OSHA Record-Keeping Proposal Released. On July 26, 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a pre-Federal Register version of its proposed rule to amend its 2016 injury and illness recordkeeping regulation. The proposed rule aims to eliminate the requirement that establishments with 250 or more employees electronically file Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and Form 301 (Injuries and Illnesses Incident Report) but require that the establishments file Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses). At least after our quick initial review, it does not appear that the proposal addresses controversial provisions of the 2016 rule that are designed to prevent employers from retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses.
Interestingly, while this proposal was released this week, several groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and OSHA alleging that its suspension of the 2016 rule’s July 1, 2018, submission date violated the Administrative Procedure Act because it was not done pursuant to notice and comment rulemaking. Perhaps OSHA should have announced the delay via blog post.
Paid Leave Hearing. On July 24, the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing on H.R. 4219, the “Workflex in the 21st Century Act.” Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, testified at the hearing and described the Workflex Act as follows:
H.R. 4219 modifies ERISA to allow employers the opportunity to voluntarily offer a new workflex plan that provides their employees with a federal minimum standard of paid leave and options for flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or compressed work schedules. In return, employers that opt to participate in the ERISA-covered workflex plan would be able to provide uniform paid leave, instead of navigating the current labyrinth of state and local paid sick leave requirements.
Significantly, the Workflex Act is entirely voluntary for employers, the proscribed leave meets or exceeds most state or local leave requirements, and employees of non-participating businesses will still be able to take advantage of local leave laws. Read more about the Workflex Act here.
OFCCP Shake Up. BNA is reporting that Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) Director Ondray T. Harris will leave the agency today. Leigh M. Nason and Hera S. Arsen have the details. With Harris at the helm, OFCCP issued a new directive requiring investigators to issue predetermination notices to contractors when investigations indicate preliminary findings of discrimination, extended the moratorium on investigations of TRICARE contractors, and issued a Town Hall Action Plan to better assist contractors with their compliance obligations. The Buzz is hopeful that this cooperative approach to compliance will continue in Harris’s absence.
White House Executive Order on the Workforce. Late last week, President Trump issued an executive order intended to encourage skills development and job training. The executive order’s solution to the “skills gap” problem is the federal government’s solution for all problems: the establishment of a council and a board (other acceptable solutions include creating a task force, committee, or commission). In this case, the council will be called the National Council for the American Worker, comprised of various cabinet members and other government officials. The council is instructed to “develop recommendations for the President on policy and strategy related to the American workforce.” The board will be called the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board and will be comprised of “25 members appointed by the President from among citizens outside the Federal Government.” It appears as though the Board is supposed to advise the council on real-world ways to address the skills gap. Clearly, there is more to come with this one.
Kavanaugh Update. As the Buzz predicted, the political theater surrounding the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States is reaching unprecedented levels. As just one example this week, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) stated that supporters of Kavanaugh are “complicit in the evil.” Wow. While reasonable people may disagree over Kavanaugh, as far as the Buzz knows, it’s not like he keeps pet sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads or spent his childhood summers in Rangoon taking luge lessons or anything like that.
Happy Birthday, ADA! Yesterday, July 26, marked the 28th anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. While signing the landmark civil rights legislation into law, President George H.W. Bush remarked that the ADA “represents the full flowering of our democratic principles.” Indeed it does.
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better (Legislation). In further anniversary news, 132 years ago this week, Congress passed the Oleomargarine Act of 1886. Signed into law 10 days later by President Grover Cleveland, the Oleomargarine Act enacted a 2 cent per pound tax on oleomargarine, which had been invented just a few years prior by French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès (oleomargarine was a cheaper alternative to beurre for the French armed forces). The Act is significant in that it was one of Congress’s first forays into regulation of private commercial activity. Further, the law demonstrates that the power of lobbying and political interest groups—the dairy industry obviously was influential in getting the Act passed—is not a recent phenomenon.