This is a continuation of our effort to help small employers understand what they need to know about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Last month, we sent out an article focusing on ACA changes through the 2013 plan year. In this installment, we will discuss changes that the ACA will make in 2014.
In early February, the U.S. Department of Labor issued new Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations that take effect on March 8, 2013. Changes in the regulations deal with expansion of the FMLA’s military leave provisions.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) audits hit a record high in 2012. All indicators point to a new record in 2013. Employer audits increased from 250 in fiscal year 2007 to more than 3,000 in 2012. From 2009 to 2012, fines increased dramatically from $1 million to $13 million. More than 238 company managers were arrested in 2012, according to ICE data. The Obama Administration has pledged to continue its aggressive approach to ICE audits. Indeed, all of the immigration reform packages currently being debated in Washington, DC include specific provisions for increased work authorization review and enforcement.
On Tuesday, February 12, 2013, Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina rejected the lawsuit filed by union activist Robert Davis challenging the Michigan Right-to-Work law. The lawsuit sought an immediate injunction against the enforcement of the law. The Court denied the request on procedural grounds, concluding that the case should have been filed directly with the Michigan Court of Appeals.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) initiated the Entrepreneurs in Residence (“EIR”) initiative by launching an online resource center to assist entrepreneurs in navigating the complicated U.S. immigration system. The resource center, Entrepreneur Pathways, provides entrepreneurs who seek to start a business in the U.S. a simple way to navigate the immigration process. The initiative is in response to recent criticism of its often cumbersome immigration system that makes it difficult for aspiring entrepreneurs without U.S. passports to start businesses in the U.S. Two immigration options currently exist for foreign entrepreneurs.
On December 28, 2012, Governor Snyder signed the Social Network Account Privacy Act, which prohibits employers from requesting “access information” associated with “social networking accounts” for prospective and/or current employees. The law is designed to protect against employers requiring its employees or prospective employees to disclose access information to personal accounts as a requirement for employment. This practice gained national attention earlier this year when it was reported that job applicants were being required to submit their login information for Facebook accounts as part of the application process. The new law prohibits employers from requesting an employee or applicant to disclose access information associated with a social network account and from discriminating against an employee or applicant who fails to disclose the access information. The penalties for violating the law are both criminal and civil in nature. Violation of the act may be a misdemeanor, subjecting the violator to imprisonment up to 93 days and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. A victim may also bring a civil action to recover actual damages or $1,000, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney fees and court costs.