy, and creating a plan to market it to them just as your company markets the products it sells.

Source: Business & Legal Resources

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

​National Safety Council poll: 8 in 10 drivers mistakenly believe hands-free cell phones are safer
Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign focuses on why hands-free is not risk-free
 
Itasca, IL – New findings from a National Safety Councilpublic opinion poll indicate 80 percent of drivers across America incorrectly believe that hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone. More than 30 studies show hands-free devices are no safer than handheld as the brain remains distracted by the cell phone conversation. Of the poll participants who admitted to using hands-free devices, 70 percent said they do so for safety reasons.
 
“While many drivers honestly believe they are making the safe choice by using a hands-free device, it’s just not true,” said David Teater, senior director of Transportation Initiatives at the National Safety Council. “The problem is the brain does not truly multi-task. Just like you can’t read a book and talk on the phone, you can’t safely operate a vehicle and talk on the phone. With some state laws focusing on handheld bans and carmakers putting hands-free technology in vehicles, no wonder people are confused.”
 
Currently, no state or municipality has passed a law banning hands-free use, but 12 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws banning handheld cell phone usewhile driving. Further, an increasing amount of vehicles are now equipped with dashboard infotainment systems that allow drivers to make hands-free calls as well as send text messages, email and update social media statuses. The NSC poll found that 53 percent of respondents believe hands-free devices must be safe to use if they are built into vehicles.
 
To debunk the hands-free myth, the Council has selected ‘Hands-free is not risk-free’ for its April Distracted Driving Awareness Monthcampaign. Help raise awareness by sharing the posters, fact sheets, infographics and more available at nsc.org/handsfree.Take the pledge to drive cell free at nsc.org/pledge.
 
 
About the National Safety Council
Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council, nsc.org, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and Safe Communities.
 
 
 
 

 

Secretary Of Labor Has Been Directed To Update Overtime Regulations

On March 13, 2014, President Obama signed a presidential memorandum which instructs the Secretary of Labor to update regulations regarding overtime protections. According to White House officials, and supported by a fact sheet issued on that same date, the President’s memorandum will change the overtime laws so that a number of new workers would be entitled to overtime compensation.

Specifically, the change would amend employers’ wage and hour obligations as spelled out in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to make overtime compensation available to a wider group of employees currently considered to be “exempt” from the FLSA’s overtime requirements.

The new rule is expected to extend the availability of overtime compensation for hours worked over 40 in a workweek to, for instance, managers working at fast-food restaurants, loan officers, computer technicians, and other workers who currently are classified as “executive” or “professional” under the FLSA’s definitions. The change, if implemented, could affect millions of workers.

Just last month, President Obama took action to raise the minimum wage for certain federal contractors to $10.10 per hour. The federal minimum wage currently is $7.25 per hour, but a number of recent proposals for an increase have been made. Many states already have increased minimum wages, with Washington at the highest rate, at $9.32 per hour.

According to Alfred B. Robinson, Jr., a shareholder in the Washington, D.C. office of Ogletree Deakins, “We know that the administration is focusing on the salary basis test for the new regulations. Currently the minimum salary requirement [for exempt employees] is $455 per week . . . . The administration’s position is that inflation has eroded this salary requirement. It has stated, for example, that approximately 3.1 million people would be entitled to overtime if the threshold had kept up with inflation. We anticipate that indexing the salary basis amount to the consumer price index or some comparable index is something that the administration will consider closely.”

Robinson, who previously served as the acting Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor, continued, “The administration further has said that if the 1974 salary basis had been indexed, it would approach approximately $1,000 per week in today’s dollar.

The regulation changes proposed by President Obama now will have to go through the notice and comment period required under the Administrative Procedures Act, which may be lengthy.

Target Data Breach: More on the Numbers

Two months after Target announced a massive data breach in which hackers stole 40 million debit and credit card accounts from stores nationwide and the rising costs related to the incident are becoming clear.

Costs associated with the Target data breach have reached more than $200 million for financial institutions, according to data collected by the Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

Breaking out the numbers, CBA estimates the cost of card replacements for its members have reached $172 million, up from an initial finding of $153 million. CUNA has said the cost to credit unions has increased to $30.6 million, up from an original estimate of $25 million.

So far, cards replaced by CBA members and credit unions account for more than half (54.5 percent) of all affected cards.

In a press release, CBA notes that the combined $200 million cost does not factor in costs to financial institutions other than credit unions or CBA members, nor does it take into account any fraudulent activity which may have occurred or may occur in the future:

Fraudulent activity would push the cost of the Target data breach to the industry much higher, as consumers would not be held liable.”

A post over at the Wall Street Journal Corporate Intelligence blog points out that cyber attacks like these continue to be a drain on the wider economy.

It cites a study backed by computer security firm McAfee that last year estimated the total cost of cybercrime and cyber espionage to the United States at up to $100 billion each year.

Meanwhile, legal experts caution that companies need to take stock in the wake of the Target breach and make sure they have adequate insurance in place.

A post by Emily R. Caron in Media, Privacy and Beyond published by law firm Lathrop & Gage notes that fortunately Target appears to have a lot of insurance in place.

It cites reports suggesting that between cyber coverage and directors and officers (D&O) coverage, Target has $165 million in total limits, after self-insuring the first $10 million. (Hat tip to @LexBlogNetwork for highlighting this article)

However, The New York Times recently reported that total damages to banks and retailers could exceed $18 billion according to estimates by Javelin Strategy & Research.

In addition the NYT noted that nearly 70 lawsuits have already been filed against Target, many of them seeking class-action status.

As Caron notes in her article at Media, Privacy & Beyond, there is a big gap between $165 million and $18 billion.

Check out I.I.I. facts + statistics on ID theft and cyber security.

Source:  Insurance Information Institute
 

IRS Issues Final Affordable Care Act “Pay or Play” Regulations

On [February 10th], the IRS issued final regulations regarding the implementation of the employer shared responsibility provisions under the Affordable Care Act (the ACA), otherwise known as the “pay or play” rules. The final regulations provide some helpful guidance and welcome relief to employers. For higher education institutions, the final regulations provide concrete guidance on how to count the hours of adjunct faculty and student workers. The IRS also provided transitional relief for all employers and delayed enforcement of the rules for medium-sized employers (employers with 50-99 full-time employees).

As an overview, the ACA’s pay or play rules require that employers with 50 or more full-time employees provide these full-time employees with health coverage that is both affordable and provides minimum value. An employer who either fails to provide health coverage, or provides health coverage that does not meet the affordability or minimum value requirements may be subject to tax penalties.

Counting Employee Hours for Determining Full-Time Status

Under the final regulations, a full-time employee continues to be defined as one who works an average of at least 30 hours per week or 130 hours each month. For higher education institutions and employers with volunteer employees, however, the final regulations provide welcome guidance with regard to counting hours worked by adjunct faculty, student workers, and volunteer employees.

Although the regulations continue to allow higher education institutions to use any reasonable method to count adjunct faculty hours, the regulations also provide a safe harbor authorizing institutions to credit adjunct faculty members with 2.25 hours of service for each hour they are assigned to teach. Stated differently, regardless of how much time an adjunct actually spends preparing for class or grading assignments, an institution may credit an adjunct faculty employee with 1.25 extra hours of work for such tasks for each hour of classroom teaching time. This safe harbor will allow institutions to easily account for non-teaching but course-instruction related tasks, which are administratively difficult to track. If an institution uses this safe harbor, an adjunct faculty member would definitely reach the 30-hour threshold by teaching in excess of 13 hours per week. Thus, any adjunct teaching 14 or more credit hours at any one time must be considered a full-time employee.

In addition to the 2.25 hour teaching time calculation, the regulations make it clear that an institution must also count any other time that an adjunct faculty member is required to work on other tasks unrelated to course instruction. For example, the institution must count the actual time that the instructor spends in office hours or in required administrative functions such as faculty meetings. Thus, adjuncts may need to be assigned fewer than 13 teaching hours per week to avoid qualifying as a full-time employee. The IRS said that it may issue further guidance on counting adjunct faculty hours, but that this safe harbor can be used through at least 2015.

Regarding student workers, the final regulations provide that higher education institutions do not need to count student work-study hours or the hours of students working in unpaid internships. The IRS cautioned that institutions will still need to track and count hours worked by students participating in paid internships or other paid work opportunities. The regulations also briefly address the issue of student workers, such as resident assistants, who are required to be on call during certain hours. The regulations state that an institution must use a reasonable method to calculate hours worked by employees who are required to be on call but clarified that any arrangement that does not track any on-call hours would be unreasonable.

Beyond the higher education area, the final regulations relieve all employers of the obligation to track and count volunteer worker hours. This would include volunteer firefighters or emergency responders providing services to local governments and tax exempt agencies.

Delay in Effective Date

The final regulations delay the compliance effective date further for certain medium-sized employers and offer a phase-in approach for all other employers. Specifically, medium-sized employers with between 50 and 99 employees will not need to comply with the pay or play rules until January 1, 2016, provided they meet certain requirements. To take advantage of the delay, a medium-sized employer may not take steps to qualify for the delay by reducing the size of its workforce. Also, a medium-sized employer must generally maintain the health coverage that it provided to its employees as of February 9, 2014.

Employers with 100 or more employees remain subject to the rules starting in 2015 but these employers are only required to offer coverage to 70% of their full-time employees in 2015 without triggering the largest tax penalties. Starting in 2016, all employers will be required to offer coverage to 95% of their full-time employees to avoid triggering tax penalties.

Final Guidance Coming on Employer Reporting

The pay or play rules will require employers to report certain employee coverage information to the IRS. These reporting requirements will go into effect in 2015 for employers with 100 or more employees. Based on the proposed reporting requirements, we had expected the final reporting requirements to be fairly onerous. Fortunately, the IRS recently stated that it intends to streamline the final reporting requirements in guidance that it will publish in the near future. So, in addition to planning for compliance with the pay or play rules generally, most employers will also need to add a new reporting process before the end of 2014.

Source: Franczek Radelet
 

3 Things that Say, ‘Please Sue Me’

Still have exit interviews, probationary periods, and sick leave? asks popular speaker Hunter “Please Sue Me” Lott. If you have those, get rid of them, he says.

The exit interview was invented by HR, Lott says, and it suggests that our philosophy is, “Let’s spend our time with the crummy employees.” Stop that, says Lott. Spend the time on stay interviews with the good employees.

Lott offered his advice at SHRM’s Annual Conference and Exposition, held recently in Chicago.

Probationary Periods and Sick Leave—Get Rid of Them

If you have a probationary period (or, as one of Lott’s clients calls it, “comfort time”), get rid of it, says Lott. It gives the impression of permanent employment after it’s over. Once you get rid of it, your people are on probation forever.

Get rid of sick leave as well, he says. Lump it in with paid time off (PTO). You don’t want to be in the babysitting business.

Manage Your Compensation Language

Lott offers four “Please Sue Me” scenarios you never want to hear.

  • If the phone rings during your lunch break, do you answer it? Yes, it’s “answer by the third ring or you’re fired.”
  • “Anyone working unauthorized overtime will not be compensated for the additional time worked.”
  • “The firm’s time clock is used to help the employer and all hourly employees track their hours worked, overtime, and flexible leave time. In the event of a discrepancy, the time clock will prevail. Failure to record your time on the time clock will result in not being paid for all time worked.”
  • “If you clock in at 7:01, you will be docked 15 minutes.”

Please sue me, says Lott.

Interviewing 2013

Always go after behavior during your interviews, Lott says. The best-qualified candidate may be miserable, grumpy, and complaining. You don’t want that in a coworker. On the other hand, Lott says, you don’t want a happy-go-lucky accountant, either. (However, he quips, you may be willing to put up with behavior from IT people that you wouldn’t tolerate from anyone else.)

Lott suggests the following interview questions:

  • Describe your typical workday from start to finish.
  • What was the last thing you did to make your job easier?
  • What have you done to reduce costs or save time in your current position?
  • Tell me about your last workplace evaluation.
  • Give an example of how you adapt to change.
  • Give an example of how you solved a specific problem.
  • Give an example of your creativity at work.
  • What is the biggest misperception of you?
  • Describe something you have done that shows your commitment to ensuring customer satisfaction.

‘Please Sue Me’ Interviewing Horror Story

Lott tells of one manager he encountered who was proud of his cleverness in interviewing young ladies. He asked them, “Are you going to be ‘in the family way’?” He hadn’t mentioned the word “pregnant,” and he thought that meant he was legally in the clear.

HR, Get Out of the Dating/Babysitting Business

This generation is going to make their social connections at work, says Lott, and you don’t want to be the babysitter for that, either. Get rid of policies and procedures that you can’t or won’t enforce.

For example, he says, here’s a typical policy:

“Personal relationships in the workplace are strongly discouraged. A company employee who is involved in a personal relationship with another company employee will not be permitted to work in the same department as, work directly for, or supervise the employee with whom he or she is involved. For purposes of this policy, a personal relationship includes any romantic or intimate relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.”

Can you imagine policing that policy? Lott asks. Or how about another client whose policy is, essentially, "If you are having an affair, you have to turn yourself in."

Here’s Lott’s answer for a policy on dating:

“Any relationship on or off the job that affects your ability to do your job or our ability to run our business may be a valid reason for firing.”

Think. Please Think Before You Act

In one client company, one of the employees had a miscarriage and asked for bereavement leave, which was denied. Think, says Lott. Do you really want to defend this decision?

A good yardstick for all your HR actions is this: Would you be comfortable defending your actions on “60 Minutes” or YouTube?

Source: BLR

New Laws for 2014 – Concluded

This week the Tedrick Group is continuing to highlight a few of the new laws effective January 1, 2014 regarding Consumers, Environment, Health and Human Services and Transportation. For a more complete list click here.

Contractor Violations (HB 922/PA 98-0328): Allows the Department of Labor to bring an action against a contractor up to five (currently two) years after a violation of the Prevailing Wage Act is alleged to have occurred. Requires contractors and subcontractors who participate in public works projects to keep records for five (currently three) years from the date of the last payment. Requires a public body to keep records for five (currently three) years. Authorizes contractors to retain records in electronic (currently paper) format.

Cell Phone Penalties (HB 2585/PA 98-0507): Increases the penalties in accident cases where the individual is texting, using a cell phone or watching a video device, and that action is determined to have been a cause of a crash that results in an injury or death.

Asphalt Shingle Recycling (SB 1925/PA 98-0296): Allows the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to revoke Beneficial Use Determination permits for unlawful asphalt shingle recycling practices. Beneficial Use Determinations are permits authorized by the IEPA that allow waste materials to be recycled or otherwise used in a way that is beneficial to health and the environment.

Littering Fine (HB 3081/PA-0472): Amends the Litter Control Act to add a minimum fine of $50 for littering.

Cigarettes = Litter (HB 3243/PA 98-0483): Includes cigarettes in the definition of “litter,” so people could be fined for inappropriately disposing of their cigarette butts.

Disposal of Asphalt Roofing Shingles (SB 2226/PA 98-0542): States landfills cannot accept for disposal load of whole or processed asphalt roofing shingles (unless commingled with other construction material) if they are located within a 25 mile radius of an asphalt shingle recycling center. Additionally, requires the recycling centers to submit reports on the amounts of shingles received in a calendar year to the EPA. Landfills are neutral on the amendment.

Illinois ADA Update (HB 1462/PA 98-0224): Brings Illinois’ accessibility requirements for the disabled in line with the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act.

Uninsured Motorists (HB 2393/PA 98-0242): Eliminates the requirement that automobile insurers must provide information about the availability of uninsured motorist coverage when a policy is being renewed.

Construction Zone Speeding (HB 1814/PA 98-0337): Creates separate offenses for speeding in a construction or maintenance zone when workers are present and are not present. Removes penalty of license suspension in construction zones when construction workers are not present and no danger of hitting a construction worker exists

Truck Inspections (SB 1294/PA 98-0489): Reduces the late penalty for meeting the semi-annual inspection requirement for intrastate trucks to a petty offense. The minimum fine is $95 and the maximum fine is $250. If the violation occurs in conjunction with a motor vehicle accident, the person is guilty of a class C misdemeanor. A minimum fine of $95 requires a court appearance.

Trucking Regulation (SB 925/PA 98-0512): Repeals the state regulation on the consecutive hours a trucker may drive. This is a cleanup bill, as current state regulations are outdated and federal law already regulates the hours truckers may drive.

Special Hauling Vehicles (HB 2310/PA 98-0409): Extends by 10 years the model years of Special Hauling Vehicles exempt from the federal bridge formula that regulates vehicle weights. Special Hauling Vehicles are generally special purpose trucks, such as cement mixers and multiple-axle trucks designed for hauling special cargo.

Driving on Restricted License (SB 1735/PA 98-0285): Increases the penalty for driving while a license is suspended or revoked if the violation results in an accident that causes personal injury or death to a Class 4 felony for a second or subsequent offense.

For a complete list of 2014 New Laws, please visit the Illinois Senate Republicans website here or  the Illinois Senate Democrats website here.

New Laws for 2014 –Continued

This week the Tedrick Group is highlighting a few of the new laws effective January 1, 2014 regarding Business, Commerce, Labor and Licensure.  For a more complete list click here.

Subcontractors (HB 923/PA-0105): Requires contractors to report payments to any subcontractors or independent contractors to the Department of Labor. The legislation was strongly opposed by small business because it is drafted to apply only to non-union contractors. It is viewed as an additional burden on small businesses, requiring them to disclose proprietary information on what they pay their business partners – information that is not required to be disclosed by other employers.

Employee Classification (HB 2649/PA 98-0106): Seeks to address the practice of misclassifying employees as independent contractors in the construction industry. Imposes substantial penalties, cease and desist orders, and debarment orders against employers found to have misclassified employees as independent contractors. Also imposes individual liability onto corporate officers and agents that "knowingly permit such employer to misclassify its employees." Exempts groups that are "responsible bidders" from having to comply with these new requirements. Opponents have raised concerns that the measure is largely targeted at making it more difficult for non-union contractors to win contracts.

Professional Licensure Privacy (HB 1338/PA 98-0211): States that when the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (DFPR) issues a license or a certificate that is required to be displayed at a place of business, the license or certificate can not include the individual's home address on the face of the license.

Electronic Signatures (SB 1826/PA 98-0289): This measure allows for the use of an electronic signature for plans submitted by architects, engineers and land surveyors when submitting computer-prepared plans.

Prevailing Wage Records (HB 3223/PA 98-0482): Imposes a number of new burdens on non-union contractors requiring them (but not union contractors) to track and submit a significant amount of new information on their certified payroll for work performed on a public works project. These added reporting requirements will discourage competition for publicly financed projects, which could be more costly for taxpayers

Workplace Violence (HB 2590/PA 98-0430): Creates the Workplace Violence Prevention Act. Allows an employer to seek an order of protection to prevent further violence or threats of violence to an employee. This would be used in cases where the employee has been threatened or attacked at their place of work or there is a credible threat of violence at the workplace. This could include cases where domestic violence spills over to the workplace and cases where a worker is threatened by a disgruntled customer or former employee, but it also would include instances where the person making the threat has no connection to either the business or the employee.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Check back next Thursday, January 30th as we highlight more new laws of 2014.

Reminder: Post Your 2013 OSHA Recordkeeping Annual Summary By February 1, 2014

Going into 2014, OSHA is continuing its focus of inspecting and, when alleged violations found, citing employers under its recordkeeping standard. Proper recordkeeping has become more critical to employers since OSHA recently issued a proposed rule to publish, in certain cases, the injury and illness data provided by employers.

All employers required to maintain the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s 300 Logs for workplace injuries and illnesses must post their 2013 annual summary by February 1, 2014, utilizing the annual summary form (form 300A). The form is available for downloading from the OSHA website at https://www.osha.gov. Note that even if you have no recordable injury or illness, you must still complete your 300 logs and post the 300A summary.

Here are some additional details that are frequently misunderstood or overlooked and which could result in OSHA citations.  MORE

New Laws for 2014

NEW LAWS FOR 2014

On January 1, 2014, more than 200 new laws went in to effect.  They range from a ban on underage tanning, to more serious laws, like the legalization of medical marijuana.  The Tedrick Group will highlight a few of these laws during the month of January.  For a more complete list click here.

70 MPH SPEED LIMIT TAKES EFFECT

Illinois’ speed limit is now in line with most of the country. Senate Bill 2356 increases the maximum speed limit to 70 miles per hour (mph) on most interstates and toll highways.

At the request of the Illinois State Police, Senate Bill 2356 also lowers the threshold to increase the penalty for speeding from a petty offense to a misdemeanor. Speeding in excess of 26 miles per hour but less than 35 mph (currently 31-40 mph) will be a Class B misdemeanor. Speeding in excess of 35 mph (currently 40 mph) will be a Class A misdemeanor.

DISTRACTED DRIVING: CELL PHONE BAN

On the road, Illinois drivers will have to use hands-free technology to talk on cell phones. Otherwise, they’ll have to pull off the road to make a call.

Violators of the law will be fined $75 for a first offense. Fines of as much as $150 could be issued for repeat offenses as well as facing a moving violation on their driving record. Drivers are still allowed to make calls in an emergency.

Penalties will also increase for drivers who injure or kill others in crashes caused by the use of a cell phone or other electronic device.

FIREARM CONCEALED CARRY ACT 

Illinois became the final U.S. state to pass a concealed carry law on July 9, 2013  This law requires an Illinois Concealed Carry License to carry a concealed firearm.

Applicants are required to take 16 hours of concealed carry firearms training provided by an Illinois State Police-approved instructor, have a valid Firearm Owners Identification card and Illinois digital ID, Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, said.

Under the new law, most government buildings and schools will not be allowed concealed weapons on the property, but in the case for private buildings or businesses it is up to the individuals’ choice.

Concurrently, the law clearly states a resident will not be allowed to open carry at any time. A handgun carried on or about a person must be concealed from view of the public.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Check back next Thursday, January 23rd as we highlight more new laws of 2014.

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