Social Media and Your Health Care Organization

A new study on social media and health care shows that more than 1, 200 hospitals participate on 4,200 social networking sites. Social media is changing the nature of healthcare interaction, and health care organizations that ignore this virtual environment may be missing opportunities to engage consumers. From a marketing perspective, health care organizations and small businesses should seize the opportunities to capitalize on social media. However, social media in health care is not … [Read more...]

Background Checks for Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facility Employees

Many nursing homes and assisted living facilities may be unsure whether they are required to conduct background checks for independent contractors with direct client contact (such as dieticians and medical directors). The question arises because there appears to be a conflict between the Texas Health and Safety Code and a DADS handbook. Under Texas Health and Safety Code Section 250.002, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are required to conduct criminal background checks ONLY on … [Read more...]

IRS Defers Requirement on Reporting Health Plan Coverage Costs

On October 12, 2010, the IRS released a draft Form W-2 for employers for 2011. Employers use Form W-2 to report wages and employee tax withholding. The IRS also announced that it will defer the requirement that employers report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan. Therefore, employer reporting of coverage costs is optional for 2011. The deferral allows employers additional time to make changes to their payroll systems or procedures in preparation for compliance … [Read more...]

IRS Releases Draft Form Regarding Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

On September 7, 2010, the Internal Revenue Service released a draft version of the Form 8941 that both small businesses and tax-exempt organizations will use to calculate the small business health care tax credit during the 2011 tax season.  Tax-exempt organizations generally do not file income tax returns, but can use the Form 8941 to claim the credit. The credit is designed to encourage small employers (with 10 or less full-time employees) to offer health insurance coverage or maintain the … [Read more...]

President Obama Urges Action on Paycheck Fairness Act

President Obama is urging the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which died in 2008 when the Senate did not take action on it before the end of the Congressional session. In a written statement issued on July 20, 2010, President Obama called the proposed law "a common sense bill" to ensure equal pay for equal work by men and women. If the Paycheck Fairness Act is passed as currently written, the result would be large-scale changes to the Equal Pay Act (“EPA”), which was added in 1963 … [Read more...]

Look Back: 111th Congress has Taken Active Role in Shaping Employer Actions

In a few weeks, the United States Congress will take a late-summer recess before returning to close out the 111th Congress. Now is a good time to take stock of some of the recent federal law changes, and legislation still being considered, that affect employers and their employment policies. More than most, this Congress has enacted numerous and substantial changes to the federal employment laws. As an employer, if you haven't done a thorough review of your employee policy manual in the past … [Read more...]

Employers, Are You in the Safe Harbor?

In the past year, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the Internal Revenue Service all have announced a renewed focus on enforcement initiatives. With increased funding from the Obama administration, these agencies will have more investigators devoted to ensuring compliance with the laws that they enforce. Over the next several weeks, we’ll update you on steps that you can take now to be sure you’re in the best possible situation if you become … [Read more...]

Court’s Texting Decision Shows Importance of Updated Policies

The United States Supreme Court considered an employer’s policies on e-mail and texting use in a decision issued on June 17. As reported previously in this blog, City of Ontario v. Quon raised the issue of whether a governmental employer who reviewed the content of text messages sent using an employer-provided pager had committed an unlawful search in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Quon was a SWAT team police officer who was issued a pager capable of sending and … [Read more...]

Texas Employer Loses in Battle Over “Per Diem” Pay

Calculating the amount of overtime that must be paid to your hourly employees may be harder than you think. A recent decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is a reminder that getting it wrong can have serious consequences. In Gagnon v. United Technisource, Inc., an employee claimed that his employer paid him a “per diem” as a scheme to lower his regular rate of pay for overtime purposes. The employee was highly skilled at painting the interior and exterior of aircraft. He was paid … [Read more...]

Department of Labor Announces “Plan, Prevent, Protect”

The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced that its staff will seek to add new responsibilities for employers, requiring them to step up proactive compliance measures, especially in the areas of safety, health, and wage and hour laws. This is important because it reflects a new emphasis on preventing violations of laws that affect workers, as opposed to the more common tactic of trying to catch and punish employers who may have been violating labor laws for months or years. Deputy Labor … [Read more...]