"Perhaps no issue has highlighted recent failures by Congress to handle complex issues more than the immigration debate," said Franklin Coley, speaking on behalf of ImmigrationWorks USA, in his presentation on immigration reform. He presented to human resource managers at USPOULTRY's 2013 Human Resources Seminar in Destin, Fla.
Coley discussed the emotional issues such as amnesty, which are political hot buttons. He remarked that the current immigration reform bill recently introduced in the Senate by the "Gang of Eight" may strike a better balance and includes many of the pillars promoted by ImmigrationWorks USA. Coley concluded by commenting that effective border security, creating a legal status for the 11-13 million illegal immigrants now in the U.S., and a workable and adequate visa system for less skilled workers must be part of a total immigration package to curb the continued influx of unauthorized immigrant workers.
Keeping with the legislative reform theme, Robert Valdez of Mercer Health & Benefits provided a Healthcare Reform update. "Since the November elections there has been a significant increase in regulatory activity impacting employers, but many questions still remain as most of the aspects of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act are set to take effect in 2014," said Valdez.
The Act requires employers to provide minimal essential coverage to full time employees or pay a penalty beginning in 2014, and Valdez discussed the current rules and the factors impacting the "play or pay" decision. He observed that effective communications will be paramount to inform employees about how to make their coverage selections, although Health & Human Services has delayed announcing the exact language that will be required to communicate how employees can access the public exchanges until later this year.
In his OSHA Update, Brad Hammock, a partner in the Washington D.C. office of Jackson Lewis LLP, explained that OSHA enforcement activities are at historically high levels, including a 217 percent increase in the number of willful violation citations between 2006 and 2010. Hammock remarked that Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels has expressed OSHA's plan to "shame employers into compliance" by using the power of the press to highly publicize its top enforcement actions. Hammock provided attendees four steps to protect their companies from harsh penalties resulting from failure to comply with OSHA standards.
Other topics addressed during the seminar included a Washington Review; Employment Law issues; Health and Wellness Program Best Practices; An EEOC Attorney's Perspective on EEOC Compliance; and a series of roundtable workshops.