Employer Provided Health Insurance Plans: When is Unilateral Change not Unilateral Change?

Employers subject to collective bargaining agreements should consider how to address changes to health insurance and other plans and that arise during the term of the agreement. It is well established that no unlawful unilateral change occurs under Section 8(a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act where an employer has a practice of sharing premium costs with employees according to a particular percentage, and simply allocates the carrier’s premium increase in a manner that maintains that percentage. Maple Grove Health Care Center, 330 NLRB 775 (2000).

Other changes to health insurance plans may entail something different than merely passing along increased costs on an agreed percentage basis. In those situations, the Board applies a different standard to allegations of unilateral changes.

For example, in one case submitted to the Division of Advice, an employer announced that it was changing its short-term disability plan for all employees and would require all employees to pay 100% whereas previously the employer had paid 70%. During the course of collective bargaining, the employer and the union had agreed to a “me-too” arrangement whereby the employer could unilaterally change the provisions as long as the changes applied equally to all non-unit and unit employees as well. APL Limited, 2015 WL 2156793 (N.L.R.B.G.C.) (April 22, 2015). The union challenged the change on the ground that the employer had unilaterally changed terms and conditions of employment without bargaining (which it had). The Division of Advice directed that no complaint issue because the employer had “a sound arguable basis” for its position that the parties collective bargaining agreement permitted it to make the unilateral changes at issue. In other words, the basic issue was not whether there had been a unilateral change, but whether the employer’s position was defensible under the applicable agreement.

Read the rest of this entry »

Managing talent in a digital age

It’s safe to say that when one out of every two working-age adults in the United States has registered for a certain website—LinkedIn, for example, boasts more than 122 million US members—it has achieved critical mass. In fact, LinkedIn and sites like Careerbuilder and Monster.com have changed the way employers and employees connect, and digital marketplaces such as Freelancer.com, Toptal, and Upwork have transformed the sourcing of contractors’ services around the world.

Digital labor platforms have also created a more transparent job market. Top performers know their value and are growing more footloose as a result; many are going online to find new opportunities and to evaluate potential employers. What’s more, a lot of people now scour platforms such as Glassdoor to learn what current employees have to say about their job satisfaction, company culture, and lifestyle. Companies that don’t manage their workplace reputations carefully or engage their employees appropriately will find themselves on the losing side of an increasingly digital war for talent.

A new wave of digital tools can help companies to focus not only on hiring but also on managing, retaining, and developing employees. Digital labor platforms can pull these tools into an integrated whole as companies widen their labor pools, refine their recruiting and screening methods, and deploy their employees more effectively. Such tools, and the platforms that include them, can put the right person in the right job, identify gaps in skills, help employees as they gain new capabilities, chart career paths, and nurture the development of the next generation of leaders.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Real Employment Problem

Supposedly the economy is rebounding.  Years of stimulus spending by the administration and over $3 trillion in quantitative easing by the Fed are allegedly working.  Or are they?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in October that the unemployment rate, U3, declined very slightly to 7.2%.

Concurrently, the BLS noted that the unemployment rate to include those marginally attached to the workforce, or U6, was 13.6%.

Read the rest of this entry »

If You’re Fired, Will Past Employers Keep Your Secret?

Despite what some job seekers think, it is not illegal for former employers to tell reference checkers that you were fired. They can say anything they want as long as it’s true.

But many companies do have policies that limit what they will reveal about past employees.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Read the rest of this entry »

Unemployment Blues: Staying Afloat

The unemployment checks are running out and there is no potential job in sight. The wolf is knocking at the door and you need to survive.

Here are five tips to keep you afloat.

1. Ignore your ego and get everyone on board. You hate letting your children see you as less than competent and completely in charge but now is the time to share your predicament and let them help. By talking with your family, you allow even small children to better appreciate the realities of the world and feel like an important part of a big project. You may be surprised by how they will rally around the idea and come up with ways to save money which makes them feel as if they are really contributing and have value in the family hierarchy. Make saving money and “making do with less” into a game, like Survivor and the other reality shows they watch.

Read the rest of this entry »

Older posts «