AGC's Human Resource and Labor News - July 17, 2012 / Issue No. 4-12 (Print All Articles)

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Supreme Court Rules on Healthcare Law

On June 29, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s healthcare reform law that went into effect in 2010.  As a result, the law will remain in effect unless future legislation revokes any of the law’s provisions.  Among other things the law requires employers with 50 or more workers to offer a qualified health insurance plan to employees by 2014 or possibly face a penalty.  AGC did not support the law because of its inability to decrease the overall costs of healthcare.

On June 29, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s healthcare reform law that went into effect in 2010.  As a result, the law will remain in effect unless future legislation revokes any of the law’s provisions.  Among other things the law requires employers with 50 or more workers to offer a qualified health insurance plan to employees by 2014 or possibly face a penalty.  AGC did not support the law because of its inability to decrease the overall costs of healthcare.

Last year, AGC was successful in getting repealed from the Act a mandate that would have required all businesses to issue 1099 tax forms not only to independent contractors, but to any individual or corporation from which they buy more than $600 in goods or services in a tax year.  Some other requirements that remain in effect include:

  • Changes to W-2 Forms: Effective in 2011, employers are required to include the cost of employer-sponsored health coverage on employees’ Forms W-2.
  • Notice to Employees: Effective March 1, 2013, or upon subsequent hire, employers must provide written notice to employees about insurance that is available for purchase through state-regulated exchanges, the employee’s eligibility status for tax credit or cost-sharing reduction, as well as possible loss of employer-provided benefits.
  • Summary of Benefits and Coverage: For plan years beginning on or after Sept. 23, 2012, employers must make available to employees an easy-to-understand summary of benefits and coverage along with a uniform glossary of coverage terms.
  • Automatic Enrollment: Effective in 2014, employers with more than 200 employees must automatically enroll full-time employees in a health plan, provide employees with adequate notice of enrollment and an opportunity to opt-out.

For additional information on the Act, the following resources are available:

Affordable Care Act Questions Answered – AGC Article, March 22, 2012

The Healthcare Reform Bill is Final… Now What? – AGC Article, March 30, 2010

Is Your Company’s Health Plan “Qualified”? – AGC Article, Aug. 31, 2009

What Does a Health Insurance Mandate Mean for Construction Industry Employers? – AGC Article, Aug. 21, 2009

www.Healthcare.gov – U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

www.IRS.gov – U.S. Internal Revenue Service Affordable Care Act webpage

http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/healthreform – U.S.  Department of Labor Affordable Care Act webpage

For additional questions, please contact Tamika C. Carter at cartert@agc.org.


Distributing Affordable Care Act Insurance Rebates to Employees

The Medical Loss Ratio Provision of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s 2010 health care reform law, is now in effect.  As a result, many companies are starting to receive rebate checks from insurance companies, leaving HR professionals to determine the best way to distribute the funds to eligible employees.  The rule went into effect January 1, 2011.

The Medical Loss Ratio Provision of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s 2010 health care reform law, is now in effect.  As a result, many companies are starting to receive rebate checks from insurance companies, leaving HR professionals to determine the best way to distribute the funds to eligible employees.  The rule went into effect January 1, 2011.

According to the provision, also known as the 80/20 rule, insurers must use at least 80% (85% for large insured groups) of premium dollars received on health-care-related expenses or refund the difference to customers by August 1. 

There are many considerations for employers who are either self-insured or participate in a group insurance plan.  The U.S. Department of Labor has issued guidance to help employers manage the process of determining how the funds should be allocated.  The Internal Revenue Service has also issued guidance on the federal tax consequences to insurers, employers and employees when a rebate applies.


Labor Department Updates Health Benefits E-Laws Advisor

The U. S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration recently released an updated version of its e-laws Advisor, the Health Benefits Advisor for Employers.  The Advisor explains the statutes and regulations of Parts 6 and 7 of Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

The U. S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration recently released an updated version of its e-laws Advisor, the Health Benefits Advisor for Employers.  The Advisor explains the statutes and regulations of Parts 6 and 7 of Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

ERISA covers the following laws:

  • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA);
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA);
  • Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA) and Mental Health Parity and Addition Equity Act (MHPAEA);
  • Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act (Newborns’ Act);
  • Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA);
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA); and
  • Michelle’s Law, which ensures that college students don’t lose access to health insurance when taking a medical leave of absence.

The specific laws included in Parts 6 and 7 of ERISA are applicable to group health plans.  The application of each law depends upon a number of factors, including the number of employees in an organization and the type of benefits offered by the health plan.

It is important to note that the Health Benefits Advisor for Employers does not reflect the passage of the recent healthcare reform law, the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  PPACA provides additional health protections and employer compliance requirements.  For an overview of PPACA, visit the PPACA webpage.

While they should only be used for general guidance, the Labor Department’s elaws advisors are online tools that simulate interaction with an employment law expert through a series of questions and answers.  Each elaws advisor contains basic information on each law, provides a description of the employer obligations contained in the law and regulations, and provides links to other compliance assistance tools.  For specific guidance, contact an employment law attorney familiar with employee benefits issues in your state.

To access all of the elaws advisors, visit www.dol.gov/elaws.


Year-to-Date Collective Bargaining Yields Average 1st-Year Wage and Benefits Increase of 2.3%

Collective bargaining settlements reported to the Construction Labor Research Council (CLRC) between January and June of this year resulted in an average first-year wage-and-benefits increase of $1.15 or 2.3 percent.  This average is higher than the $0.98 or 1.9 percent average reported at the same time last year and the $0.55 or 1.1 percent average reported two years ago.  The number of settlements that included no increase in first-year wages and benefits remained steady from last year, according to CLRC’s latest Wage and Benefit Settlements Report, and was considerably fewer than the number reported in 2010.

Collective bargaining settlements reported to the Construction Labor Research Council (CLRC) between January and June of this year resulted in an average first-year wage-and-benefits increase of $1.15 or 2.3 percent.  This average is higher than the $0.98 or 1.9 percent average reported at the same time last year and the $0.55 or 1.1 percent average reported two years ago.  The number of settlements that included no increase in first-year wages and benefits remained steady from last year, according to CLRC’s latest Wage and Benefit Settlements Report, and was considerably fewer than the number reported in 2010.

The recent trend toward settlements for shorter durations continues, with 42 percent of contracts lasting only one year.  Where multi-year terms were negotiated, the average second-year increase was $1.42 or 2.6 percent, and the average third-year increase was $1.34 or 2.6 percent.  This compares to an average second-year increase of $1.36 or 2.5 percent, and an average third-year increase of $1.58 or 2.7 percent reported during the same period last year.

The report covers 83 settlements, with the majority (51) coming from the East North Central Region.  That region covers Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The report provides merely an early indication of 2012 bargaining results.  It will be followed by reports in September and December with more information as more collective bargaining negotiations are concluded.

To view the complete report, visit the Labor & HR Topical Resources page of AGC’s website at www.agc.org/labor/topicalresources.  Select “Collective Bargaining” from the first pull-down menu and “Collective Bargaining Agreement Data” from the second.

For a searchable database of collectively bargained wage and fringe benefit rates provided by CLRC, go to www.agc.org/cbrates.  The database is updated semi-annually.

Collective bargaining AGC Chapters are reminded to kindly send all settlements information to CLRC promptly upon completion.  Information may be submitted by e-mail at clrc@clrc.biz, by fax to (202) 347-8442, or by mail to 1750 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC  20006.


Donít Miss July 19 Webinar on Subcontractor Training & Flowdown Requirements

Prime contractors and higher tier subcontractors are often financially responsible for what subcontractors are or aren’t doing when it comes to regulatory compliance.  On July 19, 2012, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, AGC will hold a webinar entitled “Getting Subcontractors On Board: Why and How to Train Your Subcontractors to Meet Flowdown Requirements” to help contractors meet those responsibilities.  The webinar is the second in a series of compliance webinars designed to help government contractors meet compliance requirements.

Prime contractors and higher tier subcontractors are often financially responsible for what subcontractors are or aren’t doing when it comes to regulatory compliance.  On July 19, 2012, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, AGC will hold a webinar entitled “Getting Subcontractors On Board: Why and How to Train Your Subcontractors to Meet Flowdown Requirements” to help contractors meet those responsibilities.  The webinar is the second in a series of compliance webinars designed to help government contractors meet compliance requirements.

Presenters for the event include Andrew W. Stephenson, attorney with the law firm of Holland & Knight, as well as Kris Talynn, director of human resources and training with Okland Construction.  Mr. Stephenson will describe the various regulatory requirements that are often included in government contracts and that must be passed along in subcontracts.  He will also discuss the importance of getting subcontractors on board in order to help keep the prime contractor out of hot water.  Ms. Talynn will share best practices for training subcontractors to meet flow down requirements.  The webinar will conclude with a question-and-answer period. 

This webinar is designed to educate HR professionals, training professionals, compliance officers, contracting officers, project managers, and especially subcontractors.  For HR and training professionals with a PHR, SPHR or GPHR certification from the Human Resource Certification Institute, this webinar has been pre-approved for 1.5 recertification credits.

Register for Getting Subcontractors on Board: Why and How to Train Your Subcontractors to Meet Flowdown Requirements here.  The registration fee is $99 for AGC members and $129 for nonmembers.  For more information on the complete webinar series, Walking the Compliance Tightrope, click here.


Earn HRCI Credits at AGCís Co-Located HR and Training Conferences

Registration is now open for AGC’s 2012 HR Professionals Conference and Training, Education & Development (TED) Conference where attendees can earn up to 25.25 recertification credits toward PHR or SPHR recertification from the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI).  The conferences will be co-located in San Antonio, Texas, with the TED Conference beginning on the morning of Monday, Oct. 15, lasting until midday on Oct. 16, and the HR Professionals Conference beginning on the morning of Oct. 16, and concluding at noon on Oct. 17. There will be one joint session on the morning of Oct.16, with a keynote presentation by Joe Gerstandt on Putting Authenticity, Integrity and Daring to Work.

Registration is now open for AGC’s 2012 HR Professionals Conference and Training, Education & Development (TED) Conference where attendees can earn up to 25.25 recertification credits toward PHR or SPHR recertification from the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI).  The conferences will be co-located in San Antonio, Texas, with the TED Conference beginning on the morning of Monday, Oct. 15, lasting until midday on Oct. 16, and the HR Professionals Conference beginning on the morning of Oct. 16, and concluding at noon on Oct. 17. There will be one joint session on the morning of Oct.16, with a keynote presentation by Joe Gerstandt on Putting Authenticity, Integrity and Daring to Work.

Both Conferences offer unique opportunities for HR, training and workforce development professionals in the construction industry.  Sessions for the HR Professionals Conference address issues related to background checks and pre-employment screening, employment law changes that affect construction, making 360 evaluations work, thriving in an HR department of one, managing conflict, conducting a comprehensive self-audit, and more.  Attendees of the HR Professionals Conference will earn 11 HRCI recertification credits. 

The TED Conference will offer sessions on diagnosing workplace performance problems, recruiting the construction industry’s future workforce, using social media to extend the classroom to the field, developing effective job aids, and more.  Attendees of the TED Conference will earn 8.25 recertification credits.

Back by popular demand is the Federal Construction HR Workshop, which will be held the afternoon of October 17 and the morning of October 18, directly after the HR Professionals Conference. This workshop is designed to help staff responsible for compliance on federal and federally assisted projects by providing practical information and best-practice advice from experts and peers experienced in the area. Attendees of this workshop will earn 7.5 HRCI recertification credits.

Find complete session descriptions, schedule, registration, and hotel information on AGC’s web pages.

Registration rates increase Sept. 1, so register today!


AGC Urges Labor Department to Reconsider OFCCP-Proposed Rules

On May 23, 2012, AGC joined 10 other national business associations in a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Labor urging her to reconsider a series of new affirmative action mandates the Department of Labor proposes to impose on contractors working on federal projects.

On May 23, 2012, AGC joined 10 other national business associations in a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Labor urging her to reconsider a series of new affirmative action mandates the Department of Labor proposes to impose on contractors working on federal projects. 

The proposed rules come from the Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).  They would make very dramatic changes to rules requiring affirmative action for veterans and individuals with disabilities.  The two rules are very similar to each other, their administrative and financial burdens are nearly equal, and both are expected to become final later this year.  They require firms to meet sweeping new reporting requirements, establish formal partnership agreements with community outreach programs to help with recruiting, and put in place new training programs, among other costly new measures. If firms fail to meet the “goals” set out in the two proposed rules, they face federal audits and potential debarment from working on future federal contracts.   

Administration officials significantly underestimated the cost to construction employers of the proposed rules, according to an analysis released by AGC.  According to the analysis, the proposed rule for the disabled could cost employers 30 times more than officials predict, while the proposed rule for veterans could cost employers 20 times more than originally estimated.

For more information on the individuals with disabilities rule, click here. For more information on the veterans rule, click here.


AGC Recommends Changes to Form I-9

On May 29, 2012, AGC submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services division (USCIS) regarding proposed changes to Form I-9, the Employment Eligibility Verification Form.  Employers must complete Form I-9 to document that they have verified the identity and employment authorization of each new employee hired after Nov. 6, 1986.  The form must be completed for both citizens and non-citizens.

On May 29, 2012, AGC submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services division (USCIS) regarding proposed changes to Form I-9, the Employment Eligibility Verification Form.  Employers must complete Form I-9 to document that they have verified the identity and employment authorization of each new employee hired after Nov. 6, 1986.  The form must be completed for both citizens and non-citizens.

USCIS proposed several changes to the form and requested feedback on the proposed changes from employers and other stakeholders.  Generally, the changes include expanded instructions, a new layout, new optional employee data fields including fields for an email address and telephone number, and other notable changes.

AGC applauded USCIS on its efforts to make Form I-9 easier to understand. However, with specific regard to the construction industry, AGC made the following recommendations:

  •  Make the Spanish version of Form I-9 available for use throughout the United States, not just in Puerto Rico;
  • Clarify, on the form itself in addition to including in the instructions, circumstances that would result in the completion of section three of the form with regard to the re-verification and re-hiring of employees; and
  • Extend the window of time allowed for employers to input data from Form I-9 into the E-Verify system.

In addition, AGC asked USCIS to clarify a few additional changes to the form such as the purpose for collecting an employee’s email address and phone number, whether the employee should use personal contact information or contact information for his or her new employer, and up-front clarification on the length of time employers should maintain the forms.

Employers should continue using the current form until USCIS has published a revised form.  AGC will provide further information when available.

For more information on Form I-9 and immigration compliance for employers, visit AGC’s Labor and HR Topical Resources webpage or www.USCIS.gov/I-9central.


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