button Vol. 6
No. 2
Summer 2001


OSHA Revises Workplace Injury
and Illness
Reporting Rule.

line DOL Narrows Exemption for
Labor Relations Consultants.

line Interim Rules
Issued for Bush Executive Orders of Feb. 17th, 2001.

line FMLA: "Serious
Health Condition" Being Redefined.

line ADA: Medical Examinations / Inquiries Addressed by 3rd Circuit Court.
line Briefs
line Violence Updates (Briefs)

Braun Consulting News
News on Personnel, Labor Relations and Benefits

See our Archive Pages for Back Issues of Braun Consulting News!

button Briefs

1. Lawsuit Agains Contracter That Did Not Provide EO Survey Response Filed By DOL

The Labor Department has filed a lawsuit against a company for failing to fill out and return an "Equal Opportunity Survey". According to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), the company did not fill out and return the survey within the required 30-day time period.

The survey is the tool being used by the DOL to identify potential noncompliance with the affirmative action requirements that apply to government contractors.

The survey was codified in regulations issued by the OFCCP Nov. 13, 2000 and asks responding employers for information broken out by race and gender on the compensation and tenure of full-time employees, as well as other information.

This lawsuit is the first by the government against a company for not completing the EO Survey. A DOL official said, "more such lawsuits could be forthcoming". We will keep you informed.

2. Employers Cite Burdens Related To Leave Law (FMLA)

Seven years after its enactment current surveys seem to be showing that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has proven to be an administrative burden to employers with little positive result.

In a survey by the Department of Labor (DOL) the FMLA has had "no noticeable effect" in terms of productivity, profit, or growth. The survey did reveal, however, that many large establishments -- those with 250 or more employees -- actually reported a negative effect on both productivity and profitability. This result was related to the FMLA provision permitting employees to take intermittent leave.

In another survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), intermittent leave was also identified as one of the chief problems encountered by employers under the FMLA. Seventy-six percent of the respondents said they would prefer offering and tracking leave in half-day blocks rather than meeting current requirement of breaking leave down into small increments.

3. Worker's Comp For Depression? A NH Court Says Yes

A former New Hampshire State employee alleged major depression stemming from her supervisor's legitimate criticism of her work. According to the state Supreme Court the employee is actually entitled to workers' compensation for this problem.

The court observed that disability caused by cumulative work-related stress is compensable under the state's workers' compensation statute and that the "accidental quality of a compensable injury may consist of an unexpected effect as well as an unexpected cause."

The court affirmed that the employee's major depression was an "accident" within the meaning of state law because it was "an unexpected result" of her supervisor's criticism.

What next? Well, in all states an employer has an affirmative duty to eliminate work hazards that cause accidents. Guess what, it won't be long under this line of thinking that a supervisor won't be able to give legitimate criticism to those who work for them since to so would be to permit a hazardous environment which is prohibited by OSHA. - Enough already!

4. Domestic-Partner Benefits Offered By Firms Have Doubled Since 1997

According to a survey by consulting firm Hewitt Associates, the number of large employers offering benefits to the domestic partners of their employees has more than doubled in the last three years to almost one-fourth of employers.

Twenty-two percent of the 570 responding employers now make coverage available to domestic partners for benefits that once extended no further than spouses and dependents. Another 35 percent of respondents said they might consider offering domestic-partner benefits within the next three years.

Most employers that offer the benefits require proof of domestic partnership, such as an affidavit, and about two-thirds require a minimum amount of time to pass before an employee may replace one domestic partner with another.

The Hewitt Associates survey of 570 large U.S. employers found that among those organizations currently offering domestic partner benefits, nearly 90 percent began offering these benefits during the past five years. Thirty-five percent of participating companies that do not currently offer domestic partner benefits indicated that they may consider doing so within the next three years.

"Companies want to differentiate themselves in today's tight labor market and providing domestic partner benefits is one way to do that," said Jennifer Boehm, Hewitt consultant. "With the dramatic growth of domestic partner programs across a wide variety of industries, employers are discovering that the benefits, such as employee loyalty and engagement, far outweigh the costs."

Has anyone ever noticed how things that are added to employee benefits in "tight labor markets" become fertile fields for future litigation. Braun Consulting supports well planned employee benefit packages - however, we ask our Clients and friends to be cautious in over reacting to today's tight situation as history tells us it can change fast.

5. Internet Access Increases Need For Investment Education: Women May Need Extra Attention In Retirement Planning

In another new study by Hewitt Associates it seems that reliance on the Internet makes participants more active in their 401(k) investment plans.

This increase in Internet activity makes education about investing and retirement all the more important. "With sufficient investment education and communication, the Internet can help make it easier for participants to develop good investment habits," said Lori Lucas, a Hewitt consultant.

A separate study highlighting the gap between women and men in retirement account balances suggests that women might need extra attention from employers when it comes to preparing for retirement. Consultants recommend using seminars and other tools to educate employees about financial planning and boost retirement plan participation.

Once more we urge caution. It is unlikely that "churning" a 401(k) account by an employee that self directs their account over the internet will result in long term growth. The temptation to "market time" or use other devices inappropriate for the casual investor are becoming a real danger. Please express the need for employees to use the tools in their 401(k) with respect for the damage that can be done to their savings.

7. Violence Updates (Briefs) Next Page

The Contents of this News Letter are intended for general information
and should not be construed as legal advise or opinion.
Click Here to view our Web Site Disclaimer Page.

button *  INSIDE   * HOME  * ARCHIVES
Braun Consulting Group
* Insurance * Labor * Personnel

1326 5th Ave, Suite 339 / Seattle, WA 98101
Contact Braun-BCG

Site by - AJ Consulting   © 2001 Braun Consulting Group