On the federal front, the U.S. Senate passed a health care reform bill. The Senate bill will now be merged with the House bill. This legislation proposes to implement significant change to our health care system including providing coverage for an additional 31 million Americans, implementing health insurance industry reforms, and reducing Medicare spending by nearly $500 billion.
Other federal bills of note include…
The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, introduced in October 2009, proposes to amend The Age Discrimination in Employment Act and overturn a U.S. Supreme Court decision by permitting an individual to show that age was a motivating factor rather than the motivating factor in an employment decision.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which was introduced in June 2009, would apply to employers with 15 or more employees and would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The FORE Warn Act proposes to amend the WARN Act by expanding employer coverage from employers with 100 or more employees to employers with 75 or more employees, increasing the required notice period from 60 to 90 days, and generally prohibiting waivers of WARN rights.
The Healthy Families Act would require employers with 15 or more employees to provide at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked up to a maximum of 56 hours. Accrual would start on the first day of employment and could be used on the 60th day of employment. Accrued, unused leave would carry over from year to year. Leave could be used for the employee's own illness or to care for a relative or for victims of domestic violence.
Lastly, there are somewhere around 20 bills proposing to amend The Family Medical Leave Act. Proposed amendments include expanding employer coverage from employers with 50 or more employees to those with 25 or more employees, providing leave to eligible employees to attend their child's school or community organization activities, and providing leave to eligible employees for routine, family medical needs.
State side, the 427th legislative session began on January 13, 2010. Here are some highlights thus far:
The Unemployment Insurance – Modernization and Tax Relief Act proposes alternative methods for determining the base period for unemployment insurance under special circumstances and modifies benefit eligibility for part-time workers. This bill would create limited additional training benefits for specific individuals if not paid by employers.
The Job Creation and Recovery Tax Credit would provide a tax credit of up to $250,000 for an employer who hires a qualified employee (one who lives in the State of Maryland, is currently receiving unemployment benefits, or has recently exhausted unemployment benefits) for a qualified position (full time, expected period of 12 months or more, and located in Maryland or a newly created position / one that has been vacated for 6 or more months).
The Job and Financial Privacy Protection Act would prohibit an employer from requesting a current employee or an applicant to submit a credit report unless there is a bona fide work-related purpose for doing so.
Lastly, the DLLR proposed regulations to implement the Workplace Fraud Act on December 19, 2009.
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This article is reprinted with permission from MCSHRM.