Companies may face legal scrutiny when it comes to unpaid internships

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With companies gearing up to start their search for summer interns, they may want to think twice about making it an unpaid internship versus a paid one.

What has happened in the past?

Over the past few years, unpaid internship practices have experienced more legal scrutiny in terms of wages and hour lawsuits. Some of the most recognizable corporations have experiences lawsuits last year, including Warner Music group, Atlantic Recordings, Fox Entertainment group, NBC Universal, Viacom, Sony, and Universal Music Group.
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MyRA Overview

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MyRA Overview

On January 29th, 2014, President Barack Obama signed a presidential memorandum authorizing the Treasury Department to create a new retirement-savings vehicle aimed at workers who don't have access to traditional retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s. That group includes about half the U.S. workforce.
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When EAPs and Small Businesses Come Together

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We recently had the opportunity to talk with Patrick Gaul, manager of account services at ease@work, about how EAPs can be beneficial to small businesses.

When EAPs and small businesses come together

Small businesses are impacted more by types of employee performance and behavior issues addressed by an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) than larger businesses because one employee affected by a personal concern makes up a larger percentage of the total workforce. Gaul says having a free, confidential resource to address mental health concerns and work/life balance issues is essential in maintaining a productive workforce.
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3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship Program

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3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship Program

As a recent New York Times article demonstrates, the days of using interns to fetch coffee, pay them nothing and then unceremoniously dismiss them at the end of the internship without so much as a glimmer of a job prospect are far from over in many industries.

But here in Northeast Ohio, the annual ERC/NOCHE Internship & Recent Grad Pay Rates & Practices Survey demonstrates year after year that many employers are taking a very different approach to their internship programs. In order to attract the best and brightest students to their internship programs, employers need to understand what the internship landscape looks like locally, not only from a legal perspective in terms of pay, but also in terms of how much to pay and what is offered to students through the internship experience itself. Here are a few tips and trends from the ERC/NOCHE survey that organizations may want to keep in mind as they look to hire interns in 2014.
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New OFCCP rules taking effect for Federal Contractors March 24th

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New OFCCP rules taking effect for Federal Contractors on March 24th have many companies scrambling to comply. New requirements aimed to protect individuals with disabilities and protected veterans increase utilization goals and reporting requirements.

The OFCCP has amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and established (among other items) a nationwide 7% utilization goal for qualified Individuals with Disabilities (IWDs). Federal contractors will apply the goal to each of their job groups, or to their entire workforce if the contractor has 100 or fewer employees; must conduct an annual utilization analysis and assessment of problem areas, and establish specific action-oriented programs to address any identified problems. For more information, click here.
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DOL Proposes to Revise FMLA Definition of "Spouse"

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By March 2014 the Wage and Hour Division at the Department of Labor (DOL) will issue a proposal to revise the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) definition of “spouse” based on the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, the agency promised in its Nov. 26, 2013, regulatory guidance.

In Windsor, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined “marriage” and “spouse,” was unconstitutional. The court said: “The principal purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage. This requires the court to hold, as it now does, that DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.”

Windsor does not obligate states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, which can be confusing for employers. “It is possible—and preferable from my perspective—that the DOL do away with this confusion and implement a ‘place of celebration’ rule, which would mean the DOL no longer looks to state of residence but to whether the same-sex marriage was valid where performed. This would be a big departure from the current regulations but resolve the challenges employers face in implementing constantly changing state recognition rules.”

Workplace Wellness: Tobacco Cessation and the CVS Caremark Tobacco Sales Ban

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Workplace Wellness: Tobacco Cessation and the CVS Caremark Tobacco Sales Ban

CVS Caremark’s recent announcement that they will eliminating all tobacco products from their retail stores as of October 2014 has prompted much discussion in the news over the roles that a growing pool of employers are playing as they systematically leverage their place in the business world to eliminate tobacco from their organizations.

From bans on hiring to financial penalties on health insurance rates to offering tobacco cessation programs to controversies over e-cigarettes, employers are playing an increasingly prevalent role in regulating tobacco use both inside and outside of the workplace.

State Law

From bans on hiring to financial penalties on health insurance rates to offering tobacco cessation programs to controversies over e-cigarettes, employers are playing an increasingly prevalent role in regulating tobacco use both inside and outside of the workplace. Here in Ohio, state law dictates tobacco prohibits smoking in all public places and places of work, with some specific exceptions.

The American Lung Association gives this Ohio statute an “A” grade for encouraging “smoke free air,” but in terms of the other measures graded, i.e. “Tobacco Prevention,” “Cigarette Tax,” and “Cessation Coverage,” Ohio doesn’t fare so well in the rankings. This leaves tobacco use prevention efforts largely in the hands of private employers.
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Evaluating Workplace Wellness Programs for the Future

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Evaluating Workplace Wellness Programs for the Future

With Northeast Ohio well-known nationally as a hub for the healthcare industry, it comes as no surprise that local employers are largely keeping up with or exceeding many of the national trends involving workplace wellness programs.

Using a recently released study published by RAND Health and ERC’s own Wellness Practices Survey, we explore the current state of workplace wellness programs in order to gain a better understanding of what this research has identified as the likely next steps to move these programs forward into the future across the country or right in our own backyard.
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How to Identify and Deal With Workplace Bullying

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How to Identify and Deal With Workplace Bullying

The Workplace Institute in 2014 reports that 35% of the U.S. workforce is being bullied at work. Interestingly, bullying is four times more common than either sexual harassment or racial discrimination on the job. The primary reason workplace bullying is so common is that bullying is not yet illegal. The impact of bullying to a business is costly.

Overall, it impacts an organization’s performance and success. Bullying is a serious matter that HR professionals and all levels of management need to pay attention to and understand.

We talked with Meg Matejkovic, an employment law attorney, about bullying at the workplace and what it could lead to and how management and HR can help.
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Workers’ Compensation Claims: Strategies for Optimal Outcomes

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Workers’ Compensation Claims: Strategies for Optimal Outcomes

By utilizing workers’ compensation best practices employers can achieve a higher level of control over their workplace injuries, which can result in reduced severity and claim costs and better outcomes.

Early Reporting & Transitional Work

Early claim reporting is a crucial first step in controlling costs.  Numerous national studies have shown the longer it takes for a claim to reported, the costlier the claim.  That’s why it’s important to work with an Ohio Managed Care Organization (MCO) that has efficient options for reporting new workers’ compensation claims.  These can include fax, telephone, online or email reporting.
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