Tag Archives: ACA

Questions For Andrew Puzder, Trump Nominee for Labor Secretary

 

(Post by Rick Dacri, January 12, 2017)

images

President-Elect Trump has nominated Andrew Puzder for Secretary of Labor. Puzder is a successful businessperson, lawyer, and CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of fast food chain’s Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.

The mission of Labor is “to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.” They are also responsible for investigating minimum wage violations, overtime infractions, and worker safety laws.

Puzder has taken positions in opposition to many of the regulations the DOL oversees, including the federal minimum wage, worker eligibility for overtime, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and sick leave polices.

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to begin confirmation hearings on Puzder in February.

I have put together 18 questions that I believe the Senate should ask the nominee:

  1. What qualifies you to be the next Secretary of Labor?
  2. You have opposed the raising of the federal minimum wage. Why? What do you believe is an adequate minimum wage?
  3. You indicated a proposed $15 minimum wage would force businesses to automate their operations and thereby eliminate jobs. Do you believe that a minimum wage increase drives the need for automation or is automation a tool for productivity? If wages collapsed, would businesses stop automating?
  4. According to the Economic Policy Institute, CEO pay has grown 90 times faster than the typical worker pay since 1978. Due to this unequal growth, average top CEOs now make over 300 times what typical workers earn. Do believe wage disparity is a problem in this country and what, if anything, should Labor or the Trump administration do about this?
  5. The Department of Labor oversees the federal wage and hour division, which ensures that workers are paid for all the hours they work. Yet in California, your franchise restaurants have been fined over $20 million for wage and hour violations. Can you address this issue and what steps did you take to remedy this problem in franchises you control. Secondly, what steps will the DOL take, under your reign, to enforce wage and hour laws?
  6. A Roc United survey given to your franchise store employees in California, found that a third of those employees were not given meal breaks after working at least 5 hours, in violation of the state’s worker break laws. 79% said they also served or prepared food while they were sick. Can you address these issues and what steps did you take to remedy these problems in franchises you control. Secondly, what steps will the DOL take, under your reign, to enforce break laws?
  7. You are also on record opposing sick leave policies, yet many workers in your franchise restaurants are preparing and serving food while sick. Are you concerned about endangering both your customers and employees? Should sick leave laws be mandated?
  8. Bloomberg did an investigation of your company’s franchises. They found that in 60% of the DOL investigations in your restaurants, there were minimum wage and overtime violations. Again, can you address this issue and what steps did you take to remedy this problem? Secondly, what steps will the DOL take, under your reign, to enforce wage and hour laws?
  9. President-Elect Trump has indicated he supports 6 weeks of paid maternity leave. You have stated that mandatory leave creates undue burdens on business. How directly do leaves create a burden, and as Labor Secretary, will you support or ignore the President-Elect’s initiative?
  10. According to a review of inspection records with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 2000, the year your took over as chief executive of CKE, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. locations have incurred at least 98 safety violations, 36 of them listed as serious. OSHA defines a “serious” violation as one that could result in death or grave physical harm that the employer should have been aware of. Can you address this issue and what steps did you take to remedy this problem in franchises you control? Secondly, since OSHA and worker safety fall under DOL’s responsibility, what steps will the DOL take to enforce these laws?
  11. Your company has introduced commercials that include women wearing skimpy bikinis and lingerie while eating burgers. In response, you stated in a 2015 Entrepreneur interview, “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American. I used to hear, brands take on the personality of the CEO. And I rarely thought that was true, but I think this one, in this case, it kind of did take on my personality.” My questions, is this your personality, as you stated? Do you believe these ads objectify women? What kind of tone does this set in your workplaces?
  12. 2/3 of female workers in restaurants operated by you, claim that they have been sexually harassed by your customers. Many employees indicated that these customers mentioned those ads. Were you aware of this and what is your plan to address this?
  13. Do you believe that sexual harassment in the workplace is a legitimate issue and what steps should employers take to eradicate it?
  14. Are there any federal labor laws that you would eliminate and if so, which ones and why?
  15. Do you believe there are any new labor laws that should be initiated? What are they and why are they needed?
  16. President-Elect Trump stated that he would like to eliminate unemployment compensation fraud. How big a problem is it and how could you eliminate it? Please be specific.
  17. You have opposed the Affordable Care Act. What specifically is the problem with the Act? Are their components of it that you would like to keep? What would you replace the Act with, what would it cover and not cover, and will it be cheaper than the current ACA?
  18. You have stated that we should cut government benefit programs because workers turn down promotions to keep such benefits, such as food stamps. Please explain this and tell us how wide-spread a problem this is?

Continue reading

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Compliance, Department of Labor, DOL, Management

Drugs, Talent, and the Law: Confusion Reigns in 2017

(A post by Rick Dacri, January 5, 2017)

img_3347Some days it feels like you just can’t win. Our 4 year old (puppy?) golden retriever, Bailey, woke us up with his usual pre-5 AM whimper, reminding us that his stomach and other urges needed to be met. Our cat, Maggie, also decided to join the choir. It was raining, so we passed on the walk and let Bailey out into his pen. Mistake! You see, rain makes mud, which means Bailey’s earlier $60 spa treatment was now for naught. Spending your early, pre-coffee morning, cleaning up a muddy dog, and house, was not in the plan. Finally, semi-cleaned, it was time to sit and enjoy a nice cup of coffee—that is until Bailey decided to join me on my lap and the coffee was now airborne. And the day had not yet even begun.

Many employers are feeling the same way. Finding and keeping talent, post election uncertainties, opioids in the workplace are all flying at you, preventing you from running your business. And it isn’t likely to get any easier.

Here are just 4 huge issues you will be facing in 2017.

  1. Opioids epidemic: Drugs on the streets means drugs in the workplace. More employees are coming to work addicted. And many are using hard drugs. Yesterday’s street junkies are today’s nurses and executives. While this may shock you, our society is openly welcoming the legalization of medical marijuana and now recreational marijuana. Society’s drug problem is only going to get worse and now it is your problem to solve.
  2. Losing good people: Poaching is now an acceptable sport. Good people are leaving and heading to your competition. And it is just not the rank and file. Managers and executives are going just as fast. Why? 3%-4% merit just doesn’t it cut it anymore. Limited opportunities, I’m out of here; bad boss, well, you can “take this job and shove it.” When all employers are scrambling for help, employees look for greener pastures. Loyalty is dead.
  3. Hiring is impossible: Finding good talent is becoming harder and harder. And with experienced workers retiring out, shortages are growing. The numbers are just not working. It is going to get bad…very bad.
  4. Employment law chaos: You heard it (by me and others), the Fair Labor Standards Act updates are going to radically change how you need to pay your people, so get your systems updated before the implementation date. Ready? Never mind, it’s now on hold and may be permanently delayed. What? How in the world do you get that Jeanie back in the bottle? Finally figured out Obamacare? Hold! The new Congress and Administration are going to scrap it and start all over again—at least that’s what they claim. Your state has legalized medical marijuana or maybe even recreational use of marijuana. How do you handle that? Wait, the feds still say its illegal. Your state has just passed an increase in minimum wage, but you’re a multi-state employer and each state has a different rate…and the feds have a totally different one. Yikes! What can you do? Best bet, become an employment attorney, as you’ll have plenty of work. In the mean time, you’ll need to do some juggling to figure these out.

It is going to be a challenging 2017 and frankly, I could have addressed several other issues. While it seems to be going from bad to worse, as an employer, you need to address these issues and find solutions…and fast.

Let’s take a deep breath first. I’ve got to give Bailey a bath, but I need another coffee first. Maybe you should join me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Management

Compensation Trends & Pitfalls What You Must Know and Do (Webinar)

images-2Proposed changes in the Department of Labor overtime rules will force you to make significant changes to your pay and benefit structure; a changing economic market is driving wages upward; and an increasing number of wage and hour lawsuits has all put compensation at center stage.

In this one-hour webinar, scheduled for November 12th at 2PM, Rick Dacri will show where wages are going in 2016; how to prepare for the 2016 proposed changes to the overtime rules; and how to avoid the most common wage and hour violations.

This webinar is designed for all executives, managers, supervisors and HR professionals—anyone who supervises staff.

In this 60-minute webinar, you will learn:

  • What the expected pay increases will be in 2016
  • What will be the important 2016 compensation trends you should know
  • How to remain competitive when new hires are driving pay upward
  • Strategies to address the proposed doubling of the overtime minimum
  • A definitive way to differentiate between a salary and hourly position
  • Understanding if you must pay someone who does work on his or her time
  • Knowing when you can deduct pay from a salaried worker
  • Methods to correct mistakes in employee’s pay
  • Pay requirements when employees work through lunch, at home, or before the start of a shift
  • Avoiding mistakes in paying Independent Contractors
  • Whether you can prevent employees from discussing their pay

These are just some of the things we will cover in this packed webinar. In addition, by attending, you will also receive a copy of the PowerPoint slides and 3 white papers (Understanding Exempt Status under the FLSA; FLSA Fair Pay Questionnaire; and Improper Deductions of salaried workers).

The entire program is just $125 (my clients will receive a complimentary pass). To enroll, simply email (rick@dacri.com) or call me (207-229-5954). It’s that easy. I’ll take your information and you can send me a check.

Got questions? Give me a call and I’ll give you an answer.

Sound good. Then sign up now…and tell your colleagues too!

You may want to read:

Compensation Trends and Pitfalls: What You Must Know and Do

1 Comment

Filed under Compensation

ACA: Leveraging the Affordable Care Act

Gavel, Stethoscope and Books on the American Flag with Selective Focus.

(This article was written by Rick Dacri and published in JobsinMe.com)

Understanding and implementing the Affordable Care Act has dominated the national conversation. Yet, while this is occurring, business executives have the arduous task of making sense of the law and then making the tough decisions that can work for their company, their workforce and, in many cases, the employees’ families.

Lost in the headlines, political grandstanding and conflicting implementation scenarios delivered by the experts is a strategic issue all executives should consider: what kind of company do I want to be? And then (from a tactical standpoint): how can I leverage health insurance to help me achieve this?

Legally Mandated for Large Companies

Health insurance is simply a benefit, just like any other benefit. It’s expensive and now for the first time, it is a legally mandated, just like workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation. As an organization, you must either provide insurance or send your employees to the health insurance exchanges to buy insurance on their own. Either way, there is a cost. If you’re small, your company is exempt, for now.

Using It to Your Advantage

But for a moment, let’s step back from the details to address an opportunity before you. Employees need health insurance. Many decisions in both seeking employment and remaining with an employer often come down to whether insurance is offered and its cost. Employers should look at health insurance as a powerful tool that they can leverage to recruit, retain and engage workers.

It is much more than simply another business cost. Dropping coverage or reducing employee hours to force them to go to the exchanges may yield short-term positive bottom line results, but is more likely to yield long-term negative consequences. Employees will go to work for someone else before shopping for their own health insurance coverage.

Building a Strategy, Culture

Employers should build a strategy around both wages and benefits. Know what makes sense for the business. Address the kind of work culture you want, around the brand that reflects who you are and who you want to be. Establish a clear philosophy around compensation and around employees that best reflects your brand. And remember, what impacts an employee often impacts the family.

Employers who take care of their employees, by either providing or even expanding coverage of those eligible for insurance, send a powerful message. They are betting that their employees will become fully engaged and loyal, resulting in increased employee retention, customer service and a corporate brand that draws job candidates like a powerful magnet. And all of this will result in increased sales and profits.

Rather than focusing on short-term savings by eliminating health insurance, these executives are wagering on their employees and the long-term health of their company by adding employees to the insurance rolls. This strategy focuses on nurturing their workforce and understanding that customer satisfaction requires happy, engaged employees.

It is the big picture approach. It’s a smart move; it’s strategic; and it makes good business sense. Employees are not going to stick around at a company that neither invests in them nor provides them affordable health insurance. The increased cost of health insurance coverage will provide a greater return on your investment.

If you want to know more about how I can help you, click Dacri & Associates.

If this post was of interest to you, you may want to read these:

  1. ObamaCare Good For Business
  2. How to Communicate with Employees About the Health Insurance Exchange
  3. HR HelpLine: When You Need Expert Advice

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Compliance, Insurance

How to Communicate w/ Employees About the Health Insurance Exchange

images(This post was written by Karen Aframe and Steve Gerlach of Bernstein Shur, September 5, 2013)

With the rollout of the Health Insurance Exchange (the “exchange”)—also known as the Health Insurance Marketplace—scheduled for this fall, and the employer’s exchange notice due by October 1, employers need to know how to talk to employees about the exchange. Here are some tips:

Comply with Notice Requirements

  • Exchange Notice. Effective October 1, 2013, employers are required to provide a notice to employees about the exchange including that they may have access to subsidies if their employer does not offer affordable health care. Model notices are available on the Employee Benefits Security Administration website.

How to Communicate

  • Focus on what matters now. The Affordable Care Act is an enormously complicated law; communicating too much to employees can be unnecessarily confusing. Don’t overwhelm employees with “what if” scenarios, or how things may turn out in 2018.
  • Plan for ongoing communication. Use all resources available to you and keep employees updated on current developments.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Make it accessible. Use intranet, social media, videos and real-life examples to help explain.

What to Communicate

  • Tell employees that the ACA is now the law. According to recent surveys by Kaiser Family Foundation, 40 percent of Americans do not know the ACA is the law.
  • Communicate that the ACA changes many rules about health insurance in 2014. For example:
  • Insurance companies must accept everyone who applies for coverage, regardless of health status.
  • The individual mandate requires that every individual must be covered or pay a fine.
  • Employers are required to provide employees with information regarding employees’ ability to purchase health insurance on the exchange.
  • Focus on the exchange.
  • Explain that exchanges are marketplaces where individuals and small employers can buy health insurance.
  • Explain that government subsidies are available for some individuals who purchase health insurance on the exchange, but that if the individual is offered coverage through his or her employer that meets certain minimum standards, the individual may not be eligible.
  • Communicate that the exchange may be helpful to some employees, e.g., part-time employees, seasonal employees, early retirees and temporary workers.

What To Avoid

  • Avoid discussing with employees the administrative burden or financial impact that the ACA is having on the company.
  • Avoid offering advice to employees regarding the type of insurance he or she should select.
  • Avoid inducing your employee to purchase health insurance through the exchange rather than through the employer or vice versa.

 Want to add to the story? Let us know in the comments or send an email to Rick Dacri at rick@dacri.com.

You may also enjoy these posts:

  1. Health Insurance: Decision Time
  2. ObamaCare Good for Business
  3. Affordable Care: What’s Delayed and What’s Not

1 Comment

Filed under Compliance, Employee Relations, Uncategorized

Fall Means Final End of Year Check-Up On Your Business

images(Posted by Rick Dacri on August 28, 2013)

The summer is nearly over and now it’s time to look forward to the fall. I wanted to check in with you and suggest a check-up on your operation. The economy continues to heat up and there’s a lot happening, so I wanted to take a moment to provide you a brief list of important items you should be focusing on to help you make managing your business a bit easier:

1. Turnover is Increasing: With an improving market, there is strong evidence that employees are feeling more confident and many, particularly coveted star performers, are beginning to look to make job changes. That’s not good for you.

Advice: Make sure your managers and supervisors are focused on employee retention. Implement a progressive retention program and initiate an annual employee satisfaction survey to take a pulse of your organization.

2. ACA Deadlines: Deadlines for the Affordable Care Act are upon us.  

 

My Advice: Make sure your plan meets all the new requirements and plan to provide employee education programs. You may also want to change your new enrollments dates and your benefit eligibility requirements. Update your classifications for full-time and part-time employees and evaluate whether it makes sense to restructure your staffing to address “pay or play” thresholds.

3. Evaluate Your Hiring: As the economy expands, you may find the need to add staff. With an improving economy, finding good people is proving more difficult.

My Advice: Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Leadership, Management

Health Insurance: Decision Time

bigstockphoto_health_care_reform_green_road__5632944

(Written by Rick Dacri & published in the York County Coast Star, August 22, 2013)

It’s decision time. The deadlines for implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are fast approaching. Delay, in hopes that Congress will suddenly derail it, is a mistake.

Most employers have moved beyond a wait and see approach and are taking steps to deal with the new rules and regulations. The Act is complex and employers should quickly meet with their health insurance brokers to get their advice and counsel. The focus must be on developing the correct tactics to handle the vast implications of the Affordable Care Act.

The news has been filled with stories of companies opting to drop their existing health insurance coverage, fire workers to fall below the 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) threshold for mandatory coverage or reduce employee hours below 30 to avoid offering coverage. The reality is very different. What I hear from my clients is that they definitely plan to continue providing coverage and this trend is affirmed by a recent International Foundation of Employee Benefits survey. 69% of participants indicated they would definitely continue coverage and another 25% said they are likely to do so. Only 4% said they are likely or leaning toward dropping coverage.

Employers who currently do not offer health insurance must now decide whether to continue that practice or not. Under the “play or pay” rules, Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Compliance