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DOL Clarifies Employee Notice Requirement

American Staffing Association (10/15/13) Ed Lenz

Beginning Oct. 1, the Affordable Care Act requires all employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act to notify employees “at the time of hire” of their health insurance options. Staffing firms can satisfy this requirement with respect to new temporary and contract employees by furnishing the notice, along with other employment-related information (such as the Form I-9), at the time an individual first applies for work.

In a recent meeting with ASA and other members of the Employers for Flexibility in Health Care (E-Flex) coalition, a top official of the U.S. Department of Labor clarified which information employers must provide to employees to comply with the notice requirement. According to the DOL representative, all of the essential information is contained in Part A of the model employer notice form published by DOL.

DOL has announced that there is no fine or penalty under the law for not providing the notice, but this does not mean that staffing firms should not comply. Sponsors of group health plans have certain fiduciary obligations to plan participants and beneficiaries—and employees potentially could be adversely affected by not getting the notice, which could trigger private lawsuits. Staffing firms are urged to consult with their own counsel regarding compliance with the notice requirement.

A New York State Inquiry Is Said to Target Job Agencies

New York Times (10/15/13) Julie Turkewitz

The New York State attorney general’s office is reportedly investigating about a dozen employment firms that may have deceived job seekers. The office is examining whether the firms took fees from candidates in exchange for jobs that did not exist or paid below the minimum wage, refused to give refunds, charged fees greater than the permitted amount, lacked licenses, or violated civil rights law by referring candidates to jobs based on their nationality or gender.

The companies under examination are in northern Queens and primarily place Spanish-speaking immigrants. These abuses are a microcosm of larger problems at employment firms across the city. In 2008, Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged to stop such abuse. But the investigation and interviews indicate many firms continue to cheat candidates. Currently, individuals who believe they have been cheated by an employment firm in the state of New York do not have the right to sue for violations.

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