Federal Employment Law Update – October 2016

Federal

OSHA Updates Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs

On October 21, 2016, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a set of Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs. These new practices update OSHA’s 1989 guidelines to reflect changes in the economy, workplaces, and evolving safety and health issues. The Recommended Practices provide a step-by-step approach to implementing a safety and health program, built around seven core elements: management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification and assessment, hazard prevention and control, education and training, program evaluation and improvement, and communication and coordination for host employers, contractors, and staffing agencies.

Read the Recommended Practices

December 1, 2016 Extension for Enforcement of OSHA Anti-Retaliation Provisions

On October 18, 2016, in response to a request from a federal judge presiding over a legal challenge, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) agreed to extend the effective date of the anti-retaliation provisions in its new final rule, Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, to December 1, 2016. The pending case is challenging the anti-retaliation provisions to the extent that OSHA seeks to limit routine post-accident drug testing and incident-based safety incentive and recognition plans. The case seeks to permanently delay the effective date of the rule until a decision is reached. Of note, this is the second delay in enforcement as the OSHA provisions were originally scheduled to go into effect on August 10, 2016, then delayed to November 1, 2016, and now employers have until December 1, 2016 to comply.

Read the Final Rule and the Judge’s Order

SSA Announces Higher Incomes Subject to Payroll Tax in 2017

On October 18, 2016, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security payroll tax will increase from $118,500 in 2016 to $127,200 in 2017.

The adjustment is effective as of January 1, 2017.

Read the Fact Sheet

OSHA Finalizes ACA Whistleblower and Retaliation Rule

On October 13, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued final regulations governing employee protection (whistleblowing and retaliation) claims under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), thereby adding section 18C to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This additional section provides protections to employees who may have been subject to retaliation for seeking assistance under certain affordability provisions (for example, health insurance premium tax credits) or for reporting potential violations of the ACA’s consumer protections. The new rule also establishes final procedures and time frames for handling retaliation complaints under 18C and complaints to OSHA.

The final rule is effective October 13, 2016.

Read the Rule