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State of Massachusetts Passes Strict Equal Pay Legislation

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A-Check Global recently shared Salary History Restrictions information about the push for equal pay in numerous states throughout the country. Of the states mentioned, Massachusetts has proven itself to be the state with the most stringent legislation thus far.

 

Massachusetts is the first state to outwardly ban employers from making salary inquiries in the hiring process. The new legislation, slated to take effect in 2018, prohibits employers from asking about salary history prior to extending an offer; making it arguably one of the most groundbreaking equal pay laws in the United States.

 

Additionally, according to a press release released on the Official Website of the Governor of Massachusetts:

 

The new law will prevent pay discrimination for comparable work based on gender. The bill allows employees to freely discuss their salaries with coworkers, prohibits employers from requiring applicants to provide their salary history before receiving a formal job offer and authorizes the Attorney General to issue regulations interpreting and applying the expanded law. 

 

Like laws, acts and amendments in other states, the Massachusetts law also prohibits pay differentials for comparable work and limits acceptable factors employers may use to explain differences in compensation. However, unlike California and New York laws, Massachusetts will only permit employers to cite geographic location as justification of wage differentials.

 

The new law, which seems to have been on the horizon since 1998, is being considered a major win for Massachusetts politicians across partisan lines. For employers, however, it is a slightly different story.

 

The new law will require employers to re-evaluate and adjust numerous aspects of their hiring and employment practices – from removing application questions to ensuring they are not passively suggesting that employees refrain from discussing salaries – employers have work to do.

 

It is important for employers to understand how these changes affect their business. It is equally important for them to work to implement any/all changes prior to the 2018 effective date.

 

Employers are solely responsible for ensuring they are in compliance with all federal, state and local laws such as those mentioned above. For more information on these laws, and the effect on your organization’s policies and practices, please consult your legal counsel. A-Check Global provides legal and legislative content for general information purposes only.

 

A-Check Global strives to provide resources regarding current and pending local, statewide and federal laws which may impact employment screening. For more information on how current or pending legislation may affect your employment screening programs, please contact A-Check Global through our contact page, or by phone at 877-345-2021.

 

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Following Suit: New York State Seeks to End Pay Inequity

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Employers in New York, especially New York City, are no strangers to legislative changes that impose additional restrictions and requirements to hiring and employment processes. Additionally, the Equal Pay Provision of the New York State Labor Law (Article 6, Section 194), enacted in 2016, further demonstrates just how flexible New York employers are required to be.

 

New York’s law is aimed at improving and increasing pay equity across the board. Under the law, the following requirements must be met:

  • Employers must justify pay differentials
  • Employers may only cite a limited number of factors to explain compensation differences
  • Employers must prove reasons for pay differences

 

According to the New York Department of Labor:

 

An employer may not pay different rates based on gender. Men and women must receive the same rate of pay if they work: in the same establishment, on jobs that need equal effort, skill and responsibility, and under similar conditions.

The law does permit different rates of pay based on factors other than gender, such as: length of service, quality of work and quantity of work.

The Commissioner of Labor can enforce claims of workers based on violations of the Equal Pay Law similar to other wage payment laws.

These statutory provisions, which share multiple similarities with California’s recently-amended Fair Pay Act California Equity Blog, make it seemingly easy for employees to make claims of pay inequity. Additionally, these provisions create more room for comparison between employees working in the same geographic region – which, unlike California’s law, is restricted to the same county.

 

Although these changes are significant, they are not comprehensive and/or inclusive of additional legislation passed in jurisdictions such as New York City, where the morale for equal pay is at an all-time high.

 

Employers are solely responsible for ensuring they are in compliance with all federal, state and local laws such as those mentioned above. For more information on these laws, and the effect on your organization’s policies and practices, please consult your legal counsel. A-Check Global provides legal and legislative content for general information purposes only.

 

A-Check Global strives to provide resources regarding current and pending local, statewide and federal laws which may impact employment screening. For more information on how current or pending legislation may affect your employment screening programs, please contact A-Check Global through our contact page, or by phone at 877-345-2021.

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Now in Effect: Changes to the California Fair Pay Act

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The year of 2016 was one of change and transition for many employers throughout the United States. However, for employers in California, it also proved to be the final year to prepare for major changes to the California Fair Pay Act.

 

In a recent blog post, A-Check Global noted that several states throughout the country had passed, or were working to pass, legislation aimed at leveling the playing field when it comes to salary and equal pay. And California, according to the state legislative site, is one of the states joining the list.

 

In 2016, the California Fair Pay Act (CFPA) took effect. However, the amended CFPA, which took effect January 1, 2017, is expanding the law significantly in four key areas: pay equity, pay transparency, record retention and enforcement.

 

In terms of pay equity, the new law expands the existing laws in the following ways:

  • Employee pay may now be compared to the pay of other employees who work hundreds of miles away.
  • Employees can be compared even if they do not hold the same or substantially equal jobs
  • Employers will now be required to justify pay differentials, and the only permitted reasons for pay differences are seniority systems, merit systems, systems that measure earnings by quantity/quality of production and bona fide factors other than sex (education, training, experience, etcetera).

 

The second key area of the law’s expansion, pay transparency, calls for an end to pay secrecy. This means employers can no longer prohibit employees from disclosing/discussing their wages or encouraging other employees to exercise their rights.

 

For records retention, the CFPA requires employers to retain records of wages, pay rates, classifications and other terms of employment for three years.

 

Finally, in the area of enforcement, the CFPA creates an additional private right of action for employees claiming they have been discharged, retaliated against, etc. for engaging in conduct protected by the statute. These employees may also file complaints with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

 

Employers are solely responsible for ensuring they are in compliance with all federal, state and local laws such as those mentioned above. For more information on these laws, and the effect on your organization’s policies and practices, please consult your legal counsel. A-Check Global provides legal and legislative content for general information purposes only.

 

A-Check Global strives to provide resources regarding current and pending local, statewide and federal laws which may impact employment screening. For more information on how current or pending legislation may affect your employment screening programs, please contact A-Check Global through our contact page, or by phone at 877-345-2021.

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Now Trending: Salary History Restrictions in the Hiring Process

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Does your company ask applicants for salary history during the hiring process? If so, recent legislation may open your organization up to legal risk.

 

In groundbreaking efforts to close current wage gaps among women, minorities and other protected classes, multiple jurisdictions have enacted laws prohibiting employers from asking about applicants’ salaries during the hiring process. Additionally, some laws specify salary history provided by previous employers should not be taken into consideration in the employment process, given their potential to further perpetuate low salaries and wage gaps.

 

Historically, and according to statistics released by the Pew Research Center in mid-2016, these wage gaps persist in the U.S. despite minimal progress throughout the years. However, in places like Philadelphia and Massachusetts, lawmakers seem hopeful recently-enacted laws will serve as a model for other states. And, other lawmakers are following suit and taking legislative action towards the goal of greater employment compensation equality.

 

Several states such as California and New York are already considering similar legislation. Additionally, in September of last year, lawmakers on Capitol Hill introduced the H.R.6030 – Pay Equity for All Act of 2016, which would make it illegal to ask job candidates for salary history information during the interview and salary negotiation processes.

 

With laws like these sweeping the nation, it is important for employers to understand how to implement changes to hiring processes to ensure legally-complaint processes.  It is equally-important to remain up-to-date on current and pending legislation, and to incorporate changes as they arise. From removing salary-related questions on applications and job listings, to abstaining from asking questions about salary during interviews, it is the responsibility of employers to know what is legally-acceptable.

 

Employers are solely responsible for ensuring they are in compliance with all federal, state and local laws such as those mentioned above. For more information on these laws, and the effect on your organization’s policies and practices, please consult your legal counsel. A-Check Global provides legal and legislative content for general information purposes only.

 

A-Check Global strives to provide resources regarding current and pending local, statewide and federal laws which may impact employment screening. For more information on how current or pending legislation may affect your employment screening programs, please contact A-Check Global through our contact page, or by phone at 877-345-2021.

 

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A-Check Global to Launch New Electronic Form I-9 on January 21, 2017

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In October, A-Check Global announced the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved a revised Form I-9 to be utilized by employers throughout the country.

 

The new form was recently-released and is now available for use. However, employers may continue to utilize the current version, dated March 8, 2013 N, until January 21, 2017. After January 21, the old version of the form will become invalid; making its use a violation of federal law with the potential to lead to various fines and/or civil/criminal penalties.

 

To remain in compliance with federal regulations, and to ensure we are meeting the regulatory needs of the professional communities we serve, A-Check Global will begin utilizing the revised Electronic Form I-9 on January 21, 2017. As of this date, we will discontinue the use of the old form, and will move forward with the adoption of all revisions and changes.

 

Upon launching the new form, A-Check Global will offer several resources to ensure a smooth and seamless transition for employers. However, those wishing to familiarize themselves with some of the most important changes prior to the release, should refer to key form revisions; including, but not limited to the following:

 

  • The replacement of the “Other Names Used” field in Section One (1) with “Other Last Names Used” in order to avoid possible discrimination issues, and to protect the privacy of transgender and other individuals who have changed their first names.
  • The modification of Section One (1) to request that aliens authorized to work record at least one of the following:
    • Alien Registration Number (A-Number)/USCIS Number OR
    • Form I-94 Admission Number OR
    • Foreign Passport Number & Country of Issuance.
  • The utilization of Preparers and Translators. If the employee does not use a Preparer or Translator to assist in completing Section One (1), he or she must indicate this by checking a box that states, “I did not use a Preparer or Translator.” In addition, the form enables the completion of multiple Preparers and Translators; each of whom must complete a separate Preparer and/or Translator Certification.
  • The prohibition of blank spaces. No blank spaces are allowed. If an employee does not provide any of the following information in Section One (1), he/she must enter N/A on the Form I-9.
    • Middle Initial
    • Other Last Names Used
    • Employment Authorization Expiration Date
    • Alien Registration/USCIS Number
    • Form I-94 Admission Number
    • Foreign Passport Number
    • Country of Issuance
    • E-mail Address
    • Telephone Number

 

For more information on Form I-9 Solutions, or A-Check Global’s launch of the new Electronic Form I-9, please contact our Client Relations Department at clientrelations@acheckglobal.com or 877-345-2021.

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Healthcare Exclusion Checks: New Year, New Opportunities

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It is a new year for healthcare industry employers, and with the refreshing new energy, comes the responsibility of ensuring healthcare exclusion monitoring is complete and up-to-date.

Healthcare exclusion checks exist for one primary reason: to determine whether or not a person is excluded from participation in providing services for employers or at facilities who receive federal funds.

According to the OIG website, individuals and entities on the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG) List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE) are typically excluded for a number of reasons including, but not limited to the following:

Medicare or Medicaid fraud, offenses related to the delivery of items or services under Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, or other State health care programs; patient abuse or neglect; felony convictions for other health care-related fraud, theft, or other financial misconduct; and felony convictions relating to unlawful manufacture, distribution, prescription, or dispensing of controlled substances … misdemeanor convictions related to health care fraud other than Medicare or a State health program, fraud in a program (other than a health care program) funded by any Federal, State or local government agency; misdemeanor convictions relating to the unlawful manufacture, distribution, prescription, or dispensing of controlled substances; suspension, revocation, or surrender of a license to provide health care for reasons bearing on professional competence, professional performance, or financial integrity; etc.

Hiring or continuing to employ a person or persons who are excluded from Medicare, Medicaid and other federally-funded health care programs can pose significant risk to healthcare employers. Without conducting healthcare exclusion checks, employers run the risk of hiring or continuing to employ or contract with an excluded professional, which, according to an OIG Special Advisory Bulletin, means that no federal health care program payment may be made for any items or services furnished by, or at the medical direction/prescription of an excluded person. Additionally, employing or contracting excluded individuals may result in numerous penalties.

With the advent of the New Year, now is the perfect time for employers to be diligent and re-evaluate their screening processes.

Healthcare exclusion checks should always be performed prior to hiring a candidate. Additionally, industry best practice recommends employers screen current employees on a monthly, or at minimum, quarterly basis to ensure all staff members are in good standing to provide services for federally-funded programs. In addition, some states have additional excluded-parties databases and require additional screening to ensure compliance with state regulations for participation in providing services under specific programs.

A-Check Global partners with clients in the healthcare field to build comprehensive pre-hire and ongoing screening programs. These programs often include continuous exclusion list monitoring to aid in mitigating risk and ensure employers maintain a quality, qualified workforce.

If your company is interested in learning more about healthcare exclusion monitoring or establishing a screening program, please contact A-Check Global through our contact page, or by phone at 877-345-2021.

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Reasonable Suspicion and Recognizing Drug Abuse

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Reasonable suspicion of drug use is not a new concept for employers. It can, however, be a difficult situation for many employers to adequately and appropriately navigate when it arises.

Drug use is detrimental to workers and organizations within all industries, especially those regulated by government entities such as the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). In order to understand the severity of employment-related drug abuse in any industry, however, it is important for employers to first understand the various effects controlled substances have on employees.

Currently, the most common and heavily-regulated substances include: Amphetamines, Cocaine, Marijuana, Opiates, and Phencyclidine (PCP). The effects of each drug vary. However, all have the propensity to pose significant safety risks to the user and others, as well as costly property damage. Please refer to the chart below for the common effects of each substance:

Controlled Substance

Effects

Marijuana

Decreased motor coordination, lethargy, disorientation, altered time and space perception, lack of concentration, impaired learning and memory, alteration of thought formation, drowsiness and sedation, paranoia and panic, fatigue, psychosis

Cocaine

Loss of inhibition, confused and disoriented behavior, delusions, hallucinations, irritability, antisocial behavior, aggressiveness

Opiates

Induced sleep, cold and moist skin, restlessness, nausea, slowed breathing, drowsiness, visual distortion, hallucinations, loss of consciousness

Amphetamines

Rapid flight of ideas, rapid speech, motor restlessness, hallucinations, psychosis, insomnia, poor impulse control

Phencyclidine

Flushing, profuse sweating, grimacing facial expression, speech difficulty, muscular incoordination, excessive salvation, nausea and vomiting, severe anxiety, seizures

Reasonable suspicion drug testing may be warranted if and/or when the signs of potential use/abuse are witnessed. It is important to note, however, that employers in certain industries may be required to follow specific protocol to ensure regulatory compliance prior to testing an employee. Employers should familiarize themselves with industry regulations, where applicable. Individual company policies, drafted with the guidance of competent legal counsel, may also provide guidance.

Regardless of industry, it is beneficial for employers to implement the Five-D approach to reasonable suspicion. This approach calls for employers to:

  • Detect the change in behavior and take action
  • Don’t act alone – approach the employee in question with another supervisor/witness for accountability purposes
  • Discuss with the employee – give the employee the opportunity to explain
  • Describe, don’t diagnose – describe what you are seeing; do not be overly-specific or accusatory
  • Document the situation – document anything and everything that could help you build your case

Once these steps have been completed, it is important to communicate findings and results with all required personnel. Once a determination has been made to initiate a drug screen based upon reasonable suspicion, transportation to the testing site and/or an escort should be provided to the employee in question. Industry best practice suggests that employees should never be encouraged or allowed to drive themselves to testing sites.

If your company is interested in learning more about reasonable suspicion or establishing a Reasonable Suspicion program, please contact A-Check Global through our contact page, or by phone at 877-345-2021.