In an unsurprising move, the Department of Labor (DOL) postponed the applicability date of the fiduciary rule on April 4 for an additional 60 days. The new applicability date for the rule is June 9, 2017, although the DOL may choose to push that date back even further. The extra time was added just days before the fiduciary rule was set to go into effect and gives the DOL additional time to consider revisions. The agency was ordered to re-evaluate the rule by President Trump back in February.
On March 31, 2017, the United States Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) dismissed a contractor’s claims against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for a lack of jurisdiction, stating that the contractor should have secured a final decision from the General Services Administration (GSA) prior to filing its claim. According to the CBCA, since the dispute was over the terms of a GSA Schedule contract and not over contract performance, proper procedures call for a decision from the GSA Schedule contracting officer before the CBCA can weigh in on the dispute.
Noted healthcare observer/thought leader Paul Keckley – who provided private-sector input on the Affordable Care Act – breaks down the “need to know” facts of its potential successor, the American Health Care Act, and discusses some of the big bets it makes about the future.
The full article, “The American Health Care Act: What You Need to Know and What You Need to Watch,” was published by The Keckley Report on March 13, 2017 and is available online.
Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Doug Dahl authored an article discussing the various ways in which employers seek to decrease risk associated with defined benefit pension plans and what HR and benefit professionals should know about the process. As Doug points out in the article, once an employer decides to engage in a de-risking strategy, HR and benefit professionals who understand de-risking and the importance of communication throughout will be in a good position to help their employers navigate the process.
The full article, “Pension De-Risking: What is It and Why is It So Popular?,” was published in the April 2017 issue of HR Professionals and is available online.
Ohio just passed a new law that could begin a trend favorable to employers. The new law allows Ohio’s Civil Rights Commission, in its discretion, to award attorneys’ fees and costs to employers who are found not to have unlawfully discriminated against an employee. Why is this important?
In an article published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), I provided insight on a proposed amendment to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that would allow time off for a child’s death. Since 2012, the chairmen of the board of directors of the Sarah Grace-Foundation for Children with Cancer have been calling for the FMLA to be modified. I pointed out that “while bereavement is not generally covered by the FMLA, the law mandates leave to address issues that arise when an employee’s covered family member (spouse, son, daughter or parent) dies on active military duty.”
The full article, “FMLA Bill Would Require Child Bereavement Leave,” was published by SHRM on March 24, 2017, and is available online.
As we previously reported, Congress has taken its final steps in repealing Obama’s Fair Pay & Safe Workplaces rule, one of the most controversial rules enacted by the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council under President Obama. On February 6, the Senate gave the final vote of approval of the House Resolution overturning the rule, and on March 27, President Trump, unsurprisingly, signed the Resolution into law. At the same time, he also signed legislation overturning three other rules, including the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s land use planning rule and two rules issued by the U.S. Department of Education. Though much of the Fair Pay rule had never been implemented due to a court injunction, this legislation formally revokes the rule and ensures that the FAR Council cannot enact a similar rule without Congressional approval.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued updated audit guidelines for its agents regarding the substantiation requirements for hardship withdrawals from 401(k) and 403(b) plans. This guidance is welcome news for plan sponsors who rely on third party administrators to process participants’ requests for hardship withdrawals, as it relaxes previous IRS guidance which (1) required plan sponsors to obtain and store copies of the actual source documents (e.g., medical bills, cancelled checks, etc.) that established a participant’s request for a hardship withdrawal and (2) did not permit participant self-certification of hardship withdrawal requests.
Employers who pay employees commissions should evaluate their compensation schemes to ensure compliance with California law in light of the California Court of Appeals’ recent ruling in Vaquero, et al. v. Stoneledge Furniture, LLC. In Vaquero, the court of appeals held that employers who pay employees on a commission basis must pay employees a separate minimum wage for rest periods. Paying employees purely on draw and commission is no longer sufficient, even if the average wage equals, or is in excess of, the statutorily required minimum wage.
Earlier this month, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed a 60-day delay of the April 10, 2017 effective date of its (much debated) fiduciary rule. The fiduciary rule – a vestige of the Obama Administration – was thought to be bound for the chopping block once President Trump took office. However, the proposed rule has only thus far been delayed, concerning many in the industry that: (1) there may be a gap period during which the fiduciary rule becomes law before a delay is published, or (2) the DOL could decide to simply leave the fiduciary rule in place.