Tag Archives: Obamacare

Questions For Andrew Puzder, Trump Nominee for Labor Secretary

 

(Post by Rick Dacri, January 12, 2017)

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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?

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Filed under Compliance, Department of Labor, DOL, Management

Seismic Shift In Workplace

(This post, written by Rick Dacri, was published in the York County Coast Star on October 24, 2013)

 “There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear” are the opening lyrics to Buffalo Springfield’s song “For What It’s Worth.” These same lyrics, ironically enough, describe today’s world of work.

A seismic shift has emerged in today’s post recession workplace. During a “normal” recovery, businesses would be recalling laid off workers and slowly restoring lost wages and benefits. Temporary workers that were initially hired during the early recovery would be converted to full time status. In a short period, the post recession workplace would mirror the prerecession workplace. This has not happened. This will not happen.

Two trends have emerged: 1) employers have replaced permanent full time employees with contingent workers — temporary employees, independent contractors, and outsourced workers, changing the face of the workplace; and 2) there has been an increased use of contingent labor for professional positions rather than exclusively for office/clerical and industrial workers. Continue reading

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Filed under Economy, Leadership

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

 

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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

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Filed under Compliance, Employee Relations, Uncategorized

Health Insurance: Decision Time

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(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

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Affordable Care Act: What’s Delayed and What’s Not

Guest post written by Steve Gerlach of the firm Bernstein Shur; July 9, 2013

On July 2, the Department of the Treasury announced a one-year delay in the implementation of certain parts of the Affordable Care Act’s reporting requirements, as well as a delay in the assessment of “pay-or-play” penalties. Although this delay will be helpful to many employers, all employers need to know which provisions are delayed and which are not.

Delayed:

  • Reporting requirements: Mandatory reporting of health coverage information by large employers is postponed until January 1, 2015.
  • Penalties: Assessment of employer penalties under the “pay-or-play” rules (for failure to offer adequate health coverage to employees) is postponed until January 1, 2015.

Not Delayed:

  • Individual mandate
  • Health insurance exchanges
  • Exchange notices: Employers are still required to issue exchange notices to employees starting on October 1, 2013. Click here to see available model notices.
  • Summaries of benefits and coverage:  A short, language-appropriate description of the employer’s health coverage to be distributed to employees, effective for plan years starting on or after September 23, 2012. Click here for templates.
  • Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute fee: This fee, first due on July 1, 2013, is assessed against insurers and self-insured plans.
  • W-2 reporting: No changes have been made to this requirement. Employers issuing more than 250 W-2s are required to report health insurance costs on those W-2s. Employers issuing 250 or fewer W-2s are not required to comply with this requirement.
  • Expiration of annual limit waivers: Annual limit waivers will not continue after December 31, 2013.
  • Limit on medical FSAs: The $2,500 limit, effective as of January 1, 2013, remains in effect.
  • Insurance market reforms: The prohibition of annual and lifetime limits, the prohibition of waiting periods in excess of 90 days and other market reforms are still planned to take effect on January 1, 2014.

Use Additional Time to Develop Compliance Strategies

Delays in the implementation of major tax provisions are not uncommon. Based on our experience with rollouts of other laws, we believe that the underlying infrastructure and requirements of the ACA will remain in place during the delay, with further guidance coming from the IRS and other regulatory agencies. We strongly encourage employers to use this additional time to develop and tweak their compliance strategies.  The Treasury plans to begin issuing additional guidance within the next week.

For more information about the Affordable Care Act, contact Steve Gerlach.

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Other posts you may want to read:

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6 New CEO Challenges Require Immediate Action

 

imagesPost Written by Rick Dacri, July 8, 2013

CEOs consistently tell me that the challenges of the business fill their plate and the ongoing people issues just make it worse. The last few weeks the Courts and government agencies have simply overwhelmed them. Let’s take a look at what has happened:

  1. DOMA: The Supreme Courts overturning the Defense of Marriage Act now extends to same sex couples, who were married and reside in the 12 states and the District of Columbia that recognize same sex marriage, all the federal benefits offered to heterosexual couples. That means employers must now make the changes to policies, benefits, and payroll taxes to comply with the changes. While this brings a consistency to the compliance between state and federal law, it leaves the question of what happens in the other 38 states.
  2. Independent Contractors: Both the federal and state government agencies (IRS and Labor) have both redefined their definition of an Independent Contractor and begin strict enforcement of the new standards forcing employers to change how they manage their workforce and quickly bring their company into compliance or face huge fines. For many companies, this will be s tremendous burden.
  3. Interns: Two high profile class-action lawsuits against NBC Universal and Fox Searchlight point to the perils of not paying summer interns. In both cases, the Court determined these companies violated the Fair Labor Standards Act for not paying their “workers” forcing employers nationally to rethink how they employ and compensate interns. These rulings will hurt valuable college internship programs.
  4. Affordable Care Act: The Obama administration gave small employers a welcome reprieve by extending the compliance deadline to 2014 for implementing the mandate for employers with 50 or more employees to provide insurance coverage. While on the surface this is good news, it brings further confusion to an already difficult implementation schedule.
  5. Immigration: As Congress wrestles with immigration reform, CEOs suffer with the inability to recruit badly needed skilled and unskilled foreign workers. With a growing skills gap and an aging workforce, foreign workers could fill the void. Without Congressional relief, CEOs must operate without essential workers.
  6. New Definition of Supervisor: The Supreme Court has clarified its definition of a “supervisor” and in doing so, provided employers with a bit of clarity in defending itself against claims of harassment. While this is a helpful decision, it still requires policy changes and education of managers to ensure compliance.

Running a business is always a challenge. The Courts and government made it a whole lot more complicated. Regardless, CEOs must begin to address the changes, make the adjustments to their policies and practices, and quickly get into full compliance, while continuing to lead their business.

If you want to know how I can help you with this, click Dacri & Associates.

If this has been valuable, you may also want to subscribe to our free electronic newsletter. Just Click The Dacri Report.

Other posts you may want to read:

  1. DOMA Overturned Means Changes for Business
  2. Independent Contractors in Labor’s Cross Hairs
  3. Interns: Employers Obligation to Pay or Not?
  4. Affordable Care Act: What Employers Need To Know
  5. Immigration: Tear Down Those Walls
  6. Harassment Claims: Courts New Definition of Supervisor

 

 

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Filed under Compliance, Management, Uncategorized