At the Fall 2014 Regulatory Agenda meeting, federal agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor (DOL) provided insight into their progress on more than 75 rules and regulatory proposals in their pipelines. They also shared particulars, to include proposed deadlines, of new regulations that will impact human resources professionals starting in 2015.
EEOC Regulations on Wellness Programs
There are four items highlighted by EEOC's Regulatory Plan, two of which pertain to much needed guidance on employer wellness programs. Following the heavy criticism it received for not issuing guidance but continuing to sue employers for their “involuntary” wellness programs, the EEOC will issue guidance as well as the impact the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has on employers' wellness programs, by February 2015.
- The proposed rule, “Amendments to Regulations Under the Americans With Disabilities Act”, would amend the regulations to implement the equal employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to address the interaction between title I of the ADA and financial inducements and/or penalties as part of wellness programs offered through health plans. EEOC also plans to address other aspects of wellness programs that may be subject to the ADA's nondiscrimination provisions in this notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).
- The proposed rule, “Amendments to Regulations Under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008”, would amend the regulations on the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 to address inducements to employees' spouses or other family members who respond to questions about their current or past medical conditions on health risk assessments. This NPRM will also correct a typographical error in the rule's discussion of wellness programs and add references to the Affordable Care Act, where appropriate.
Notable DOL Regulations
- In the Regulatory Agenda published on November 21, 2014, the DOL added an entry to its list for a proposed rule to implement President Obama's directive to modernize and streamline FLSA regulations for executive, administrative, and professional employees. The DOL now expects to publish the rule by the end of February 2015, according to its filing with the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Specifically, the DOL will address the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) “white-collar” exemption, where workers who are paid a minimum salary of $455 per week — and are classified as executive, administrative or professional employees — are not entitled to overtime pay.
- The DOL has long been promising a revised definition of “fiduciary” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which would essentially expand the term and significantly impact many aspects of retirement plans. The DOL's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) plans to provide a revised definition of “fiduciary” by January 2015.
- HR professionals will be impacted by two rules/clarifications of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). First, a final rule revising the definition of “spouse” is expected in 2015–this revision is required due to the Supreme Court's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) ruling. Secondly, the DOL is expected to expand the list of employees entitled to FMLA leave.
The employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley are watching closely as the EEOC and DOL develop new regulations for 2015. In the meantime, if you have any questions concerning your rights and/or employment laws in California, feel free to contact us by calling us toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or by clicking here to contact us via email.